Rules of Netball

International Rule Book

The International Rules Advisory Panel met in 2019 to discuss the rule book. They made amendments to the 2018 version of the rules which took effect from 1 January 2020. The rules of Netball are set out in the International Rules of Netball book available from Sports Distributors - purchase a hard copy or view an online version.


Two umpires have control of the game and make the on-court decisions about the run of play.

Starting play

Play is started with a pass from the centre circle – this is called the centre pass. There is a centre pass at the beginning of each quarter and half, and after each goal is scored. The teams take turns making the centre pass. The person making the centre pass must stand in the centre circle. The opposing centre can stand anywhere in the centre third but all other players must stay in the goal thirds until the umpire blows the whistle to start play. The centre pass has to be received in the centre third.

Footwork (Stepping)

Once a player has landed with the ball, the first landed foot is called the grounded foot and must either stay on the ground or in the air until the ball is passed on. Re-grounding that same foot a second time while still in possession of the ball is a step which will result in a free pass to the opposition. Similarly, a hop, slide or drag of the grounded foot is not permitted.


When a player is defending another player or trying to intercept the ball they must be at least 0.9 metres away from the grounded foot of the player who has the ball.


A player is not allowed to physically contact an opponent if it disrupts or stops that person from playing. Pushing the ball out of an opponent’s hands is also not permitted.


For contact, obstruction or moving the goalpost penalties, the offending player must stand beside or away from the thrower and where the umpire has indicated. A goal shooter or goal attack taking the penalty pass or shot in the goal circle can either pass the ball or shoot for goal.

Held Ball

Once the ball has been caught, the player must pass it or shoot for goal within three seconds.

Throw in

When the ball goes out of court, the umpire takes note of which team touched it last. The throw in is then taken by a player from the opposing team close to where the ball went out of court. Standing close to the line from the outside of court, the player has three seconds to get the ball back in play.


Each player is allowed in only a certain area of the court. If a player steps into an area or any part of their body touches the ground in an area their playing position is not allowed to go, will be ruled offside