The History of Netball

The History of Netball

The History of Netball

Netball is a sport played globally with two teams of seven players that was created in England during the late nineteenth century. It originated as an offshoot of basketball but it soon developed into its own sport due to its unique rule set. The sport has been adapted by both Commonwealth countries and English-speaking countries, who have come up with varying rulesets. The rules of the game are currently set out by the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA), which is an international governing body that was established in 1960.

Netball's birth is documented to 1892 in England, when it was created as a women's version of basketball in order to keep young women busy during winter months. It was created at the school of Ricket, who was a physical education instructor. Ricket later became instrumental in establishing netball as an official sport and she helped create the first set of rules for netball that reflected some aspects of both basketball and lacrosse.


During the 1920s, netball got more coverage after it started to be played in more schools, colleges and universities. It became especially popular among the female population of New Zealand.

During the 1930s, netball's popularity began to decline due to several factors including male hostility towards women playing sports, lack of encouragement for girls at school and indifference on behalf of teachers. Despite this, there were still some groups that were actively supporting the game.

During the 1950s, netball expanded to Australia and South Africa, while New Zealand continued to remain active within the sport. The sport was gaining popularity in several countries across Europe, which prompted England's national team to compete internationally during the 1960s. This helped increase interest in England but it wasn't until 1983 that netball was recognized as an international sport at the International Olympic Committee.


There are currently over 40 countries that have official governing bodies for netball, which is overseen by IFNA. These federations and associations oversee their respective rulesets and how they apply to both local and international matches. The most common rules of netball in English-speaking countries include ten players per team, seven players on the court at one time and a 15-metre distance between the netball bases. The sport is played by both women and men across all age groups, which has led to an increase in participation numbers over the years.

Netball is currently gaining popularity among countries that have recently achieved success at international netball competitions, which has led to the increase in popularity of the sport. Netball is slowly being recognized as a global sport that is played by both men and women throughout the world.