The health benefits of netball

Updated April 2024 | 5 min read
Expert contributor Alanna Antcliff, head physiotherapist, Australian Diamonds, the national netball team
Words by Carmel Sparke

The health benefits of netball include fitness and bone strength, but the social and wellbeing benefits are also significant. Here’s why you should try playing netball.

Netball was once a chilly, early Saturday morning affair, with not a bloke in sight. These days box pleats have been replaced by Lycra, and the latest stats show the numbers of both men and women taking part in the sport are at an all-time high in Australia.

You can play netball in mixed teams, at night, indoors, in social games, corporate events and club
competitions. New formats like the intense five-a-side version or the more moderately paced Walking Netball have also taken off.

If you’re looking for a fun way to build fitness and improve your wellbeing while you socialise, netball could be your game.

“Netball’s a great sport to take up or continue to play, as it offers a broad range of health benefits,” says Alanna Antcliff, head physiotherapist for Australia’s national netball team, the Diamonds. “It works on fitness, endurance and strength. You’re also forming new friendships, building confidence and sharpening attention.”

HCF is a proud partner of Netball Australia, supporting more than one million players across the country, from grassroots to elite levels. Meet top netballers and Aussies across the country who love the game at our HCF Netball Hub.

What are the health benefits of playing netball?

Most would be familiar with the fast-paced passing game, which has seven team members on court, playing four quarters of 15 minutes each, in positions such as goal attack, centre and goal defence.

“Physically there are benefits to musculoskeletal health, bone density, cardio fitness, balance and coordination – not to mention cognitive stimulation and teamwork,” Alanna explains.

So, why should you lace up your sneakers and grab a bib? Let's explore the many health benefits of playing netball that await you on the court.

A cardiovascular workout

Netball is a high-intensity sport that requires constant movement, sprinting and changes in direction – and this makes for a terrific cardio session. Plus, the stop and start nature of the game means that playing netball also works as an interval training workout.

Elite players cover between 2.3 and 6km over the course of a game, depending on their position, Alanna says.

“That’s equivalent to travelling about one to two lengths of the netball court every minute for 60 minutes, which is an excellent platform for fitness and endurance,” she says.

The cardio effect of regularly playing a sport like netball can offer important health benefits. As little as 10 minutes a day of cardio can help to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the Heart Foundation, as well as assisting in weight management, increasing stamina and promoting good cholesterol levels.

Strength and agility in netball

Netball involves lots of jumping, landing, changing of direction and footwork, along with executing precise skills, which helps with strength and agility, says Alanna.

All that jumping, stopping and landing not only builds muscle but makes bones stronger, too. In fact, Healthy Bones Australia ranks netball as one of the best weight-bearing exercises for increasing bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterised by weak and fragile bones.

Alanna also points to a study showing bone density in women aged 42 to 50 was greater among those who played netball than those who swam instead.

Mental wellbeing in netball

Beyond the physical benefits, netball provides a significant mental boost. Exercise plays a big role in promoting good mental health and research suggests it can be as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression. Engaging in physical activity like netball triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters and promote good mental wellbeing.

Many studies have explored the link between sport and mental health, and a recent review found that together, these studies highlight how sport is associated with better overall mental health, mood, self-esteem and life satisfaction.

Furthermore, the social connection and support that comes from playing a team sport like netball can help create a sense of belonging and positivity, and improve our overall wellbeing.

There’s a strong association between team-sport participation such as netball, and life satisfaction and psychosocial health,” says Alanna.

And this is backed by research – one study found that people who play team sports may be less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than those who play individual sports.

Netball improves body positivity

Netball celebrates diversity and inclusivity and it's played by people of all ages and abilities. It's not about fitting a particular mould; it's about building your strengths, getting active and enjoying all the benefits that come with netball. Whether you're a seasoned athlete or a beginner, there's a place for everyone on the netball court, which encourages a culture of healthy living, body positivity and self-acceptance.

How to join a netball club

A good starting point is to call your local netball club or association, which can point you in the direction of a club-based team or let you know about the various competitions in your area.

Netball Australia has links to associations in all states and territories. And if you're interested in faster paced netball or joint-friendly Walking Netball for over 55s, find details about all these comps and other aspects of the game at Netball Australia’s Play Netball website.

You can also become involved in the sport from the sidelines as a coach, manager or administrator – Netball Australia has information on the steps to take. So for a fun way to boost stamina, strength, physical confidence and friendships, consider donning the bib – no pleated skirts required.


Through our partnership with Netball Australia, HCF is empowering Aussies of all ages to lead healthier, more active lives. If you want to stay up to date with the latest netball competitions, news and stories from players and coaches, visit our Netball Hub.

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