Faster-paced, abridged variations of some of our favourite sports are becoming increasingly popular. More people in the UK play 5-a-side football than 11-a-side. Rugby Sevens has been around for donkey’s years, and in 2016 it will finally make its debut as an Olympic sport. And the popularity of limited overs cricket, having been around only since the 70s, is growing exponentially – hastened by the explosion of T20 in the last decade.
Inventive rule changes and scoring system makes for a faster game
Fast Net is netball’s equivalent. Introduced as recently as 2008, its format includes shortened games and a sprinkling of innovative rule changes – including nominated power plays in which goals are worth double, shorter quarters and rolling subs.
Another notable difference from its traditional counterpart is that the Goal Attack and Goal Shooter can score from outside the circle, and any goal scored from outside the circle is worth double – and therefore worth 4 goal points during the power play.
Like T20 cricket, its main aim was to broaden the sport’s appeal and make it more television-friendly – but in playing terms its faster pace helps to sharpen existing technical skills as well as improving fitness levels.
Fast Net has evolved into Fast 5 at international level
Since its introduction as Fast Net in 2008, it has evolved at international level through gradual rule changes – culminating in the Fast 5 variation we now see played in the World Netball Series. This interpretation features only five on-court positions and three different scoring zones – although the Fast Net variety is still preferred at many local tournaments in the UK as more players on court at any one time means more people can get involved.
With demand for truncated forms of sport on the rise and an increasing clamour for it to be included at the Olympics, Fast Net netball looks here to stay. It seems unlikely to ever replace traditional seven-a-side netball, but – like T20 cricket – will run alongside its more senior counterpart for many years to come.
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