Netball vs. Basketball

Netball and basketball are two popular court sports enjoyed by millions of players and fans around the world. Although they share some similarities, these games have distinct rules, gameplay styles, and team dynamics that set them apart. In this article, we explore the key differences between netball and basketball, shedding light on what makes each sport unique.

Court Size and Team Composition

One of the most apparent distinctions between netball and basketball is the court size and team composition. A netball court is larger than a basketball court, measuring 100 feet by 50 feet, whereas a standard basketball court is 94 feet by 50 feet. In netball, each team consists of seven players divided into specific positions: Goal Shooter (GS), Goal Attack (GA), Wing Attack (WA), Centre (C), Wing Defence (WD), Goal Defence (GD), and Goal Keeper (GK). In contrast, a basketball team comprises five players: two guards, two forwards, and one centre.

Movement and Dribbling

Another significant difference lies in the movement and dribbling. In basketball, players dribble the ball by bouncing it on the court while moving. Dribbling allows players to change direction and evade defenders while maintaining possession. On the other hand, netball players are not allowed to dribble the ball. Instead, they must pass the ball to their teammates to advance it up the court. This rule makes netball a faster-paced game with constant passing and strategic positioning.


Scoring in both sports is different as well. In basketball, a field goal is worth two points if taken from inside the three-point line and three points if taken from beyond the arc. Free throws are also worth one point each. On the contrary, netball players can only score from within a semi-circular shooting circle surrounding the goal post. A successful shot from inside the circle earns one point, regardless of the player’s distance from the post.


Defensive strategies vary between netball and basketball due to the differences in movement and gameplay. In basketball, defenders can use their bodies to block opponents and attempt to steal the ball during dribbling. Zone defences and man-to-man marking are commonly employed tactics. In netball, defenders must maintain a three-foot distance from the player with the ball and are not allowed to make physical contact. Defensive play centres around intercepting passes and disrupting the flow of the opposing team’s attacks.

Duration of Play

The duration of play also differs in these two sports. A standard basketball game consists of four quarters, each lasting 12 minutes in professional play. In contrast, netball matches are typically divided into four quarters, but each quarter lasts 15 minutes. The longer quarters in netball allow for more sustained gameplay and tactical adjustments throughout the match.

Contact and Physicality

Basketball is generally considered a more physical and contact-intensive sport compared to netball. In basketball, certain degrees of physical contact are allowed, such as blocking shots or setting screens. However, excessive or aggressive contact results in fouls. In netball, physical contact is heavily restricted, and players must maintain a safe distance from their opponents to prevent obstruction and fouls.


Netball and basketball may share the fundamental concept of scoring points by shooting a ball through a hoop, but they are distinct sports with unique rules, strategies, and team dynamics. Netball emphasizes quick passing, strategic positioning, and precise shooting within a limited shooting circle. On the other hand, basketball allows for dribbling, more physical contact, and a broader range of scoring opportunities from various distances on the court. Whether you prefer the fast-paced passing game of netball or the dynamic dribbling and physicality of basketball, both sports offer thrilling experiences for players and spectators alike.

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