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About Goalball


Goalball is an indoor sport played in a gymnasium or hall. It originated in Europe and is the only international team sport for the Vision Impaired played at the Paralympics. Originally it was created to allow people who are blind or vision impaired to take part in a team sport with sighted people. It does not matter what level of vision each person has, as all players have blindfolds and therefore compete at an equal level. The game is played at all levels including social, competitive, local, state and national. In order to play in a national team, players must be legally blind.


The aim of the game is to throw the ball (which contains a bell) into the goal at the opposite end of the court. The opposing team has to try and stop the ball before it goes through to the goal.

The Court

Goalball can be played on any flat surface measuring 18m by 9m but is best played on a polished wooden floor. The goalball court is the same size as a volleyball court with a goal post at either end.

The court is divided into two halves (see diagram). Each half comprises 3 equal sections: Neutral Zone, Landing Area and Team Area. Goals extend the full width of the court behind the team area. The court markings, including players’ position markings are visibly marked with 5cm wide tape. String is laid under the tape to enable easier player orientation.

The Game

Each game is 24 minutes long. It comprises two 12 minute halves, with the clock being stopped for any stoppage in play indicated by the referee. All referee signals are given by whistle blasts.

The object is to throw the ball over the opposition’s goal line using a bowling action. Once the three defending players hear which direction the ball is headed, they dive onto their side and attempt to cover as much court as possible to block the ball. Often the defensive action of Goalball players has been likened to that of a soccer goalkeeper diving and blocking the ball with the body.


• All players must wear a blindfold when they are on the court.
• Only 3 players from each team are allowed as on-court players.
• Each player may have as many throws as possible;
• Each team may only have possession of the ball for a maximum of 10 seconds.
• When thrown the ball must touch the court before it passes the attacking team’s landing area line, or a penalty is awarded to the opposing team.


There are two classes of penalty, a Team Penalty and a Personal Penalty.

Personal penalties include:
• High Ball. Throwing the ball in the air past the landing area line
• Unsportsmanlike Conduct
• Touching the Blindfold - without permission from the referee.

Team Penalties Include:

• Delay of Game. Not being ready to start after the 30 seconds warning
• Illegal Coaching.
• Ten Seconds. When the team fails to return the ball within ten seconds of first defending it.


A Goalball Team is comprised of up to 6 players
There are no real positions except most teams have one "front man", and two playing in the back quarters.

Like basketball, the remaining players are substituted on and off the court, by the Team Coach, either at half-time, or when a substitution is called. Only 3 substitutions can be called by a team during regulation play, but half-time or medical substitutions, are not counted.


The ball used for Goalball is very similar to a large basketball and weighs 1.25kg.

Players generally wear elbow, knee and hip pads, to prevent bruising from contact with the ground. Most players also wear groin and chest protection to minimise the impact of the goalball.

Padding can be obtained from most sports shops. Airline blindfolds are adequate for social games.

Goalball highlights - London 2012 Paralympic Games