Exclusively for the blind or visually impaired

  • Invented in 1946 to help veterans of WWII rehabilitate from losing sight
  • Players must wear opaque eye shades always
  • Legally blind – having less than 10% vision (B3, B2, B1 – Totally Blind)
  • Teams of 6 players (3 on court)
  • Throw ball past opponents into net to score points
  • Defend the net by staying on your hands and your knees
  • Court measures 18 meters long and 9 meters wide
  • Goals cover the 9-meter-wide back line
  • String taped on the ground allow players to feel the lines

Goalball made it Paralympic debut in Toronto, Canada in 1976

  • The women’s event was added in 1984, in NY
  • 1st world championships were held in Vocklamarck Austria, in 1978
  • IBSA- International Blind Sport Federation governs goalball and holds world championships every four years between the Paralympics


  • 24-25 cm in diameter
  • 75.5-78.5 cm circumference
  • 1.250 g
  • 4 sounds holes in upper hemisphere and 4 sound holes in lower hemisphere
  • 2 pieces of bells
  • Natural Rubber
  • Blue in color

Major championship tournaments

  • Paralympics
  • IBSA Goalball WC
  • IBSA Goalball RC

Length of Game

  • 24 minutes total
  • Two 12-minute halves
  • 3-minute halftime

Game Protocol

  • Referee will call “quiet please”
  • Referee throws the ball to team who won coin toss
  • Whistle blown and “play” is called
  • Game clock and ten second shot clock will be stopped whenever referee blows whistle
  • Out of Bounds ball will be placed at the sideline 1.5 m in front of the goal post closest to the side it exited the court
  • Dead ball is called if the ball stops without defending team to touch it. Also, dead ball is called when a throw hits the crossbar.
  • Delay of Game – team penalty which can result from a play not waiting until half time to substitute
  • Ball is in play and completely crosses the goal line
  • Referee whistles twice and announces goal
  • Eyeshades that fall off will be accounted for when defense stops the ball or when a goal is scored
  • Game end once a team leads by 10 goals


  • Four 45 second time outs
  • 1 in the first half
  • 1 in overtime
  • Timeouts not used at the end of regulation will be lost
  • Control ball = timeout privileges
  • Referee grants permission for timeout calls
  • Substitutions may be made during timeouts
  • Official can call timeout at any time
  • Medical time out max at 45 seconds

Short ball

  • Ball stops before reaching defense

Long ball

  • Ball exceeds the neutral bounce before making it to the defender’s area


  • Touching eyeshades without permission receives an eyeshade penalty

Illegal Defense

  • Defense must be played with the first contact is between the player in team area
  • Players can proceed playing when illegal defense is called, if goal is scored against them the penalty will not be called
  • Any noise made by a player during act of throwing before it touches a defender will be penalized