How Does Scoring Work In Goalball?

How Does Scoring Work In Goalball

Goalball was invented in 1946 by Hanz Lorenzen and Sett Reindle as a sport for blind athletes. Lorenzen and Reindle wanted to provide WWII veterans with an activity that could keep them active, get them together, and be fun. Now, goalball is a premiere game for blind athletes. Gameplay consists of two teams of three players. The players get on their hands and knees and attempt to roll a basketball-sized ball over the opposing team’s goal line.

Usually, goalball teams consist of a center and two wings. The teams usually operate under a zone defense and offense to cover as much surface area of their team’s zone as possible. Often, a center will pass the ball to one of their wings and allow them to make the shot to move the ball around and confuse the opposing team. The game's objective is to throw the ball past the other team’s goal line; this is how a team scores points. We go into greater detail below.

Goalball Basics

A goalball court is nine meters long and 18 meters wide. A game begins with a coin toss and lasts for two 12-minute halves. The team that wins the toss decides who starts with the ball. While wearing coverings over their eyes, the attacking team’s players attempt to roll the ball over the other team’s goal line. If the opposing team successfully stops the ball, they become the attacking team and try to roll the ball over the opposing team’s goal line. Each ball has bells inside, allowing the players to rely on their hearing rather than their sight.

Once a team rolls a ball, there are four possible outcomes.

  1. The ball crosses the opposing team’s goal line, and the team that gave up the goal becomes the attacking team.
  2. The defending team blocks the ball and starts their attack.
  3. The ball goes out of bounds (over the sidelines), and the opposing team receives the ball.
  4. The defending team does something called a block out. A block out occurs when the defending team blocks the ball, and it goes out of bounds. In that case, the defending team receives the ball and starts attacking.

Miscellaneous Rules

In addition to the rules described above, some basic special rules are part of any goalball game:

  • If an attacking team does not follow the above rules, the ball is given to the defending team.
  • Players can throw the ball anywhere inside their team’s zone.
  • A ball can only be thrown or rolled underhand. Players cannot kick the ball.
  • If a player chooses to throw the ball, it must land in their team’s zone before entering the other team’s zone.
  • No player can throw the ball two times in a row.
  • Players can only block shots if one of their body parts is on the mat.
  • Players can never take off their eyeshades.
  • Teams have ten seconds to throw a ball after blocking or retrieving it.

Goalball Scoring

A team scores a point in goalball if they successfully throw the ball past the defending players’ goalline. The goal only counts if the game clock is running and the ball remains in bounds for its entire trajectory. Referees whistle twice once a goal is scored. 

Once the referee whistles, the game clock stops; it starts again once the referee puts the ball back into play by rolling it to the other team. A referee cannot score a goal as they roll the ball into play, even if it passes the team’s goal line. The team with the most points at the end of regulation time wins the game. 

The point only counts if a team follows all of the rules outlined in the Goalball Basics section above. Any team that fails to abide by those rules will not be awarded a goal, even if the ball crosses the other team’s goal line on their throw. Additionally, if a team fails to follow the above rules, the ball will be given to the opposing team to begin their attack.

Miscellaneous Rules

In addition to the above scoring rules, we list some miscellaneous rules below.

  • If a player’s eyeshades come off due to contact with the ball or moving, play continues until the ball gets controlled, blocked, or scored.
  • If a team exceeds the other team’s score by ten points, the game ends.
  • If two teams are tied at the end of regulation time, they will play two additional three-minute halves. The team that scores the most points in these additional halves wins.


How do you score points in Goalball?

Teams score points by throwing (or rolling) the ball across the other team’s goal line. If they successfully get past the defending players, keep the ball inbounds, and make a legal throw, that team receives a point, and the other team starts attacking. The team with the most points at the end of regulation time wins the game. If two teams are tied, they play two additional three-minute halves to determine the winner.