Getting Started
How to Play the Game
Tournament Rules
Ref Reminders


Official size ball should have an 8 ¼ “ diameter, 25 ½” circumference (Senior) and 8 “ diameter, 25” circumference  (Junior). A volleyball (preferably rubber), for a steadier bounce, can be used.

Since gyms in this country have no uniform size, there is no official goal size. Aside from a large gym which can use a team handball (Approx. 6 ½ ‘ X 9 ½ ‘) or field hockey net with an area behind it, the goal, goalie crease and shooting distances should be determined by available area dimensions, age and the abilities of the players themselves. These parameters may even change from class period to class period in many instances. Goals may be put on walls with PVC, paint or tape and when various grade levels are involved, a teacher or coach may put down varying lines of different colors to simplify recognition. Shooting and crease lines are straight, not curved, allowing for ease in application. Floor tape, for that purpose, that does not pull up the polyurethane finish on many gym floors is now available from a number of athletic supply companies.

Getting Started

- - - - - -   NOT actual lines.  Just guides to alignment.
_____  Lines on floor.

Laying lines and removing them should be simple. Consequently, all taped (indoors) or chalk/painted lines (outdoors) are straight with no need for curvature and can be put down by one person.

  1. All nets should be 7’ high when possible. The width is determined by the distance of the shooting lines (SL). The closer the lines, the smaller the net. A minimum net width of  7’ and a maximum of  10’ for large areas is suggested.
  2. The Goalie Crease is limited to the goalie and ANY number of defensive players. Screening by the offense is allowed, but any offensive foot or body part touching inside the area will result in loss of possession. The front should ALWAYS be 7’ from the goal line, regardless of net size, and 3’ from the net edges.
  3. There is NO standard shooting distance due to the variety of gym sizes, player abilities, ages, etc., but a minimum of 14’ and a maximum of 28’ (College) are suggested. The starting point is measured from the middle of the goal line OUT, straight to the middle of the horizontal shooting line. That line ends, on the right and left, at a point where the 45 degree angle, which radiates from the middle of the goal line, bisects it. The side lines (SL) run at the same angle from the ends of that horizontal line IN to a point 7’ from the goal line. Anytime an area behind the goal is available (large gyms), it should be utilized (12’ – 15’). This allows offensive setups and plays similar to hockey and lacrosse.
  4. Goal scoring is obviously the most exciting part of the game. When young children who may have little shot-velocity are involved, widening the net or allowing one foot over the line is suggested. Another option is to add a second, closer, permanent horizontal shooting line for young students/ athletes.

How to Play the Game

The opposing teams line up on opposite sides of mid-court. The game begins with a jump ball. The team who gains possession moves the ball toward the defending goalie by dribbling or passing to teammates. There are no “backcourt” violations, except in tournament play when teams may try to stall (Last 5 minutes of game). Similar to basketball, the better teams tend to pass more than dribble. Except for the goalie crease, all players are unrestricted as to where they can position themselves. This sets up the opportunity for offensive screening and rebounds. Offensive players work to get “open” for clear shots at the goalie in an attempt to throw it past him/her for a score. Goals can only be scored when the shot is initiated from OUTSIDE or ON the shooting triangle lines. If the shot is initiated there, the shooter must release it before landing inside of that area with either foot (“flying over the line”). Referee will call “OVER” if this rule is not adhered to and it will result in loss of possession. Each goal counts as 1 point. Players are allowed a maximum of 3 steps before or after a dribble and the goalie must put the ball back in play after a score. Man-to-man or zone defenses can both be employed. The defensive player can NEVER intentionally play the offensive player from behind, without risking a foul. All attempts at blocking or stealing the ball must be from in front or on the side of the offensive player. Violations are immediately signaled by the referee (“Back fouls”), but are always delayed until the offense actually loses possession (“Play on”). The offensive goalie may come out from the goal and participate offensively until that time. Any time he has possession, he must pass or dribble it out of the goal area within 5 seconds. Personal fouls are called while the game is in progress, but, again, play continues. Any ball deflected out-of-bounds always is awarded to the player closest to the ball where and when it went out. The throw-in must be forward, with a gap of 3’ allowed by the defensive player. “Held balls” are awarded alternately after the opening jump ball.


Loss of Possession

  • Offensive player takes more than 3 steps before or after dribbling
  • Intentional kicking of the ball, except for kick save by the goalie
  • Holding the ball for more than 5 seconds without passing, dribbling or shooting
  • Having part or all of either foot over the shooting triangle on the shot
  • Entering the goalie crease to screen on offense
  • Offensive interference, moving pick
  • Goalie pass to a teammate past mid-court  (Offsides)
  • Offensive contact with the goalie in the Goalie crease
  • 10-second backcourt violation in last 5 minutes of game by either team or by the defense during any power play
  • Offensive sub moves into game before sideline “touch”
    (too many men on floor)
  • Dribbling with two hands
  • Failure by goalie to pass or dribble ball out from goalie area within 5 seconds
  • Failure to shoot at the goal if a shot clock is being used (45 seconds)

Back Fouls

Attempts to play the ball by the defense when his/her body is BEHIND the offensive player. The defensive player must have one (1) shoulder in front of the offensive man’s shoulder in order to be considered “on the side or in front of him”. Reaching for the ball from that position is considered legal. In opinion of referee, defensive player must have had time to react.

3-Minute Non-Releasable Penalties

Each back foul after three (3) team. Player committing it serves it.
Intentional  pushing, holding, tripping or attempted tripping by any player - including goalie- he must serve it himself.
Too many players on the floor
Unsportsmanlike conduct

Penalty Shot

  • Intentional foul on obvious goal chance. Shot may be taken from any spot on or beyond the shooting lines. Ball is awarded to violated team at half-court after the shot, whether successful or not.

Out of Game

  • Start a fight / Abuse a referee/  2 Unsportsmanlike conducts / 3rd  3-minute penalty

Out of Tournament

  • Attempt to physically injure an opponent


  • Game may also be played like a  ½ court basketball game, when the amount of  players is small or the playing area is restrictive. Using a similar goalie for both teams, one team gets a defensive rebound, passes or dribbles it out to a pre-determined line or distance outside the shooting lines (Approx. 20’) and then assumes the role of the offensive team. The team that scores continues to take it out after each goal. All other rules and boundaries apply. Pre-set winning scores may be determined by both teams before starting.

Tournament Rules

Line up scorers, game and penalty timekeepers, scorekeepers and line judges (2) before starting any tournament. Mandate team shirts of similar color. Double-elimination is preferable when possible. When running a Spring tourney in a school situation, wait till all inter-scholastic competition is over. This allows everyone to compete. Allow no one to enter until their equipment has been turned into their coach.

Once a student signs their name on a roster and competes for that team, they cannot play for another team in the tournament. Only when a player actually plays is he or she on the roster. The form you hand out to kids is not official. It is an aid in allowing you to set up your brackets. If a player on the roster is replaced by someone else during the tourney, the original player may no longer compete.
If a student is absent from school or suspended on game day, they cannot compete that day.

1. The game is played as a 6-on-6 format. Team rosters should consist of no more than 10 or no less than 7 players.

2. Substitutions can be made “on the fly” by either team while the ball is still alive and in play. Players must touch or “slap hands” with the subs about to take his/her place from the team area on the sidelines.      
3. Games consist of two (2) 15-minute halves up until the semi-finals. Semi-final and Final play consists of two (2) 20-minute halves. The game clock stops only when the ball goes out-of-bounds, on a penalty, time out, injury or penalty shot.

4. Each team is allowed one (1) time out per half of 2 minutes duration. If it is not used, you lose it. When temperatures or humidity are extreme, additional timeouts are highly recommended. (Ex. 3 per half). You must have possession to call a “time out”.

5. Any time a team is losing by 10 goals, that team is declared the loser of that particular game (Except in the Finals).

6. Since you rarely get to see a team play before a tournament starts, it is wise to re-seed the brackets after the first round is completed.

7. Overtime is always “Sudden death”. Teams play 5 minute periods, with 1 timeout and 1 back foul allowed per team, per period, until a goal is scored. Each period starts with a center court jump ball. Non-releasable penalties carry over.

8. Although there is no time limit on the offense, a shot clock is recommended (45 seconds) when equipment and personnel to operate it are available.

Ref Reminders

  • Basic rule: Player is always okay if, in your opinion, he/she was making an honest attempt to play the BALL and NOT the other player.             

Referees should clearly call “OVER” whenever the shooter releases the ball over the shooting line to avoid any confusion on a goal. Ref should simultaneously indicate shot is not good by waving his right arm horizontally in front of his body. Make sure the shot is actually released before making the "OVER" call. Many times a shooter will start the shot and pass it off at the last second.

  • When a back foul is committed, the referee signals by placing his/her left hand behind his head and holds that position until the offense loses possession.

  • When a personal foul (Pushing, holding, etc.) is committed, the referee will signal their violation immediately and then keep his right arm aloft until the offensive team loses possession.

  • When a goal is scored, the ref will signal by raising both arms in the air up until such time that the goalie puts the ball back in play.
  • The signals for traveling, pushing, tripping, holding, etc. are the same as those in basketball.


As seen in the August 2008 issue of Scholastic Coach

2009 New Game of the Year

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