If you happen to live near a lake that freezes in the winter, or near an ice rink, chances are you’ve heard of broomball. I had lived near both for much of my life, but had never heard of broomball until I moved to Wyoming.

Broomball is a recreational sport played inside or outside, on ice. There are two teams, each with a goaltender and up to five other players, depending on the space available. Each team tries to score points by hitting the ball into net of the other team. The players use a broom to hit the ball around on the ice. There are different versions of brooms that are used. I have seen people play with real brooms, wrapping duck tape around the bottom to keep the broom strands together. Some teams use an alternative version with a shaft that is wood or aluminum and has a rubber triangular shape at the bottom.

Players can and often do wear pads, to cushion any fall on the ice. As broomball is played with shoes and not ice skates, there is still plenty of falling. Serious players have special rubber-soled shoes, while the more laid back players use pack boots like Sorels.

Hockey is a close relative of broomball and so is curling. It should be no surprise then that some folks believe broomball originated in Canada. There has been some indication that a sport similar to broomball took place in the 10th century in Iceland. These games may have been more similar to warfare as participants sometimes died during the event.

In the 19th century broomball’s popularity spread from Canada to the United States. Minnesota embraced it early on and the sport has now spread to Australia, Japan, Sweden, Italy, Germany and Switzerland, amongst other places.

Every two years the World Broomball Championships takes place. This event is run by the International Federation of Broomball Associations (IFBA), located in Canada. The US also has it’s own governing body, called USA Broomball, which oversees the United States Championships. Someday we may even see broomball in the Olympics.

While recreational broomball leagues are everywhere, the following states have a high volume of participants; Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota and Ohio.

Check to see if your town has a broomball league and give it a try!

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