Basketball vs. Netball

What's the Difference?

Basketball and netball are both popular team sports that involve shooting a ball into a hoop. However, there are some key differences between the two. Basketball is played with two teams of five players each, while netball is played with two teams of seven players. In basketball, players are allowed to move around the court freely, dribble the ball, and shoot from anywhere on the court. On the other hand, netball players have designated positions and are not allowed to move with the ball, except for the designated positions. Additionally, netball has strict rules regarding contact and defending, whereas basketball allows more physicality. Overall, both sports require teamwork, skill, and strategy, but they have distinct rules and gameplay that set them apart.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
OriginUnited StatesEngland
Number of Players57
BallRound and BouncySpherical and Non-bouncy
Playing SurfaceHardwood CourtHard Court or Grass
Scoring2 points for a field goal, 3 points for a three-pointer1 point for a goal
Duration4 quarters of 12 minutes each4 quarters of 15 minutes each
PositionsPoint Guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward, Power Forward, CenterGoal Shooter, Goal Attack, Wing Attack, Center, Wing Defense, Goal Defense, Goal Keeper
Physical ContactAllowedRestricted
International Governing BodyFIBA (International Basketball Federation)INF (International Netball Federation)
Photo by Mike Flamenco on Unsplash

Further Detail


Basketball and netball are two popular team sports that share some similarities but also have distinct differences. Both sports involve players trying to score points by shooting a ball into a hoop, but they have different rules, playing styles, and strategies. In this article, we will explore the attributes of basketball and netball, highlighting their unique features and discussing the various aspects that set them apart.

Rules and Gameplay

One of the primary differences between basketball and netball lies in their rules and gameplay. Basketball is played with two teams of five players each, aiming to score points by shooting the ball through the opponent's hoop. Players can dribble the ball, pass it to teammates, and move freely across the court. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

On the other hand, netball is played with two teams of seven players each, with specific positions assigned to players. The objective is to score goals by shooting the ball into the opponent's net. Unlike basketball, netball players cannot dribble the ball or move with it. They must pass the ball within three seconds and can only pivot on one foot. The team with the most goals at the end of the game emerges as the winner.

Positions and Roles

In basketball, players have more flexibility in terms of positions and roles. The five positions in basketball are point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. Each position has specific responsibilities, such as ball handling, shooting, rebounding, and defending. Players can switch positions and adapt to different roles based on the team's strategy and game situation.

Netball, on the other hand, has more defined positions, and players have specific roles that they must adhere to throughout the game. The seven positions in netball are goal shooter, goal attack, wing attack, center, wing defense, goal defense, and goal keeper. Each position has unique responsibilities, such as shooting goals, feeding the ball, defending, and intercepting passes. Players are not allowed to switch positions during the game, emphasizing the importance of specialized skills for each role.

Playing Surface and Equipment

Both basketball and netball are played on rectangular courts, but their dimensions differ. A basketball court measures 94 feet long and 50 feet wide, with a hoop placed 10 feet above the ground. The court is divided into two halves, with a three-point line marking the area from where players can score extra points. Basketball players wear sneakers and use a round ball to play the game.

Netball courts are slightly smaller, measuring 100 feet long and 50 feet wide. The hoop is positioned 10 feet above the ground, similar to basketball. However, netball courts have specific areas for each position, such as goal circles for shooters and defenders. Netball players wear specialized shoes and use a slightly smaller ball compared to basketball.

Physical Demands and Skills

Both basketball and netball require different physical demands and skills from players. Basketball is known for its fast-paced nature, requiring players to possess agility, speed, and endurance. Players must be able to dribble the ball effectively, shoot accurately, and defend against opponents. Height can also be an advantage in basketball, particularly for rebounding and blocking shots.

Netball, on the other hand, emphasizes different skills and physical attributes. Players need excellent hand-eye coordination, passing accuracy, and spatial awareness. Speed and agility are also crucial, as players must quickly move into open spaces to receive passes and create scoring opportunities. While height can be advantageous in certain positions, such as goal shooter or goal keeper, it is not as significant a factor as in basketball.

Popularity and Global Reach

Basketball is widely regarded as one of the most popular sports globally. It has a massive following in countries like the United States, China, and many European nations. The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a global powerhouse, attracting millions of fans and featuring some of the world's best players. Basketball is also an Olympic sport, further contributing to its global reach and popularity.

Netball, while not as globally recognized as basketball, has a strong following in several countries, particularly in Commonwealth nations such as Australia, New Zealand, and England. The sport has its own international federation, the International Netball Federation (INF), which organizes major tournaments like the Netball World Cup. Netball is also gaining popularity in other regions, with efforts to promote the sport and increase its global reach.


In conclusion, basketball and netball are two distinct team sports with their own set of rules, gameplay, and attributes. While both sports involve shooting a ball into a hoop, they differ in terms of positions, gameplay style, physical demands, and global popularity. Whether you prefer the fast-paced nature of basketball or the strategic gameplay of netball, both sports offer unique experiences and opportunities for players and fans alike.

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