The game of goal ball was invented in 1946 by Austrian Hanz Lorenzen. The first idea for the sport was a rehabilitation activity for blind veterans of WWII. It was first introduced to the world during the Paralympics held in Toronto in 1978. Since this time the sport of goal ball has grown throughout the world.
There are three members of each team on each end protecting the goalline. There is one center and two wings on each team. The game is 14 minutes long, comprising two seven minute halves. A rubber ball with bells inside for auditory tracking is used. Each player must wear a blindfold regardless of the degree of visual impairment. Each player has the option to wear elbow pads, kneepads, hip pads and face protection.
Benefits of Playing Goal Ball
- Participation in an aggressive sport that combines strategy, power, and quickness.
- Participation in a team sport.
- Increased cardiovascular endurance.
- Increased upper body strength.
- Increased mobility skills.
- Increased agility.
- Improved auditory awareness and tracking.
- Improved self-confidence and self-efficacy.
Many individuals who are visually impaired or blind typically do not have opportunities to be involved in team sports and physical activity. One of the best benefits of goal ball is that it promotes teamwork and cooperation among teammates. In addition, because goal ball can be played with individuals who are sighted and visually impaired together, it acts as a medium for breaking down stereotypes. A natural result of this is that it helps promote awareness within the community of what individuals who are visually impaired can do.
Players who want to compete in a sanctioned international tournament, national tournament, or dual match must be legally blind. However, in community play there are no classifications and everyone can play the game.
- The game starts by flipping a coin to determine possession and preferred sides. The team that starts play will roll the ball offensively to the other team.
- Coaches are not permitted to communicate with players at any time during play (exceptions being timeouts and half time).
- The ball must be rolled to the opposing end and must first land in the landing zone.
- The offensive team has 8 seconds to either throw the ball, pass to a teammate or call a time out.
- If the ball is not thrown in 8 seconds a penalty will follow and that team will lose possession.
- Whistles are used to communicate time left on the clock to the players.
The Goal Ball Court
The Official Court dimensions are 18m in length and 9 m width. The court is then divided into six different sections. Each team area has position lines that let the players know their position on the court. All lines are made with at least 1/4 inch diameter rope taped to the playing surface. The court dimensions are outlined by a raised rope 1/4-1 inch in diameter applied to the playing surface. The rope serves as a tactile guide so the participants know where the boundaries and positions are located. Alternative court sites are a Tennis Court without a net, an Auxiliary Gym, a grassy area (with rope staked to he ground), or a soccer Field.
Teaching the Sport
There are many different ways to teach the sport of Goal ball. Here's a brief overview on the steps to take:
- The players should get on their hands and knees and feel their way around the court so that they become familiar with the court.
- Teach the three basic positions: Ready Stance, Stop Position and Throw Position.
- Have the players start getting comfortable with slide stepping to the right and left in their ready stance.
- Next, have the players slowly fall to their stop position. Make sure that their arms and legs are only 6 inches apart. If they are further apart the ball has a chance to go through their legs.
- Make sure the player angles his/her upper body toward the ball so they do not act like a ramp for the ball to jump over.
- If players are having a hard time falling onto a hard gym floor, introduce elbow and knee pads and or a matted floor to help ease the fears of the player.
- As the players gain confidence, start rolling a "live" ball at them, making sure that their technique is staying consistent.
- Sportime Equipment Company
- Phone: 1-800-283-5700
- The United States Association of Blind Athletes (
- Mailing address: 33 North Institute, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
- Phone: (719) 630-0422
Pads and Other Equipment
- Volleyball or rollerblading knee pads can be obtained at any local sporting goods company.
- Blindfolds must allow the player to easily breathe through the nose and mouth. They can be made from blackened ski goggles, blackened swim goggles, strips of opaque cloth, commercially available sleep shades, or even Halloween masks with tape over the eye holes.
- Lieberman, L.J., & Cowart, J.F. (1996). Games for people with sensory impairments. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
- Paciorek, M.J., & Jones, J.A. (2001). Sports and recreation for the disabled. Carmel, IN: Cooper Publishing Group.
- Winnick, J.P. (2000). Adapted physical education and sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
- Additional information may also be available in the NCPAD database. Try searching using keywords: goal ball. You may also want to visit the United States Association for Blind Athletes.