Five Offensive Tips from Brian
1. If you see someone open, pass the ball to them immediately...no need to think about it. A pass to an open person is never a bad decision. One exception is passing to the top of the crease in our zone.
2. If you do not have the ball, move to a space where you can see a clear lane from you to the person with the ball. Two reminders: 1) this may require continuous movement/adjustment as the defense will likely adjust to your positioning 2) keep your spacing...or call out "switch" if you move into someone else's space.
3. Try to see your next pass or move before you get the ball. This will greatly increase your chances of finding yourself in situation #1 above.
4. After releasing a pass to someone, do not stand and watch the pass. Immediately break to an offensive opening where the receiver of the pass can get the ball back to you. This is the "give-n-go," one of the harder plays for the defense to stop. Likewise, if you get a pass, you should always look to return it on a "give-n-go." You'll know in a second if it's there.
5. Keep your stick on the ice...less movement to catch passes.
Five Defensive Tips from Brian
1. Stay on your feet! A few exceptions: 1) diving to block a shot or knock the ball away if you are already beaten on a breakaway 2) diving to intercept or deflect a pass 3) diving to catch a pass (usually in the neutral or offensive zone).
2. If the other team has the ball, you should always be close to one of their players. Play man-to-man coverage on this person until they leave your zone.
3. TALK! This is a highly underrated defensive skill. Tell your neighbor that someone is coming into their zone. Yell for help if there are two people in your zone. Say something if you see someone all alone on the weak side.
4. Move your feet to play defense. If you lean, reach and stretch using your stick to play defense, the offense has two advantages: 1) you are off balance and don't have a big or quick range of motion, making it easy to make a little move and get past you 2) they can make a pass and run past you because your body is out or position.
5. Back check like there is no tomorrow! No matter where you are on the ice, if the other team is breaking with the ball, sprint into our defensive zone. If they slow down, you will be there ready to make the play.
Stick Selection and Modification
Which broomball stick is best for you? Here is some information to help you when selecting and modifying your broomball stick.
The Broom Shaft
The element of the stick that makes the biggest price difference and weight difference is the shaft. Most people prefer a lighter shaft for better ball handling, a harder shot and quicker broom movements. But you also want to have a shaft that won't break or bend when you take a hard slash from a thug. Wooden shafts are the cheapest (under $20), but they are also the heaviest and they do break. Moving to an aluminum shaft significantly reduces the weight of the broom. Most of the aluminum or metal shafts are close in weight but they differ in strength. The normal aluminum shafts ($20) bend easier than the aluminum alloy shafts or the alcalyte alloy shafts. You can get the aluminum and aluminum alloy shafts for $20-$30. The alcalyte alloy shaft is a big jump in price to $80, but it is an excellent mix of weight and strength and it is my personal favorite. At the top of the price charts is a graphite composite shaft, but that will run you about $150. It is extremely light, but I have seen a number of them break.
Click here to see a good selection of STX sticks.
Another thing to look for in the broom shaft is the shape. Unless you do something special with tape, it is impossible to tell which way your broom head is facing if you have a round shaft unless you look at it. A non-round, or octagonal shaft is nice because it is easier to hold and you can always tell which way your broom head is facing.
The Broom Head
Many players like the D-Gel rubber broom head because it "sticks" to the indoor ball the best. STX makes a Cyclone broomball head that has one large hole in the middle versus multiple small holes. The theory is that is creates less wind resistance while hitting the ball with the flat side of the broom head, thus enabling a faster swing. You can remove the STX broom heads fairly easily by removing a screw, so replacing the normal head with the Cyclone head is a simple process. Removing or replacing the heads on the other brooms is not an easy process and unless you can ensure that it will stay on, I wouldn't mess with it. That is too bad since some players would consider a hybrid of the STX gold shaft and D-Gel rubber head as the "ultimate broom."
Legal Stick Modifications
Before you modify your new broom, keep these legal requirements in mind:
Only commercially produced broomball sticks are allowed.
You may not coat the broom head with anything in addition to the factory coating.
The broom shaft may not exceed 53 inches in length.
The head of the broom must be between 7-9 inches in height.
The head of the broom must be between 4-6 inches in width.
The base of the head of the broom shall have a minimum width of 2.5 inches.
All brooms must have a safety knob of at least .25 inches on the end of the shaft.
The broom may be taped provided no plastic or elastic tape is used.
No foreign objects can be attached to the broom (other than tape).
No more than 3 wraps of tape is permitted anywhere except on the safety knob.
Tape may not be used to cover up a cracked shaft.
Bent, kinked or cracked shafts determined to be unsafe will not be allowed.
Recommended Stick Modifications
Some people choose to cut their broom shaft shorter than the factory length. The advantages of a shorter stick include quicker reactions because of a lighter stick (goalie) and it is easier to get a shot off that is close to your feet. The main disadvantage is simple: you have a shorter reach. For this reason, I would discourage anyone from cutting the shaft of their stick. My recommendation is to use it at full length. If you do this, you will need to practice taking your power shot when the ball is out in front of you rather than close to your feet like in golf.
Cutting the broom head is very common. The most common way that players cut their broom head is by making a diagonal cut on one edge of the broom head. This is the side that touches the ice when you handle the ball. Having this flat edge touch the ice creates a little more support than just a point, but more importantly, it lines up the center, or the "sweet spot" of your broom head with the center of the ball. This is more forgiving when you use the flat side of the broom head to shoot or pass. If you use the edge of your broom head to shoot, then it shouldn't matter if you have the edge cut or not. Keep in mind that cutting off a corner of your broom head does reduce the overall size of the head and reduces the surface area for ball control. Some players choose to leave the head as is so the ball is less likely to roll off the side of the head during a flip pass.
Most people put some tape on their stick. For safety purposes, you should put a couple wraps of tape where the broom shaft meets the broom head and make sure you cover up any screws. Tape is also used to make the safety knob on the top of their broom shaft. In addition to safety uses, tape can also be good for grip, especially if you're playing outdoors and your stick is getting wet or snowy. The amount of tape people use is a personal preference. I like to put tape down to where my lower hand will be when I do a lift pass. But I only put one layer of tape on my stick so I can improve the grip, but minimize the extra weight I am adding with tape. One finer point: some players roll up some tape and put a small strip down one side of the stick near the top of the shaft. Then they cover this strip of tape with one layer of tape to keep it in place. This tape line indicates to the player which way their broom head is facing so they know without having to physically look.