The leaves are changing colors, cold fronts are starting to move through, and snow is just around the corner. That means it’s broomball season again!
With that in mind, here’s a refresher of some basic tips to help you become a better broomball player. These are mainly aimed at beginners – if you’re an All-Star in your local league, you’re probably well beyond these simple tips. You’ll want to have a basic understanding of hockey, of course.
How to Play Broomball: Tips for Beginners
If you’re a total newbie who just joined a league for fun and you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t worry. A lot of us have been there. Just focus on your defense first. Get in people’s way, try to block shots, use your stick to block passes, clear the ball away when it comes near the goal.
If you can help keep the ball out of your own net, then you’re not a liability, which means your teammates will be glad to see you out there. Being a scorer requires a certain level of skill and hockey instincts, so that part of the game will take time. Don’t stress about that yet. But you can always start by being a good defender.
Broomball strategy is similar to ice hockey. So when it comes to defense, always try to clear the ball away from your goal by whacking it along the boards – never clear it up the middle near your own goal!
If you see lots of open ice up the middle, it will be tempting to try to clear it there. But if you whiff on the clearing attempt, suddenly you’ve left the ball right in front of your goal for an opposing player to grab.
In some amateur broomball leagues, kicking the ball is legal, as long as the ball stays at ice level. You can’t score by kicking the ball in the net, but you can kick it up the ice. Double-check your league rules to find out if this is allowed.
If you have more than six players on your team, you’ll be rotating players in and out. Keep your shifts short! Broomball can be very exhausting, so you will want to make sure you don’t get stuck on the ice for too long.
There’s nothing worse than people staying out too long on the ice and getting tired. Or worse, they steal your playing time because they won’t come off the ice in a timely fashion like everyone else.
It should be the captain’s job to monitor ice time and get everyone on the same page regarding shift length.
Practice is really important. We’re assuming you don’t have a broomball rink in your backyard. So the time you have at the ice rink will be your only chance to get better. Use your time wisely! Arrive early if you can. If you have time before the game, practice shooting so you can get used to using the broom.
You typically will not hold the broomball stick in the same way you hold a hockey stick or golf club. In broomball, most players keep one hand at the top of the stick, and another “choked up” halfway down the shaft of the stick. That will give you the most leverage and power on your shots and passes.
Staying on your feet:
For beginners, keeping your balance is something you’ll have to work at. Expect to wipe out a few times the first time you play. Over time, you’ll learn how fast you can run without falling down.
That’s another reason to get to the rink early – to do a little bit of running around. The goal is to run as fast as possible on the ice, without being out of control and losing your balance.
There’s no magic solution for how to run better on the ice. It just takes trial and error. If you’re not wearing broomball shoes, and therefore don’t have great traction, you may find that it’s better to slide and glide across the ice, as opposed to picking your feet up and planting them with each step.
I once played with a guy who would sprint as fast as he could all over the ice, but that meant that he was completely out of control.
One time he was chasing down a ball in the corner, and was going so fast that he couldn’t stop himself. He ended up plowing into a much smaller woman. It was not an intentional act, but he was rightfully ejected, because his reckless play was dangerous.
Nobody wants to be that guy! Move as fast as you can, but stay in control. If there’s any free time at the rink, practice running on the ice and into the corners at varying speeds and see what speed feels comfortable and safe.
Broomball Strategy for Scoring Goals
Elevating the ball is key to scoring goals, so you’ll want to learn how to get it up off the ice, either with a quick wristshot or a slapshot. You could take a big backswing on your slapshot like hockey players do, but you’d have to be careful not to hit anyone on your backswing or follow-through.
Many broomball players find they can achieve a more effective slapshot by chopping down on the ball like you’re chipping a golf ball out of a sand trap. That tends to provide a lot of power and elevation on the shot. Try different techniques until you get the hang of it.
I’ve always preferred the wrist shot, where you simply snap your wrist and flick the ball without any kind of backswing or wind up. But you have to be somewhat close to the goal for this to work, since wristshots don’t travel as far as slapshots.
It’s never a bad idea to get the ball near the goal. If you have the ball, but all your teammates all seem covered, why not flip the ball towards the net and hope to get a good bounce? Maybe it will hit someone’s shoe and bounce right to a teammate. Lots of hockey goals are scored this way, and broomball is no exception.
These are just a few broomball tips for beginners to get started. Remember to have fun, and if you want to truly invest in the sport, pick up a pair of broomball shoes. This will give you some extra grip on the ice so you’re not sliding all over the place.
Some people like to buy their own stick too, although it’s totally fine to use the sticks that your league provides. Good luck!
Images: Creative Commons user jasonrasp. No changes were made to these images.