Understanding Goalball

Unless you are within the visually impaired community, there is a high chance that you haven’t heard of goalball before. If you fall into this category then you are missing out!

There are few games that involve jingling balls hurtling towards your face at high speeds and there is only one that also involves blindfolds.

Goalball is a year-round sport designed specifically for VI people. Blindfolds allow for complete integration and create a level playing field for both sighted and visually impaired people alike to compete fairly, regardless of sight.

So how does it work?

Two teams of 3 players, made up of two wingers and a centre, face off on a standard volleyball court size area (9 metres wide by 18 metres long). The aim of the game is to roll the rubber ball, filled with bells, over the opposing team’s goal line – which would be the baseline in volleyball – without crossing the ‘high ball line’.

Simple enough? Now add blindfolds.

The teams crouch low to the ground waiting and listening for the bells in the ball. Then, in a split second, must determine the destination of the ball and quickly scramble over and spread out across the floor in an effort to block the ball from passing the goal line.

Players have developed an array of complex strategies and techniques to add spin or to disguise the true trajectory of the ball, disorientating and confusing their opponents. Did we also mention that the ball could be hurtling towards you at over 30 miles per hour, requiring lightning fast reactions to track and block the shot?

A regular game is made up of two halves, both lasting 12 minutes, with a change of sides at the break. In order to maintain an equal advantage, all players must wear an ‘eyeshade’, limiting all of the player’s visibility to none. Upon receiving the ball, the team has just 10 seconds to roll the ball back at the opposing team. The team at the end of the game with the most points wins.

You don’t have to be visually impaired to play recreational level goalball, but being used to relying on your other senses would definitely leave you at an advantage when trying to judge the trajectory of a fast-moving ball.

Are you interested in giving goalball a go?

Email info@britishblindsport.org.uk or call 01926 424247 to enquire about goalball opportunities in your area.