Floorball is a fast and entertaining sport and the development has been amazingly quick. Since the first Floorball federation was founded in Sweden, the sport has spread all over the world and is now played in over 80 countries out of which close to 75 countries currently are members of the International Floorball Federation (IFF). The largest number of players can be found in Northern Europe, Switzerland and Czech Republic, but the sport has already spread around the whole world. Floorball is played in Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, South Africa and Africa and is constantly spreading to new countries, who are eager to take up this fascinating sport.
Benefits of floorball
Floorball is a sport which is easy to start playing. No big investment in the equipment is needed and it is possible to start playing with only shoes and a stick. No previous experience is required either, the players develop quickly and almost everyone can learn the basic skills of the sport and have fun while playing. As the pace of the game increases the game becomes more challenging and requires more advanced ball handling, shooting and passing skills. When the tactical parts are included, floorball becomes even more demanding. It takes years of practice to master the sport and to become a top floorball player on the elite level.
Floorball can be played both by girls and boys, women and men equally. A great benefit is that the physical factors of the player do not decide how good the player is. The speed of the player is not everything, since the ball still moves faster, giving space also for analytical players. Another great benefit of Floorball is that it can be played almost everywhere and even in quite extreme surroundings such as the beach, snow, ice or even the swamp.
How Floorball is played
Floorball is played in a match between two teams consisting of five field players and a goalkeeper in the rink at one time. The idea of the game is to score more goals than the opposite team within the limits of the rules. The basic roles of the players are forwards, defenders and goalkeepers.
The game time can vary depending on the age of players and the level of the match. In official matches the game time is 3 x 20 minutes effective time. During tournaments and in matches with young players other game times can be used, for example 2 x 15 minutes.
Some Simple Rules
Floorball is a sport which everybody can take part in and the rules encourage quick and technical play. When offences are made, free hits are given for the opponents and if offences are bad enough penalties are given. Players can be sent off for two, five, or ten minutes or for the rest of the game, depending on the severity of the offence. A penalized player is not allowed to leave the penalty bench area, until their penalty time has finished.
It is not allowed to:
- hit, block, lift or kick an opponent’s stick
- push, tackle or obstruct the opponent
- play the ball above the knee level with the stick
- raise the blade above waist level when hitting the ball
- jump up and stop the ball
- play the ball with your stick between the opponent’s legs
The choice of tactics usually depends on what is known about the opponents. For the chosen tactics, it is essential that every player knows what to do and that they all work as a team. Usually the team has decided how they will fore-check, meaning how they will group to take on the opponent’s attack. There are common tactics for fore-checking and defending, but when it comes to attacking the players are usually left to use their imagination.
The basic equipment of a field player includes a stick, shoes and clothes suitable for playing. The goalkeeper has a helmet, goalkeeper pants, a jersey and protective gear. The IFF also strongly recommends the use of protective eye wear and for the junior players (under 18) the use eye protection is mandatory.
The development of floorball equipment has been fast. The shaft of the sticks has improved from heavy and thick plastic shafts to the modern, much lighter and advanced carbon fiber shafts. In the beginning all the blades were similar, but nowadays the form, material and stiffness of the available blades vary a lot. As the result of different shafts and blades, the floorball equipment manufacturers have each their own stick collection. Every brand offers different sticks for players with different qualities. The sticks for small children are shorter and bend more.
The Rink and the Goal
The rink is built from a series of connected boards, made of either wood or a plastic material. The height of the board is 50 cm and the corners are rounded, giving the players the opportunity to keep the ball in play. Players can use the boards to win advantage for their team; especially on the elite level the tactical use of the boards is eminent.
In many places floorball is also played three versus three without a goalkeeper in small rink using small goals. On the International competition level, the rink size has from the beginning been 40 x 20 m and the goal size is 160 x 115 cm. The rules allow all rink sizes between 36 x 18 m and 44 x 22 m, as long as the rink formula is length = 2 x width. A fully equipped rink includes also markings on the floor. Two goalkeeper areas, the center line, the center spot and the other six face-off dots shall be marked on the floor. Both goals are surrounded with the goal area of 4 x 5 meters and inside the goal area there is a smaller goalkeeper area of 1 x 2,5 meters, where only the goalkeeper can operate.
The physical requirement for floorball players has developed a lot during the existence of the sport. A modern floorball player takes a lot of short spurts in different directions, so they need to be athletic, have good reaction, speed and elasticity skills, and have good eye hand coordination and stick handling skills. The training is a combination of tactical, technical and muscle fitness, including speed and running coordination. The goalkeeper needs good endurance and very good mid body muscle fitness.
Each official match should be led and controlled by two referees with equal responsibility. The main two tasks of the referees are to make the game safe for everyone and to accept the goals, which are scored according to the rules. Another important focus for the referees is that the game should run smoothly and therefore it should be interrupted as seldom as possible.