What Came First Basketball Or Netball? » (7 Interesting Facts)

Have you ever watched a game on TV or at the local ball fields and wonder where it all started? Or even who came up with this game in the first place. 

There are several different games that involve a ball of some kind, making it easy to get some confused if you have no idea what the game is or the rules.

At first glance, you may see a group playing and assume they are playing some version of basketball. 

After all, basketball is popular in the US and in other parts of the world. Suddenly something seems just a bit off… no one is dribbling the ball. What you have stumbled on is not basketball at all, rather a unique game called Netball.

What Came First, Basketball or Netball? Basketball was invented first by James Naismith and then influenced Clara Baer to develop Netball. Netball is similar to basketball but is mostly played by women, and only professionally acclaimed for women as well.

Modern Netball has some significant differences from Basketball. So, what are those differences? Let’s break down the games of Netball and Basketball to highlight those differences in the following: 7 Interesting Facts

Read Also: What Do You Wear In Netball?

Basketball and Netball – Who Came First?

Basketball was the result of an idea to keep young men occupied in 1891 Massachusetts.

Invented by James Naismith, basketball was born out of necessity rather than the goal of becoming a national or even worldwide sport.

Just a few years later, word had spread and a sports teacher, Clara Baer of New Orleans, reached out to Naismith for the rules.

Having only been sent drawings and sketches, Baer ended up coming up with an entirely different way to play this new game. What began as women’s basketball later became known as Netball.

Check out this article about the rules of netball to see all the differences between these two popular sports!

7 Facts About Netball

Here are 7 interesting and fun facts, that also explains how netball is different to basketball:

#1: No Backboard Makes for Some Harder Shots 

The most visually obvious difference between Netball and Basketball is the absence of the iconic backboard. Anyone who has ever shot a basketball will be familiar with the oddly semi-rectangular shaped board with the box just above the net. 

The backboard serves as an aiming aid for basketball players. 

Netball, on the other hand, has no backboard, hence the name. 

There is only the net hanging high on a poll. This means that every shot to the basket must be more accurate than a basketball shot. 

While anyone who follows basketball may be familiar with the rare occurrence of a “nothing but net shot” it is actually quite common in Netball. 

#2: No Ball-Hogs Allowed 

Basketball is notorious for producing star players that get all of the attention while the other players on the court are lucky if anyone knows their name. The highest percentage of shots in a basketball game is usually scored by the point guard.

Netball, on the other hand, truly embraces the idea of a team sport. Due to several rules, including the three-second possession rule, Netball is designed to make a single show-boat player almost impossible. 

#3: Zones Increase the Action and Speed of the Game 

Basketball has marked lines that limit where some players can travel, depending on their position. However, anyone with the basketball can move more freely, even for a layup. 

There are also a few limitations on defensive positions, but all 5 players on each team can move around most of the active half of the court.

Netball is much more restrictive, each player on a team has their own position and zone in which they can move. These zones are specific to the position the player is playing and going outside of their zones is offsides. 

#4: 3 is Better than 2 

You may be familiar with the distinct halves of a basketball court, in many cases, all 5 players for each team travels and plays on the half where the ball is located. When the possession of the ball changes, players must race to the other half of the court and change from offense to defense or vice versa. 

Netball courts are divided into three distinct zones, each with their own unique requirements. The center section is set apart by the transverse lines on the court. These lines are not arbitrary, rather are used as an integral part of the entire game. The transverse lines control player zones and passing rules as well. 

Wondering what the Over a Third Rule is? Take a look at this article and get all the details.

#5: The 3 Second Rule

It is not uncommon to see a basketball player dribbling a ball giving their teammates time to get into position. While there are 24-second shot clocks that determine the amount of time before a shot attempt must be made, a single player can keep that ball for a bit. 

Netball players have to pass or take a shot within 3 seconds of receiving the ball. Think about that for just a moment. In 3 seconds, they must not only secure the ball but find a target, pay attention to their footwork and then successfully complete a pass. 

Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

That means that in the amount of time a basketball player can run down a shot clock, a netball must be passed 8 times!! 

#6: Girls Rule 

Basketball is played by both men and women. However, it is definitely a male-dominated sport; especially in the professional and competitive arenas. Women basketball players and teams are constantly overshadowed by their male counterparts.

Netball started as a woman’s sport and modern netball remains generally a woman’s sport. Though as the popularity and familiarity of netball continues to grow, there will surely be a rise in men playing netball on all levels. 

#7: 7 X 2 =14!!! 

Basketball has changed over the years, starting with 9 players on each team and finally settling on the well-known 5 players. Each team is allowed 5 players on the court at any given time with substitutions allowed at various times. 

The bottom line is that there are only 10 basketball players in the game during play.

Netball has 7 players (though some only 5) on each team and each has a different position. The position determines not only where the player can pass and receive the ball, but also where they are allowed to defend. 

BONUS: #8 No Contact 

Basketball games are often won or lost by foul shots. Fouls are most often the result of contact between players that goes against the contact that they are allowed. Basketball players are allowed to reach across other players to attempt to steal the ball or block them from receiving, passing, or taking a shot. 

Netball has a strict NO Contact rule. Players are not allowed to be within 3 feet of a player that has possession of the ball. While a defender is allowed to use a number of tactics to block a pass, even jumping, at no time, are they allowed to come within the 3-foot distance.

Final Thoughts

Netball has grown in popularity over recent years. After all, World Championship matches have been held every four years since the International Federation of Women’s Basketball and Netball (now INF) was formed and the first was held in England in 1963. 

In 1995, Netball was even recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

It will be interesting to watch and see where this sport goes over the next few years. Maybe soon we will be watching and betting on Netball November like we do March Madness!! One can only hope!


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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