Stepping in the centre circle

Stepping in the centre circle

My centre was penalised for stepping in the centre circle - she took her centre stance and after the whistle was blown she stepped out with one foot. I didnt think a centre had a 'landing foot' at a centre pass, providing both feet are in the circle when the whistle blows, but the umpire said when she returned to the circle she put her left foot in first so that became her landing foot even though play had not been started. I told her just to stay in the circle but I would like to know if the umpire was correct or if she had it wrong

Netball CoachCoach
Netball CoachCoach

You are correct that the Centre must be wholly within the centre circle when the umpire blows the whistle for start of play.. Footwork rule applies from whistle. When your centre took the stepout of circle after the whistle there was no infringement if both feet were grounded at the start of play. The foot that was raised when she stepped out would be classed as her landing foot so she would need to release the ball before grounding it. 

Netball CoachCoach

You are correct that the Centre must be wholly within the centre circle when the umpire blows the whistle for start of play.. Footwork rule applies from whistle. When your centre took the stepout of circle after the whistle there was no infringement if both feet were grounded at the start of play. The foot that was raised when she stepped out would be classed as her landing foot so she would need to release the ball before grounding it. 

Lee-annes NetballCoach, Australia

actually that is incorrect.  whatever foot the center steps into the circle with is considered their grounded foot.  the whistle only indicates that the start of play.  technically the umpire can blow the whistle from the second the foot touches the ground in the circle, hence why you must make sure you center understands the stepping rule for the circle.  so if she stepped into the circle with her left then stepped out of the circle wth her left, then that is stepping.  which is why a lot of coaches teach younger kids to jump into the cirlce wtih both feet to avoid any confusion for the center.

Netball CoachCoach

so am I right in assuming its dependant upon the timing of when the whistle is blown? after both feet are in the circle its either foot is the gounded foot - after only one foot then that is the grounded?

Lee-annes NetballCoach, Australia

no.  the stepping rule has NOTHING to do with the whistle, and EVERYTHING to do with what foot touches the ground FIRST as she enters the circle.  hence why if this is a low grade or young team its sometimes best to teach them to eter the circle by jumping in with both feet so BOTH feet become the grounded foot.  ie IDENTICAL to the normal stepping rule.  does that make sense,  the whistle only indicates that play has started, and the ball can now be released.  the umpire though was paying attention BEFORE the whistle blows to certain is the center delaying the start of play by not entering the circle at a constant speed, or what foot she enters the circle with to ensure the center doesnt step.  these infringements can/will be called before the whistle to start the game has even been blown.

hope that is clearer,

Netball CoachCoach

Official Rules of Netball, Rule When the whistle is blown the Centre in possession of the ball shall throw it within (3) three seconds (Refer rule 13.3) and shall obey the footwork Rule( refer Rule 14)

Netball CoachCoach

Part of playing netball is to play to each umpire's rulings. If you have questions you can always speak to your Umpire Convenor. I recommend players from 12 years do Level 1 of umpiring even if they are not going to umpire as it helps them understand the game better & can improve their playing

Lee-annes NetballCoach, Australia

this i got from a UK site which makes the rule a lot clearer

Footwork in the centre circle

The footwork rule still applies in the centre circle. As soon as the Centre steps into the circle, their leading leg becomes their landing foot and the footwork rule then applies. That is, if they lift or move their landing foot and place it back down again, a free pass will be awarded to the opposing team due to footwork.

but as Belinda said...any questions about rulings, then see the umpire conveyor...they are the ones who are in charge of all the umpires and mentor their umpires.

Janet Coach, Australia

Annette, if your Centre was standing on both feet when the whistle was blown, she probably should not have been penalised.  Just to clarify further, as stated in Rule the footwork rule must obeyed when the whistle has been blown to start (not before) so Centre needs to make sure they know which foot is their grounded foot at the time the whistle is blown or keep both feet grounded so she can choose.  Umpire must decide that Centre is ready to start play i.e. has possession of the ball, other things are not happening on the court and the Centre is actually ready for play to start before blowing the whistle.  Footwork prior to this time is not relevant as play has not started and umpire does not need to watch for footwork infringements until play has commenced as indicated by whistle.  Most stepping in the Centre that I have come across is in the case of shuffling of young players and/or stepping in with one foot at the same time the whistle is blown, grounding both, then stepping on with wrong foot.  As always, check with your local competition umpire supervisor as to their interpretation of the rules and if it is only an isolated incident, move on from it.

Lee-annes NetballCoach, Australia

i stand corrected.  thanks for the clarification Janet.

Janet Coach, Australia

Leanne, in our competition there are many different and sometimes unusual interpretations of the rules by umpires including some badged umpires. It is understandable how the rest of the netball community can be confused about what the actual rules are.

Netball CoachCoach

Thank you all for your help - that rule is obviously not that easy to interpret - does the stepping rule apply as soon as any foot is placed in the circle, or after the whistle is blown which should be after the C is fully in the circle - I guess just need to coach the girls so everything is covered - must say though that I thought it would be a lot simpler to know when the game 'starts' and so from when the stepping infringments can occur

Sarah Coach, Australia

Our centre's (10-14yrs) are taught to "jump into" the centre circle with both feet landing at the same time.  And then don't move their feet, just swivel. They never have problems with footwork faults.  However the team we played against last week didn't do this, and they were blown several times in the game for centre's footwork faults.  

Netball CoachCoach

Hi ladies

<< putting thinking cap on >> wow ! This rule isn't as black and white as it seems...

I have always played umpired and coached to Lee-anne's interpretation of this rule. 

If Janet's interpretation of only applying the stepping rule when the whistle blows at the start of play ... then can a GS walk back to the Centre Pass with Centre and cross into the centre third before the start of play (whistle is blown) and NOT be considered offside ? (Im not sure why a GS would do that) but just asking....

Netball CoachCoach

ok... ive put my thinking cap on !

When a foot is placed inside the centre circle and the whistle is blown for start of play - then the footwork rule applies ! eg. if a Centre steps into circle with right foot and whistle blows - then play has started and she is holding the ball with her right foot as her landing foot.

If a centre jumps into centre circle with both feet landing simultaneously and whistle blows to start play - then of course she can choose which foot is her landing foot in the centre circle.

However, on more junior games - or less experienced umpires - a centre MAY step into the circle with her right foot and then her left foot and THEN the whistle blows for start of play - this is equivalent to jumping into circle with both feet - as the play has NOT commenced when she had both feet on the ground in the circle - and the footwork rule does not apply before the whistle - therefore she can choose either foot as her landing foot.

Netball CoachCoach

There is certainly a rhythm to netball - just like a dance ! Ultimately, the Centre sets the rhythm and this comes with maturity, age, experience and knowledge ! A centre who walks back to circle bouncing the ball, and waving to family, then loses control of the ball and has to run and pick it up then steps into centre circle and out of centre circle interrupts the timing of her team on the court to anticipate receiving their centre pass !

Even as a teen - if a centre walks back to centre circle and then "around" the centre circle - she will disturb the rhythm of the umpire as well as the entire court. Of course this is a fantastic strategy if the other team is "on a roll" - but not effective for your own team.

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