Broomball is a popular recreational ice sport often thought to have originated in Canada and is played in many countries around the world. It is played on a hockey rink, either indoors or outdoors, depending on climate and location.

Players hit a small ball around the ice with a stick known as a 'broom'. The broom may have a wooden or aluminium shaft and has a rubber-moulded triangular head similar in shape to that of a regular broom, hence the name.

In a game of broomball there are two teams, each containing six players, a goaltender plus five outfielders. The object of the game is to score more goals than your opponent. Goals are scored by putting the ball into your opponent's net using your broom. Tactics and plays are similar to those used in sports such as ice hockey, roller hockey and floorball.

Broomball is often mistaken for the sport of curling, a popular misconception outside Canada and North America, although the sports are almost nothing alike.



There is a variety of equipment used in broomball, both for the game itself and its players.

General gameplay equipment


The broom is the stick used by broomball players. Traditionally it would be a normal household broom, with the bristles frozen or dipped in rubber to harden them. Today's brooms are manufactured with a specialised rubber triangular head attached to a wooden or aluminium shaft.

  • Minimum length - measures from ground level to the player's wrist, with their arms relaxed to their sides
  • Maximum length - 1.35 metres (54 inches)
  • Minimum weight - none
  • Maximum weight - 32 ounces


A broomball is spherical and, depending on the conditions and needs, is made of rubber or leather, and is either orange or blue in colour. Generally, balls for indoor conditions are made of a soft orange rubber, while balls for outdoor and more extreme cold conditions are made of a harder blue leather.

  • Circumference - between 44 and 48 centimetres
  • Weight - between 225 and 275 ounces

Goal cage

There are two goal cages in use, one at each end, into which the teams attempt to score goals. They have no set design material or colour, although commonly are made of steel and are red in colour. Netting is tied to the poles to prevent the ball passing through the back of the goal.

In international competition and most countries around the world, goal cages 1.5 metres by 2.1 metres (5 feet by 7 feet) are used. In the United States, larger goal cages of 1.7 metres by 2.35 metres (6 feet by 8 feet) are used.

Basic player equipment


At any competitive level, specialised broomball shoes are used. They have a specially-designed soft rubber sole to provide improved traction on the ice. Many modern brands are now manufactured with other in-built features such as improved toe and ankle support and waterproofing.


It is a requirement for every player to wear a helmet for protection. Players may optionally have a wire, metal or plastic cage attached to the front to protect their face. In some competitions, including many juvenile ones, the use of face cages is mandatory.


Shoulder and chest pads are optional protective equipment for players. They must conform to the natural shape of the body. Breast plates are optional wear for female players.


Guards are usually worn on the elbows, knees and shins to protect players from direct blows from the broom. They are usually made of a hard plastic or form and must be held in place underneath the player's uniform.


Gloves are commonly used to protect a player's hands. They commonly have additional foam backing to improve this protection.


Many male players wear a cup (or jockstrap) to protect their pelvis area. It is sometimes colloquially known as a box.

Goaltender equipment

Goaltenders generally wear a full face cage, in addition to thick padding on the legs, thighs, chest and shoulders, all worn to protect the goaltender from injury while performing his or her role. Goaltenders are permitted to use a blocker, a specially-designed rectangular attachment to their glove used to block shots, similar to those used by their ice hockey counterparts.


Other protective equipment worn by players may include: mouth guards (to protect from oral injuries), ankle guards, thigh guards and wrist guards.


A typical game of broomball is broken up into two halves of minimum fifteen minutes each, although other common half lengths are eighteen and twenty minutes. On each team there is a goaltender plus five other players, typically two defenders, two wingers, and one centre. A goaltender is compulsory, although teams can use their remaining five players as they wish.

The object of the game is to score goals into your opponent's goal cage; the team with the most goals at the end of a game is declared the winner. In many competitions and tournaments, if the scores are tied after regular time, one or two periods of overtime are played to determine a winner. The rules of international competitions state that in overtime, both teams must play four on four without goaltenders.

Basic rules

Referees have the right to penalise players who commit infractions during the game by assessing time penalties similar to those used in ice hockey. These time penalties are:

  • Minor - two minutes
  • Major - five minutes
  • Misconduct - ten minutes
  • Game Misconduct - expulsion from remainder of game
  • Match - expulsion from remainder of game and automatic suspension from competition play

The time punishment imposed for an offence depends on the infraction committed. Note that for Game Misconduct and Match penalties, the offending player may be replaced by a team mate after two and five minutes respectively, therefore not disadvantaging his or her team for the remainder of the game, like a red card in soccer.

Common infractions in broomball include:

High broom/high broom on the ball

When a player hits an opponent (high broom) or the ball (high broom on the ball) above his or her normal (e.g. standing) shoulder level.

Obstructive fall

Also known as sliding, obstructive fall is when a player leaves his or her feet and knocks an opponent to the ground.


Roughing is when a player uses excessive roughness in contact with a player, depending on the type of game (contact or non-contact) being played.


Interference involves a player preventing an opponent who is not in possession of the ball from making a play for it.


Slashing may be called when a player hits his or her broom into an opponent's broom or legs with the intention of stopping their progress.


Offside occurs when a player precedes the ball into his or her opponent's territory. In international and most national competitions, offside at the centre red line is used. In the United States, an offside rule known as floating blue line is used, vaguely similar to the one used in ice hockey.


Icing is the act of a team sending the ball from their territory over the opponent's goal line without an opponent touching or being able to play it.


Broomball games are controlled by two on-ice referees. Both referees have the same powers to call all infractions, offsides, goals, and so on. There are typically a number of off-ice officials as well, depending on the level of the game being played, including the scorekeeper, timekeeper, penalty timekeeper, and goal judges.


There is no known fully accurate history of broomball. However, the general consensus is that modern-day broomball originated in Canada by ice hockey enthusiasts who were not talented skaters. However, recent research indicates that a sport known as knattleikr was played in Iceland in the 18th century. The sport was almost considered warfare, with the occasional death not uncommon, and games could involve whole villages and lasted up to fourteen days. Writer Hord Grimkellson reported that, in a game between Strand and Botn, that "before dusk, six of the Strand players lay dead, though none on the Botn side."[1] (

The first recorded broomball games in North America were in Saskatchewan in 1909 and Ontario in 1911. From Canada the game spread quickly to the United States and became especially popular in Minnesota, where by the 1950s a broomball community was thriving.

Broomball was spread internationally over the following decades by ex-patriate Canadians and Americans and by the 1980s, organised broomball was being played in Australia, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.

Famous teams

United States



World governing body

The International Federation of Broomball Associations (IFBA) is the world governing body of broomball, with its headquarters based in Canada. Under current President Rick Przybysz the IFBA has taken the sport to a greater global level, pushing broomball to a status which may soon see its presence in the Olympics.

Every two years the IFBA sanctions the World Broomball Championships (also known as the Challenge Cup), an international event where teams from around the globe enter. Historically the Championships have been dominated by the stronger North Americans teams.

Around the world

Broomball is now an established international recreational sport, played in many countries around the world. Canada and the United States are the 'powerhouse' nations of the sport, with their local representative teams often battling it out in prestigious tournaments held annually across North America.

Broomball is becoming more popular internationally as well. In Japan, some top teams and players are attracted to regular tournaments. Australia holds its annual National Championships in centres across the country and is continually growing its number of players in a country where ice sports are not considered popular. Switzerland and Italy produce some fine players and regularly send representative teams to tournaments in North America.

Links to external broomball sites can be found at the bottom of this page.


There are three basic forms of broomball: men's, women's, and mixed.

Each of the single-sex forms can be split further into checking and non-checking categories. Most of the world plays single-sex competitions as checking, but the United States prefers non-checking.

Mixed broomball is losing popularity on a global scale and involves games between teams with an equal number of male and female players on the ice. These events are non-checking and at the highest level, are decided by individual skill and tactical nous.

The future of broomball

Presently broomball continues to grow globally. With a firm foothold in Canada and the United States and an established presence in other significant nations, the IFBA is now talking of taking the sport to the Olympics. Already the Canadian Broomball Federation is a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, the first such national broomball body to achieve this, and it is expected other federations will soon follow.

The future of the sport looks bright. Marketed as 'the alternative team sport on ice', broomball offers a less-confrontational alternative to sports such as ice hockey. At the elite level broomball is fast-paced, highly skillful and is a great spectacle, while at a social level broomball is very enjoyable for all players regardless of sporting skill.

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