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Broomball rules are similar to hockey, but there are a number of differences.  The official rule book has 37 pages, so below is just a brief summary of some basic rules, a few strategies, and some tips to help beginners get started. Detailed rules may be found here.

If you've played broomball elsewhere, know that the CBA uses the USAb rulebook (purchase at www.usabroomball.com).

Updated:  8/31/2011


On the ice, a team consists of 6 players: 1 goalie and 5 attackers (typically 2 defensemen, 2 wings and 1 center).  A team may play with 6 attackers and no goalie, which strategically is usually only done in the last couple minutes in an attempt to score when losing a game.  Officially, there is no differentiating between the 5 attackers, so they may switch positions freely and abide by the same rules.  Goalies, who have certain special privileges and rules, may only switch positions either during a stoppage of play or by subbing out of the game & having a bench player come in as goalie. 

The CBA does not limit the number of players on a roster, though teams typically have 10 to 12 players, with the excess over 6 starting the game on the team bench.  When a player on the ice needs a sub, they hop over the board into the bench area. The sub cannot touch the ball until the off-coming player is completely off the ice, otherwise it is a 2 minute penalty.  Substitutions may only take place from the team bench -- subbing from any other location is a 2 minute penalty.  A general rule of thumb for making a substitution is to make sure the off-coming player is "touching the boards" before the new player hops on the ice.
NOTE: Players may play in as many leagues as they'd like, but may only play on one team per league, even as a substitute.  Players may not change teams during a season for any reason (except in rare cases in which there are extenuating circumstances and the CBA President approves the move).


All goals are worth 1 point (both female and male).  Players can use their feet to pass and move the ball, however, a goal cannot be intentionally scored off an offensive player’s foot or other body part.  In other words, players typically can only score using their stick, though there are technically circumstances where a ball can inadvertently touch an offensive player & the goal still counts.  Note: Players may only use their sticks to intentionally move the ball into or within their opponent's crease.

Zones / Offsides

Even if you’ve played hockey or soccer, the off-sides rule can be confusing due to the concept of a “floating blue line”, which we explain below:

Obtaining the Offensive Zone
The ball must completely cross the BLUE LINE before any offensive players do, which is technically defined as having both feet over the blue line.  In other words, as long as a player has one foot on or behind the blue line, that player is not off-sides.  If an offensive player crosses the blue line (meaning both feet are completely over the line) before the ball, the referee will blow the whistle for off-sides if any offensive player also then touches the ball over the blue line or takes a shot on goal frm behind the blue line.  Once a team “gets the zone”, it may play freely in front of the BLUE LINE, and the “zone” expands to center ice (the RED LINE), hence the “floating blue line” rule

Losing the Offensive Zone
The defense’s primary objective, aside from preventing a goal, is to get the ball "out of the zone".  Again, because of the floating blue line, the RED LINE (center ice) becomes the boundary of the offensive zone. So the offensive team, aside from scoring a goal, wants to keep the ball inside the RED LINE. To "lose the zone" means that the ball completely crosses the RED LINE (center ice), at which time that team has to clear all players to the BLUE LINE, and then re-establish the offensive zone.

Result of Offsides
The referee will stop play and have a face-off just behind the blue line. 

Common mistakes

  • Running just ahead of the ball - sometimes folks cross the blue line just ahead of their teammate who is carrying the ball into the zone.
  • Quick loss of zone, then a pass over the blue line - the ball crosses over the red line, then is quickly passed back to a player inside the blue line.  Because the team "lost the zone", all players have to come back outside the blue line and re-establish the zone.
  • Carrying the ball, while running backwards - sometimes players get ahead of themselves and get their feet across the line before the ball.  That will cause "OFFSIDES!"

Player Penalties

Below are a few of the many minor penalties that will earn you 2 minutes in the box.  There are other penalties that will earn you a double-minor (two 2-minute penalties), a major (5 minutes), 10 minute penalties, and even ejection; simply keep it clean and you’ll never be called for one of these.  While the offender does his or her time, that player’s team has to play short-handed. This is known as a "Power Play" for the other team.

Note: You will be called for a penalty regardless of whether or not you “meant” to commit the penalty.  In fact, if the referee believes you intentionally committed the penalty, they could call you for a 5-minute major instead of a 2-minute minor.

This is a fairly common penalty that usually happens when a player leaves their feet and causes an opponent to fall. 
Solution: Stay on your feet at all times.

High Sticking
If the ball is in the air above your shoulders, do not try to hit it with your broom. If you make contact with the ball above your shoulders, it’s a penalty. 
Solution: Use your hand to knock the ball down to the ice. 
Note: You may not “carry” the ball with your hand.

Dangerous Play
If you happen to do something the referee deems as dangerous, you can be penalized. Swinging your stick wildly, being too physical, or otherwise harming someone are all examples of dangerous play.

Other Rules & Guidelines

Stick Handling:
Ask an experienced player or referee the best way to hold a stick and stand/move on the ice, but generally you want to hold a stick like a bat (with one hand “choked up”), NOT like a broom.  Stand/move with your knees and back bent (for better balance & less distance to fall if you slip) and your stick’s head on the ice (to provide three points of contact with the ice & for quicker access to hitting the ball).  Never run with your stick end pointed at your body – if you hit something (like a wall), you’ll spear yourself.

None of the CBA leagues allow checking.  (2 minute penalty)

Face Offs:
Starting positions are similar to hockey, with two opposing players facing each other, flanked by offensive wings outside the face-off circle.  Defensive players normally stand behind the face-off circle.

You may pass the ball with your stick or your feet. You may use your hands to pass the ball only when you are standing in your defensive zone, behind the blue line. Note - a legal hand-pass must start and end behind the blue line. Hand-passes in any other situation will result in a stoppage of play.

Icing is defined as hitting the ball from behind your defensive blue line across the opposite goal line without being touched.  Icing is waived-off if the ball touches the goalie or the crease, or, if in the opinion of the referee, could have been touched by any player other than the goalie.  EXCEPTION - Icing is not called on the short-handed team during a power-play.

In the CBA leagues, the clock starts at your scheduled game time and continues to run, except for a 2-minute half time and one 1-minute time-out per team.  If your team is not ready to start the game at the schedule time, it is your loss.  The clock keeps running no matter what happens because the CBA, a non-profit organization run by volunteers, simply rents a fixed block of ice time from the rink & passes that cost on to the teams.

Goalies, you may cover the ball when near the crease & either wait for a whistle if opponents are nearby or throw the ball to a teammate behind the goal line.  You may only play the ball forward with your stick or feet, except of course when deflecting a shot.  You may not touch or cross center ice, so it is impossible for you to help keep the ball in the offensive zone.

This list is simply a beginner’s guide of how to play broomball. With experience, you will learn more about the rules & strategies. No matter what your level of understanding is, the referees are in charge and have final say during the game. If you have questions about a particular call or rule in general, please ask a referee before or after the game, or at half-time. Occasionally, a referee may stop to explain the rule during a time-out or other stoppage.  Finally, please remember that the referees are people that deserve your respect, so do not verbally abuse them – it can earn you additional penalty time or even an ejection.

Subpages (1): Detailed Rules