Floorball is a form of floor hockey, played indoors with five players on one side who play a ball with their sticks and a goalkeeper tending the goal. This fun and fast-paced game was played for the first time in Europe in the 1970s, and since then, it has become a popular sport across the world for its quick pace and the excitement it offers.
This article offers a brief insight into the history of floorball, how it is played, and its current status across the world.
History of Floorball
Floor hockey was a popular recreational sport in Canada in the 20th century, played in schools. The earliest records of floorball can be traced back to 1958 when a US-based industry introduced Cosom, a name for plastic sticks. This form of floor hockey was played in the US and Canada only. By the 1960s, many schools in the US, particularly in Michigan, had introduced floorball in their gym classes.
In the 1970s, Sweden drafted rules for and introduced floorball as we know it today. It was recognised as an international sport and became a more serious game that was not limited to schools only. In the following years, floorball became popular in Nordic countries, and clubs were formed.
Many countries developed their associations, and in 1986, the Swiss, Finnish, and Swedish Floorball Associations formed the IFF or International Floorball Federation. In the following years, other countries also joined the IFF.
The first European Cup was held in 1993 in Stockholm for men and Helsinki for women. The first European Championship for men was held in Finland the following year, while for women, it was held the next year in Switzerland. The first men’s World Floorball Championship was held in 1996 in Sweden, while the women had their first world tournament the following year in Aland.
IFF became a member of the International World Games Association in 2013. In 2017, floorball was recognised as an official sport in the World Games.
Floorball Rules and Format
Floorball is played with lightweight sticks that are durable, inexpensive, and do not leave a mark. The sticks should ideally reach around two centimetres above the player’s belly button. Unlike hockey, the goaltender in floorball does not have a stick and instead wears gloves to catch the ball and roll it away.
The ball used in the game weighs 23g and has a diameter of 72mm. It is made of hard plastic and has around 26 holes that are evenly distributed across the ball. The net used in floorball is 115cm high and 160cm wide, similar to a hockey net.
Each side has five players and a goaltender on the court at one time. The team coach can substitute the goalkeeper or any one of the players at any time in the game. Most teams opt for substitutes toward the end of the game to improve the chances of scoring with one more player in the outfield. The game time for official floorball matches is 3×20 minutes. However, different game times may be used for matches between younger teams, for instance, two halves of 15 minutes each.
Two referees monitor and control an official match. Players must keep the stick below the waist and play the ball below the knee level at all times. Players are not allowed to block or screen the players from the opponent team nor have body contact. Similarly, stick-on-stick or stick-on-body contact is not allowed. Free hits are given on minor rule infringements, similar to soccer.
The rules for floorball are designed to ensure the safety of players and reduce injury chances without compromising game speed or skill. It’s the fluidity and quick transitions in the game that make floorball such an interesting sport to play.
Which countries play floorball?
Today floorball is popular all over the world. It is played in over 80 countries across the globe, while around 75 playing nations are members of the IFF. It is mostly played in parts of Northern Europe, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland, but its popularity has reached Africa, South Africa, North America, Asia, and Australia.
Major floorball tournaments around the world
The most prestigious events for floorball are the world floorball championships. These tournaments are annual events where teams participate from across the world. Since 2011, 8 men’s, 8 women’s, 4 women’s U-19, and 6 men’s under-19 world floorball championships have taken place. The countries winning the world championships include Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Czech Republic.