- A variant of broomball is played by non-Russians in Moscow. See Moscow broomball.
Broomball is a popular recreational ice sport originating in Canada and played around the world. It is played in a hockey rink, either indoors or outdoors, depending on climate and location.
In a game of broomball there are two teams, each consisting of six players, a goaltender plus five others. The object of the game is to score more goals than your opponent. Goals are scored by hitting the ball into your opponent's net using your broom. Tactics and plays are similar to those used in sports such as ice hockey, roller hockey and floorball.
Players hit a small ball around the ice with a stick called a 'broom'. The broom may have a wooden or aluminium shaft and has a rubber-moulded triangular head similar in shape to that of a regular broom. Players wear special rubber-soled shoes instead of skates, and the ice is prepared in such a way that it is smooth and dry to improve traction.
Outside North America broomball is often mistaken for the sport of curling, possibly due to the 'broom' reference in the name, although the only similarities between the two are that they are both played on an ice surface.
EquipmentThere is a variety of equipment used in broomball, both for the game itself and its players.
General gameplay equipment
The broom is the stick used in the sport of broomball. Traditionally it was a normal household broom, with the bristles frozen, dipped in rubber, or wrapped in tape (usually duct tape) to harden them - some social broomball competitions, such as Michigan Tech's leagues, still use these sort of brooms. Today's competition brooms are manufactured with a specialised rubber triangular head attached to a wooden or aluminium shaft.
There are no guards in broomball.
According to international rules, the maximum length of the broom can be 1.35m (135cm/54"), and the minimum length of the broom is dependent on each player. From the tip of the handle to the end of the head, the broom must reach at least to players' wrists when their arms are relaxed at their sides.
BallA broomball is spherical with a circumference of between 44cm and 48cm (17.6" and 19.2"). Depending on the conditions it is made of rubber or leather, and is generally either orange or blue in colour. Generally, balls for indoor conditions are made of a soft orange rubber, while balls for outdoor and more extreme cold conditions are made of a stitched blue leather or harder blue rubber.
Goal cageThere are two goal cages in use, one at each end, into which the teams attempt to score goals. Netting is tied to the poles to prevent the ball passing through the back of the goal.
In international competition and most broomball countries, goal cages 1.5 metres by 2.1 metres (5 feet by 7 feet) are used. In the United States, larger goal cages of 1.7 metres by 2.35 metres (6 feet by 8 feet) are preferred.
Basic player equipment
Commercially produced broomball shoes have a specially-designed soft rubber sole to provide improved traction on the ice. Many modern brands are now manufactured with other features such as improved toe and ankle support and waterproofing.
HelmetHelmets are required in international rules for all players. Players may optionally have a wire or metal cage or clear plastic visor attached to the front to protect their face.
Padding & GuardsShoulder and chest pads are optional protective equipment for players and must conform to the natural shape of the body. Female players also have the option of special plates to protect their breasts. Guards are also worn on the knees, elbows and shins to protect players from injury to these areas. They are usually made of a hard plastic or foam and must be held in place under the player's uniform.
GlovesGloves are commonly used to protect a player's hands. They commonly have additional foam backing to improve this protection.
CupsMany male players wear a cup (or jockstrap). It is sometimes colloquially known as a box.
Goaltender equipmentGoaltenders generally wear a full face cage, in addition to thick padding on the legs, thighs, chest and shoulders, all worn to protect the goaltender from injury while performing his or her role. Goaltenders are permitted to use a blocker, a specially-designed rectangular attachment to their glove used to block shots, similar to those used by their ice hockey counterparts.
GameplayA typical game of broomball is broken up into two or three periods. On each team there is a goaltender plus five other players, typically two defenders and three attackers (two forward and one center). If the ice surface is especially small, some leagues use fewer players on the ice.
The object of the game is to score goals into your opponent's goal/net. The team with the most goals at the end of a game is declared the winner. In some tournaments, if the scores are tied after regular time, an additional overtime period is played to determine a winner. In the overtime period (in most cases) six players, three on each team, play five minutes without a goalie. The team to score more goals in the overtime period is declared the winner. In the event of another tie, a second overtime period may be played. In some games a shootout period will be played. The shooter has the choice to have the ball placed a specified distance from the net or, like in hockey, can play the ball from center ice.
OfficialsBroomball games are controlled by two on-ice referees. Both referees have the same powers to call all penalties, offsides, goals, and so on. There are typically a number of off-ice officials as well, depending on the level of the game being played, including the scorekeeper, timekeeper, penalty timekeeper, and goal judges.
Referees are generally required to wear black-and-white vertical striped jerseys, with a red arm band on one arm. They use this arm to signal penalties throughout the game.
HistoryThere is no known fully accurate history of broomball. The general consensus is that modern-day broomball originated in Canada. Some think it came about by trying to play ice hockey without ice skates. However, recent research indicates that a sport known as knattleikr was played in Iceland in the 10th century that was similar to broomball. The sport was almost considered warfare, with the occasional death not uncommon, and games could involve whole villages and lasted up to fourteen days. Writer Hord Grimkellson reported that, in a game between Strand and Botn, that ''"before dusk, six of the Strand players lay dead, though none on the Botn side."
The first recorded broomball games in North America were in Saskatchewan in 1909 and Ontario in 1911, although there is some evidence to suggest broomball was being played as early as the 1890s. From Canada the game spread south to the United States, becoming especially popular in Minnesota, where by the 1960s a broomball community was thriving.
Broomball spread internationally over the following decades and by the 1980s, organised broomball was being played in Australia, Japan, Sweden, Italy, Germany.
World governing bodyThe International Federation of Broomball Associations (IFBA) is the world governing body of broomball, with its headquarters based in Canada.
Every two years the IFBA runs the World Broomball Championships (also known as the Challenge Cup), an international event where teams from around the globe enter. Historically the Championships have been dominated by the stronger North Americans teams.
United States governing bodyThe American organization recognized by the IFBA is USA Broomball. They are responsible for the sanctioning of tournaments, training and certification of officials, and recognition of state governing bodies regarding broomball. The states which currently have governing bodies recognized by USA Broomball include Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, and Ohio. USA Broomball also organizes and oversees the annual USA Broomball National Championships. In odd-numbered years, Minnesota (the unofficial US broomball capital and easily home to the majority of broomball leagues and teams in the country) hosts the National Championships. In even-numbered years, a different state with an officially recognized state organization hosts the tournament. The following is a list of recent hosts of the National Championships.
Broomball around the worldBroomball is now an established international recreational sport, played in many countries around the world. Canada and the United States are the 'powerhouse' nations of the sport, with their local representative teams often battling it out in prestigious tournaments held annually across North America.
Broomball is becoming more popular internationally as well. In Japan, some top teams and players are attracted to regular tournaments. Australia holds its annual National Championships in centres across the country and is continually growing its number of players in a country where ice sports are not considered popular. Switzerland and Italy produce some fine players and regularly send representative teams to tournaments in North America. Britain is also getting in on the act, with an annual tournament played at the Broadgate Ice Centre in London featuring some talented North American players.
Other broomballing nations include Finland, Germany, and Russia.
The future of broomball
Broomball continues to grow globally. With a firm foothold in Canada and the United States and an established presence in other nations, the IFBA is now talking of taking the sport to the Winter Olympics. The Canadian Broomball Federation is a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, the first such national broomball body to achieve this, and it is expected other federations will soon follow. Universities such as Michigan Tech are embracing broomball as it is has become a great popular tradition (In 2008, 2000 students participated on a total of 200 teams at Michigan Technological University, with the overall winner being The Pirate Sheep). Broomball has also become very popular at Penn State University, with the vast majority of clubs and organizations on campus holding at least one broomball social per semester.
Cincinnati, OH recently embraced broomball with a league formation on their most public space - Fountain Square. The Fountain Square Broomball League consisted of 2 conferences, 8 divisions, and 24 teams. There was color commentary, slow motion instant replay on the Square's LED board as well as a championship game called the Contusion Bowl FSBL.
The future of the sport looks bright. Marketed as 'the alternative team sport on ice', broomball offers a less-confrontational alternative to sports such as ice hockey. At the elite level, broomball is fast-paced, highly skillful and is a great spectacle. At a social level, broomball is very enjoyable for all players regardless of sporting skill.
broomball in German: Broomball
broomball in French: Balai-ballon sur glace
broomball in Italian: Broomball
broomball in Marathi: ब्रूमबॉल
broomball in Portuguese: Broomball
broomball in Finnish: Luutapallo