If you’ve ever heard of korfball, you probably have an idea of how it’s played. If – like most people on the planet – you haven’t, then you’ve been missing out and are about to be brought up to speed. Korfball is one of those unusual sports that isn’t new (it was invented over 100 years ago) but which has only recently risen to prominence across Europe and the US.
Korfball rules are fairly straightforward, and it’s often touted as being “the only truly mixed sport in the world” referring to how it is played with four men and four women on each team, though in the south of the Netherlands there is an all-women league. Regardless, it is a fast-paced game which incorporates many facets of netball, basketball and handball while the unique pitch segregation and scoring system sets it apart. Network with friends about Korfball by becoming a PlayrsClub member!
The Korfball Pitch
One attractive attribute of korfball is that it is played both indoors and outdoors with no changes to the field dimensions. It’s 40x20m and split across its width, creating two 20x20m squares; this separation is important as the game is played distinctly in these opposing areas.
Similar to ultimate frisbee, korfball doesn’t permit dribbling, running with the ball and is also non-contact: any footballers out there will be sorely disappointed! Two guys and two girls from each team start in the left-hand court and the others on the right. Depending on which square you’re in, you’re either attacking or defending. We’ll go in to the nitty-gritty of this playing style in future but for now let’s dive into the actual gameplay.
“What do I do?”
When attacking you pass the ball between your teammates (remembering not to run with it) and if your defender isn’t within arm’s reach then you are allowed to shoot. Like netball, shooting is just lobbing the ball in to the basket (the korf) though there are varying techniques and it’s much harder than it sounds. Sinking a shot in the korf earns you one point.
If the defending team intercepts the ball then they pass to their teammates in the opposite square who then attack the second Korf. After every two points scored, the offence/defence switch sides so that everyone gets to do both.
Matches are timed, usually with two 30-minute halves and the highest scoring team on the final whistle is the winner.
Rather than ramble on about positions (are you a better feed or collect?) and the difference between veer and standing shots, I’m going to tell you to go out there and play. Like many niche sports it’s growing quickly in universities and many local communities are starting to see korfball in an extremely favourable light, particularly for its emphasis on gender equality and playing for enjoyment.
If worst comes to worst, you can always try and play on a basketball court until you find a way to get an actual korf!
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Jake is a freelancer from Scotland who spends half his life doing all sorts of writing and the rest of it playing ultimate. He’s now part of one of the top club sides in the UK and has found the dream job of combining the two together. Will begrudgingly write about other great sports like korfball, soccer and just about anything featured at the World Games.