The Great Sport of Shotball

You sports enthusiasts are going to love this one. The game is shotball, and it encompasses a deadly combination between football, soccer, basketball, and rugby. Played on a one-hundred yard field with two soccer nets on opposing sides, shotball is a sport that is going to test your energy stores like none other. You need a level of conditioning seen in sports such as football and basketball in order to last four quarters but you also need the aerobic capacity to continually run up and down certain lengths of the field. This sport is eleven on eleven, it may be co-ed, and yes, tackling is part of the game.

So what does a shotball field really look like? It is a one-hundred yards in length and fifty three yards across with three distinct lines. The first two lines are located on the twenty-five yard line while a center line is located on the fifty yard line. At each goal line rests a soccer net. Simple, right?

What about the positions? There are eleven players on each side of the field. Each side has one goal keeper, one wanderer, two defenders, three attackers, and four centers. So, let’s start with the goal keeper.

Goal Keeper: This one is pretty straight forward. They are in to block any shot taken mainly by the attackers and wanderer, but in some cases the centers and defenders may also shoot on goal. They need to be ready for anything because if that shot is coming and the ball is in the air, goal keeper interference is allowed. (GK’s wear numbers 1-19).

Wanderer: This is the only player who may play in any zone at any given time. The lines at the twenty-five and fifty are irrelevant to them. They can play offense, defense, and the works. The wanderer is usually the player who is fast, has decent endurance, and doesn’t mind hitting as much as they love scoring. They can be a third defender, a fifth center, a second goal keeper, or a fourth attacker. Teams built on defense prefer defensive minded wanderers. Those who love ball control may like their wanderer’s natural position to be center. Yet those teams that love offense will want a wanderer who can score. (Wanderers wear numbers 10-49, or 80-89).

Defenders: These are your defensemen. They cannot cross the center line at the fifty yard line and may only play on their side of the field. A good defenseman loves contact because they are going to do all they can in order to force the ball out of the hands of the attackers. They must hit hard but they also need to be aware of who has the ball at any given time, as the attackers are the best offensive players in the game and some teams love to score fast. (Defenders wear numbers 50-79).

Centers: Four centers and they may play anywhere between the twenty-five yard lines. They cannot go deep into either zone. The centers are the middle men. Typically the players who are good at moving the ball downfield will play center. They will set up the offensive drive. Typically a defender or wanderer will relay the ball to the center and the center may find another center or an attacker to get the ball to. The centers can travel all the way to the twenty-five yard line in the attacking zone, so they have to be good at passing the ball, as many assists will come from the center. However, they must also crave contact, because in many cases the centers are the first line of defense. If the team is defensive oriented, the centers will be hard hitters who look to rip the ball from the opposing team’s hands and run the ball into the attacking zone. An offensive minded team is just the opposite, looking to move the ball through the air with precision passing and timing. (Centers wear numbers 20-49).

Attackers: The attackers are the primary scorers. They may only play on the offensive side of the field and may not cross the fifty yard line. The attackers are also the only ones allowed inside the twenty-five yard line with the exception of the wanderer. On teams that love quick strikes, the attackers will creep towards the goal keeper and the centers may toss the ball to one of the attackers that loves contested passes. Or, if the team likes ball control, the attackers may play closer to the fifty and systemically move the ball downfield in conjunction with the centers. Either way, the attackers must be good shooters. (Attackers wear numbers 80-89. If all numbers in the 80’s are taken, they may wear numbers 10-19).

So how do we score? There are three ways to score in shotball. You can simply throw the ball into the net for one point. If you want two points, the ball can be kicked into the net, or if you need three, the drop-kick may work.

What does the ball look like? The ball can be a rugby ball, a soccer ball, or an American football, depending on the preferences of the teams.

What is the length of the game? The game can be played in either two halves of thirty minutes apiece or four quarters of fifteen minutes apiece. There is a fifteen minute halftime.

What about overtime? An extra five minute overtime period will commence. If the team that initially inbounds the ball scores, the opposing team has one shot on offense to score. If the team that initially inbounds fails to score and the initial defensive team scores, the game is over. If no one scores on their initial possession, the first team to score on any subsequent possession wins.

What are the fouls and penalties? Fouls and penalties tend to follow the NHL standard of a minor, double minor, or major. Here are just a few:

Minor, 2 minute power play for the opposing team: Holding, Roughing, Pass Interference, Hands to the Face, Illegal Use of the Elbows (elbow to the head or neck area), Illegal Substitution (player enters without checking in), Offsides (player crosses a line illegally), Illegal Block in the Back, Clipping, Chop Block, Cross Checking, Late Hit (incidental), Tripping (intentional), Intentional Grounding (throwing the ball away without a receiver in the area).

Double Minor, 4 minute power play for opposing team: Unnecessary Roughness, including but not limited to: Roughing the Passer, Roughing the Shooter, Hit on Defenseless Player, Piling On (jumping onto a pile if the player is ruled down by contact), Late Hit (intentional), Hitting Player on the Ground.

Major, 5 minute power play for opposing team and possible misconduct: Targeting (hit to the head, neck region, misconduct if called for foul twice), Fighting (misconduct if three fights occur in a single game).

Penalty shots do occur only if the offensive player is on a breakaway or is in the act of shooting the ball towards the goal. All other penalties result in an inbound once the power play begins.

For the most part, the penalties follow American football and hockey. Traveling with the ball is allowed. However, if a player is ruled down by contact, they must give up the ball. In many cases, a player may get rid of the ball before they hit the ground. There is NO intentional grounding if the player tosses up the ball as they’re being tackled. In this case, they may give up the ball even if there is no receiver in the area. The ball is live at all times regardless of the pass is incomplete or if a fumble occurs. If a fumble instigates a scrum for the ball, the play is ruled dead and the team who gains possession of the loose ball inbounds when play is started again.

Shotball is the primary sport in Once. There are many sports mentioned in Once, but shotball is the equivalent to football in the United States, or soccer in the rest of the world. It is the most popular sport that mirrors high school football on the local level. Many ask me how I came up with the sport and why it was inserted into Once. Here is the story:

One day back in 2009 I was watching ESPN as the NFL issued yet another rule taking the violence away from the game. I can’t quite remember what the rule was, but it was one step too far for me, so I took out my old laptop and started writing rules for a new game. I called it warball to reflect the rather violent atmosphere the game contained, but I soon found out the game shared the name with an old album from an otherwise unknown band, so I changed the name to shotball in recognition of the different ways one could shoot the ball into the net in order to warrant a score.


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