Floorball companies partner to educate players and grow the sport.

floorballplanet.com

June 29, 2017

Grand Prairie, TX & Lacey, WA – In an effort to grow the sport of floorball throughout the US, and provide players with more resources to make better equipment purchasing decisions, FloorballPlanet and Floorball Guru announce the creation of a new partnership. This partnership will focus on creating articles, reviews, and videos on a wide range of floorball equipment.

FloorballPlanet, located in Grand Prairie, TX, is the largest supplier of floorball equipment in North America. They carry a complete selection of floorball products from leading brands such as Salming, Oxdog, Fatpipe, and Blindsave.

“We are very excited to join forces with Floorball Guru in new efforts to educate the floorball community at all levels; from the newest player looking to pick up a floorball stick for the very first time to the most experienced elite player who has enjoyed the sport for decades. With the vast array of floorball products that are now available in North America, it is so important that players, coaches, and administrators have the information they need to make informed decisions.”
– Darryl Gross, FloorballPlanet

Floorball Guru is based out of Lacey, WA, and is focused on educating and developing floorball across the US. Floorball Guru posts weekly blogs and other resources designed to help individuals, clubs, and organizations develop and grow floorball.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to partner with FloorballPlanet. Floorball is growing and more and more people are looking for information regarding equipment and what to buy. The intent is to help players figure out what they’re looking for in a floorball stick. What’s the difference between a $30 stick and $100 stick? While both might suit your needs it’s important to understand how they differ. That’s what this partnership is about; creating a space for people to learn about those differences and make an informed decision about what stick, or equipment will work for them.”
– David Crawford, CEO Floorball Guru

Be on the lookout for equipment reviews through FloorballPlanet and Floorball Guru’s official social media accounts.

Choosing A Great Floorball Stick

There’s a lot of development that goes into making sporting equipment, and that is no different when making a floorball stick.

Like other sports floorball equipment varies in the technology, materials, and design used.  In some cases, sticks are being designed to fit a players’ position and preference.  As a result, there are number of options that players can choose from in regards to grip tape, shaft composition, flex, and how hard or soft the blade is.  For beginners most of this information won’t mean much, because when you’re starting out you’re just learning basic skills and getting a feel for what might best suit your playing style.

As you begin to search for floorball sticks you’ll likely find any number of sticks with varying prices and functions.  Beginner sticks tend to fall in a price range of about $30-50 and tend to have more flex in the shaft.  This information can be found sometimes in the description of the stick (Salming 32, etc.).  On the other end of the spectrum you’ll find professional level sticks fall in a price range of $150-230.  What’s the difference and why would I spend that kind of money?  The main reason to purchase a professional level stick is that it does provide an increase in performance.  As you develop as a player you’ll begin to find what works for you and a professional level stick will help increase your skills and playing abilities.  A professional level stick will also have a variety of options from stick flex, type of grip, and coupled with the right style of blade can make a positive impact in your game.

Other questions to answer prior to buying a stick is knowing what size you need.  To size a stick, you’ll be looking for the end of the stick to fall around your belly.  You don’t want the stick to be too tall or too short. and knowing if you’re a right or left handed shooter.   Left handed shooter have their right hand furthest from the blade with the hook of the heel of the blade starting from left and the toe of the stick moving to the right.  You can take things a step further and customize the amount of hook in your blade by heating, molding, and freezing the blade to your preferences.  While you can create any amount of hook in your blade the International Floorball Federation restricts the amount a blade can hook for competitions.

There’s a lot of information out there on equipment and like many things purchases can come down to preference in a certain brand, certain look, feel, or and more complex understanding of knowing specifically what you’re looking for.  If anything when you see a stick out there talk to people and ask them what they like and don’t like about the stick.  If you’re lucky they’ll let you try it out.  Either way get out there and keep playing.

Looking For Area Leagues

Don’t mistake where Floorball is headed. Despite being a new game in the United States, it is catching hold with a number of leagues growing annually. Floorball fever is upon us.

Given the statistics from USA Floorball there are currently 23 states that have floorball groups or programs operating pick-up games or full leagues.  At this time the top three state with floorball clubs are California, Texas, and Colorado.  It is also likely that there are other groups playing that are not represented.  However, there is continued growth in states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah, and Washington with newer grassroots programs and leagues forming.  The focus for many is providing space to gather, learn, and play.  At the same time there are also a number of opportunities for players to compete in 4v4 and 5v5 tournaments across the country.  In some cases, there are also be opportunities to attend National Team training events.

In California they have the Fresno Floorball League, groups playing throughout the Bay Area, and San Diego.  As for tournaments they host the Golden Gate Cup which saw eight teams from California and Seattle, WA attend.  California also hosts the Floorball Madness tournament in SoCal.  The sport is growing in throughout California, but at this time that growth seems focused on adult leagues.  We were not able to find any information focused on youth development.  We’re hopeful that more youth programs will be developed over time.

Within Texas floorball has been growing for a number of years.  There are developed leagues such as the North Texas Floorball Association that offer weekly pick-up games and leagues. Arlington Floorball also hosts the Lonstar Invitational Floorball Tournament.  Pick-up games and leagues run throughout the area are played 4v4 or 5v5.  Texas has also seen buy in by the NHL’s Dallas Start to help promote floorball throughout the Dallas area as part of their Fitness Stars program.   Depending on the location there are groups that are offering youth programs, but that is limited at this time.

If you don’t live in either of those areas, there are plenty of groups throughout the US that want you to join them.  In 2017 there are planned tournaments in Utah, Colorado, and Wisconsin.  It’s likely we’ll see more coming down the pipe over the next year or so.  Either way the if you’re interested there’s likely a group near you. If not, then you should start a program of your own.

Floorball Is Catching On In America

While the majority of people in The United States haven’t heard of Floorball, its only a matter of time before the sport really catches on.

When people do witness Floorball for the first time, they see it initially as a substitute to the floor hockey they grew up playing on elementary school.  While on some levels that may be true the sport is significantly different on many levels.  Back in the early 2000’s even less people knew about the sport.  In the beginning, and still to this day floorball has been a grassroots sport.  If you were lucky you would find a group of people who had moved into your community from overseas who knew how to play.  While more people are catching on to the sport it’s still currently building off of this model.  There are more clubs and groups forming slowly, but the USA’s ability to compete on a national stage is somewhat limited.

The USA Floorball Association is the governing body for international competition recognized by the International Floorball Federation.  The USA team is comprised of Men and Women, and U19 Men and Women.  Currently the national team is comprised of foreign based players based outside of the US.  The majority of players come out of Sweden, Switzerland, and a small handful from the US.  Frankly the US is fortunate to have an organization and people within it that have helped push the sport along largely unnoticed.  The US team has competed in several World Championships with the highest ranking of 10 as well as representing the US in the World Games 2017.

Needless to say given the history of the sport and the development stateside it’s amazing what’s been done so far.  However, for the longevity of the national team there needs to be more development stateside, specifically an emphasis on youth.  The USA wouldn’t be in its current position without relying on players overseas, but that model can’t be sustained.  When you think about the 2016 World Floorball Championships the team that won its group stage, almost beat Germany, and ultimately qualified for the World Games, that group of players rarely trains together on a regular basis when compared to just about every other country.  What they do have going for them is that many play on teams throughout the year.   What the US needs is to build a development system stateside in order to remain competitive with the rest of the world.

The biggest question is what will that look like?  USA Floorball doesn’t have the same financial support from the government, or currently outside organization.  They have put on smaller development training sessions, but they’re limited.  Once a year isn’t going to cut it in the long term.  Thankfully though the sport is catching on and more and more teams and clubs are starting to pop up around the country.  One day it’s very likely that the USA team will be fielded primarily of US based players.  I hope that as the sport moves forward people understand and appreciate the ground work that has been laid out from the players and staff that came before them.

Floorball Is Co-Ed Sport Friendly

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The development of Floorball doesn’t stop at the youth or adult recreation or club levels. In order to provide more competitive sport opportunities it will be important for the growth of the sport to matriculate into the collegiate level.

It is likely that there won’t be an immediate jump to add floorball as a varsity sport on Colleges and Universities.  There are obvious hurdles to making that move a reality.  However, one aspect to it being a widely accepted sport is the emphasis on promoting women in the sport from the top down.  The International Floorball Federation has made strides to promote floorball among women by developing the Go Girls program designed to increase participation.  The IFF has outlined a number of resources focused on female participation in the sport.  Participation rates are increasing with over 31 countries competing in the recent qualification tournament for the 2017 Women’s World Floorball Championships.

While the sport is growing throughout the world it is still lacking in growth in the US.  Part of the problem is the overall development of the sport in the US is still primarily new.  While clubs, programs, and tournaments are being created and growing, there isn’t a dedicated female program yet.  In order for the sport to grow in the US it needs to ensure that there is a continued commitment to developing female players.  In order for the sport to grow development through collegiate Intramural Sports will be crucial.  The next step at Universities and a more viable option will be to position floorball as a club sport.  Club sports traditionally are made up of non-varsity players that still compete at a high level but do not receive the same funding from the University as varsity sports. Rugby is a good example of a sport that is gaining popularity and developing collegiate club team, which form into leagues that aren’t solely defined by DI, DII, DIII status.  Floorball could easily form leagues regionally across the country utilizing this format.  Whether that would progress into a full-fledged NCAA varsity sport would take more time and development.

Title IX will also play a factor into the development of floorball at this level.  Floorball can be an attractive sport for many, and because it’s already well established at the international level it could be a perfect fit for you athletic programs looking to increase female participation in sports. With more and more kids and parents looking for more options to get involved in sports at the collegiate level floorball could meet the need for a new, exciting, and low contact sport.  If the development is focused from the youth level upward there is a real possibility for floorball to become a force in the collegiate athletic world.

Floorball: An Effective Off-Ice Training Tool

In the world of hockey there are what seems like endless training tools designed help improve a player’s skill on and off the ice.

A simple google search will bring up a plethora of companies selling the latest and greatest equipment to improve every facet of your skills.  There is a lot of value to using these training tools on and off the ice.  The development of equipment in this medium has advanced so far that individuals can build their own rinks using synthetic ice in their basement.  It’s no secret that hockey has, as a sport, a number of barriers to its continued growth, specifically in youth development.  These barriers consist mainly in cost of equipment, and the cost of ice time.  We also need to take into account that throughout the US the hockey culture and communities are different and have different needs and access to things like rinks.

In Washington State, specifically Western Washington there are only a small handful of hockey rinks available and the opportunities to compete are not as abundant.  It requires the programs there to be creative in finding players and finding adequate completion within a reasonable driving distance.  However, when we look at Minnesota there are more rinks, players, and development available.   The issues there is that the competition for hockey is fierce, and as a result players who don’t carry on in their system will ultimately filter out into other sports.   As a result hockey programs may need to start thinking creatively in order keep those players in their system and developing, but in different ways.

How does floorball fit into the hockey world?  It’s no secret to many that floorball is a very useful off-ice training tool, and there are many benefits that it can bring to hockey players and programs.  When we look at youth development and hockey those are two obstacles.  For one thing it’s hard enough just learning to stand on skates and it’s another to add the complexities that go into learning and playing hockey.  As a result floorball can be used in a number of ways to help reduce cost on parents, free up valuable ice time for facilities, help coaches teach more technical aspects off the ice, and allow for a more comprehensive skill development for players.  If hockey teams shifted a practice even once a week from the ice to a gym they would immediately reduce their costs.  Renting a gym in most areas is significantly cheaper than ice, and helps create positive relationships with local businesses.  If you break that down over the course of a season there are some significant savings.  That alone could help retain players, improve their skill and hockey knowledge, enjoyment, and their overall physical development.   At the same time coaches would have a controlled environment to teach allowing players the ability to connect movement off the ice back onto the ice.

In the end running a floorball program as part of the overall hockey development of players benefits the organization, coaches, and players.  The confidence players develop being able to do a pull back off-the ice will directly translate to their confidence of carrying out the same move on the ice.  Floorball can also be used to develop summer leagues, summer fitness program, or attract new players and parents to hockey.  It’s certainly worth investigating how floorball can benefit your players and organization.

Positional Play and Youth Players

When considering how to foster growth in your position players, especially youth, the game of Floorball offers many nuances that may not exist in other sports. In a safe, practical playing surface, you can train players for these tactics without risk of major injury.

This framework goes into movements for defensive as well as offensive play.  While players have specific positions those positions at many times can be fluid as the movement of the game plays out.   The concept of positional play can be a difficult one to grasp for younger players and is an important skill to regularly introduce and build on.

What I’ve found when teaching younger players (ages 7-14) is that some will immediately grasp these concepts and can play in that framework.  On the other side there are many players who do not immediately grasp these concepts.  As a coach or instructor it’s important to continually encourage and direct your players in a manner that will not overly frustrate them.  A frustrated player quickly loses interest and thus a desire to play.  Sometime the struggle is purely developmental.  Children in these ages are all developing at different paces and that needs to be recognized and addressed in a manner that meets them where they are at.  We must not forget that everyone learns and processes information differently, and as an instructor we must remember to present information in different ways.  Some of these tools include using verbal cues to describe what is needed.  In other cases coaches may use a white board to map out the movement on the field.  Other tools may be a physical demonstration walking players through the process.  Many coaches use all of these tools and more to help teach their players.

In regards to positional play I try to frame the idea with something that all players can relate to.  In this manner I treat the field of play as an airplane.  Hopefully ever child has seen what an airplane looks like and can quickly visualize what I’m trying to convey.  I break the airplane down using the field as a reference.  In this manner I’m able to quickly introduce positional play to my students in a clear and concise manner.  I will spend a few minutes on this topic and then we play.  As the game progresses I will start and stop the game in order to address positions of offense and defense bring it back to the airplane.  It is likely the first few weeks that the framework will fall apart, and it will take some time for many to fully comprehend this concept and patience must be practiced.

Remind yourself and your players that for many this is a new sport, and that you’re all learning together.  Find any success and make sure to praise it.  As your players progress you’ll see an overall better style of play come out in the end.

Making the USA Men’s National Floorball Team

Representing my country was one of the greatest honors that I’ve ever had. Playing on the USA National Floorball Team at the Riga Cup in Riga, Latvia, I knew that I had to help bring education of the game back to The United States. That is why Floorball Guru exists.

Upon my selection to the USA National Floorball Team, I was quite emotional, excited for such a different opportunity.

At 32, I was one of the older players on the team, but that didn’t deter me from making sure I was ready to go.  I had about 65 days from selection to be in Riga for team camp and the tournament.  I didn’t know it at the time but the entire experience would be life changing.

The biggest challenge for me was ensuring that I would be in top physical shape to compete at that level.  I am fortunate enough to have a coworker who is a Division I National Champion Sprinter from the University of Tennessee.  I was nervous about the preparation for the tournament and wondered if I had what it took.  After the first day of training I realized that the physical wasn’t as important as the mental.  In pushing through the pain I completed my first day of training. I could barely move, everything in me hurt and I was exhausted.  Yet, I knew at that time I would be able to get through the training.  Speed and movement off the ball was one of our main focuses.  We spent a lot of time doing various agility drills and strength training, which greatly improved my speed on the court.  Initially we started training three days a week doing a mix of cardio and strength training and after two weeks moved to training five days a week.  We continued training five days a week until I left for Riga.  By the time I left I was ready physically and mentally.

I’ve done some traveling before, but traveling half way across the world was a new experience.  Once I met with the team and we began our training sessions it hit me at what I was doing.  The speed and skills of the players was very high, especially in comparison to the competition I was playing back at home.  It took a little bit to get comfortable but I eventually got there. I couldn’t have been more excited when we were given our National Team jerseys.  The experience was a proud one for me and for the other players on the team.

What I’ve brought home from that tournament was an increased desire to replicate that back home.  In Riga there were teams of all ages and genders from all over.  That represented everything that I envision happening in the US.

Defensive Tactics in Floorball

(photo credit: Adam Troy)

Understanding the tactics of defense in Floorball can open up the game to a broader audience. Floorball is a fast-paced, competitive sport, with many opportunities on the offensive side of the goal with quick counter attack measures.

However, unlike ice hockey, players in Floorball are not allowed to check their opponent. This creates a strategy differential in how defense is played in Floorball.

Defenders need to be aware of their stick, body position, offensive players and the flow of the attack coming at them.  It is important through the development of youth players that they understand some of these concepts related to defensive play in order to be successful.

Floorball’s rules of play prohibit stick checking, stick lifting, or contact with the stick prior to contact with the ball.   A defensive player may not go through the offensive players stick in order to obtain the ball.  Doing so results in a free hit, which is similar to a free kick in soccer.  However, based on these rules there are some strategic moves defensive players can make in order force a turn over.  A defensive player may pressure the ball and in doing may force the offensive player into a turnover without fouling.  This method can be effective at both ends of the court.  However, defenders must be mindful not to foul, especially in the defensive zone, which requires the defender to be aware of their body positioning to the ball and player.

Body positioning and awareness of the spacing on the court is important when defending.  When on the defense it is important for all players to understand these concepts.  The entire team must work in sync and understand their roles in the defense and know what to do as the offense moves the ball around.  In many cases the defense will form a box in the defensive area with each player responsible for a specific zone.  Each player should be communicating with each other as offensive players move the ball, but should equally be aware of offensive players’ movement without the ball.  This is important as most offensive plays are built on quick passing and movement into open space between the defensive box.

When teaching the concepts of defense to new or younger players it’s important to emphasize zones to start.  In many cases younger players that are playing defense want to hang back as play moves into the offensive zone.  It is best to encourage them to move forward to at least mid-court emphasizing the importance of keeping the ball in the offensive zone.  With regards to body positioning introducing the defensive tactics concept can be as simple as staying between the ball and your goal.  At the beginning this will be a challenge and there are a number of other drills that can be done to help teach defense, but it will take time and patience.  While everyone wants to score the goal spending time focusing on the importance of defense will help solidify the team aspect of the sport.

Starting A Floorball Program? Now What?

Starting anything requires not only knowledge, but strategy. Simply getting the Floorball sticks, ball and potentially goalie equipment is not enough.

As with anything, the more expertise you have in your undertaking, the better result you will achieve.

Floorball is starting to catch with communities, who are browsing online, asking questions, and considering starting up their own team or league. Whether you happened to discover the sport online, through a video or blog post, the game of Floorball has many facets you should consider in order to build a team or league correctly.

If you had the opportunity you went out a played a scrimmage, or you watched a video purchased a stick and a ball.  You may have even begun to develop a passion for the sport.  You see the value of floorball as a viable sport for yourself, your kids, and your community.  Now what?  Where do you begin?

Fortunately you’re not alone.  Like any newer sport the opportunities to play can be somewhat limited.  However, the beauty of the sport is that it doesn’t need to be confined to space, facility, people, or organizations.   Fortunately the cost to get into the sport is relatively cheap.  You can purchase an entry level stick for $30-50, buy a ball and goals and you’re set.  If you’re wanting to invest a little more into equipment there are floorball companies like Generation Floorball out of New York that sell packages of sticks for groups, teams, etc.  However, in many cases you’ll be the first one with a stick and need to grow your group through your contacts.  Initially you’ll spend a large amount of time educating friends, family, coworkers, and anyone who’ll listen about the sport of floorball.  My experience has been to focus on small gatherings in order to help teach the rules, game play and ensure a fun experience.  For the most I’ve been focused on the informal process to get people coming and playing.  Once people get a hang of the rules and how to play the level of play will increase accordingly.

Whether you’re looking to start a weekly pick-up game, or a full-fledged league the biggest challenge will be finding space to play.  The beauty of floorball is that you can play almost anywhere.  If the weather is not (not raining at least) go outside and find a community basketball court, or tennis court to play in.  Thankfully for most cities there are plenty of both to set up shop, and they’re free.  If you’re looking to go inside you’ll want to contact your local parks and recreation department to rent, or if you’re able to use them to create a partnership in order to offset the facility rental.  Once you have established a consistent space use your contacts and social media to create a club that can be found by anyone.  The goal is to get people playing and the more interest for your club or group the easier it will be to determine if you should begin looking at a league.  For collegiate intramurals you can use your facility to host one day demo sessions to gain interest and gain feedback from your students.  Based on that interest you’ll have a better idea of how to frame your intramural league.

However, you decide to start or grow your group don’t be discouraged.  It’ll likely take some time to get people connected and aware of the sport.  Keep pushing and talking about what you’re doing.  If you’re able to you might want to think about running youth classes as a way to grow the sport in your region.  The important thing when starting out is ensuring an inclusive and fun environment for all to partake.  Now get out there and start your group.