Korfball Explained

Korfball is an exciting sport involving both teamwork and individual competition. It is a mixed team sport, and must be played with four boys and four girls on each side. Boys can only mark boys, and girls mark only girls, creating a sport where both must play together to achieve success. Two of each will be attacking, and the remainder will start defending. Everybody switches roles every time two goals are scored. This means that a team cannot rely on one glory hunting goal scorer, as they will spend half of the game defending. Everyone gets their chance to attack, and everyone must contribute to the team effort.

The ball (football sized), must be passed from hand to hand. To score a goal, the ball must pass through the Korf (Dutch for “basket” – similar in design to a wastepaper basket with no base). These are suspended three and a half metres off the floor (much higher than you can jump – no slam dunks!), and situated in the centre of the two halves of the pitch. This means play can move around the posts, allowing much more movement and fluidity.

One of the most original rules of the sport is the Defending law. This effectively states that an attacker cannot shoot if their defender is within arm’s length of them. To shoot in this circumstance is a foul, punished by the ball being passed to the defenders. The ramifications of this rule are tremendous. It immediately creates a game where the aim is to create space for yourself and your team.mates. It also removes most of a height disadvantage, as you can still stop your attacker from shooting without having to physically block the ball.

Running with the ball is not allowed, but there is a certain amount of flexibility. If you catch the ball while moving, you are allowed a couple of steps to either bring yourself to a stop or to release the ball. This creates the possibility to use a “running-in shot” (similar to a lay-up in basketball). This complicates the defender’s job, as they must try to stay close to their attacker (within arm’s length to stop any long shots), but not so close that their attacker can run round them and score with a running in shot.

League games are generally twenty-five minutes each half but tournament games can range from 15minutes up to an hour. While the ball is at your end you can get as much exercise as you can handle, then you get a rest as the ball moves to the other half.

So whether you come for the exercise, to learn the tactical subtleties of a new sport or simply to meet other people, Korfball is the ideal choice.

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