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The Swedish goalball team at Athens Paralympic games

Goalball is a team sport designed for blind athletes. It was devised by Hanz Lorenzen (Austria), and Sepp Reindle (Germany), in 1946 in an effort to help in the rehabilitation of visually impaired World War II veterans[1]. The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), responsible for fifteen sports for the blind and partially sighted in total, is the governing body for this sport.

The sport evolved into a competitive game over the next few decades and was a demonstration event at the 1976 Summer Paralympics in Toronto[1]. The sport's first world championship was held in Austria in 1978 and goalball became a full part of the Paralympics from the 1980 Summer Paralympics in Arnhem onwards[1].

Participants compete in teams of three, and try to throw a ball that has bells embedded in it into the opponents' goal[2]. They must use the sound of the bell to judge the position and movement of the ball. Games consist of two 10 minute halves[2]. Blindfolds allow partially sighted players to compete on an equal footing with blind players[2].


Court and equipment

International Blind Sports Federation rules require the field of play to be 18m long by 9m wide (about 19.7 yards by 9.8 yards).[3] Goals span the width of the pitch.[4] The ball weighs 1.25 kg (about 2.76 pounds) and has eight holes and noise bells contained within. The ball's circumference is around 76 cm (about 30 inches).[5]


Up to three substitutes are allowed in addition to the three starting players: one Center and two Wingers. Men and women compete separately. Eyeshades must be worn at all times during the match. In tournament play, patches cover the eyes beneath the eyeshades to prevent any player seeing if the eyeshades are inadvertently knocked off during the game. If eyeshades are knocked off, then play is stopped, and eyeshades are put back on. You cannot play goalball with eyeshades off.


Infractions are generally punished by the loss of possession to the other team

  • Premature Throw - throwing the ball before the official has called "play".
  • Out of bounds shot - The ball is thrown and does not land within the court boundaries. (Note: Until recently, there was a Step Over infraction, which would be called if no part of the player's body was touching the court at the time of a throw; now, the only requirement is that the ball land in-bounds.) "Line Out" means a ball has passed the second line around the court, and play is stopped until the ball is retrieved and in possession of the other team.
  • Pass Out - while passing between members of the team, the ball crosses the sideline.
  • Ball Over - the ball rebounds off a defending player, the crossbar or goalposts and crosses back over the centre line.


A penalty throw may be awarded for:

  • A team taking more than ten seconds to throw the ball
  • A player throwing a ball more than three times consecutively
  • Illegal Defence - defending a ball while out of your team area
  • Short ball/high ball/long ball - ball does not land correctly in opponent's court
  • Touching eyeshades
  • Causing undue delay to the game - unnecessary eye shade checks, etc.
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct
  • Excessive noise
  • Illegal coaching - coaching from the bench during play or after an official has said "Quiet please" with intentions of continuing or starting play. New rules in effect of 2006 allow coaching from the bench during an "official timeout" in the United States, to comply with more of IBSAs rules.

Official IBSA Goalball rules

Media coverage

The 2009 USABA Western Regional Tournament, Utah, May 01 and May 02 streamed live video and audio through the The Audio Network, and Accessible World. This broadcast was the first ever live video broadcast of a USABA sanctioned event.

Goalballnetwork provides news about goalball - such as general information, results from tournaments, videos, photos, names and addresses from national sports bodies, links to goalball playing countries, links to goalball teams, etc.

Audio Network provides live audio and video broadcast coverage of international competitions. Archives of past broadcasts are available including the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, Lakeshore Foundation IGC Classic from Spartanburg, South Carolina and the Men's InterCup from Sweden.

PA Goalball provides coverage of the sport in Pennsylvania.


  1. ^ a b c BBC News: Paralympics - Goalball
  2. ^ a b c International Paralympic Committee: Goalball
  3. ^ International Blind Sports Federation: Goalball Rules Section 1.1.1
  4. ^ International Blind Sports Federation: Goalball Rules Section 1.2.1
  5. ^ International Blind Sports Federation: Goalball Rules Section 1.2.2

See also

External links

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