NSG Guidelines and Rules

  • Players must play a minimum of 2 different positions each and every game; changes generally made at half time. (Or a maximum of half a game in one position if they are being rostered off.)
  • Players CAN:
    • lean on the ball to gain balance,
    • bounce the ball once and catch it,
    • pick up the ball from an offside location,
    • chase a ball push it down to the ground to stop it, then pick it up.
  • At a shot for goal the ball must touch the ring, net, post or another player before it is caught again by the original player. If it’s an ‘air ball’ the player who threw the air ball cannot catch it again. If she does catch it again, the ball is given to the opposition for a free pass. This is called a replay.
  • Umpires should use common sense on this, particularly in an uneven game. A player/team may be given ‘another try’ if they have had very few attempts at goal during the game.
  • There are 7 players per team each with a different position and each with a different area of play – Goal Shooter, Goal Attack, Wing Attack, Centre, Wing Defence, Goal Defence, Goal Keeper – arranged down the court in this order.
  • The opposition team has the same number of players with the same positions, but arranged in reverse order, so each player is ‘partnered’ with their opposing player:- GS/GK, GA/GD, WA/WD, C/C, WA/WD, GA/GD, GS/GK.
  • Any player with a G can go into the goal circle and their ‘job’ is either to shoot goals (GA, GS) or stop goals (GD, GK). All other players facilitate the movement of the ball towards their own goal circle or attempt to stop the movement of the ball towards their opposition’s goal circle. A team can play with a minimum of 5 players. Generally, WD and/or WA positions are left vacant.
  • NSG teams can borrow from any other NSG team in their Club of the same age.
  • For the start of play (and after every goal is scored) the players return to ‘starting position’ for a Centre Pass (pictured). All players except the two Centres must be behind the lines at the start of play/centre pass. When the whistle is blown they must move into the middle (centre third) to catch a ball from their own Centre. One Centre player is in centre circle and the opposition C is at least 4 feet away with her hands up. This map shows the starting positions for a Red centre pass.
  • During the game, players are restricted to areas of play as follows. If they go into the wrong area they are ‘offside’. You can call them ‘zones’ for younger players, rather than thirds.

  • There is only 1 umpire per game, who controls the whole court, and is actively on the court.
  • An adult or senior umpire (15+) is recommended, with a current Rules exam pass. The first team listed on the draw provides the umpire for that game.
  • The Umpire is the official and has a duty of care for the players’ safety.


  • must wear the fluoro vest, which will be left in the centre circle of the court
  • are encouraged to where a white top, dark sports pants and suitable sports shoes
  • must blow the whistle loudly; the hand held ‘swhistle’ is a squeeze whistle and it will be provided with the vest in the centre circle
  • facilitate the game in a fair and equal manner for the benefit of both teams
  • let the game flow with more encouragement and coaching than whistle blowing, especially if there are no major mistakes
  • should help both teams equally
  • sign the score sheet at the end of the game; return vest and ‘swhistle’ to centre circle.
  • Before the game:
    • check a parent from both teams is scoring, 2 scorers at all times.
    • check jewellery, nails and hair (includes NO earrings, NO ‘fitbits’, NO string bracelets or NO anklets etc)
    • help the captains toss a coin or do ‘scissor, paper, rock’ for first centre pass
    • check the court surrounds are safe and no one is standing behind the goal lines or close to the sidelines.
  • S/he is on the court with the players, almost like an on-field coach, keeping up with the ball.
  • S/he umpires along the sideline/goal lines with the most room and if possible, away from parents.
  • Umpires should use an instructional approach, with a loud voice giving clear instructions equally to both teams.
  • Use the position names, eg, Goal Attack, Centre etc, not a child’s name.
  • The umpire helps the players by showing them what they should be doing and helping them get into position, eg, telling the GK she takes the defensive throw in with her toes behind the line.
  • Most importantly the game should be allowed to flow, with more talking/guidance and less whistle/stoppages.
  • Do not engage with an angry parent or spectator, send another parent to the official NSG window and ask an Official to come down to the court.

More in-depth NSG Umpiring tips can be found here

Start & Re-start of play after a goal:

  • The Umpire controls the centre pass and blows whistle when the C steps into the centre circle.
  • The centre pass alternates between the two teams after a goal is scored.
  • (Unlike some other sports, the centre pass is not based on who scores the goal; it alternates for the duration of the game.)
  • If uncertain about who has the next centre, ask the scorers, as they should record goals and centre passes on the score sheet.
  • The umpire should use a technique such as a hairband swapped from left hand to right hand to indicate who has the next centre pass.

Held Ball – A free pass is awarded to the opposition team if the ball is held for too long:

  • Throw/pass the ball within 5 seconds
  • Umpire can say ‘Big Pass’ when it’s getting close to 5 seconds
  • The umpire can also say ‘help your player’ or ‘make some space’ or ‘get in front’ to assist the player with the ball.
  • The umpire can also point and say ‘there’s one of your players’ or ‘big pass’

Footwork/Stepping – A free pass is awarded to the opposition team for this infringement:

  • Shuffling on the spot to gain balance before passing is OK.
  • All attempts to stop, pull up or pivot are allowed.
  • There should be no dramatic forward or sidewards movement down or across the court.
  • If a player is running with the ball or taking multiple and/or large steps forward whilst holding the ball. Pending the skill level of the game, the umpire may award a free pass to the other team, or explain to the player that she must try to keep one foot grounded, but chose not to penalise her. Umpire can say ‘feet still’ to help remind the player with the ball.
  • Just be consistent – give both teams equal benefit of the doubt for footwork, especially in U8s and in the first few weeks of the season

Replay – should only be penalised if a player bounces the ball multiple times, basketball fashion. A free pass is awarded to the opposition team for this infringement:

  • A player can bounce or tip the ball once and then catch it.
  • Umpires should be generous with their interpretation of this rule, particularly with ‘fumbled’ catches.
  • If two opposition players get their hands on the ball, the umpire should call ‘first possession’ to the team they felt had it first.
  • If two players from the same team get their hands on the ball at the same time, one can just let go and play continues.

Throw in

  • If the ball goes out of court over the sideline or the goal line (after a shot at goal), no whistle is needed, just call ‘Throw in’.
  • The ball in thrown in by a team member opposing the player who last had contact with the ball. Umpires must show the player where to take the throw in and who should take the throw in.
  • Players foot/toe must stay behind the line until they have released the ball, must throw the ball within 5 seconds, obey the footwork rule (feet still) and stay onside/in their area of play.
  • A defensive throw in – goal third is taken by GK, in the centre third by WD or GD.
  • An attacking throw in – goal third is taken by GS or WA, in the centre third by WD or GD.

Another throw in is awarded to the opposition team for this infringement; same place outside the court.


  • Staying in the correct area/zone/third can be difficult for young players.
  • Umpires should use their discretion on this and ‘coach’ all players on their correct areas of play.
  • An umpire can also say ‘stay in your area’ or ‘stay behind the line’ etc.
  • If a player continuously goes offside despite various warnings and examples, or gains an advantage when they are offside, then a free pass can be awarded to the opposition team for this infringement. The free pass is taken where the player went offside.

FYI: when the ball is in the Goal Circle there should be 4 players (2 from each team) inside the circle, 4 players around the edge of the circle behind the line (2 from each team), 4 players in the centre third (2 from each team) and 2 players in the opposition goal third (1 from each team).

Short Pass – A free pass is awarded to the opposition team if the ball is not thrown the correct distance. This is measured between the hands of the thrower and the hands of the receiver.

  • Players must be encouraged to pass/throw the ball to each other, not to hand it to a player.
  • They should be given a chance before they are penalised for a short pass.

Over a Third/Untouched Centre – Free pass is awarded in the spot where the rule was broken.

  • This is unlikely to happen.
  • The ball cannot be thrown from one goal third to another goal third, ie, passed completely over the Centre Third.
  • At a centre pass the ball must be touched or caught by a player who is in the centre third.

Shooting for Goal

  • GA/GS can shoot for goal from anywhere within the goal circle, including the lines.
  • When a goal is scored the umpire blows his/her whistle and tells the players to move back to their ‘starting positions’ for a centre pass.
  • If a player’s shot does not touch the ring, the net, the goalpost or another player, the GA/GS (whoever shot the ball) can’t grab the ball again after the ‘air ball’ shot.
  • Umpires should use common sense on this, particularly in a lop-sided game. A player/team may be given ‘another try’ if they have had very few attempts at goal during the game.

Replay: A free pass is awarded to the opposition team for this infringement.

Importantly, no player will stand out of play. If there is contact or obstruction, the umpire will blow the whistle, stop play, quickly explain the rule, and demonstrate the correct technique/position or the right distance then play continues.

Defending & Obstruction

  • Only one-on-one defence is allowed, ie, only one player can have their hands up to stop/deflect the pass or shot, eg, the C sticks with the C, the GD stays with the GA etc.
  • Shots for goal may be defended by one player who is at least 1.2 metres (4 feet) away.
  • The other defender (and shooter) can have her hands up for the rebound as long as they are not directly defending or interfering with the shot at goal.
  • The correct distance for defence in NSG is 1.2 metres/4 feet – this equates to 4 big steps back from the opposition player’s landing foot.
  • This is measured from their opposition’s landing foot (sticky shoe), before they put their hands up. Hands cannot be waving, cannot be near in the face/eyes and must be near the ball.
  • Only 1 opposition player can ‘defend’ the player holding the ball or shooting a goal. Arms cannot be outstretched across the body of another player.
  • The umpire could say ‘move back WD’ or ‘arms down WA’ etc.

If there is an infringement, blow whistle, call Obstruction, explain/show players the correct position/distance and play continues.


  • A player who contacts (or obstructs) will not stand out of play.
  • Players cannot touch, grab, push, bump into, knock, lean on or run through an opposition player.
  • Players cannot use elbows, knees, shoulders or any other part of the body, deliberately or accidently, in a way that interferes with play.
  • For players this young, any type of contact may interfere and should be corrected/explained. The umpire could say ‘no bumping C’‘keep your elbows in GD’ etc.

If there is Contact, the umpire will blow the whistle, stop play, explain the rule/demonstrate the correct technique and play continues.

If you have any questions please refer them to your CLUB’s NSG CO-ORDINATOR

Download a PDF version: NSG Guidelines and Rules