Korfball is played either indoors or outdoors on a court divided into two halves called zones. In each zone there is a post (3.5m, shorter for the young) with a basket at the top. This is positioned at two thirds of the distance between the centre line and the back of the zone. The ball is similar to the one used for football (soccer). There are two teams, each consisting of eight players: two men and two women of each team in each zone (attack and defense). Players score by throwing the ball through the other team's basket. After two goals the teams change zones: the defenders become attackers and attackers defenders. At half-time the teams swap halves of the court.
Philosophy of korfball
Korfball is a team sport. Individual class is essential but there is no room for individual play. Belonging to a team means teamwork; running with the ball or dribbling is not allowed. A player who receives the ball while running must stop within two steps and pass the ball to another player.
Korfball is a mixed sport. Men and women play side by side. But while women are equal in the tactics of the game, duels are man to man and woman to woman. One man may guard one man and one woman may guard one woman. So it's not two against one and a woman may not defend a man nor may a man defend a woman.
Third, korfball is a tactical game. Each team tries to win by scoring more goals using tactical skills of the team as a whole. The rules follow this principle and prevent physical strength from dominating the game. That means that physical contact is undesired. Blocking, tackling and holding your opponent are not allowed in korfball.
The same goes for kicking the ball or hitting it with your fists. Also, one is not allowed to move the post, which would make it harder to score.
Another rule that makes this a largely tactical game is that a player may not attempt to score when defended. That occurs when the defender is closer to the basket and is facing his/her opponent, and is at arm's length, and is attempting to block the ball.
Korfball is a popular sport, especially in the Benelux region of Europe. Its emphasis on the unisex aspect, its "clean" gameplay, outlawing most physical contact and encouraging players to outsmart rather than outmuscle their opposition, contribute to its popularity.
Ironically, these aspects also often serve as a foil for ridicule. Korfball players, like netball players, are often ridiculed - both by cynical female and male basketball players. Korfballers reciprocate by saying that it is too easy to score in basketball, because a basket is lower than a korf and has a backboard.
However, the popularity of Korfball has remained unbroken. Many players play both sports, and its role of being one of the few unisex team sports makes Korfball unique.
Korfball is called Korfbal in Dutch and its name (korf=wicker basket) shows its Dutch origin.