Netball vs. Basketball: What’s the Difference?

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Like American football and rugby, netball and basketball are similar but still completely different. It’s not just the baseball-softball difference; the netball and basketball difference is night and day. So in this netball vs. basketball comparison, what really are their differences? Let’s dig right in.

What is Netball

What is Netball?

Netball is a sport similar to basketball. Basketball and netball are two of the most popular ball sports in the United States today. Both games can be played on the same court because they are linked, but apart from the fact that netball is primarily played by women, they have different rules and game patterns.

A netball court is divided into three sections, with opposing teams occupying each area. Competing teams have seven players, each assigned to one of the following positions: goalkeeper, wing defense, wing attack, goal defense, center, goal attack, and goal shooter. Therefore, position-wise, netball is more like soccer or hockey than basketball.

Another exciting thing about netball is that it has slightly different rules depending on where you are playing. Netball rules are a little different in China, the UK, and the United States. Regardless, netball is the epitome of team sport. There are no hero ball and isolation ball hog plays and rely more on skills such as spatial awareness and hand/eye coordination than athleticism.

What Are Some Similarities Between Netball and BasketballWhat Are Some Similarities Between Netball and Basketball?

Here are the similarities between netball and basketball:

  • Both netball and basketball require shooting a ball through a hoop. 
  • You may use the same basketball court for either sport.
  • Shooting skills and quick decision-making are two skills that are highly valuable in both sports.
  • Rebounding, passing, and defense are also used in netball and basketball.

As previously mentioned, netball is an entirely different sport from basketball, so the similarities stop right there. Netball rules and netball positions are utterly different from basketball.

What Are Some Similarities Between Netball and Basketball

What are the Differences Between Netball and BasketballWhat are the Differences Between Netball and Basketball?

There are numerous differences between basketball and netball, including ball style and shape. Furthermore, you are only allowed to go to a specific type of region in netball, and positions are pre-defined assigned at the beginning of the game. In basketball, each side is allowed to have five players on the court. There were ten persons in total, including the opposition.

Speaking of the fixed positions, there are boundaries in the said positions. For instance, the goal shooter (GS) only plays in the attacking third section of the court. The primary responsibility of the player is to score goals for the team. They must have excellent accuracy, fast reactions, and the ability to create space in order to score goals. In basketball, while there are primary options to score in a team, anyone can score from anywhere on the court.

Another distinction between basketball and netball is that the latter is a non-contact sport. Contact is only permitted provided it does not interfere with the opponent’s overall game plan; for example, touching the ball-bearer or the person to whom the ball-bearer is attempting to pass is prohibited.

You are permitted to stand between the two, but you cannot touch them directly. You must also keep a distance of 35 inches (or 0.89 m) from the ball-bearer in order to avoid players standing directly in front of the ball-bearer, making passing nearly tricky. Another significant distinction is that dribbling is not permitted in netball, making you much more reliant on your teammates and the way your team sets itself around the court.

Let’s examine more of the differences between netball and basketball in detail. 

Netball vs. Basketball Ball Size

The regulation size of netball and basketball is different. The ball used in netball competitions is size 5, 8.9 inches in diameter. The regulation size of a basketball is size 7 with a diameter of 9.4 inches. Of course, there are other basketball sizes based on the level of competition and age brackets. However, the dimensions mentioned above are the official or regulation sizes.

To further visualize the difference in size between netball and basketball, watch this video:

Netball vs. Basketball Shooting

The scoring and shooting parts of netball and basketball are briefly touched on at the outset, and they are indeed very different. There are two main ways to score in basketball– shooting field goals and free throws. Field goals are further categorized as two-point and three-point shots while a made free throw is worth one point.

In netball, aside from the fact that only certain positions are allowed to score, every shot is only worth one point. The team receives one point when a shot from inside the goal circle is successfully scored in open play. The team will be given a free shot at the net if a technical foul is called. One point will be granted for a successful attempt.

Apart from that, the personnel is the glaring difference between the two sports when it comes to shooting. All basketball players on the court are allowed to shoot. On the other hand, only the Goal Attack (GA) and Goal Shooter (GS) are the only ones with the license to shoot and score goals. Shots must be made within the shooting circle, often known as the D or semi-circle. A goal is scored when the ball passes through the net from above. When a goal is scored, the game begins with a center pass.

Here is a pretty good visual aid regarding the netball and basketball difference in shooting:

Netball vs. Basketball Players

Personnel is one of the main differences between netball and basketball. Netball is very position-oriented, and the roles of each one are pre-determined. Each player is stuck in his or her position.

In this sense, basketball is more free-flowing. While there are traditional positions in basketball, the lines between them have now been constantly blurred. A center could handle the ball and set the offense up like a point guard, while guards are free to mix it up with the giants inside.

The number of players is also different. Basketball only allows five players on the court per team, but netball has seven. Netball players are assigned to specific areas, while basketball enables the players to roam anywhere on the court.

Netball vs. Basketball Backboard

Aesthetically speaking, netball and basketball look similar. Both may even be played on the same court. However, basketball uses a backboard while netball doesn’t. 

There are some significant distinctions between netball hoop height vs. basketball hoop height. Basketball hoops are substantially larger, with a diameter of 46cm or 18 inches, whereas netball hoops are 38cm or 15 inches in diameter. If you’re used to shooting into larger hoops, this will have an impact on your netball practice and your degree of accuracy.

Netball Court vs. Basketball Court

A typical netball court measures 30.5 meters in length (100 feet) and 15.25 meters in width (50 feet). After that, the court is divided into three equal thirds, each measuring 10.176 meters (33.38 feet) by 15.25 meters (50 feet). The center circle is positioned in the center third, while the goals are located in the two-thirds that bookend the court. The sidelines are the lines that run the length of the netball court, while the goal lines are the shorter sides. The ring stands on these goal lines, also known as baselines. The height of a netball ring is 3.05 meters. 

On the other hand, a basketball court is 15 meters by 28 meters (or 94 by 50 feet in the NBA), allowing you to play both sports on the same surface. The hoop used in netball is taller than a basketball hoop by 10 millimeters, but it has a smaller diameter (15 inches to 18 inches).

How Are the Rules of Netball Differ from BasketballHow Are the Rules of Netball Differ from Basketball?

The basic rules of basketball are as follows:

  • Only a maximum of five players per team are allowed on the court.
  • Substitutions are made freely.
  • The ball can be moved either by passing or dribbling.
  • When a player picks up the basketball with two hands after dribbling, he can no longer dribble it again. He can only either shoot or pass the basketball.
  • The team in possession of the ball is called the offense. The other group is the defense. The defense does everything to stop the offensive team from scoring.
  • Fouls or illegal contact are accumulated and will result in free throws.
  • A team only has 24 seconds to shoot the basketball in a particular possession. (High school and college basketball allow more time on the shot clock.) There is no limit to how many seconds a player has the ball in his possession as soon as they shoot within the time frame.
  • Players are allowed to go wherever they want (or where the coaches want) on offense as long as they’re not out of bounds. In the NBA, staying in the lane for more than three seconds is a violation.

Meanwhile, here are the basic netball rules:

  • No dribbling is allowed. If players touch the ball, they have three seconds to get rid of it.
  • A netball court is divided into three sections. The ball cannot go from one section to the third; it must go through all of them.
  • You cannot physically attack or get into the grill of any player defensively. The ball must only be stolen as it is passed.
  • The game has four rounds of 15 minutes each. The break between rounds is three minutes long.
  • A maximum of seven players playing pre-defined positions are in for each team.

If you have played basketball, the rules of netball are more rigid. It requires faster decision-making since the ball may only be held for three seconds after a throw. Playing defense also presents challenges. Because you cannot get close to a player, the only option for a steal is when the ball is in the air. That is only possible during a pass.

Offensively, shooting requires much more accuracy because netball hoops do not come with a backboard. However, the shooter meets less resistance since the defender is only allowed within three feet of the offensive player. Dribbling is prohibited, so there is less dynamism in that regard. But then again, the overall gameplay is fast-paced and very exciting because of the three second-rule.

For families and people of all ages, the non-contact nature of netball makes it an ideal game to play. It is not uncommon for a netball game to have people of different ages and genders playing collectively.

This video summarizes the most significant differences between netball and basketball.

Wrapping Things Up: Netball vs. Basketball: What’s the Difference?

Netball and basketball are aesthetically similar, but the rules and gameplay are not the same. 

For instance, netball is played without dribbling while basketball is. Netball is a non-contact sport, but basketball is a full-on contact sport with a lot of bumping and shoving. In netball, defenders are only allowed within three feet of the player they are guarding. Netball players are also assigned positions and areas, and they shouldn’t go over their job descriptions. That means only those that are assigned scorers should be able to shoot.

Basketball and netball are very different in that sense. Basketball players have positions, but they can go anywhere they want. Everyone in the court has the option to shoot, and everyone has to defend. Basketball field goals are scored two points and three points, depending on the area the player shot from. In netball, all baskets and free throws are only worth one point.

The differences between netball and basketball’s offensive and defensive rules are just the beginning. Gameplay is also very different. Basketball is typically played in 12-minute quarters (10 in non-professional competitions), while netball is played in four rounds of 15 minutes each. The break per round in netball lasts three minutes, but basketball has a break of 10 minutes after the second quarter.

So, basketball vs. netball, which is better? It depends on your preferences, really. If you have sustained serious injuries throughout the years, netball is a viable option to still play hoops competitively. Yes, netball rules take a little while to get used to, but it presents a different type of challenge.

All in all, in this netball vs. basketball discussion and comparison, the beauty of both hoops games are apparent. One is geared toward physical contact, and the other is predicated more on quick thinking and accurate shooting. Regardless of the sport you choose, that matters little as long as everyone has a good time.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

> Basketball vs. Football: Which is Harder?

> Basketball vs. Soccer: Which is Harder?

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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