The History of Netball

In 1891 Dr James Naismith, a Canadian immigrant YMCA instructor in the USA, invented the game of basketball. Another American, Dr Toles, who was visiting England in 1895, introduced basketball to that country, and although Englishmen preferred traditional sports, it was popular with the ladies.


An early netball game © Netball Australia Source

In England in 1895, ladies using broomsticks for posts and wet paper bags for baskets played the basketball game on grass. Their long skirts, bustle backs, nipped waists and button up shoes impeded running and their leg-of-mutton sleeves restricted arm movement making dribbling and long passes difficult. The ladies decided to adapt the game to accommodate these restrictions.

In 1898 the court was divided into thirds, the number of players increased from five to nine and a smaller ball (a soccer ball) was used. There were two umpires, two scorers and two timekeepers – almost as many officials as players for each match.

In those early days the nets were not open at both ends and after each goal was scored, the umpire had the task of retrieving the ball from the top of the post.

In England in 1901 the first set of rules was published and ‘netball’ officially came into existence in that country. At the turn of the century school teachers from England travelled to many countries of the then British Empire, and the game of netball or “ladies basketball” (if prior to 1901) went with them.

Once established, the game developed locally and soon each country had its own separate rules and distinct methods of play, even its own name for the game. In Australia and New Zealand where the game was established before 1901, it was called Women’s Basketball and the name was changed to Netball in these two countries in 1970.


Netball court layout Source

The All Australia Women’s Basketball Association was formed in August 1927, and the first official National Championships was held in Melbourne in 1928, although a number of interstate matches had taken place earlier.

Australia’s first International match was played in 1938 against New Zealand during the National Championships in Melbourne, with Australia defeating New Zealand 40-11.

In 1939, an Australian team was selected to tour New Zealand, but with the outbreak of war the tour was abandoned and it was not until 1948 that a tour took place. Australia by this time was playing a seven-a-side game but New Zealand (until 1956) played nine-a-side, although the seven-a-side game was played on this tour.

A landmark in the history of Netball was when Australia travelled by ship to be the first overseas team to visit England. It was a Women’s Basketball team going to the birthplace of netball, and having to adapt to different rules, but the Australian team won 54 of 57 games, including the Test against England (14-11) at Wembley Stadium before a crowd of more than 5,000.

Following this successful tour, a conference was held in London in 1957 to agree on an International Code of Rules to be trialled in each country over the next three years. Countries represented at this conference were England, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, South Africa, USA, Wales and Australia. In 1960, the International Federation of Women’s Basketball and Netball Associations became a reality at a conference in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) attended by representatives from England, Ceylon, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand and Australia.

In 1963, the first World Tournament with 11 teams competing, was held in England and Australia were undefeated. World Championships are staged every four years.

Netball was a demonstration sport at the Auckland Games in 1990 but was not included in the Commonwealth Games program for the first time until 1998 in Kuala Lumpur.

Source: Netball Australia

Sports Floor Maintenance and Timber Floor Construction Projects

Nellakir has started the year with a large number of programmed maintenance contracts on existing sprung timber flooring.

The most notable of these were the following projects, which all involved sanding and a full refurbishment of existing floors.


At Hume Secondary College the Nellakir team has completed works on the foyer reception area.

And the Booroondara Sports Complex in North Balwyn has seen the refurbishment and hard sanding of the four competition Basketball/Netball Courts. Deakin University in Geelong has also been refurbished with two Basketball Courts, Squash Courts and the main stage area of the hall facility all undergoing a full timber refurbishment program, including sanding.


Finally at Thornbury High School, the Gymnasium, Sports Courts and meeting room timber flooring have all undergone a full refurbishment.

Nellakir have also been engaged to provide sprung timber flooring on a number of major building projects that have already commenced or are about to commence.

These include:

The Bendigo Sports Stadium
– 4 Basketball Courts added
– Fairbrother builders


The Electra Community Centre Extension, Ashwood
– Works in the studio area of the Calisthenics Hall
– Refurbishment and sanding
– Ducon Building Services
– Commencing March 2017


St Kevins College, Tooronga
– Sports Pavillion, Eastern Pavillion
-Works on Gym, Minor Court area with markings
– Twoconstruct Builders


– Basketball/Netball Court (single)
– Commencing late January
– Kane Constructions

Nellakir, for the highest standard in Sprung Timber Floor Construction and Maintenance.

What Makes Sports Flooring Different?

This week we have provided an interesting article from the US version of Home and Garden. The Author Charles W. Bryant provides some interesting insights into ‘What makes Sports Flooring different?’. View the full article.

Nellakir provide a full maintenance program and will make suitable recommendations with regards to the care, maintenance and cleaning of your competition grade sprung timber flooring.

“On a cold December day in 1891, the first basketball game was played at Springfield College. The game was the brainchild of Dr. James Naismith, who was working for the YMCA training school at the time. Naismith was handed the task of making up an indoor game that snow-bound children could play. In short, the YMCA wanted to wear some rowdy kids out during the harsh New England winters. Naismith fixed two peach baskets to the wall, documented the 13 original rules, and a sport was born.”


Photo of the world’s first Basketball team

Springfield College is credited with having the world’s first basketball court. A simple black and white photograph of that court sold at auction in 2006 for just over $19,000.

The flooring of that gym was made of maple wood planks. As it turns out, the early builders of gymnasiums were right on the money, and sports flooring today is still made from maple. The main reason maple is used is because of how hard and hearty it is. Not only are bowling alley floors made from maple, but oftentimes the pins are as well.

[NB. In Australia, Ash, Messmate and Tasmanian Oak are the preferred Timbers]

Gymnasium Subflooringwhat-makes-sports-flooring-different-2

Maple (the preferred timber in the US and Canada for Sports Flooring) is strong, stiff and resistant to scuffing and scratching. It also has good shock resistance, meaning it can take a pounding from thousands of hours of heavy use on a gym floor without suffering damage. When maple is installed in US homes, it will likely be sitting on top of a cement slab or a subfloor made of softer wood like Douglas fir or pine.

Sports flooring is completely different. The floor of a gymnasium needs to have some give and flex. While you may not realise it, every time your foot hits the floor of a basketball court, it sinks slightly and springs back. Of course you don’t want this to be noticeable, otherwise you’d feel like you were playing hoops on a trampoline. The idea is that the floor absorbs some of the shock, resulting in less wear and tear on an athlete’s body. It’s called an orthopedic surface. A restaurant kitchen floor may have a thin layer of padding on top for the same reason. If you’re on your feet all day, it can make a big difference in your fatigue level.

There are many types of subflooring for a gymnasium, but they all have the same concept in mind — to help reduce the impact on your lower back, ankles and knees. One of the most common types of subflooring systems used today for gymnasiums incorporates round rubber pads under a plywood subfloor. The pads are small rubber discs filled with air, set about 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) apart from each other over the entire area of the floor. Think of a fancy athletic shoe that uses air-cushioned soles, and you have the right idea. This padding gives the court the spring necessary to combat fatigue and injury.

what-makes-sports-flooring-different-3Sports Floor Finishing

The finishing of a sports floor is a little different than your average home hardwood, as well. Once a sports floor is sanded smooth, it gets two coats of polyurethane sealant. Glossy urethane is preferred on most courts to give it a nice shiny appearance. Once these two coats are down and cured, the game lines and graphics are painted on. The game lines are the markers for the basketball court — out-of-bounds lines, half-court lines, three-point lines and the key.

The graphics are whatever the owner of the court wants. If it’s a school, it will likely be the logo for the university or high school. If it’s a private gym like the YMCA, it will be the corporate logo. After the logos and games lines are on, it’s time for the finishing coats. This means two to three more coats of urethane. By the end of the process, the game lines and graphics are buried under the top coat and are essentially part of the floor.

Just like with your home hardwood, a sports floor needs to be sanded with a sanding screen between each coat of sealant and finishing urethane. A sanding screen doesn’t take off as much urethane as regular sandpaper — it’s more like a fine buff. After the floor is sanded with the screen it needs to be completely cleaned of dust and debris before the next coat of urethane is applied.

profile-pic2Sports Flooring Maintenance

Most gymnasiums are for public use and get a heavy dose of daily traffic. Manufacturers and installers of sports floors recommend that they be screened and recoated once a year to help the surface perform like it should. The process of screening and coating is the same as it is during installation. A single pass is made with a circular sander using a fine screen, and one layer of urethane is applied to the top. Think of each pass with the sander and urethane topper as a brand new top layer to your floor. The same thing applies to your home hardwood floor, although it’s not necessary to do so once per year.

A gym floor takes a couple of days to screen and recoat and it’s typically ready for basketball after about 72 hours of curing. If the gymnasium is commonly used for other nonathletic purposes it may need more than one screen and recoat per year. One example is a high school gym that’s also used for assemblies and school dances. Chairs, tables and non-sneaker shoes can wear out a gym floor much quicker than if it’s only used for sports and recreation.

what-makes-sports-flooring-different-5Cleaning a Sports Floor

Keeping a gymnasium floor clean is the most important factor in how long it will last. Dirt and dust are enemies of any hardwood. Dirt from the bottom of your shoe will act like a fine abrasive and wear away the flooring with every step you take. Ideally, a sports floor is cleaned on a daily basis. If you really want to protect and maintain your gym floor, it should be dry mopped between each activity. This will help to remove the dirt and dust. The daily cleaning should be done each evening with a wet mop. The wet mop will clean up all the fluids that can collect on a gym floor — think sweat and Gatorade.

The wet cleaning should use warm water and a floor cleaner made specifically for cleaning sports flooring. These are water-based concentrates that clean the floor without leaving behind any residue. Wet cleaning the floor will keep the surface traction nice and tight. You don’t want your star point guard slipping because of improper maintenance.

Maple and the timbers used here in Australia are ideal not only for strength and durability, but also because the grain of the wood is extremely tight. The fine fibers help to keep it from splintering and also keep dirt and dust from finding a home “between the cracks.” If the dirt is unable to firmly root in the grain, then it’s easier to clean up, giving your sports floor and longer life span.

The Effects of a Surface on Bouncing a Basketball

If you play basketball long enough, you will eventually find yourself using different kinds of playing surfaces. As a player, it is important that you know the effects that a specific surface will have on bouncing a basketball. If you do not, you may find yourself unable to dribble the basketball as well as you would like, and this will keep you from doing your best.


Hardwood Floors

If you play basketball inside a gym, you will most likely be playing on a wood court. Ideally, these are the best floors to play basketball on, and if you go to any of the different NBL arenas, you will see that the games are played on a wood court. Overall, these are the best surfaces for dribbling a basketball. However, some older wooden floors have suffered water damage and can be very difficult to dribble a basketball on. This is because of “dead spots” in different locations on the floor. When you bounce the basketball on these different spots, the ball dies and does not bounce back up very well. This can be challenging to deal with when playing a competitive game of basketball.


Concrete playing surface

Asphalt/Cement Courts

When you play basketball outside, you are primarily playing on either an asphalt or cement surface. This is the type of surface in your driveway or your neighbourhood park. Both of these surfaces are adequate for dribbling a basketball when they are new, but they will become more difficult to handle the basketball on as they age. If the surface is painted and sealed — as compared to being left to sun exposure — it will make a big difference. Assess each surface individually to see how well the basketball is going to bounce on it before playing.


Multipurpose Courts

Multipurpose courts are made out of a tiled plastic material or a hard rubber surface. These surfaces are less expensive to install than wooden floors and are better for non-basketball activities. You will find them in a lot of smaller schools and community recreation centres. When they are new, they offer a great surface to dribble the basketball on, but as time goes by and the amount of foot traffic increases, they begin to lose some of their bounce. The plastic tiled floors begin to develop the “dead spots” similar to older wood floors, and it becomes a challenge to dribble the basketball.


Angels Gate Park, San Pedro, CA

Tips and Considerations

Adjust the amount of air in the basketball if you are having trouble bouncing it on a specific surface. You may have to experiment a bit, but the increased ease of dribbling the ball will make the effort worth it. Also, use the appropriate type of basketball for the surface. Basketball 91 notes that you should use a leather ball only on an indoor court, as outdoor use may damage the ball. Composite or synthetic leather balls are better for outdoor courts, and rubber basketballs are best for beginners, according to Basketball 91.


Which Floor Is Best for a Basketball?

The best floor surface for indoor basketball is hardwood. Natural wood floors have been the floor of choice for decades and are standard in all professional and college basketball games. The most common wood type for indoor hardwood floors is Victorian Ash, although some courts use a Tasmanian Oak or Messmate. Victorian Ash is best because it offers the flexibility and durability that is valued by players for performance and safety. Because Victorian Ash is a more resilient wood, it offers a more forgiving surface for players when they fall or hit the floor, as do Tasmanian Oak and Messmate.