What is Loofball?

Polaris Sports
Loofball is a ball sport played on a unique rectangular court by two teams of five players, the object being to catch and throw a lightweight furry ball over a high net, with the intent to down the ball on the appropriate section of the opponent’s court. A play (or combat) begins with a serve by launching the ball over the net and into the opposition’s home zone. A team scores a point when the ball lands on the appropriate section of the opponent’s court, or when the opposition fails to return the ball by committing a fault.


Players competing in a loofball match

A match is won by the first team to win two sets. The first two sets are played for 25 points whereas the third set is played for 20 points. Each set must be won with a 2 point advantage.

History and Philosophy 

Loofball began as a pastime for kids in 2017 in Adamawa State, North East Nigeria. Thanks to its exciting nature, loofball has since been enjoying steady rise in popularity through competitions and outdoor events. The sport was created based on the principles of teamwork, fair play, discipline and respect to engage youth in physical activity as well as promoting peace and growth via sport and related activities.

Loofball players celebrating a point scored

Loofball is suitable for both young and old, good for physical fitness, body strength and overall wellness. 

Basic Game Rules

TEAM MEMBERS

There are five players on each side.

BALL CONTACT

• Contact with the ball is by the hand or forearm. In other words, the ball must not touch a part of the body other than the hand and forearm before it's held.
• A player makes no more than two steps with the ball
• A player does not hold or throw the ball more than once within a game turn.
• Minimum of one and maximum of two passes in a turn. A pass may be a ‘hand pass’, a ‘forearm pass' or a ‘fist pass’.
• ‘Double-catching’ is allowed whereas ‘multi-catching’ is not allowed.
• A player does not hold the ball for more than 3 seconds.
• Only one player is allowed to catch or hold the ball at a time.

POSITIONING

• Before service, players align themselves (within the home zone) in rows: three players in the front and two in the back.
• Players may change or switch positions during alignment.
• Switching positions during play is not allowed.

SERVICE

• During service, a left back row player throws the ball (from the serving area) into the opposition’s home zone. A serve that fails to pass over the net, or results in a ‘net ball’, or is deemed a ‘high ball’ by the referee constitutes a foul serve, and must be retaken by the same player. Serving from inside the home zone, or not within 3 seconds of the referee’s whistle also constitutes a foul serve. A succession of two foul serves is a scoring by the opposite team.
• In a set, the winner of a combat wins the next serve.

IN BALL

• When a serve or ‘home shot’ (a shot launched from the home zone) or ‘fore shot’ (a shot launched from the fore zone) lands on the opposition’s home zone, it said to be an ‘in ball’. A ‘fore shot’ is also ‘in’ when it lands on the diagonally opposite section of the fore zone. An ‘in ball’ is a scoring by the sending team.
• A ‘line ball’ is an ‘in ball’ (not applicable to the olive).

OUT BALL

When a serve or ‘home shot’ lands on a part of the court other than the opposition’s home zone, it is said to be an ‘out ball’. A ‘fore shot’ is also ‘out’ when it lands on a part of the court other than the opposition’s home zone and the diagonally opposite section of the fore zone. An ‘out ball’ is a scoring by the receiving team.

LAUNCHING THE BALL

• A shot or serve is launched strictly by throwing the ball over the net.
• A shot or serve is launched with one hand.
• A shot must be launched from inside the home zone or fore zone.
• A player does not touch or overreach the net when launching a shot.
• A ‘high ball’ constitutes an error during attack and a foul serve during service.
• A ‘net ball’ is allowed during combat whereas blocking is not allowed.

MOVEMENT

• A player may jump when catching the ball.
• A player within the home zone may jump when launching a shot. However, both feet must have contact with the ground when launching from the fore zone.
• A player may land in the fore zone or olive after releasing a ‘home shot’.
• A player may move to the olive or free zone when defending or catching a pass.
• A player stepping on the sideline or baseline is in the free zone. In the same vein, a player stepping on the frontline is in the fore zone.
• A player stepping on the crossline or both sections of the fore zone is in neither of the sections.
• A player stepping on the olive or its edge is outside the fore zone.


The playing court measures 17 m x 8 m and has two main zones namely; the Home Zone and the Fore Zone. The Home Zone and Fore Zone have dimensions of 5.9 m x 8 m and 5.2 m x 8 m respectively. The Olive (A circular or wreathlike region of 2 m diameter) is drawn at the middle of the court or Fore Zone. The net height (measured at the centre) from the turf is 2.28m for men or 2.10m for women. 

Faults / Violations

A fault or violation results in a scoring by the opposite team. The most possible and recognized faults are as follows;
• The ball touches a part of the body other than the hand and forearm before it's caught.
• A serve or ‘home shot’ lands on a part of the court other than the opposition’s home zone
• A ‘fore shot’ lands on a part of the court other than the opposition’s home zone and the diagonally opposite section of the fore zone
• A player holds or throws the ball more than once within a turn
• A player holds the ball for up to 4 seconds (or more) during combat
• A player hits the ball when serving or launching a shot
• Less than 2 or more than 3 throws within a turn
• A player makes more than two steps with the ball (termed ‘traveling’)
• A player launches a shot from the olive or free zone
• A player plays a ‘high ball’ when attacking
• A player makes 2 consecutive foul serves
• A player touches or overreaches the net when attacking
• A player serves or attacks with two hands
• Two or more players hold the ball simultaneously
• A player mishandles the ball
• A player blocks the ball
• A player jumps when launching from the fore zone
• Players switch positions during combat

Gameplay

OFFICIATING

The officiating crew may comprise a referee (also called the umpire), two or four line judges, a scorer and an assistant scorer.

COIN TOSS

At the start of a match, the teams represented by their captains take part in a coin toss. The winner of the toss chooses either a side of the court or the first serve. If the winner chooses a side, the other team makes the first serve. And if the winner chooses to make the first serve, the other team chooses a side.

SCORING SYSTEM

Loofball uses a point scoring system, whereby a point is awarded to the team winning a combat. A match may be played in 2 or 3 sets. The first two sets are played for 25 points, while the third is played for 20 points. At 24 all, the team that gains a 2 point lead first, wins the set. The same applies in the third set when the scoreline is 19 all. The first team to win 2 sets carries the match.

CHANGE OF SIDES

Teams change sides after completing the first set. The first team to be served in the first set makes the first serve in the second set. A new coin toss is conducted when a match enters the third set, just like in the beginning of the match.

SUBSTITUTION

Up to a maximum of four substitutes (per team) may be used in a match. Substitution is conducted at the sideline near the fore zone.

BREAK

1 minute time-out (per team) is allowed in a set. A 2 minute interval is also allowed between sets.

Game Equipment

The game is played with a specially designed inflatable and furry ball, also called loofball. The ball is made of an artificial furry fabric or animal fur and has a diameter of between 16 and 20cm. A size 1 or mini loofball weighs 150-190g whereas a size 2 loofball weighs 190-240g.The net used has nearly the same dimensions as volleyball net.
A 4 panel size-2 loofball


Loofball is a registered trademark, with registration number NG/TM/O/2017/121903. The ball design is also registered under design patents. These Intellectual Property rights are considered fundamental to the continuous growth and development of sport.

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