It’s developed so that everyone who wishes to – including those who can’t necessarily keep up with the standard game due to age or injury – can still play netball. And whether to boost activity levels, find a hobby, or seek new friends, thousands of women across the country have taken up the walking version of this popular sport.
Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about walking netball, including how it differs from the standard game and how you can get involved, to help you work out whether it could be for you.
What is walking netball?
Walking netball has evolved from an ever-growing demand for walking sports. It’s exactly as the name suggests: a slightly modified version of regular netball played at a walking pace.
Some of the rules of standard netball have been altered (we’ll cover these below) in order to help players with their coordination and balance when catching and passing the ball.
However, the general premise of the game remains the same. Walking netball is simply a more accessible, low-impact form of the sport.
Have a watch of England Netball’s introduction to walking netball video below for more information.
What are the rules of walking netball?
Walking netball is played on the same court layout as regular netball and involves two teams consisting of the same seven playing positions. All players are on court at all times.
As with most sports, each position has a clear role to support their team’s overall success:
- Goal Shooter (GS) – this position aims to move into free space to receive the ball from their teammates and score a goal in the net. The GS is only allowed to the top of their team’s goal third and inside the goal circle.
- Goal Attack (GA) – aims to collect the ball from the WA or C and either pass to their team’s GS or shoot themselves. The GA is allowed everywhere except the opposing team’s goal third and goal circle.
- Wing Attack (WA) – aims to collect the ball and deliver it safely to either their team’s GA or GS in the goal circle.
- Centre (C) – this position starts the game in by throwing the ball from the centre circle. The C is allowed anywhere on court apart from the two goal circles.
- Wing Defence (WD) – aims to defend opposition players and intercept balls to hand possession back to their team. The WD is allowed in the centre third, the opposing team’s goal third, but not the goal circle.
- Goal Defence (GD) – aims to defend, intercept, and prevent the opposition from passing the ball into their goal circle. The GD can go anywhere except their own team’s goal third and goal circle.
- Goal Keeper (GK) – aims to defend, intercept, and prevent the opposition shooting the ball into their net. The GK is only allowed in the opposing team’s goal third and goal circle.
Just as in standard netball, the aim of the game is to get the ball to either the Goal Shooter (GS) or Goal Attack (GA) so that they can score goals in the net (which is similar to a basketball hoop but with no backboard). The game is won by scoring more goals than the opposing team.
However, some standard rules and regulations have been modified for walking netball to make it more low-impact and accessible.
Below is an overview of the main rules of walking netball.
- Instead of running across the courts and jumping to intercept balls, players can only walk and must never have both feet off the ground at the same time.
- Once a player receives the ball, they can take one to two steps while it’s in their possession before they have to pass or shoot.
- In regular netball, if a player takes another step with their landing foot, this counts as footwork and will result in a penalty being awarded to the opposing team.
- Players can keep possession of the ball for up to four seconds before they have to pass or shoot. This differs from regular netball, where players can hold the ball for three seconds at a time only.
- The extra second has been granted to allow players more decision-making time and encourage improved balance, coordination, and ball placement.
- Substitutions can be made between quarters or during game play. There’s no limit on the number of substitutions that can be made in walking netball.
- When defending, players must stand 3ft (0.9 metres) away from their opposition. There’s no player-to-player contact allowed.
Each game of walking netball includes four quarters (which are recommended to last six minutes each). Players get a one-minute break after the first quarter and third quarter, and a three-minute break at halftime. However, these are just general guidelines and games can be shorter or longer depending on the competition and circumstances.
For a more comprehensive guide to walking netball rules and regulations, check out this useful guide from Walking Sports.
The video below from England Netball also offers plenty of useful information about the rules of walking netball and how games are run.
Who can play walking netball?
Walking netball has been designed to make sure that everyone can play the game regardless of age, fitness level, or previous netball experience. Just like walking football, walking netball was invented to encourage mature men and women stay active and improve their health.
Like other walking-sports, walking netball is ideal for people who want to continue playing their sport, but can’t keep up with the dynamic pace of regular netball, either as a result of age or injury.
Equally, walking netball is a great outlet for anyone wanting to get involved in sport, whether they’ve played netball before or not.
However, it’s worth noting that at current, netball remains a very female-dominated sport. Because of this, whether or not a team accepts male players will differ from club to club, as some like to keep it a female-only space.
Interestingly though, research suggests that this may soon change as the male version of netball, ‘Nets’, is gaining significant popularity and more and more men seem to be getting involved.
What are the benefits of walking netball?
Walking netball offers a fun, low-impact, and accessible form of a sport that’s much-loved by many.
For lots of people, whether due to injury or age, the quick-paced, intense nature of regular netball can easily become inaccessible. But walking netball allows people to continue enjoying the sport they love while significantly reducing the risk of injuries, such as falls or twisted ankles.
Equally, for those who’ve never played any form of netball and are simply looking for a new way to stay active, walking netball can be ideal. It’s an effective low-impact cardiovascular workout which can help to maintain a healthy heart, lower blood pressure, and burn fat. Walking netball can also improve balance and coordination, and promote healthy weight maintenance.
Alongside the physical pointers of the sport, there are also many mental and social benefits. Joining a walking netball team is a brilliant way to meet new people, boost your social life, and enjoy being part of a team.
As this study revealed, playing walking netball can improve physical and mental wellbeing by combatting social isolation and increasing physical activity.
How can I get started with walking netball?
There are various walking netball clubs available across the UK, which offer everyone with an opportunity to get involved.
Walking netball session are designed to be fun, flexible, and typically follow the same format as standard netball sessions. Generally, this includes a warm-up, mini-games, and drills, often followed by a friendly match.
You don’t need any special kit or equipment to take part – just clothes that you feel comfortable exercising in, plenty of water, and sensible footwear (ideally lace-up trainers).
However, if you’d prefer to take extra precaution, you could get yourself a pair of netball trainers. Netball trainers are specially designed to withstand and protect your feet and ankles from the side-to-side, stop-start movements that are typical in the sport.
To search for walking netball sessions and clubs near you, you can use this handy tool on the Walking Sports website. And to keep up with netball news and media, head over to the England Netball website.
There’s been an increasing demand for walking sports in recent years, and walking netball is one of the most popular forms.
Designed so that everyone can play regardless of physical fitness, age, and previous experience, walking netball offers an exciting chance to stay active, meet new people, and (re)connect with this much-loved sport. So why not try it out today?
For more ideas and inspiration on how to be more active, head over to the fitness and exercise section of our site. Here you’ll find everything from walking and running guides to tips on how to improve balance and flexibility.