Speedball (American ball game)

Speedball is a quick, fast paced sport that is simple to teach and combines many aspects of other sports. Points are scored by throwing or kicking the ball into the opposing goal. It is played with two teams of five, each with one goalkeeper on a basketball court or football/soccer field.


The game was invented by Elmer D. Mitchell in the early 1920s at the University of Michigan. Elmer was a physical education professor, who sought to develop a game that was not restrictive to the rules of any one sport. He also created the sport to involve more students, especially those who were not as athletic. The sport was popularized and later reformed by players and coaches at Millburn High School in New Jersey. The sport became so popular in the Millburn area that it became an official gym class elective any student could take. Today, it is played in many American high school physical education classes. The sport is still struggling to turn into an actual sport played by club and high school teams.


The main objective of speedball is the objective of soccer/football. There are two goals, each guarded by a goal keeper. Each team attempts to throw the ball into the netted goal. However, unlike soccer/football, there are multiple ways goals can be scored. Goals can be scored by kicking the ball into the net with one's feet or throwing the ball into the goal. "Kicks" are worth two points while "throws" are only worth one. The team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins the game. In speedball leagues, whether they are at school or for a local speed ball team, wins are worth three points, ties are worth one point and a loss is worth none.

The field and the ball


Speedball can be played on a soccer field but there can only be a max of five on the field at a time, and usually the entire soccer field is not used but rather a small portion of it. The positions are usually as followed


Penalties and Fouls

A penalty is when a foul is committed in the Goal Box and the other team gets to take penalty kick. A foul, committed anywhere except the box, results in a free kick for the player fouled upon. If the ball goes outside and is no longer in bounds the last player to touch it must give the ball up to the other team. The team receiving the ball can throw it in like a throw-in for basketball. Unlike soccer/football there are no yellow cards in Speedball. A player, who commits an obvious and unnecessary foul receives a red card. Unlike soccer, a single red card does not mean the player is kicked from the game. The player receiving the card must sit in a penalty box and must stay out for at least five minutes. Three red cards for a single player and he is kicked from the match.


Villa Park High School (California) in the 1970s had a Speedball league one quarter out of each year:

Springton Lake Middle School (Media, PA) - Physical Education department introduces a variation of Speedball during their Cultural Activities Unit.





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