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Basketball vs. Netball: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 3, 2023
Basketball is a team sport using hands to shoot a ball into a hoop; Netball, similar in objective, prohibits dribbling and has specific player positions without a backboard.

Key Differences

Basketball is a globally recognized sport, played between two teams where players aim to shoot a ball through the opposing team's hoop. This game allows dribbling, where players bounce the ball while moving. In Basketball, both offensive and defensive strategies play a significant role, with players often trying to outmaneuver their opponents through passes, dribbles, and strategic plays. The game's iconic moves, like slam dunks and three-pointers, make it widely popular.
In contrast, Netball has its roots in early forms of women's basketball. Netball teams aim to score by passing the ball and shooting it into a hoop. However, players in Netball can't dribble the ball or move with it. Instead, they pass it to teammates while remaining stationary when in possession. Another distinguishing feature is that Netball doesn't utilize a backboard.
While both Basketball and Netball share a primary objective - shooting a ball into a hoop to score points - their rules and gameplay methods differ considerably. For instance, in Basketball, the court has a three-point line, allowing for long-range shots worth three points. In Netball, the court's segmentation and scoring areas differ, with two semi-circular areas dictating where players can shoot.
Moreover, player positions and roles in Basketball and Netball have different names and responsibilities. Basketball has positions like guards, forwards, and centers, each with unique duties on the court. Netball, on the other hand, designates positions such as goal shooter, wing attack, and goal defense, each with strict areas they can occupy and specific tasks.

Comparison Chart


Shoot ball into a hoop with a backboard
Shoot ball into a hoop without a backboard


Allowed, players can move with the ball
Not allowed; players must remain stationary with the ball

Player Positions

Guards, forwards, centers
Goal shooter, wing attack, goal defense, etc.

Court Design

Includes a three-point line
Different segmentation with two semi-circular shooting areas

Backboard Presence


Basketball and Netball Definitions


A game characterized by dribbling, passing, and shooting.
Basketball requires a combination of strength and strategy.


A game with designated player positions and no backboard.
She plays the goal shooter position in Netball.


A sport played on a rectangular court with a raised hoop.
The Basketball court was newly painted with team logos.


A team sport where players aim to score by shooting a ball into a hoop without dribbling.
Netball is popular in many Commonwealth countries.


A team sport where players shoot a ball into a hoop.
They played Basketball every weekend at the park.


A game played with seven players on each team.
Their Netball team practiced daily to improve coordination.


A round ball used in the sport of the same name.
She bought a new Basketball for practice.


A sport derived from early forms of women's basketball.
Netball has evolved significantly over the years.


A game played between two teams of five players each, the object being to throw a ball through an elevated basket on the opponent's side of a rectangular court. Players may move the ball by dribbling or passing with the hands.


A sport with specific court segments and shooting areas.
The Netball court was bustling with players.


The inflated, spherical ball used in this game.


(uncountable) A (usually women's) team sport derived from basketball, with seven players on each side who attempt to score goals by passing a ball and throwing it into the opponent's goal, which is a raised hoop with a net at one end of the playing area. Unlike basketball, a player in possession of the ball cannot move until the ball is passed to another player.


A sport in which two opposing teams of five players strive to put a ball through a hoop.


(countable) The ball used in this sport.


(countable) The particular kind of ball used in the sport of basketball. Basketball


A team game that resembles basketball; a soccer ball is to be thrown so that it passes through a ring on the top of a post


To play basketball


To throw in a similar way to when shooting a basketball


A ball game, usually played indoors in an area called the basketball court, in which two opposing teams of five players each contest with each other to toss a large inflated ball (the basketball) into opposite goals (baskets) resembling baskets, each typically a cylindrical mesh suspended from a circular rim which is held ten feet above the court. A goal scored by passing the basketball through the basket may count from one to three points, depending on the situation in which it was thrown.


The inflatable ball used in the game of basketball.


A game played on a court by two opposing teams of 5 players; points are scored by throwing the basketball through an elevated horizontal hoop


An inflated ball used in playing basketball


A game with positions like guard, forward, and center.
He excelled as a center in Basketball.


Are Basketball and Netball the same sport?

No, while both involve shooting a ball into a hoop, their rules and gameplay differ.

Is Netball played mostly by women?

Historically, Netball was a women's sport, but it's played by both genders today.

Can you dribble in Netball?

No, dribbling is not allowed in Netball.

How many players are in a Basketball team on the court?

Typically, there are five players from each team on the court.

How many players are in a Netball team on the court?

Netball teams have seven players on the court.

Can men play Netball?

Yes, while traditionally a women's sport, men's and mixed teams exist today.

Are the balls used for Basketball and Netball the same?

No, they differ in size and grip.

Do both sports have World Championships?

Yes, both Basketball and Netball have world championship events.

Why does Basketball have a backboard?

The backboard helps direct missed shots, allowing for rebounds and bank shots.

Which sport is more popular globally?

Basketball has more global recognition, while Netball is popular in Commonwealth countries.

Which sport is older, Basketball or Netball?

Basketball was invented first, with Netball evolving from early forms of women's basketball.

How long is a typical Basketball game compared to a Netball game?

Basketball games, especially professionally, tend to be longer than Netball matches.

Is the court size the same for both sports?

No, Basketball and Netball courts have different dimensions.

How did Netball evolve from Basketball?

Netball started as a form of women's basketball with modified rules, later evolving into its own sport.

How do scoring systems differ between Basketball and Netball?

Basketball has variable points (e.g., 2-point or 3-point shots), while Netball typically has a consistent scoring value.

Why doesn't Netball have a backboard?

It's a distinctive feature of the game, making shooting more challenging.

Are there any shared strategies between Basketball and Netball?

While distinct, both sports emphasize teamwork, passing, and positioning to outmaneuver opponents.

What's the primary defensive objective in both sports?

In both, players aim to prevent the opposing team from scoring.

Which is more physically demanding, Basketball or Netball?

Both sports have their challenges, but Basketball involves more continuous movement due to dribbling.

Can Basketball players play Netball, and vice versa?

While the core objective is similar, the different rules might require adaptation. However, players can play both sports.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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