Walking Netball has evolved from a growing demand for walking sports. Often, one of netball’s strengths is that people never forget playing the sport and the memories as well as the love for the game never leave.
Walking Netball is a slower version of the game; it is netball, but at a walking pace. The game has been designed so that anyone can play it regardless of age or fitness level.
From those who have dropped out of the sport they love due to serious injury, to those who believed they had hung up their netball trainers many years ago, it really is for everyone.
Women the length of the country have begun playing the game of Walking Netball for the fun, laughter and camaraderie the social session brings, as much as the health benefits on offer. It can give those who feel isolated an outlet, provide an activity for those who don’t deem themselves fit enough to run anymore and offer a stepping stone for those looking for a pathway back into netball.
Why Walking Netball?
General health and wellbeing can make a big difference to someone’s quality of life, whatever their age. Eating well and keeping fit are important. Someone might be recovering from injury or just getting older, but it’s important they are as active as they can be. Regular physical activity will help maintain strength, flexibility and energy levels.
Walking Netball is ideal as someone can start gently and build up gradually, aiming to do a little more each session. Regular weight-bearing exercise helps keep bones strong by forcing the bones in the lower half of your body to bear a person’s full weight each time they move. Older people who take part in Walking Netball will see many benefits: lower heart rate and blood pressure, less fat and more muscle, and better mobility.
The British Heart Foundation advocates for regular physical activity in order to reduce risks of heart disease.
Alzheimer’s UK tell us that exercise is beneficial for physical and mental health and may improve the quality of life for people in all stages of dementia.
Cancer Research UK advocates physical activity as a way of reducing risk of cancer and other illnesses and they tell us that physical activity is potentially beneficial during and after cancer treatment.
Most people find being more active easier than they expected – and more enjoyable. The more someone enjoys Walking Netball, the easier it is to keep it up, and that’s when they’ll really reap the benefits. You may be surprised by how much fun walking netballers can have, how much fitter and healthier they will feel and how much they can achieve.
And it’s not just health benefits - Walking Netball also offers social benefits. Participants can meet new people, avoid becoming isolated, and interact with individuals and small groups.
To play Walking Netball some rules need to be adapted to ensure that the game is played appropriately. If you’re playing a game competitively, these rules become important. England Netball has recommended the adaptations below. If you’re not playing a competitive game it’s really important to deliver a fun and flexible session, therefore, how closely you adhere to the rule adaptations is dependent on your group.
“A player must have at least part of one foot in contact with the court at all times.”
One rule, which must be enforced in all Walking Netball sessions is the above, to ensure that everyone is WALKING.
“A player may receive the ball with one foot grounded and then take two steps while in possession of the ball before it must be thrown or shoot.”
During the game, an extra step maybe taken once a player has received the ball, which reduces the impact on landing and improves the momentum of the game.
‘A player may throw the ball within four (4) seconds of receiving the ball.’
An extra second has been allowed to increase the decision making time whilst in possession of the ball, which should encourage improved ball placement.
For further information on netball rules, please refer to the International Netball Federation Official Rules of Netball.
Earlier this year, England Netball launched Walking Netball sessions across the country. Keep an eye out for more opportunities, or head to your region's website to see how you can get involved.