The Controversial Two-Point Super Shot

Like most sports, the rules of netball have been established over several decades, and as a result of this, changing the rules and laws of the game is inherently going to be controversial.

Basketball was played, trained and taught differently until the implementation of the three-point shot, association football has experimented with several rules to decide a tied game such as golden and silver goals, and cricket has the infamous Super Over for limited-overs championships.

The sport of netball has seen a similar controversial rule change, both for the content of the rule itself, and the context in which it was made.

In traditional seven-a-side netball taught and played in netball classes, the two forwards can only score a single goal at a time, although in a variant rule set known as Fast5, two-goal and even three-goal shots are possible.

Netball Fast5’s fast-paced rules are designed to speed up the game similar to T20 Cricket or Rugby Sevens, but in 2020, the Australian Suncorp Super Netball league introduced a two-goal shot to seven-a-side netball and opened up a hornet’s nest in the process.

The announcement came in June 2020 that Super Netball was going to incorporate what it called a “Super Shot”, which was a 1.9m zone in the goal circle that activated in the last five minutes of each quarter, with goals scored within it counting for double a standard goal.

The idea is to incentivise longer shots and reward players who can consistently drill shots in from the edge of the ark, as well as alter both offensive and defensive strategies.

The controversy, besides introducing a rule during a disruptive time for sports as a whole (albeit one that gave netball a much bigger spotlight), was that it was seen to be against the spirit of the game.

Whilst long shots and up-close passing plays are both commonly seen in netball, it was up until the introduction of the Super Shot a matter of choice. Some teams were famously good at the long ball, whilst other players could get into perfect positions.

With long shots counting for double, there is an incentive to focus almost entirely on those long balls, much like has been seen in the NBA and WNBA with the rise of so-called “small ball” and three-point shooters such as the legendary Becky Hammon or Sue Bird.

There is a fear that it would turn netball into basketball, but with a limited sample size, this does not appear to have been the case.