A floorball match (Photo by Henning Rugsveen)
A floorball match (Photo by Henning Rugsveen)

Floorball is an indoors team sport played with plastic sticks where the aim is to put a light ball into the other team's goal. The game is most popular in Sweden, Finland and Switzerland, and is also played in several other countries, such as Norway and Czech Republic. It is gaining popularity in many other places as well, including some countries outside of Europe such as Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.

In German-speaking countries the game is called Unihockey, in Swedish it is innebandy (indoor bandy), and in Finnish salibandy. North American cosom hockey is a very similar sport. In Japan and Taiwan the term Unihoc is most commonly used.

A floorball team consist of 5 field players and one goalkeeper who has no stick. The playing field is 40 x 20 metres and enclosed by a board (50 cm tall). The goal cages are 160 x 115 cm and 65 cm deep. The sticks are made of plastic or carbon and a bit over 1 metre long. The shaft is no longer than 95 cm and a blade of a different kind of plastic is attached to its end. The ball is made of plastic, is 72 mm in diameter, has a maximum weight of 23 grams, and has 26 holes in it.

A world championship tournament is played every two years. The current reigning world champions are Switzerland (women, 2005) and Sweden (men, 2004) (Floorball World Championships (http://www.floorball.org/wfcres.htm)).


The game

Floorball as a game comes from northern Europe. It is similar to Bandy, a kind of sport considered the predecessor of ice hockey. Floorball is sometimes likened to ice hockey without the ice skates, but there are considerable differences in the rules. In Switzerland, floorball is commonly considered to be a kind of hockey.

Floorball is a fast and dynamic sport with much of the time played near the goals. The mixture of endurance, power and precision make floorball a popular game in schools.

In Switzerland floorball is not only played on the original field, but also on a smaller field of 24 x 14 m. On the smaller field a team consists of three field players and one goalie. The rules do not differ.

On the original field, the game is played by five field players and one goalie on each side. The team consists of a larger number of players which can be substituted at any time. A floorball game is played over 3 periods of 20 minutes. Time is stopped in the case of time penalties, goals and timeouts. There is a break of ten minutes between the thirds. If the game is part of a tournament, the time is shortened to 2 x 20 minutes and the break to 5 minutes. In both cases, the last three minutes the clock is only running when the balls is in play. There are two referees in charge of each game, both of which have the same authority.

Missing image
A floorball ball

The stick used in floorball is exactly regulated. The shaft must not be longer than 95 cm and not heavier than 350 grams. Its material is plastic and it is hollow. Generally lighter sticks are preferred. The ball is made of white plastic and hollow. It has got a diameter of 72 mm and weighs between 20 and 23 grams. There are 26 holes, each of which measuring 11 mm. The goals are 160 cm wide and 115 cm high; their depth is 65 cm.

The goalie wears special equipment. His trousers are long and padded. The shirt is padded and might be long. The goalie is allowed to wear gloves (though not commonly used), but a mitt is not permitted. The goalie wears a helmet to protect his face. All the equipment worn by the goalie has the purpose to protect the goalkeeper and must not augment the area as covered by the goalie without the protective wear. In contrasts to other kinds of hockey, in floorball the goalie does not have a stick. The field players on the other hand only wear shorts, a shirt, socks and indoor sport shoes.

Compared to ice hockey floorball does not permit the use of the body as much. No checks are allowed, nor is pushing, blocking etc. These rules help a dynamic game which emphasizes tactics.

A "free kick" is the standard position after a foul. There are time penalties of two and five minutes for harder fouls; ten minutes are reserved for unfair behaviour. For extreme cases there are match bans (red card).


There are a great number of people that think they have invented floorball. It is commonly considered that the roots of floorball go back to the 1950s in the USA. At the time young people played indoors with plastic sticks and a plastic puck. The game was called floor hockey and the first tournament was organized in 1976 in Michigan.

When floor hockey reached Europe the puck was soon dropped in favour of a light plastic ball. The new sport with the name floorball was first played in Sweden in the early 1970s. It soon gained popularity at schools and in leisure clubs. At that time, the goals were much smaller, but there was no goal keeper.

Floorball soon caught on and in the late 1970s the sport spread across Europe. In the early 1980s many national associations were founded. This created the structures that enabled the young sport to grow faster. At the time of writing (2004) only four countries dominate the international game: Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Czech Republic. The gap to other countries, however, is narrowing year by year.

National associations

The following list shows the year in which a national association was founded in a few countries.

The International Federation

The International Floorball Federation (IFF) was founded in 1986 in Sweden. Founding nations were Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. In 1994 the first European championship for men took place in Zurich. The following year the first European championship for women was organized. The first world championship for men took place in 1996 in Sweden. The following year the first world championship for women was organized. Since then the world championships for men and women take place in alternating years. At the time of writing (2003) there are 27 member countries in the IFF. Ordinary members are: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland. Provisional Members are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the USA. There is organized floorball in Armenia, Korea, Lithuania, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine.

External links

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et:Saalihoki fi:Salibandy fr:Unihockey no:Innebandy sv:Innebandy ja:ユニホッケー


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