By Rebecca Woodard
Goalball and Beep Baseball are popular competitive sports for those who are blind or visually impaired. There are local, state, national and international leagues associated with both games. There is even a world series for beep baseball!
These two sports offer excellent competitive, team-based venues for athletic competition for people who are blind or visually paired. In addition, people of all ages, ability, and level of sight can play together with minor modifications such as the use of blindfolds or night shades.
The object of this team sport is to roll a goal ball across the opponents’ goal line. Players attempt to stop the rolled ball. When successful, they quickly return it toward the opposition. Each player has a specific area to cover, moving during play only when attempting to block the ball. Line marking should be used to identify positions.
Equipment & Court
• A goalball, which emits an auditory cue via a bell inside the ball, is used
• All players, regardless of level of vision, must wear eye shades
• Hip, elbow, and knee pads are recommended
• Court is 60 feet in length, 30 feet in width, divided into specific areas
• See Figure 1 for line markings and additional dimensions
• Three players—right wing, left wing, center—per side on opposite ends of the court
• Players can only use their hands to move the ball
• A player can only throw two consecutive times, with passing occurring within the team after two throws
• Once the team has gotten control of the ball, they have eight seconds to return the throw
• Balls going out-of-bounds are considered turnovers so they are awarded to the other team
• A player leaving the team area results in a turnover
• All balls must be rolled, contacting the ground at least once before crossing the overthrow line
• Official length of the game is two seven-minute halves
Skills Specific to GoalBall
A throw is used to attempt a score by rolling the ball over the opponent’s goal line. A throw is similar to the delivery of a bowling ball.
A block is used to stop the ball from going over the goal line. This consists of a side-line position on the floor with arms extended, legs together, and the face protected.
A pass is a roll from teammate to teammate. The key is for the teammate to hear the ball but not the opponent.
Goal ball can easily be modified to meet the needs of all participants. An official goalball, which weighs approximately three pounds and is made out of a hard rubber, might not be appropriate for everyone. Use a lighter ball such as a beach ball with sand inside. Play from a seated or kneeling position, instead of a standing position. Increase the number of players on each side or decrease the size of the playing court.
The object of the game is similar to traditional softball or baseball, only with several modifications. The batter must reach a buzzing base before a fielder has possession of the ball.
A team is made up of six people who are blind or visually impaired, and two sighted individuals who serve as pitcher and catcher on offense and spotters on defense.
A base is activated when the ball is hit. If the runner reaches the base before a defender successfully picks up and gets control of the ball (fields), a run is scored. Otherwise it is an out.
Equipment and Field
• A beep baseball, which emits an auditory cue, is used
• A set of beep baseball bases
• Softball gloves are encouraged for fielding
• Regular softball bats are used for striking
• Field dimensions and positions are provided in Figure 2
• Games consist of six innings
• Those who have light perception or better levels of vision must wear night shades
• Spotters are allowed to vocally assist players by helping them into defensive positions and calling the name of the person who is in the best position to field a ball when it is struck
• Pitchers are allowed to give two verbal alerts which can be heard by batter and defense—“ready” when about to pitch the ball and “pitch” when the ball is released
• A team scores when the runner makes it to the base before the ball is fielded
• Each team is allowed three outs per bat
• Outs consist of five pitches with no fair balls with foul balls considered strikes of a hit ball fielded by defensive player before runner reaches the designated base
Skills Specific to Beep Baseball
This skill is similar to fielding in softball or baseball. Players use a glove. Securing the ball in the glove is considered a successful field. Throwing to bases for an out is not part of the game.
Striking is the same as in softball or baseball.
There are only two bases which are in the traditional first and third base positions. Bases are a pylon shape, padded, and emit a noise which lets the runner know with base they should run to. Runners hit the bases with their hands as they go by.
Striking a pitched ball is probably the most difficult skill associated with this game. For beginners, follow a similar progression to that in baseball or softball. Allow batters to initially strike off of a batting tee. Fielding practice is also encouraged before attempting to catch a ball that is struck by a batter.
Rebecca Woodard, Ph.D., is the Physical Education Undergraduate Coordinator for the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation at Missouri State University, Springfield, Mo. If you have any questions, Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information regarding Goalball and Beep Baseball:
• Davis, R. W. (2002). Inclusion through sports. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
• Lieberman, L. J., & Cowart, J., F. (1996). Games for people with sensory impairments: Strategies for including individuals of all ages. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
• United States Association for Blind Athletes: www.usaba.org
• National Beep Baseball Association: www.nbba.org/