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Netball to Korfball - how to incorporate your netball skills (and when not to).


By Lucy Lloyd.

Korfball is often described as a being similar to netball. I regularly played netball for over 20 yeasr and I discovered korfball 7 years ago. As such, I've learnt to incorporate my netball skills into the game and discovered which netball behaviours to avoid ( the hard way). I'm by no means, a serious korfball expert or a coach but I feel I'm an experienced player. I have found the transfer from netball to korfball insightful and I hope this blog is of interest to netballers who are new to korfball or would like give it a try.



Action shot from a match between Ely Vikings and Cambridge Tigers.

Some basic korfball facts - (thank you Wikipedia).


What is Korfball?

Korfball is a mixed-sex team sport played by hand within a rectangular field of play. Teams of four female players and four male players try to shoot a ball into a korf (basket).


Four players of each team are in one zone and the other four are in the other zone. Within each zone, a player may only defend a member of the opposite team of the same gender.


The rules

At the beginning of the match, one team chooses a particular half of the court. That half will be that team's defending zone, with "their" basket in it. Players score by throwing the ball through the opposing team's basket. After two goals, the teams change zones: defenders become attackers and attackers become defenders. In between those zone-changes, attackers cannot set foot on their defending zone or vice versa. At half time the teams swap halves of the court.


The rules prevent physical strength dominating the game. Blocking, tackling, and holding are not allowed, nor is kicking the ball.


Once a player has the ball, that player cannot dribble or walk with it; however, the player can move one foot as long as the foot on which the player landed when catching the ball stays in the same spot. Therefore, tactical and efficient teamwork is required, because players need each other in order to keep the ball moving.

Defended rule

A player may not attempt to score when defended, which occurs when the defender is in between the opponent and the basket, is facing his/her opponent, or is within arm's length and attempting to block the ball. This rule encourages fast movement while also limiting the impact of players' height compared to their opponents.


Netball and korfball - two big differences


As you can see above, unlike netball, shooting while being defended is disallowed. If you do so, you'll lose possession of the ball. This means you'll need re purpose your netball speed and agility to get away from your player to shoot.


In netball you rarely change position during the game (unless for example, some tactical swaps are made at half time such as GK to GD). The big difference in korfball is you switch from being a defender to an attacker every two goals scored. Therefore it's possible to engage both your netball attacking and defending skills in equal measure.




Defence skills - interceptions

If you have experience as a netball defender you'll be used to making lots of interceptions to regain possession of the ball. This defensive skill will stand you in good stead. In korfball, the ability to make lots of interceptions will definitely "throw off " the opposing attack's tactical plan, creating lots of scoring opportunities for your attackers on the other side of the court. However, during a korfball game you'll need to be very sure that you'll actually win the ball. A missed interception could mean an over commitment on your part. You may end up landing on the wrong side of your attacking opponent, leaving them nearer the post than you. This will gift your attacker with the ability shoot or pass the ball to feeder for an easy running in shot. To see a running in shot, check out this video by Korfbal Bratislava on You Tube.



Therefore, interceptions are fantastic in a korfball game but it's a carefully weighted gamble. Are you definitely going to get the ball? Furthermore, any contact with the attacker during the interception could lead the opposition to win a free pass (another shooting opportunity). Here a useful video (also by Korfbal Bratislava on You Tube) about free passes.




Defence skills - marking the player and ball

In korfball compared to netball, there is no "three feet" rule. This allows you to use your amazing netball front marking skills at closer range during active play.


It's important to mark your attacker closely when your opposing team has a collect (some one able to catch the rebound) standing at the post. With a collect in place your attacking player will want to shoot. In this case you'll hear a team mate call "tight" which means mark your attacker and the ball close enough to be "defended"( refer back korfball facts above) so they are unable shoot. Alternatively you might hear "no shots" being called.


As such when defending, it's essential to keep your self positioned between your opposing player and the post. This can be difficult when the attacker attempts to run past you at speed. To that end, it's best to mark your attacking player with sideways stance, enabling you to travel backwards faster compared to the more square on approach used in netball. Check out this great video demonstrating defender movement (also by Korfbal Bratislava on You Tube). A noteworthy point, is that unlike netball you are not allowed to block your player which is why these particular defender movement skills are important.


Another a difference from netball is that you are not allowed to mark you player closely when they are throwing the ball from the sideline or restart (awarded after an infringement). You must be carrying out any defensive moves at least 2.5 metres away or if you are closer you must not be actively blocking the pass (i.e you are hands down and you are stationary).


Attacking skills

Your innate netball ability to move into space and dodge your player will enable you to receive the ball safely, drop off and run around your player. Experience of netball shooting will help also you. However, as the korfball post is higher than a netball post, you'll need to adjust your shooting technique - you'll learn this at training sessions.



Fast passing but no three second rule

In korfball, when in general play ( i.e not a restart, free pass or penalty) there is no time limit to make the pass. This means you'll have more time and can be decisive. However, hold the ball for too long and your teammates will become tightly marked, weakening the possibility of a successful pass. As such, your netball gained experience of fast paced passing is very useful in korfball.


General passing skills.

Bring on your shoulder pass, chest pass and bounce pass. All of these types of passes apply in korfball and after some time of playing the game you'll understand when each is appropriate. Here's a video of a korfball passing drill which is not too dissimilar to a netball passing drill (from CUKC on You Tube).



Foot work

In korfball, if you keep to netball foot work rules - no referee on the planet will fault you. However, there is actually more flexibility with footwork in korfball. Firstly, you can change your pivot foot enabling a leading step either side of your opposing player. Catching the ball while running (and while in the air) means you can take two steps before releasing the ball.



An action shot from a match between Ely Vikings Vs Cambridge University. How high can you jump?

Run and jump

Korfball, just like netball is a high energy game. It's great to run fast and jump high. Use your speed and agility change direction to outwit your player. Vary you speed to keep the opposition on their toes. Jump to win the ball whenever needed, especially when going for the collect (rebound).


Style of movement

So you've used lots of your excellent netball skills in a game of korfball. You're making lots of interceptions and even shot a goal. Things seem to be going well, except your team mates are frowning because the central attacking zone is crammed with players and the overall attacking tactical plan has fallen apart.


In netball the aim is to move the ball in one direction down the court towards the goal end.

It's beneficial to make big diagonal moves across the width of the court, to run into a space to catch the ball safely. However as a result of directly transferring this movement style to korfball, you end up repeatedly darting across the court and sometimes in between players and the post. Unfortunately, this style of movement can cause more harm than good in a game of korfball.


To successfully outmanoeuvre your korfball defenders and create shooting opportunities, you and your team mates should move your selves and ball around the post with a veering "zig zag" type of movement (picture a multi pointed star around the post). It's important to avoid running between other players and the post, unless trying a running in shot, moving to collect (rebound) or moving to a feed position. The occurrence of too many players in the central attacking zone leads to forced passes, interceptions, lack of space to set up a feed and perform a running in shot.


Thank you for reading!


I hope you enjoyed this blog. If you fancy giving korfball a try Ely Vikings are running a free beginners course in early July.


Further reading and resources.


Video Lession: The rules of korfball.

England Korfball: The Rules of Korfball

Video lesson: Korfball Lesson Suzanne Struik

Video lesson: Korfball Lesson Berta Aloma



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