Floorball is played indoors on a rink whose size can officially vary from 18–22 meters wide to 36–44 meters long. The rink is surrounded by 50 cm high enclosed boards with rounded corners. The goals are 160 cm wide and 115 cm high. Their depth is 65 cm and they are 2.85 meters from the end of the nearest boards.
Typical equipment for a floorball player consists of a pair of shorts, a shirt, socks and indoor sport shoes. In addition to that, players are allowed to wear shin guards, eye protectors and protective padding for vital areas. Players, except for the goalkeeper, also carry sticks.
A floorball player is also known as a “floorballer”.
A floorball stick is short compared with ice hockey; the maximum size for a stick is 105 cm. As a stick cannot weigh any more than 350 grams, floorball manufacturers produce sticks that are often made of carbon and composite materials.
Goalkeepers wear protection that is very limited; padded pants, a padded chest protector, and a helmet. The goalkeeper can also wear other protective equipment, but bulky padding is not permitted. Some of this other protective equipment includes knee pads, jocks, and gloves.
In floorball, the objective is to get a plastic whiffle ball into a net with the aid of the stick past a goaltender. A floor ball weighs 23 grams and its diameter is 72 mm. It has 26 holes in it; each of which are 11 mm in diameter. Many of these balls now are made with aerodynamic technology, where the ball has over a thousand small dimples in it that reduce air resistance. There have been several times where a ball has been recorded to have travelled at a speed of approximately 205 km/h.
Each team can field six players at a time on the court, one player being a goalkeeper. But the coach can take the goalkeeper for a short amount of time, and switch him with court player. This can make advantages for the attacking side of the team, and disadvantages when it comes to their own defence. The team is also allowed to change players any time ingame, usually they change the whole team. Individual substitution happens sometimes, but it usually happens when a player is exhausted or is hurt.
A floorball game is officially played over three periods lasting 20 minutes each (15 minutes for juniors). The time is stopped in the case of penalties, goals, time-outs and any situation where the ball is not considered to be in play. An intermission of 3–10 minutes takes place between each period, where teams change ends and substitution areas. Each team is allowed a timeout of 30 seconds (which is often used late in matches). There are two referees to oversee the game, each with equal authority.
Checking is disallowed in floorball. Controlled shoulder-to-shoulder contact is allowed, but ice hockey-like checking is forbidden. Pushing players without the ball or competing for a loose ball is also disallowed, and many of these infractions lead to two minute penalties. The best comparison in terms of legal physical contact is soccer, where checking is used to improve one’s positioning in relation to the ball rather than to remove an opposing player from the play. In addition to checking, players cannot lift another opponents stick or perform any stick infractions in order to get to the ball. As well, players may not raise their stick or play the ball above their knee level, and a stick cannot be placed in between a player’s legs (to avoid tripping).
When a player commits a foul, or when the ball is deemed unplayable, play is resumed from a face-off or a free hit. A free hit involves a player from one team to start play from the place where the ball was last deemed unplayable. A comparison of this is a free kick in soccer. For many fouls, such as stick infractions, a free hit is the only discipline provided. However, at the referee’s discretion, a penalty may be worth either two or five minutes. At that point, the player who committed the foul sits in the penalty area, and his team is short handed for the time of the penalty. If an ‘extreme’ foul is committed, such as physical contact or unsportsmanlike behavior, a player may receive a 10 minute penalty or even a match misconduct.
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