Numbers in Netball

Mathematics really is everywhere in our day to day lives. From the alarm clock on your phone that wakes you up in the morning, to the complex timetables of the bus schedules that allow you to get to work, to the technology required to transmit your favourite TV show in the evening. Our hobbies, sport in particular, are no exception to this rule. We’d hate for some beautiful equations to go unnoticed, and so here are just some of the ways numbers are everywhere in netball! One of the most popular sports across the Commonwealth and especially among women, it’s an extremely fast paced and tactical game and so, unsurprisingly, maths has a big part to play…

1. Shooting statistics

In the professional game, shooting statistics are crucial for anyone who plays the Goal Attack or Goal Shooter position. In football, every player has the right to take a shot but most will only likely have one or two in a game. What makes netball quite different is that the shooting is allowed for two players on each team, and they could have over 50 shots each in a game. The top shooters would expect over a 90% success rate and they will train endlessly to achieve this. Their stats can be broken down into areas of the shooting circle and the player will then make a real time decision to shoot or pass depending on their proximity to the post. The choice they make, whether they are aware they are doing it or not, is an application of Bayes’ Theorem.

1. Projectiles

When a basketball player first tries to shoot for a netball hoop, they’ll realise pretty quickly that it’s completely different; this is something that can be explained using projectiles. While the height of the hoop in both sports sits at 10 feet from the ground, in netball there is no backboard, and so effectively every goal is the ‘swish’ equivalent in basketball. If you were to model the two different shots using mechanics then the difference would be apparent, especially in the angle of projection. So, by using mathematics, it’s possible to determine the optimal flight path for success.

1. Rule of 3

While not complex mathematically, the laws of the game are very numerical – most notably with the number three: three thirds on a court, three seconds to pass and three feet when marking an opposition player who has the ball to name a few. The number three’s prominence originates in netball’s history as a game that was first created as a supposedly more ladylike alternative to basketball