Netball is growing in popularity, and may well become the next soccer phenomenon to hit the US. Here's an intro to the rules of the game.
Popular among women in England, the Caribbean, and South Pacific, netball is closely related to the original version of basketball developed by James Naismith in 1891. As in that game, there is no dribbling, only throwing and catching (as well as shooting hoops; no dunk shots, though). When Naismith sent instructions for his game, including a diagram of the court to Calara Baer in 1895, a simple misunderstanding led to the development of netball. Baer read the diagram as meaning that the players did not move from their designated area on the court, an adaptation that remains to this day.
The game consists of four 15-minute quarters, with a 3-minute interval between the first and second quarter, a 5-minute interval at halftime, and another 3-minute interval between the third and fourth quarters. Teams change end with every quarter. The 100 x 50 foot court is divided lengthwise into thirds, with a 10-foot high goalpost (with a net but no backboard) on each end of the court. The goal circle is drawn around each goal (radius of 16 feet). Shots must only be attempted within the circle. Each of the seven players indicates his/her position by letters on the front and back of his/her uniform: GS, GA, WA, C, WD, GD, and GK. The ball (between 27- and 28-inch circumference) must not be held by a player for more than three seconds, nor can the player take more than two steps with the ball.
The Goal Shooter (GS) has the main responsibility of shooting goals and is located in the attacking third of the court (including goal circle).
The Goal Attack (GA) plays in the attacking two thirds of court,including goal circle, and can also shoot goals.
Wing Attack (WA) has the responsibility of passing the ball to the shooters; he/she is in the attacking two thirds but cannot enter the goal circle.
Center (C) plays the whole court except for the goal circles and joins the defensive and attacking sides of his/her team together.
Wing Defense (WD) defends the wing attacker, playing in the defense and center thirds.
Goal Defense (GD) defends the goal attacker and plays in the defense and center thirds, including the goal circle.
Goal Keeper (GK) plays in the defense third that includes the goal circle.
Therefore, only the goal attacker and goal shooter can shoot baskets (each basket counts as one goal, or point).
Since 1963, there have been world netball championships held every four years. Australia is considered the team to beat, having 8 wins of the 10 tournaments. In 1995, netball became an Olympic sport, which is sure to drive its popularity further as is the growing popularity of mixed team and men's netball. The emphasis on cooperation, rather than egocentric individual plays, as in men s basketball, may be part of its appeal. The entire team must focus and play together to win the game, allowing satisfaction for all the players, not just the superstar few. As the number of women originally from such places as the United Kingdom grows in the U.S., so will the popularity of this sport, bringing a home-grown sport back home.