Korfball Rules

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Korfball is a Dutch game that is rooted in both netball and basketball. A team game, it is played with eight players on each side, usually all female although it can be played with four females and four males. Scoring points (goals) is done by putting the ball through the opposition’s raised basket.

The sport’s history stretches back to 1902 which is when the game was invented by Dutch schoolteacher Nico Broekhuysen. His inspiration was a Swedish game and he decided to formulate his own version and introduce it to the Netherlands. It courted controversy at the time because the game can be played in mixed sex teams and many people were offended by this. However, its popularity began to increase and it was even included at the Olympic Games in 1920 and 1928 as a demonstration sport, though it sadly never made it to becoming a regular Olympic activity.

Now the game is played across the globe and is present in both South America, North America Asia, Africa and Europe. A regular event at the World Games for sports not part of the Olympics, the two most successful nations in Korfball are the Netherlands and Belgium.

Overseeing the game internationally is the IKF (The International Korfball Federation) who as well as overseeing the rules and regulations of the game is tasked with promoting the sport around the world. It’s a task that has been successful with the IKF having 66 countries as members.

Object of the Game

The object of Korfball is to score more goals than the opposition and win the game. Players do this by working as a team to move the ball upfield until they get into a position in which they can shoot the ball into their opposition's net.

Because it is a team game, a high degree of teamwork and communication is required for a team to be successful, as is a good level of physical fitness and ball skills.

Players & Equipment

There are eight players that make up a Korfball team, and this should consist of four females and four males or eight females. The court used should be 20m x 40m or if playing outdoors it should be 30m x 60m. Both nets should be mounted on top of a 3.5m pole.

In terms of equipment, the ball used must be a round number 5 type ball that has been approved by the IKF, should weigh between 445g and 475 and have a circumference of between 68cm and 70.5cm. No other equipment is essential although individual leagues will almost certainly require teams to wear a suitable strip and training shoes.


The scoring system in Korfball is simple and contributes to the fast paced nature of the game. A goal is scored when the ball is thrown through the opposition's net. Both teams therefore are constantly trying to work the ball upfield to place themselves in an attacking position to shoot.

However, a player may not try and take a shot if they have been ‘defended’. This is when the opposition player positions themselves in between the attacker and the net and within an arm’s length from them.

Winning the Game

The game of Korfball is won by one team scoring more goals than their opposition. If at the end of the game the scores are level, then the game is declared a draw. In cup games of tournaments where a winner is required, then depending upon the individual requirements of the competition it may be decided by a shoot-out, with the team scoring the most amount of goals being declared the winner.

Rules of Korfball

  • If playing indoors, the size of the Korfball court should be 20m x 40m or if playing outdoors it should be 30m x 60m.
  • Teams shall consist of eight players and shall consist solely of female players or four female and four male.
  • Korfball matches consist of two halves, each lasting for a total of 35 minutes, with a 10 minute halftime break.
  • Each team has four players in each half and during the match they cannot switch zones. The game begins once a coin toss has decided who shall begin.
  • In Korfball, the aim is to score by throwing the ball through the opposition’s basket.
  • Once two goals have been scored, the teams change zones, with attackers becoming defenders and vice versa. Teams also swap ends at half time.
  • On receiving the ball, a player may not dribble, walk or run with it but can move one foot with one remaining planted to the ground as in netball.
  • Tackling, blocking and holding are not allowed in Korfball.
  • The team with the most goals (points) at the end of the match are declared the winner.
  • If both teams are on equal points at the end of the match, the game is declared a draw.