As mentioned in my influences article I created a sport termed shotball, a mixture of American and Association Football, Rugby Union, and Hockey. While it’s going to be a while before shotball becomes the greatest sport in the world someday, this is an interesting game that can be played in a variety of ways.
While many might believe I created shotball as a direct influence from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series, which brought us Quidditch, the true story is I wrote down the rules for the sport long before the Lord of Columbia Series was even thought of.
Sitting in my parents’ living room as an eighteen-year-old back in 2009, yet another NFL rule change led then-Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu to openly call out and question the direction professional football was headed.
I envisioned a game where dirty hits were still allowed, where physicality ruled, and where defenses were just as important as the offense.
Thus, shotball was born, and today’s article gives us a rundown of what shotball is and how it can be played recreationally.
Eleven on Eleven
Like American football, there are eleven players per side. We have a goaltender, two defenders, who must remain on the defensive side of the field at all times, four centers, who can play between the 25-yard-line markers on each end of the field, and three attackers, who must remain on the offensive side of the field.
There’s also one wanderer, who’s free to play anywhere on the field at any given time.
The best goaltenders are quick and agile players who can take an onslaught, as it IS legal to block and get physical with a goaltender as long as an attacker or the wanderer possesses the ball within ten yards of the goal.
The best attackers are those who are also quick and possess good hands and throwing ability, as they’re going to be passing the ball to one another on the offensive end of the field. There is the center attacker, who is traditionally the bigger, stronger player of the three, and two wingers, who are smaller and more finesse.
We have four centers, all of whom must possess good hands, arm strength, the ability to read coverages, and throw the ball to the right players. Think of the centers as the quarterbacks. They can throw either behind or in front, and to all eligible players. They must be strong and mobile enough to evade defenders closing in and have the field vision to pass to open players.
The centers must also be good at playing defense. Other than the wanderer, centers are the true ironmen and ironwomen. They’re the first line of defense when the other team is in possession of the ball and they should be willing to hit and get physical with the opposing centers and attackers. If they’re willing to jump passes and intercept a few, it’s a bonus.
The best defenders are those willing to sacrifice the body. They’re the last line of defense and they’re going to be hitting. However, some defenders can be the ballhawk type, and be willing to jump a pass and make an interception. Some defenders can be passive and drop into the goaltender box, where they can serve as a second goaltender.
Their sole goal is to get the ball back in their team’s possession and for that must be willing passers to set up plays so the centers, wanderer, and attackers can make plays.
The wanderer must be a willing runner, as they’re traveling all over the field. A good wanderer follows the play, every play. They must also be a hybrid kind of player, with their defensive skills matching their offensive skills.
Depending on the style of team play, offensive-minded teams might opt for a wanderer whose normal position is attacker, but those who prefer a balanced approach might go for one whose natural position is center. For the defensive-minded team, converted defenders make good wanderers.
The common denominator for the wanderer is endurance. They’re running more than anyone else and all one-hundred yards of the playing field is open to them.
Any kickball, volleyball, or soccer ball can be used in shotball, and both hands and feet are allowed contact with the ball.
There are three ways one can score in shotball:
1. 1 point is rewarded for a throw into the net.
2. 2 points are awarded for a kick or punt into the net.
3. 3 points are awarded for a dropkick into the net.
There is no shot clock in shotball, as we see in basketball, or is there any play clock, as we see in American football. The offensive team may possess the ball as long as they like.
However, there is a catch to these rules. If a player is tackled and either their knee or elbow hits the ground while in possession of the ball, that player must give up individual possession of the ball immediately. This means it’s required to toss the ball in the air or risk a delay of game penalty.
The field is a standard American football field, 100 yards long, 53.5 yards wide, with lines at the 10-yard-line, 25-yard-lines, and 50-yard-line.
Teams may pass the ball forward or backward. Players may also advance the ball via kick, punt, or dropkick.
If a team loses possession and the ball goes out of bounds, the ball is awarded to the opposing team. If a team retains possession of the ball and either voluntarily steps or is forced out of bounds, the offensive team retains possession.
If a player catches the ball near the out of bounds area and possesses the ball with both feet in bounds, it is ruled a catch and the offense retains possession. With one foot in bounds, possession goes to the defensive team.
On both ends of the field sit two soccer nets, which are the goals the goaltender must defend.
Infractions and Consequences
Here is a list of common infractions and consequences in shotball:
1. Delay of Game: Any player holds up the flow of game: Possession awarded to other team.
2. Offsides: If the centers cross the 25, or if the attacker or defenders cross the 50, that player is deemed offsides. Possession awarded to other team.
3. Defensive Pass Interference: A defending player pushes, shoves, or tackles an offensive player while the ball is in the air. Possession awarded to other team at the spot of the foul.
4. Offensive Pass Interference: Offensive player pushes, shoves, or tackles a defensive player while the ball is in the air. Possession awarded to other team at the spot of the foul.
5. Twelve players on the field: If any teams have twelve players on the field during a start in play: Possession awarded to other team.
6. Illegal hands to the face: two-minute minor.
7. Elbows to the face: two-minute minor.
8. Holding: If a player grabs the body or jersey of a player not in possession of the ball: two-minute minor.
9. Late hit: Player hits another player after a stoppage in play: two-minute minor.
10. Illegal block in the back: Player blocks another player in the back: two-minute minor.
11. Taunting: Player taunts opposing player or opposing team: two-minute minor and a second offense results in disqualification.
12. Piling on: Player jumps on a pile of players after a play is blown dead: two-minute minor.
13. Roughing (the passer): Player blocks, holds, or knocks down another player more than ten yards from the ball carrier. Rule is also in place if a player throws the ball and is hit any time after the throw unless the defensive player’s momentum carries them into the passer: two-minute minor.
14. Hit on a defenseless player: More lax than in the NFL, any player who is hit while in midair making a ‘shotball move,’ or a play on the ball, cannot be hit. Once they hit the ground, they may be hit. Or, this rule can also come into effect when a player is hit and not in the motion of running toward the ballcarrier: four-minute double minor and a second offense results in disqualification.
15. Targeting: Hitting a player in the head or neck area. Five-minute major and a second offense results in disqualification.
16. Horse-Collar Tackle: Grabbing the back of a player’s jersey to tackle them. Five-minute major and a second offense results in disqualification.
17. Fight Instigation: Instigating a fight. Five-minute major and a third offense results in disqualification.
18. Fighting: Five-minute major and a third offense results in disqualification.
19. Fighting Without Instigation: Player fights another without prior warning or instigation: automatic disqualification.
20. Contact with an official: automatic disqualification.
Obviously we all don’t want to play the sport in a rough style, and we can even do so recreationally. You can play the game with as few players as you’d like and even more than eleven per side on a recreational basis.
Also, you can play a two-hand touch version, wrap up version where a player who’s wrapped up in a tackle must give the ball up, flag, or even semi-contact.
You can even use a shorter field if you wish and either an American football or a rugby ball to replace the standard soccer, kickball, or volleyball will work just as well.
Instead of soccer goals, you can use goal post boundaries, fences, or anything of your creation as goals.
So, are you ready to give a new sport a shot?
If so, gather your family, friends, and start playing.
Maybe you’ll start up some awesome recreational leagues and host tournaments in your hometown.
Down the road in 2019, I hope to create a niche site dedicated solely to shotball and really see the sport take off across the globe. That’s my dream, but for right now, you can enjoy the live action of shotball in the first book of the Lord of Columbia Series, Northern Knights.
For more information, click here.