Goalball – History and Gameplay Of Goalball


Goalball, a team game, is designed specifically for athletes who are visually impaired. The players or the participants compete in teams of three and try to throw the ball that has bells embedded in it into the opponents’ goal. The ball is allowed to be thrown by hand. It is never kicked. The players use their extraordinary ear-hand coordination to play the game. The tricky sport indeed has no able-bodied equivalent.


It is generally played indoors, usually on a volleyball court. The games consist of two twelve-minute halves. The teams alternately throw or roll the ball from one end of the playing area to the other. The players are supposed to remain in the area of their own goal in case of both defense and attack. They use the sound of the bell to judge the location and movement of the ball. With the help of the eyeshades,  partially sighted players compete on an equal footing with the blind players. Eyepatches are worn under eyeshades to ensure total coverage of the eye and prevent any vision, in case the eyeshades become dislodged.

The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) which was founded in 1981 and is responsible for a range of sports for the blind and partially sighted, is the official governing body for Goalball.

History Of Goalball


This sport was originally devised in 1946 by Hanz Lorenzen and German Sepp Reindle as a way to assist the rehabilitation of visually impaired World War II veterans.

It gradually evolved into a competitive sport during the 1950s and 1960s. Goalball was nominated, eventually, as a demonstration sport at the 1972 Summer Paralympics in Heidelberg and it became a Paralympic Games sport at the 1976 Summer Paralympics in Toronto. This sport was held in Austria in 1978. Presently, there were 81 competing nations and 270 international referees.

Goalball Equipments


This one has a dimension similar to the basketball, but it is heavier, having about 1,250 kg, it does not have an air chamber which means that the ball does not jump as much.

The unique features are the small bells on the inside to make you hear the movement of the ball and have 8 small holes that make the sound heard better by hitting the ground or rolling the ball


Although blind, not everyone has total blindness. To give more justice to the sport and to be able to play together, a sale is used so that everyone is on an equal footing.

Dimensions of Goalball

defense zone and zone of attack measure 9 meters wide by 3 meters deep while neutral zone has 6 meters deep. The beacons for this sport have measures of 9 meters long by 1,3 meters wide, being still quite rigid and robust.

Gameplay Of Goalball


To score in this sport a player must roll the ball down the length of the court, past the opposing defenders, into the opponents’ goal. The player with the ball will stand, orient himself using the sounds from teammates, tactile lines or the crossbar of their own goal. The player will then move forward, keep himself low, and roll the ball down the court.

The ball is supposed to hit in the player’s own landing zone, and anywhere in the neutral zone. As long as it hits each zone, the style of the throw is entirely up to the player. Most of the players will take many strides and release the ball close to their own high ball line as possible,  leaning low to make a legal throw. Some players may throw after spinning, taking advantage of the momentum of the spin into additional velocity. Others just throw the ball so that the ball will bounce just once in each of the required zones. Most elite players effectively use multiple types of throws.

Gameplay Of Goalball


Goalball’s defending players stay well within the team area,  in somewhat staggered positions to avoid collisions with others. Whenever they hear the other team throw the ball, layout generally ‘layout’, which is the players slide on their hips and stretch out their arms above their heads and extend their legs to cover as much distance as possible. Their objective is simply to hold the ball from getting past them with whatever part of the body the player can get in front of the ball.

Some of the players prefer to block the ball with their chests and then absorb the impact. Others block with their legs so that the ball will directly roll up their bodies into their hands. Whatever the method may be, the players will always try to cover much of the area as long as possible to block the ball.


Infractions are typically punished by the loss of possession of the ball to the other team.

Pass out – while passing the ball between members of the team, the ball crosses the sideline.

Premature throw – throwing the ball before the official has declared ‘play’.

Ball over – here the ball rebounds off a defending player, goalposts or the crossbar and crosses back over half-court.


Goalball Penalties

A penalty throw is awarded for:

Ten-second penalty –  When a team takes more than ten seconds to throw the ball back over the center line.

Delay of the game The delay can be caused by many things like a coach reporting the wrong numbers for substitutions,  too many or too few players taking the court or a team not arriving in time for the coin toss that precedes the game,

Illegal defense This is called if a defender of a team makes contact with the ball while no part of his body is touching the team area.

Short ball – The ball when thrown, fails to reach the opponent’s team area.

High ball – The ball, when thrown, does not touch the thrower’s landing zone.

Long ball – The ball, when thrown, does not touch the neutral zone.

Eyeshades – Touching eyeshades without any permission.

Unsportsmanlike conduct – This can be for various things, from arguing with an official to pounding the floor and swearing.

Noise – Unnecessary noise is made by the offensive team that prevents the defense from tracking the ball while the ball is travelling down the court to them.

Rules for Goalball:

If the pitcher throws the ball before the ball is allowed, the ball goes into the possession of the opponent;

If, when trying to pass the ball to a team-mate, he or she ends up leaving the sideline, the ball goes to the opponent;

If the ball passes beyond the center line when the player defends the ball or hits the post, then it goes to the opponent.

Illegal coaching – coaching from the bench when the game is on or after an official has declared ‘Quiet please’ with intentions of continuing or starting play. From the year of 2006, rules allowed coaching from the bench only during an ‘official time-out’.

In case of a penalty situation, a single player is supposed to defend the entire goal for one throw. The chosen player is determined by the penalty.

Goalball is a sport that is generally played at the Paralympic Games. During the Games, ten male teams and ten female teams are eligible to compete after various selection requirements. Competition is open to sighted persons at the national level, but in case of international IBSA-sanctioned tournaments, the athletes must have a visual impairment classification of B1, B2, or B3 respectively.

The IBSA World Goalball Championships takes place every four years, since 1978. A youth world championships were also introduced, and the Fifth IBSA Goalball World Youth Championships were held in Budaors, Hungary in July 2017.

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