21 Sep 2011

Men’s netball – not for the soft



Indoor netball is a popular social sport played in all states of Australia. The rules are pretty simple; take a conventional netball, play it on an indoor cricket pitch in netting and go.

The ball never leaves play because of the net, making the game fast-paced and often frantic.
A player may use the net as a backboard while shooting and may pass the ball to another player off the net, but at no stage, can a player touch the net.

The court is smaller than a standard netball court, also increasing the pace of the game. The mixed format allows for three men and four women on court, but men must be positioned so that one is in each third of the court.

While the social game is fun and all-accepting, competitive men’s netball is a game in itself.

It uses the same rules as mixed and women’s indoor, same courts and ball, same umpires.

However, the way it is played, is something else. First, lets clear up some misconceptions.

Netball, being a non-contact, is a ‘soft sport.’

Yes, the level of contact is less than AFL and the rugby codes, but this does not make the game soft.

It’s surprising to many when they watch the game, as to how much contact there actually is and how many opportunities there are to clean up a bloke.

Firstly, if the ball is loose on the ground or in the air, a player is expected to aim for the ball.
But any contact, given in the act of getting that ball (so long as it is deemed accidental) is fair. Experienced players know how to use this to their advantage, especially when the ball is in flight.

Imagine, if you can, a 6’3”, 90 kg man flying to meet a ball in flight, headless of anyone in between him and the ball. Aussie rules fans will understand that spectacle.

Next misconception; a player cannot move with the ball. True, to an extent.
Only one step is allowed by a player with the ball. Again, a rule that can be exploited
I’ve seen men move at speed, carrying the ball for only one step, and deliver the ball with finger-breaking speed. Again, it all comes down to experience.

Third misconception; the game, being designed for women, denies men the use of all of their natural attributes (speed, strength, height etc).

Being a game with three zones and offside penalties, netball is also a unique one-on-one game like Aussie Rules once was, before the ‘zone.’


This leads to amazing duals between opponents.

Two hugely-built men, fighting for position under the goal ring; two fast, wiry blokes sprinting across court for position; two tall, long-legged fellows, trying desperately to out-leap each other for a ball in flight.
Netball has a place for any build, including the more ‘jolly,’ or ‘well proportioned’ man.

Being larger, is a huge advantage for a goal shooter, as one’s ‘girth’ allows him to legally hold his opponent further from his body, therefore giving greater space to work the ball.

Last misconception; a basketball player can make the transition to netball easily.
While this may be true for some, as the two sports share many skill-sets, in passing and shooting for goal, the rules around stepping and contact are often the bane of these converts.

As soon as a player steps on (that is, takes the one legal step allowed when in position of the ball) he’s fair game.

His opponent, will then get right in his face (legally) and attempt to throw him off-balance or waste his chance with the ball.

While an experienced netballer will hit you and make it hurt, they will also make it legal.
Usually it’ll happen in the act of pursuing the ball.

So next time, you hear a bloke say ‘oh yes, I play netball,’ just think before you make the homophobic comment you’re probably thinking, and instead, think to yourself, am I man enough?

source: http://www.theroar.com.au/2011/05/04/mens-netball-not-for-the-soft/

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