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Updated on March 1, 2012

Speedball combines elements of soccer and basketball with some features of football. Designed for persons of average athletic ability, the game is played in a number of schools and colleges. Speedball was invented in 1921 by Elmer Mitchell, director of intramural sports at the University of Michigan.

The official field and goalposts are the same as for football, but smaller fields may be used. The game is frequently played on a soccer field, using the soccer goalposts. The soccer ball is the official ball. A speedball team has 11 players, but 9- or even 7 -man teams are employed on small fields.

After the ball is put in play by a kickoff similar to that in soccer, each team tries to move the ball downfield to score. It is permissible to catch and throw fly balls as in basketball, but ground balls (any ball that has touched the field after it was last played is a ground ball) must be played by kicking or dribbling as in soccer. The hand dribble used in basketball is illegal, as is running with the ball.

The most common scores are the field goal (three points), scored when the ball is propelled into the goal; a touchdown (two points), made by catching a forward pass while standing in the end zone; and the end kick (one point), scored by kicking the ball over the end line from a point within the end zone. A single point is also awarded for a dropkick over the crossbar, and for a penalty kick (awarded after a foul) under the crossbar-with only one defender permitted to guard the goal.

The official game is played in four periods of 10 minutes each, but periods may be shortened to as little as 5 minutes-depending on the age, skill, and condition of the players. The women's game is generally similar to that played by men, but a slightly smaller field is recommended and other minor changes have been introduced.


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