If you are into fast-paced sports, you may be a fan of basketball or netball. Both sports involve putting a ball through a hoop, and have huge followings worldwide. While most of the world may know names like Lebron James and Michael Jordan, there are fewer household names when it comes to netball. One of the most notable differences between these two sports is that basketball is more male-dominated while netball is female-dominated. Read on to learn more about the differences between these two sports!


First, let’s discuss the differences in the equipment, the court, and the players.



There is a difference in size between netball and basketball balls. Netball balls are a smaller size 5, which is 8.9 inches in diameter. On the other hand, basketball balls are a regulation size 7, which is 9.4 inches in diameter.

The backboard and hoops are ever so slightly different between these two sports too. Since basketball is played with a bigger ball, it makes sense that the hoop is larger as well. The basketball hoop has a diameter of 18 inches and has a backboard behind it. Netball has a smaller hoop without a backboard, with a diameter of 15 inches.


Both sports have rectangular courts, but the netball court measures 50 by 100 feet, whereas the basketball court measures 50 by 94 feet. The difference is slight enough that you can play a casual netball game on a basketball court and vice versa.


One of the biggest differences between netball and basketball is that netball is position-oriented, and each player is assigned a role and position on the court. There are 7 players in netball, with each player assigned one of the following 7 positions:

  • Goalkeeper: this player stays in the defensive third of the court.
  • Goal Defense: this player stays in the defensive third and center third and can enter the goal circle.
  • Wing Defense: this player stays in the bottom two-thirds of the court but cannot enter the goal circle.
  • Center: this player can move across the entire court but cannot enter either goal circle.
  • Wing Attack: this player stays in the offensive and center thirds of the court but cannot enter the goal circle.
  • Goal Attack: this player stays in the offensive and center thirds of the court and can enter the goal circle.
  • Goal Shooter: this player stays in the offensive third of the court.

In basketball, there are 5 players per team at any given time. While each of the players is also assigned positions, basketball is much more free-flowing, and players are free to play across the entire court. The positions in basketball are:

  • Point guard
  • Shooting guard
  • Small forward
  • Power forward
  • Center


Unlike basketball, netball is a non-contact sport. In other words, you cannot interfere when opponents pass or attempt to score a ball. The only time contact is allowed is when the player does not interfere with the opposing team’s game plan. In fact, when a player attempts to pass the ball, the opponent must stand at least 35 inches from the player.


Both sports are played in quarters, but basketball has shorter quarters of 12 minutes each. There is also a 10-minute break after the second quarter. And netball has 15-minute quarters, with a 3-minute break after each quarter.


There are two ways to score a goal in basketball:

  1. Field goal
  2. Free throw

A field goal is worth either 2 or 3 points, depending on where the shot is made. And a free throw is worth 1 point. All basketball positions are able to attempt to score a goal into the hoop. In addition, a player can make a goal from any point on the court. So, for example, a player could score a goal from one end of the court to the other.

Conversely, in netball, every shot is worth just 1 point. All shots must be made from within the shooting circle, and only the Goal Attack and the Goal Shooter are allowed to score. When a goal is scored in netball, the game is restarted with a center pass, which is where the center throws the ball from the center circle to a teammate.


Another major difference between netball and basketball is the method of passing the ball. In basketball, a player dribbles (or bounces) the ball down the length of the court. Alternatively, they can pass it on to a teammate. The ball cannot be carried at any point during the game.

In netball, dribbling is not allowed. When a player touches the ball, they have 3 seconds to pass it to another teammate or to make a goal. Since the players cannot dribble, netball players are much more dependent on their teammates and their placement throughout the court.


Both sports are won by the team with the highest number of points. If the game is tied after the four quarters, in netball, the game goes into sudden death, where the first team to score wins. And for basketball, if the game is tied, the game goes into overtime for 5 minutes.