Never heard of this sport before but I'm watching this now.
Wow I'm really interested in this sport now. I need to watch that video again though.
A lot of the girls in that vid are from the England international team, and several of them come to play in the Australia/New Zealand competition, as do the top Jamaican players, since Aus and NZ are the two strongest countries in netball.
I'll be watching a few women's Netball games this weekend on tv. As I said before, it's only really played in Commonwealth countries but I find it really watchable. Like tennis, the girls have flattering outfits, and I really think women's basketball should follow suit if they want more people to watch.
It can be tricky to understand, and you need to have some understanding to appreciate it I think. The main thing is that the game is a real team game which encourages passing. The players cannot run with the ball. There is a special step rule allowing 1 step or several pivoting steps with one foot grounded, or if you run as you receive the ball you can land one foot a single time - left foot lands, then right foot, then you have to pass before your left foot lands again. You can't drag your pivot foot, so players usually try to jump before catching the ball, and then land on two feet simultaneously, so that they can choose either foot to be the pivot, like so:
Players are also only allowed in certain sections of the court, depending on their position. The court has thirds, and you cannot pass directly from end to end, the ball must be touched once in each third. The player with the ball is protected from contact and also you cannot stand closer than 3 feet from them. Therefore it is nearly impossible to defend the final shot, it mostly comes down to the nerves of the shooter and rebounding. You can only shoot if you are inside the shooting circle.
You also have to pass the ball within 3 seconds of receiving it. So the rules basically force the team to make many passes to advance the ball into the circle. The game is all about passing and interception, you defend by stealing or deflecting passes or making the opponent feel that there is no one free to pass to and then they go over the 3 second rule. On the other hand when attacking, you judge where to pass so that your teammate can grab the ball without it being stolen. Once the ball is received in the shooting circle further defense is nearly impossible.
No contact with the ball carrier is allowed but there is a lot of light off the ball contact as players juggle for position to receive the ball. Netball has rules about having your arms up for too long if you aren't about to try to catch a ball, so players jostle for position with their arms down, like this:
Quite often the two players jump if the pass is high to try to get hands to the ball first:
Some contact is allowed as the players try to get the best position to catch the ball, but you aren't allowed to elbow or actively push your opponent away, you can only use your body to block them or get the superior catching position. Inevitably when they receive the ball the opposition is right next to them like this:
and since the defender almost certainly could not avoid contact with the opposition after they grabbed the ball (at which instant the "no-contact" and "3 foot distance (called Obstruction)" rules are activated) the successful catcher gets a free pass which is setup without delay, while the unsuccessful defender has to stand to the side until the pass is taken.
That's all you really need to understand to watch. No contact with the ball-carrier. 3 foot distance is required from the ball carrier or "obstruction" is called. 3 seconds to pass or shoot the ball or you lose possession. And maybe the no dribbling rule or "replay" (letting go of the ball and grabbing it again yourself is not allowed).
It's like the polar opposite of basketball, where one person can bring a ball down court by themselves and the only weak moment is when they are about to take a shot. There is no such thing as one-on-one netball, you have to have a team, unlike one-on-one basketball. In Netball all the defense occurs as the ball makes its way into the shooting circle, and defending after that is very difficult.
The local competition is the Australia/New Zealand joint competition, known as the ANZ Championship. http://www.anz-championship.com/
Last year a NZ team, the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, won the whole competition. They started the season with about 5 losses in a row but turned it around and didn't lose another match for the rest of the season. However, it doesn't look like they can defend the title. They lost their second shooter, the goal attack position, and now they have a weak point which can be exploited. Actually, the Magic team has over half the New Zealand national team, the Silver Ferns, except that the Ferns have no weak point, and that makes an enormous difference. Their star shooter is Irene Van Dyk, originally from South Africa, who is possibly the greatest ever goal shoot, but is now 40 years old (and still the main shooter in the NZ national team, and very well-loved in her adopted country of NZ).
My local team, the Northern Mystics, is doing terribly this year. They have the other NZ star shooter, Maria Tutaia, who is a specialist in long distance shots, but they lost two key players, their centre retired and their best defender Anna Harrison, also a Silver Fern, became pregnant. Three Australian teams are at the top of the table, in general the NZ teams are struggling, but the Magic are holding onto fourth for a possible semifinal spot at the end of the season. The Magic have made the semifinals or finals every year since 2008 but only won the championship last year.
Highlights from the most recent round:
In the most recent Commonwealth Games (held every 4 years, like the Olympics) NZ won the gold medal match against Australia in double extra time (scores even at full time, even after extra time). It was the final event of the Commonwealth games that year. Unfortunately the Aussies got revenge last year in the World Championships, but NZ will defend the Commonwealth title next year.