“Over A Third” Rule In Netball? » Get Smarter Now!

Netball is an exciting sport that is growing in popularity. 

Its fast pace can be complicated for some beginners to keep up with, which is why understanding the rules before starting is key. 

In fact, some rules even come with penalties if they are broken, which means it can cost your team if you break them.

What is the over a third rule in netball? The netball court is divided into three sections, called thirds. The rules of netball state that a ball cannot be thrown over a complete third without being touched by a player in that same third.

If a player breaks the over a third rule, a penalty will be given to the team. 

This penalty pass can alter the outcome of the game, making following these rules extremely important. 

Of course, this may sound confusing at first, but we will further discuss the ins and outs of the netball and the over a third rule.

Read Also: What Do You Wear In Netball?

Netball Basics

Before you can really understand the over a third rule, you need to learn more about the basics of netball, how it is played, and what the rules are. 

The most basic information on the sport is that it is a ball sport played by two teams of seven players. The game itself is sixty minutes long and divided into fifteen-minute quarters.

You can find the complete rules and guidelines on the International Netball Federation website, but we will discuss them in easy to understand terms here.

If you want to know everything about the rules in Netball, check out this post

The Court

If you are familiar with the game, you have probably seen a netball court, which resembles a basketball court but is larger. Here are some specifications:

  • The court is rectangular, measuring 100 feet long and 50 feet wide
  • It is divided into thirds, which are referred to as the two goal thirds and the center or middle third.
  • At the end of the court on each shorter side is a raised goal.

While netball can be played impromptu on a different sized court, official regulations require this size court and that players be in uniform.

The objective is for the teams to score goals by passing the ball and shooting it into the opposite team’s goal ring.

The Players

There are a lot of additional rules that pertain to how a player can move while playing and the various positions that are played. 

Players are assigned positions before starting, and these will define their role during the game, also defining their allowed movements on the court.

When a player is given the ball, they may take no more than one step before passing and only have three seconds to either pass or shoot for a goal.

Something unique about netball that should be remembered is that only the Goal Shooter or Goal Attack can score goals. 

This is one of the biggest differences between the game of netball and other similar games like basketball. Also, these players must be within the semi-circle area when the shoot the ball.

How Players Score Points in Netball

A goal is scored when the ball is passed to a player who is positioned in the goal section of the court. 

This will be the two outer thirds of the court, where the goal is placed. The players in this section will try to shoot the ball through their opponent’s goal ring to receive a point.

How Does a Team Win the Game in Netball?

The overall goal of the game of netball is for a team’s players to get more points than the opposing team. 

Players will attempt to pass the ball around the court, avoiding the opposing team, and making it to the Goal Shooter or Goal Attack players for scoring.

As mentioned, the game itself lasts one hour, so whichever team scores the most points during that time will win.

Better Understanding the Over a Third Rule in Netball

Now that you know more about the game of netball itself, you can learn more about the over a third rule. 

Essentially, you will want to refer back to what we discussed before about how the court is designed. Each netball court is divided into thirds, which is where the players will play and pass the ball.

The game of netball is designed to be fast-moving, but also to be very fair to the players. In other words, the rules are designed to keep players from overstepping their boundaries and keeping things fair. 

The over a third rule stops players from using a long, basketball style throw to get the ball across the court more quickly and leading to a quicker score.

When a player is passing the netball, they cannot throw it over a complete third of the court without it being touched or caught by a player. This means that it cannot cross two of the transverse lines on the court. The ball is required to be caught or touched by at least one player in each third of the court.

What Happens When the Over a Third Rule is Broken?

The biggest reason that players want to avoid breaking the over a third rule is that they will be penalized for doing so. 

This can change the game and give your opposing team the upper hand, which can truly change the outcome of the game and lead to them getting additional points. 

However, this is considered a minor rule when it comes to netball and has a lower penalty than other, larger rules for the game.

All minor rules are those that do not directly affect the footwork of another player, which this over a third rule does not do as it is simply passing a ball further than what is allowed. 

When a free pass is awarded, where it is taken is indicated by the umpire. Any player in the area can take the pass, and no players are considered out of play during this time.

When a team breaks the over a third rule, the opposing team that this was done against will be awarded a free pass. 

This pass will be taken from the same spot in which the infringement of the rule occurred. So, the free pass will be taken from the area where the ball crossed the second transverse line.

Do you want to know all the rules of Netball? Check out this complete guide on the rules of the game

Additional Resources

Some of us are visual learners – what better way to learn the rules of a sport than seeing them in action? You may want to take a look at some videos that illustrate what the over a third rule looks like when it is broken during gameplay.

There are a few really good videos on YouTube that further discuss the over a third rule, showing what it would look like during an actual game. Check out this instructional example, or this clip of a netball game, to see the over a third rule in action!

If you are interested in learning more about the game itself and the many other rules featured in netball, there are videos online who break down these rules more fully. This great video offers step-by-step through the game of netball and its many rules.

In Conclusion

The over a third rule in netball is one of the minor rules, in terms of penalty, but it will give your team a penalty, allow the opposing team a free shot, and can impact the trajectory and outcome of a game. 

Like any rule in the game, it’s best to avoid breaking it by refraining from throwing the ball across an entire third of the playing court without another player touching it.


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.


Let me guess, you got new shoes and they don’t ideally fit you and you’re wondering...
Sports are in general a manifestation of habits and traditions that throughout the years...
Too late, you realized how daunting buying your first fencing set can be, but you still...
Fencing is an amazing contact sport for participators of all ages.  Fencing goes...
Gloves are an important aspect of a fencer’s set of gear, and that’s why...
If you’ve ever seen a fencing match, you probably remember two things: the weapons and...