Netball has its roots in women’s basketball from the USA, but it developed to suit the inclinations and dress code of young English womanhood of the early 1900s. It is a game of restricted zones of play, standing on the spot when holding the ball and no impeding the opposition other than waving your arms ~ perfect if you are wearing a long skirt, tight bodice and puffy sleeves!

Indeed, it is said that Mary Tait, one of the students at the Physical Training college in London which first devised the rules, came up with the design for the ‘gymslip’ specifically to allow more freedom of movement. Netball is played outdoors or indoors on a small court, 100ft x 50ft, with a 10ft high post at each end, to which is attached a ring with a net. Each of the seven players on a team has her own role and section of court on which she is permitted.

Netball is mainly known as a school sport for girls, but there are women’s teams as well, and an international side. Although males are known to play it in other countries, more physical games such as football have always been preferred in the UK.

(Image: Rae Slater at / CC BY 2.0)

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