So What IS Goalball, You May Ask?
Goalball is a highly competitive sport played three-against-three, indoors on a gym floor--primarily by blind and visually impaired athletes. It's played from the local school-gym level on up to the Paralympic, 'Team USA' level Internationally.
Games are usually quite competitive and exciting to watch--even on a local level. There are two teams playing against eachother, with one on each end of the 60x40 foot court. All players are blindfolded to make the game fair. This is due to varying levels of sight among players. Some are legally-blind, some are totally blind. The blindfolds ensure equality among players.
The object is to roll a three-pound Goalball, which is sort of like a heavy basketball, past the opposing team without them stopping it. It's their job to block that ball at all costs.
Now you may be asking yourself, "how do the players keep track of the ball if they're blind?" The ball has bells in it--sounding a lot like Christmas "jingle bells"--that allow the players to listen for it. When they hear the ball coming towards their end of the court, they dive, usually head-first, towards it hoping to block it with their body and stop it. They often slide back and forth on the floor, using their bodies to block the oncoming ball. If all three players miss the ball and it goes past them or over them and then over the back line, it is considered a goal. The team with the most goals at the end of two 10-minute halves, wins the game. There are usually several games in a typical tournament.
The players use cord or thin rope taped to the floor, or other similar tactile markings, to orientate themselves as to where they are on the court.
Each game consists of two ten-minute halves. A coin toss is held and the winning team can choose whether to throw or receive or pick an end of the gym court to start play.
One of the two referees checks the court and teams to make sure they are ready to begin, and then blows a whistle three times and calls out, "play," to signal the beginning of the half.
During the halves, play can be stopped by a ball landing out of bounds, signaled by the call "out" or "blocked out," the ball going past a team's back line, signaled by two whistle blows or the call "goal," by time expiring, and by several other less common events explained throughout the USA Goalball Web site.
As the game is being played, most of the players are squatting or kneeling, ready to dive one way or the other to block the oncoming ball. When a player blocks the ball, they will usually either throw it back to the other team or pass it to a teammate.
To pass the ball successfully, the passer needs to verbally here where the other player is, usually by the teammate tapping the floor, to allow a clean pass.
Those are the basics you need to know to start playing the game, or to just follow along as an enthusiast of the sport.
Read through the rest of our site, especially the Rules section, for more details on specific situations which can occur during a game.