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April 2017
Fitness and sport
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Broom ball is a team sport that is similar to ice hockey in many aspects; the rules are simple but strategic aspects and training are quite complex. Players have a special broom in their hands and they must wear special shoes instead of skates which allow them to run on ice. Play is very quick and the rhythm of the match is always very intense, and, of course, there are physical confrontations between players! A match is made up of two halves of 20 minutes and the aim is to score a goal by hitting the rubber ball into the other team’s net. A team is made up of 6 players – 5 field players and 1 goal keeper. There are 6 other players on the bench and, given how tiring it is running on ice, rolling substitutions can be made so players can take a rest.

Broom ball was invented in Canada in 1909 and it became popular very quickly, especially in the provinces of Newfoundland and Quebec. It is said that the inspiration came from a group of people who were about to start preparing ice fields with brooms and who casually hit a ball to one another. Another theory it that broom ball began thanks to the initiative of a groups railway workers from Montreal who, with a 7 inch ball and a classic corn broom, started to play during their lunch breaks. Another theory is that broom ball is a remake of an ancient Indian game, like Lacrosse, which then underwent a precise evolution.
Together with Canada, which is the home of this sport, broom ball is popular in the USA, Australia, Japan and various European countries, such as Switzerland, Italy and countries in Scandinavia, where the climate is suitable.

The rules are very similar to those of ice hockey, but there are some differences that highlight how original broom ball is. The fact that players must constantly try and keep their balance and therefore work out the best way to move, for example, is one of the most important skills of this sport. The iced surface requires constant reorganisation of the body’s position and movement through precise posture control, therefore players are continually working and using certain muscle groups: the adductor thigh muscles, the abdominal muscles and the lumbar muscles. Along with these factors, coordination must also be worked on during training sessions, as well as all conditional skills related to strength, speed, reactivity and resistance.

The official dimensions of the iced court must be between 56-61m long and 26-30m wide. The internal height of the goal must be 1.5m (measured from the ice to the bottom of the cross bar) and the distance between the two poles must be 2.10m.

The shoes worn for Broomball are anti-slip shoes with a soft, rubber sole that have a good grip so that players can slow down and be agile whilst accelerating and changing their speed. Each athlete is obliged to wear shin-pads and other protective clothing which prevent them getting hurt if they fall on the ice during play. The broom was originally made using a wooden or aluminium handle with a dust pan covered in rubber attached to the bottom, however today they are available in a much lighter and manageable version made from carbon fibre or titanium. Unlike ice hockey which is played with a disc, an orange rubber ball is used in broom ball which is hard and can have a circumference of 44-48cm. It must weigh 225-275 grams.

Some rules of the game
• At the beginning of every match, halftime break and after a goal is scored or when the game is stopped when a player is off-side, a face-off is played in the spot designated by the referee. After the whistle is blown, the referee drops the ball on to the ice and the players run to get it first.
Offside: this occurs when a player is in front of the ball and goes from his/her team’s territory to the other teams’ territory. The position of the shoe determines whether a player is in front of the ball in the other team’s territory. A player is not considered to be offside until one or both shoes go completely over the red line before the ball has completely passed the red line (i.e. being on the red line is not offside). Offside is called immediately and play starts again with a face-off in a neutral part of the territory of the team that went offside. Offside is also called when a player is in the attacking zone and gets possession of the ball which has come from the defending territory.
• “Icing” which is when a player hits the ball from his/her defensive territory and it crosses the goal line in the attacking territory without touching anyone. This goal is not counted and play is restarted with a play-off in the defending area of the player who ‘iced’.
• “Hidden ball” occurs when there is a scrum or when a player accidently falls on the ball and, as a result, the referee cannot see it. In this case, the game is stopped immediately.


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