Games are played on a rectangular court with raised goal rings at each end. Each team attempts to score goals by passing a ball down the court and shooting it through its goal ring. Players are assigned specific positions, which define their roles within the team and restrict their movement to certain areas of the court.
During general play, a player with the ball can hold on to it for only three seconds before shooting for a goal or passing to another player. The winning team is the one that scores the most goals. Netball games are 60 minutes long. Variations have been developed to increase the game's pace and appeal to a wider audience.
As of 2006, the IFNA recognises only women's netball. Men's netball teams exist in some areas but attract less attention from sponsors and spectators. Men's netball started to become popular in Australia during the 1980s, and the first men's championship was held in 1985.
In 2004, New Zealand and Fiji sent teams to compete in the Australian Mixed and Men's National Championships. By 2006, mixed netball teams in Australia had as many male participants as rugby union.
Other countries with men's national teams include Canada, Fiji, Jamaica, Kenya, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. Unlike women's netball at elite and national levels, men's and mixed gendered teams are largely self-funded.
The objective of a game is to score more goals than the opposition. Goals are scored when a team member positioned in the attacking shooting circle shoots the ball through the goal ring. The goal rings are 380 millimetres (15 in) in diameter and sit atop 3.05-metre (10.0 ft)-high goal posts that have no backboards. A 4.9-metre (16 ft)-radius semi-circular "shooting circle" is an area at each end of the court. The goal posts are located within the shooting circle.
Each team defends one shooting circle and attacks the other. The netball court is 30.5 metres (100 ft) long, 15.25 metres (50.0 ft) wide, and divided lengthwise into thirds. The ball is usually made of leather or rubber, measures 680 to 710 millimetres (27 to 28 in) in circumference, and weighs 397 to 454 grams (14.0 to 16.0 oz).
A normal game consists of four 15-minute quarters and can be played outdoors or in a covered stadium.
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