Comparing Sports: Basketball vs. Netball

Basketball is a sport that is followed by over 825 million people worldwide. It has produced global icons like Lebron James, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant. It has an undeniable presence and influence in hip hop, fashion, film, and much more. What most people don’t know though, is that this sport has a cousin: netball.

Netball is only followed by 20 million people worldwide, and is predominantly played by women. Today we want to shine a light on this largely unknown sport. We will introduce you to netball and tell you how it is similar and different to a sport you most likely know and love already – basketball.


Netball Positions comparing sports
Netball Positions
Basketball Positions comparing sports
Basketball Positions

The positions are possibly the biggest difference between basketball and netball. In basketball, there are five positions that have general assignments, but can move freely through the court. In netball, there are seven positions that have strict duties, and they are confined to certain areas of the court. For example, in netball, the “center” can run on either side of the court, but not in the shooting circle. The player called the “wing defense” can play on the defending side of the court and the middle region, but not the attacking side of the court. This may seem quite confusing compared to basketball’s much more free rules about positioning.


passing in basketball vs. netball
Passing in basketball (left) vs. netball (right)

In basketball, you can pass from as far or as close as you’d like. Also, you can hold the ball for as long as you want (so long as you don’t run out the shot clock). Netball is vastly different. In netball, your pass has to be longer than three feet (0.9 meters), but it also can’t be so long that it passes all the way from the defensive end to the attacking end of the court. Lastly, in netball you cannot hold the ball for more than three seconds without passing.


Shooting in basketball vs. netball
Shooting in basketball (left) vs. netball (right)

Players like the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry have reinvented basketball with their extremely long range shots. This is not allowed in netball. Unlike in basketball, where any player can shoot from anywhere on the court, netball players are confined to a shooting circle and there are only two players on the team that are allowed to shoot the ball – the “goal attack” and the “goal shooter”

Ball carrying

ball carrying in basketball vs. netball
Ball carrying in basketball (top) vs. netball (bottom)

Basketball fans everywhere have become mesmerized with how far the game has come with ball-handling. Behind the back dribbles, between the leg dribbles, dribble moves like “the shamgod” and “the crossover” have taken over the game. You won’t see this in netball. There is no dribbling, and once you gain possession of the ball, there is also no moving – you must pass.

Netball is a very fast-paced and fun sport that is actually much safer than basketball. Contact is not allowed in netball. Maybe in the future it will reach the level of fame that basketball has attained, and you’ll already have a head start on all of your friends in knowing how to play! Are you interested in giving netball a try? If yes, then rip off that backboard from your basketball set up and get a game started!

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