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Roles of Officials in Netball Explained

As a general rule, two umpires will fulfill the main duties of netball officials (instead of having the game officiated by a match referee). Their primary function is the interpretation and application of rules in netball.

Two scorers and two timekeepers would make up the full team of Technical Officials. TOs would help the umpires officiate international competitions or local elite events.

What is the Role of an Umpire in Netball?

Netball umpire responsibilities include conducting inspections and making rule decisions (using clear communication skills).

Umpires are also responsible for ensuring the general health and safety of all the players with extra accountability to spectators who may be watching the game.

Netball umpires should focus on enforcing the regulations and controlling fair play. But, the chief duty of umpiring officials in netball, usually females, is applying the laws of the IFNA.

In fact, you might see the role of officials and umpires in netball as a ‘third team’ functioning in coexistence with the players inside the court.

But wait – there’s more:

The fast-flowing game would not flow as ‘smoothly’ as it does without netball officials. They all play an important part in delivering a comprehensive and responsible strategy.

This is particularly true around the elite international arenas. Even so, professionalism and fairness is evident at club level too.

Section 7 of the netball game rulebook is key. It covers the official umpire’s functional role and responsibilities of a match referee.

But, it has limited guidance on some match play interpretations. Check the basic guide on correct umpiring terms used by officiating officials and their assistants.

Important: The primary roles and responsibilities of an umpire in netball is applying all the rules according to the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA).

Netball Officials Appearance

So, what do netball umpires wear for clothing as a uniform? For most games, all officials will wear a plain white shirt, dark coloured shorts, and white socks.

The basic appearance of a netball umpire, male or female, should include track shoes footwear or proper running trainers. Officiating umpires also need to have a whistle and a band for signalling centre calls.

Netball Officials Roles and Responsibilities

Umpire Checks ‘Before’ the Game Begins

The officials of netball competitions should complete a ‘pre-game’ inspection and check the safety of the court. A pre match review of the facilities should also include:

  1. Measuring the goal post dimensions and confirming that the netball ball is regulation size. Umpiring netball games also means ensuring that everyone prepares their scorecards.
  2. Ensuring all the players are wearing appropriate uniforms, making sure that no players are wearing sharp jewellery or have long fingernails.
  3. Equipping themselves with either a pea or finger whistle and wearing the appropriate attire for umpires as recommended by the IFNA.
  4. Confirming the position of the timekeepers, scorers, and the team benches – in readiness for the coin toss!

Netball Officiating Rules and Duties During Play

  • All England netball umpires should have comprehensive knowledge of all the match rules and protocols used in the game. It includes netball health and safety along with public security for any nonparticipants.
  • Exclusive control of players and game flow is the main function of the two umpires and extra officials.
  • All umpiring rules and infringement decisions will be final and without appeal.
  • One of the key roles and responsibilities of officials in netball is being familiar at working with colleagues. All officials must be knowledgeable on conducting their own pre match responsibilities.
  • The referee, when used, should enforce injury time regulations and adjudicate all penalty decisions with unbiased consistency.
  • Officiate with fairness and a respectful understanding nature towards match pressures and player volatility.
  • Play continues without interruption if the ball contacts an umpire during the game. An exception may occur if the official chooses to play a toss ball between two opposing players.
  • Netball officials should not penalize infringements if it places the offended team at a disadvantage.
  • The umpire should be clear at stating the nature of all infringements and penalties. Further clarification of a foul or player misconduct may follow with the use of hand signals.
  • Blowing the whistle for one of the rules infringements means the penalty must be duly awarded.
  • Netball umpiring rules and regulations do not allow officials to use coaching techniques for any team during a match.
  • Umpires can answer questions, when asked by a team captain, to help clarify INFA rules. But, it can only take place at one of the quarter breaks or after the game has finished.
  • When a match referee officiates, they should reaffirm the score to each team at the end of each quarter and during rest breaks.

Note: Consistency is also one of the key roles and responsibilities of officials in netball. As an umpire, you will be responsible for adjudicating the rules under the codified netball rule book 2022 PDF (and without bias).

Netball Umpire Hand Signals

The umpires and officials must observe the game with scrutiny. They will be responsible for making infringement decisions and awarding penalties (where applicable).

Umpiring hand signals help to clarify judgement on decisions and determine which player is at fault. For example, signalling will show whether a defender or an attacker caused a contact and obstruction foul.

You might be wondering:

Many of the regulations have similarities to those used in basketball rules. As such, players should take a penalty from the side of the court closest to the umpire’s position. Wrongly taken penalties would result in a free pass to the opposition.

Netball Umpiring Rules after the Game

The final role of officials in netball takes place when the game has finished. They should carry out and oversee all necessary score card reports. Make sure you document any endorsements (e.g. late team arrivals).

Follow that by endorsing both scorecards. Print your name, making sure that the names of all scorers and team captains have also been added.

Note: The England netball website has more information on what qualifications you need to become an umpire. Keep in mind that you need to be at least thirteen (13) years old to be an umpire in netball.

Duties of a Netball Coach
  • A coach may instruct and guide their own players with certain types of skills training during a game.
  • Both coaches should have a working knowledge of all the match regulations and rules of governance.
  • Trainers should enforce fair spirit in the game and the behavioral responsibilities of the squad and promote player compliance with the rules.
  • Each team coach should show respect towards all the match officials, the opposing coach, and all players.
Responsibilities for the Players
  • All players should wear appropriate apparel for the game. This includes, but not limited to, wearing athletic shoes or safe running footwear appropriate for ball sports.
  • All participants should be familiar with all the rules infringements. This includes understanding the correct procedure for taking throw-ins and penalties and from which position on the court.
  • All the players should have a working knowledge of the new netball rules 2022 and their own responsibilities for participation.

Use of Technology in Netball

Note: Using modern technology in the game has helped to make some giant leaps in recent years. For example, the short video [3:04 seconds] shows how RF tracking is helping sports coaches get valuable data from the girls as they move around the court.

Advanced Netball Rules

10 Rules of Netball: Browse the top ten regulations with simplified tips for complete beginners.
Netball Equipment List: A checklist of all the training gear and match kit used by players and officials.
Netball Safety Rules: Important guide explains how health and safety regulations affect the game.
Terms Used in Netball: Alphabetical list of terminology and phrases to help improve your knowledge.
Timekeeper in Netball: Check out the duties and responsibilities for accurate timekeeping in netball.

Roles and Responsibilities of Officials in Netball