Difference Between Netball & Basketball? » (5 Facts)

You may or may not know netball, but if you do you might wonder how the game differs from basketball since they look almost identical at first glance.

What Is the Difference Between Netball and Basketball? The major differences between netball and basketball are the general rules and a rather large gender separation. In netball, no physical contact is allowed in general play, and dribbling is also not allowed. Women’s netball is the only type recognized by the International Netball Federation.

Read on as I dive into the aspects of netball that makes it different or similar compared to basketball.

Read also: What Do You Wear For Netball?

So, What Are the Differences Between Netball and Basketball?

Alright, first of all, let’s state what we are talking about here.

Basketball is a sport played with two opposing teams with 5 members on each. The goal is to shoot the basketball through your opponent’s hoop. You get 2 points from scoring within the 3-point line, and 3 points from shooting outside it.

Netball is similar in the fact that it has two opposing teams trying to shoot a ball through the opponent’s hoop. However in netball, there are 7 members on each time, and they have designated positions. The court in netball is divided into three parts, where each section must have a member of each team present. The positions in netball are a goalkeeper, goal defense, center, goal attack, goal shooter, wing attack and wing defense

A large difference between the two is that netball is a no-contact sport contrary to basketball. Contact is only allowed if it doesn’t interrupt the opponent’s general play, for example touching the ball-bearer or touching the person the ball-bearer is trying to pass to is not allowed.

You can stand between the two, but you cannot touch them directly. You also have to stay 35 inches away from the player with the ball, this is to avoid players just standing right in front of the ball-bearer making it almost impossible to pass.

Another enormous difference is that dribbling isn’t allowed in netball, making you a lot more dependent on your teammates and the way your team positions itself across the court.

The Hoops are very different. One great thing is that a netball hoop is actually easier to move around, and less tall.

Netball Hoop For Practice

Freestanding Netball Posts Galvanized Steel

Great netball hoop for practice. This hoop is very easy to move around, with adjustable posts. Comes in pink or blue.

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The Gender Separation

Professional basketball is dominated by men. This, however, is quite the opposite in netball.

The reason for this might be that netball is a no-contact sport, opening up the possibility for more rational thinking and strategizing, compared to just being the fastest and toughest person on the court.

Granted the dominance of women in the sport, the INF only recognizes women’s netball, where men’s netball teams are far less attractive and gain almost no attention.

So, in conclusion, the major differences in netball versus basketball are the gender separation, no-contact, the “banning” of dribbling and the number of players on the court.

Netball is generally a more strategic game, with many fast passes whereas basketball is more reliant on stamina, and physique.

Do you want to know what to wear, while playing netball? Then read my guide on what to wear in netball, click here.

Variants in Netball

Compared to basketball netball has different variants of the game. There are 3 types of netball which are indoor, fast5 and for children.

Indoor Netball

Played exclusively indoors(funny enough) and often surrounded by a net. This net prevents the ball from leaving the court, which speeds up the play and limits downtime in the play.

There are different types of indoor netball, one version involves 7 people each time and is called “action netball”.

The difference from normal netball is that this game is split into 15-minute halves with a 3-minute break in between. This version is primarily played in South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another version played in primarily New Zealand, features only 6 players, where the center player on each team can play the whole court except the shooting circles. The remaining defenders and attackers can only play on one half of the court.

Lastly, there is a version of indoor netball where only 5 players are on the court, but can all move throughout the entire court. The catch is that they cannot enter the shooting circles, which are reserved for only certain attackers and defenders.


Fast5 is the more commercial netball variant, made with a focus on television and fast-paced play. The game is a lot shorter, where each quarter only lasts for 6 minutes with a 2-minute break.

There are no limitations to substituting, and the coaches can freely give tactics or instructions from the sidelines during the playtime.

A fun catch to this type is that each team can call out a “power play” quarter, where the whole 6 minute quarter changes into giving double points per goal scored.

For Children

The netball rules for children are generally more friendly.

A version of children netball is “fun net” for five to seven-year-olds. The aim of this game is to give the kids a general feel of the rules of the game and give them some skill. This version has no winner or loser and is simply to just have fun.

Another version is called “Netta” which is for the 8 to 11-year-old category. Here the goal height is the same as the adult versions, but all the players can rotate during the match so each player can play each position. This version was made to increase the kids’ catching and passing skills and has an increase to 6 seconds of time between catching and passing compared to 3 seconds in the adult versions of the game.

5 Reasons Why You Should Play Netball

If you are wondering whether netball is for you or not, here are 5 good reasons why it might be for you.

1. You’ll Get Fit

Netball is a very fast-paced game where you’ll be running nonstop for an hour. The movements you make in netball will give you some huge legs and get you shredded in no time!

So go ahead and cancel that gym membership, because if you start playing netball you won’t need that silly place any longer!

2. Make New Friends

As with most team-based sports, you will make some great new friends playing netball, whether it is just sports-friends or new best friends, your social life will benefit from joining netball(or any team-based sport to be honest).

3. Beginner Friendly

The rules in netball and the general skill level needed is rather low. All you need is to be able to somewhat catch and throw a ball, and of course learn to score some goals, other than that the rules are very simple to understand making netball very easy to dive in as a complete beginner.

4. Netball Is For Everyone!

It was mentioned earlier that women’s netball is the only one recognized professionally, but that doesn’t mean men’s netball doesn’t exist. Being a no-contact sport, many local netball clubs actually mix up the teams with both women and men, since physique doesn’t have a huge role to play compared to many other sports.

5. Netball Is Cheap

Compared to most other sports, the price of joining a netball team is often substantially lower. All you need in terms of equipment is some netball clothing(which is really just normal sports clothing), a good pair of shoes and a netball. Also the court you use in netball can actually just be on any plane-level ground outside or inside, making it easy to set up a netball match on many different locations.

Recommended gear for starters

Training Netball

Gilbert APT Training Netball

Solid option for netball practice. It comes at affordable price.

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Netball Shoes

Mizuno Women’s Wave Hurricane 2

Reliable shoes, good for different sports. Great choice if you want a multipurpose pair of shoes.

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Netball Shorts

RBX Active Women’s Workout Running Shorts with Attached Bike Short

Basic elastic black shorts. Perfect for netball practice.

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Hi, I'm Simon, and I am passionate about "other sports".

There are many other (and much more fun!) sports than football, soccer and hockey.

If you are looking for inspiration beyond the most popular sports in the world, then you have come to the right place.


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