Ball hockey game between USA (BLUE) and Slovakia (WHITE) at 2011 World Ball Hockey Championship.
|Highest governing body||International Street and Ball Hockey Federation (International)
American Street Hockey Institute (United States)
Canadian Ball Hockey Association (Canada)
|Nicknames||Street Hockey, US = dek hockey, some places in Canada call it "road" hockey|
|Type||Both indoor and outdoor|
|Equipment||Required = A ball, a hockey stick, a net. Optional in pickup but mandatory in leagues= shin pads, gloves. Optional everywhere for adults, mandatory for kids in leagues = helmet.|
Ball hockey is a team sport and a variation of the sport of ice hockey and a specific variation of the game of street hockey. This article will discuss the specifics related to the official game of ball hockey that is played in tournaments throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. For a description of the game which describes the more recreational style of play, refer to the Street Hockey article.
Ball Hockey is patterned after and closely related to ice hockey, except the game is played on foot on a non-ice surface, player equipment is different, and a ball is used instead of a hockey puck. The object of the game is to score more goals than the opposing team by shooting the ball into the opposing team's net.
Teams consist of 5 runners and 1 goaltender. The 5 runners are broken down into positions of 3 forwards and two defenseman, right and left. The forwards are further described by position name: Left Wing, Right Wing, and Center. These positions are the same as in ice hockey. Tournament Ball Hockey rules are numerous and too long to list in this article. A list of the official ball hockey tournament rules of the I.S.B.H.F. can be found here  For general information sake, Ball Hockey rules typically stipulate the following basics, meaning if you are playing under these rules, then you are playing Ball Hockey:
- Offside is determined by a "floating blue line". The concept can be difficult to understand for non-hockey enthusiasts, but the simplest explanation is as follows: When the ball crosses the defending team's blue line, the attacking team is onside. The attacking team then has the entire zone up to the center line with which to work the ball around and still be considered onside. Once the ball crosses the center red line the attacking zone is "lost", and the attacking team's players must clear (retreat past) the defending team's blue line and have the ball enter past the defending team's blue line to be considered onside again.
- You can raise your stick above the shoulder to call for a pass.
- You can close your hand around the ball provided that you bring the ball straight down to your feet and do not change the direction you are moving in.
- International rink dimensions are the same as international ice hockey rinks 197 ft × 98.4 ft.
- North American rink dimensions are the same as North American ice hockey rinks 200 ft × 85 ft.
The ball used is a specially designed ball for ball hockey and street hockey. The International Street and Ball Hockey Federation, the world wide governing body of official street hockey tournaments and leagues, officially recognizes two types of ball for play: a hard (Pro) version for adult warm climate play and a soft version for non-summer play and younger youth age groups. At the highest levels of ball hockey, teams use a hard, orange, small, round, and smooth orange/reddish ball 3 inches in diameter. This allows for players to make the ball curve by over/under exaggerating a windup and follow through on their shots. Several ball manufacturers now market the balls with the temperature range the ball was designed for on the packaging itself. Although there is no certified industry standard for the balls since no street hockey standards organization exists, all hockey ball manufacturers sell their balls according to the following temperature range: red/orange = hot/warm above 60 degrees (15 C), pink = cool - between 40-60 degrees (4.5-15 C)yellow = cold - below 40 degrees (4.5 C)
In most non-international tournaments, the following equipment requirements are instituted for the runners:
- Helmets are optional for adults but mandatory for players 17 and under.
- Some type of hand gloves must be worn, and they do not have to be hockey gloves. Specific gloves for the sport of ball hockey have been developed and are manufactured and sold to ball hockey players.
- Some type of shin guards must be worn, and they do not have to be hockey shin guards. Specific guards for the sport of ball hockey have been developed and are manufactured and sold to ball hockey players.
- Teams must have matching jerseys with numbers. These can often be t-shirts with numbers on them.
- Appropriate footwear for running.
- Some type of official hockey stick
NOTE: Specific helmets, shin guards, and gloves for the sport of ball hockey have been developed and are manufactured and sold to ball hockey players, but it is not mandatory for players to wear these for all tournaments.
The following equipment requirements are instituted for goaltenders:
- Goaltender's helmet with full face mask
- Chest protector
- Thigh pads
- Goaltender leg pads
- Goaltender Glove or trapper
- Goaltender Blocker
- Goaltender Stick
- Shirt that fits OVER all chest equipment
- Appropriate footwear
The flooring used for ball hockey tournaments is typically a specific type of a game court, often referred to as a "sport court". Sport courts very simply are plastic modular tiles, typically 1 square foot, that snap together for quick installation and removal. Sport court, is the tiling of choice in Montreal at the famous arena Le Rinque. The tiles come in a variety of colors and are manufactured by several different companies. The tiles often come prefabricated with lines on them which make up the markings required for tournament play, such as center and blue lines, face off circles, and goal creases.
For official international tournaments, the I.S.B.H.F. rules apply, and players must wear protective equipment as stipulated in their rule book.
The official world wide governing body of the sport is the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation (ISBHF), which operates out of the Czech Republic and Canada. The federation consists of 39 countries and recognizes hundreds of thousands of players playing in organized leagues throughout the world.
The Canadian Ball Hockey Association  is the official governing body of ball hockey in Canada.
The governing body for ball hockey is the American Street Hockey Institute.
Europe and Asia
Several European and Asian countries have their own governing bodies where the sport has enough players to have a national following and presence. A listing can be found at the ISBHF website under Members.
The first documented instance of a sport similar to ball hockey, in which a stick is used to propel a ball into a net for points, was an Irish game called hurling from the second millennium BC. In North America, Natives were first observed playing a variant of the game in 1572. In the 1960s Canada became the first nation to play the sport in organized leagues, followed by the United States the next decade, then countries in Europe in the 1980s and 90s.
The International Street and Ball Hockey Federation holds several international tournaments with most being broken down by age groups. These tournaments are typically bi-annual, such as the Men's and Women's 20 and over, the Men's and Women's Under 20, and the Men's and Women's Under 18. There is also a Men's Masters Tournament for players aged 40 and over, and a Women's Masters Tournament for players aged 35 and over.
There are dozens of tournaments held throughout North America, and a list of tournaments can be found by searching several social media sites, league websites, and tournament websites. For U.S. tournaments, the best way to locate a tournament near your location is to contact A.S.H.I. via their website. For Canadian tournaments, the best way to locate a tournament near your location is to contact the Canadian Ball Hockey Association. Most tournaments also have a presence on social media outlets, and some also have their own websites. Connecting with these tournament organizers will often provide you with a means to learn about these and other tournaments. Northern Canada hosts a tournament for 11 to 19 year olds every summer, called the Western Challenge Cup.
Europe and Asia
Most tournaments in Europe and Asia use social media outlets, and some also have their own websites. Connecting with these tournament organizers will often provide you with a means to learn about these and other tournaments.
Refer to the Street Hockey article for a more thorough description of recreational play.
Media related to Ball hockey at Wikimedia Commons