On this page you will find the answers to questions submitted by players, coaches, and P.E./School Club instructors. If you have a question please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will reply to you... usually within 24 hours!
Can a player use their feet in Sabakiball?
Yes! Just as in Soccer, a player may use their feet to move the ball up the court. In fact, using your feet to move a ball out of a scrum (when a ball is loose on the ground) towards a team member is a great way to gain possession. The use of feet is also a good way to prevent a ball from going out of bounds, and so long as you have completed your 3 passes you can even kick the ball into the BakiPin goal pin to score a goal! Be aware however, that:
1) if your foot makes contact with another player, even by accident, you will be assessed a 2 minute minor penalty (no warning)
2) when attempting to score using your foot, you must kick the ball before the ball hits the ground and after three complete passes.
Can my shot hit the ground before the goal-pin?
Yes! Remember that if the ball hits the ground for any reason, it re-starts your three passes. However, once your passes are complete your shot can be bounced or even rolled into the goal pin, and of course you can use the backboard for bank shots! Keep in mind that once the ball hits the ground, if the shot rebounds back to an offensive player, they must start their passes over again. But, if the shot does not hit the ground and the rebound comes back to an offensive player they may shoot again without passing. Many goals are scored in this way!
How can goals be scored (hands, feet, etc.)?
Once three passes have been completed, a goal can be scored by any means. You can kick the ball, slap or "spike" the ball, "head" the ball, etc. In fact, once three passes have been completed, if a defensive player (including the goalie) accidentally knocks the ball into the pin it can result in a goal being scored for the offensive team! Some players even try to "bank" shot the goal by deflecting the ball off of another offensive or defensive player. This is called "tipping" it in.
How is "possession" determined by referee?
When a ball is deemed out of bounds by a referee, the referee will blow their whistle and immediately point towards the goaltender of the team to take possession. The last team to touch the ball, even if a ball is purposely bounced off of another player, losses possession. IMPORTANT: goaltenders must immediately look to the referee upon the blowing of a whistle as they will have just three seconds to retrieve a new ball from the back-court line and step into their Goalie Box to start the play. Once the referee has signaled to the goalie their possession, the three second clock starts. Upon the third second or when the goalie steps into their Goalie Box (whichever occurs first) the referee will blow the whistle to resume play giving the goaltender three seconds to advance the ball.
How long is a Sabakiball game?
Sabakiball games are divided into three periods. Youth games consist of three 15 minute periods and adult games consist of three 20 minute periods. At the end of each period the players switch sides, defend the opposite BakiPin goal pin.
How many players are there on a Sabakiball team?
Each team fields five players at a time (one goalie and four position players). Teams can be comprised of anywhere from 5 to 14 players. Currently, the team average in league and tournament play is 7 players (5 on the court and two subs). However, some of the more successful teams carry at least 9 players; one full time goalie and two groups of four position players. Each group of four players is called a "line." Having this set-up allows for four players to build chemistry with one another while being able to "sub-out" their entire line to allow another line to take over. This gives players a chance to catch their breath, and then head back out onto the court! The time you spend on the court is called a "shift."
Is "Sabaki" ever misspelled and if so, how?
Yes, "sabaki" is often misspelled. Some common misspellings include "subaki", sabakee", "sabuki", and even "saki" (a type of Japanese wine!). But more often sabaki is mispronounced. The i at the end of the word is actually pronounced ee. AND many people will separate the name Sabakiball into two words; Sabaki Ball. Did you know that sabaki translates to "movement" and the term sabakiball actually means "to move the ball."
Is there a "shot clock" in Sabakiball?
No. While the shot-clock idea has been floated in the past in order to keep teams that are winning from simply playing "keep away" for the final minutes of the game, it has been determined that such a rule would cause more harm to the excitement and flow of the sport than helpful. For example:
1) Lets say that your team has a player serving a 2 minute penalty. Being that the other team has a man advantage, your team would want to be able to keep the other team from gaining offensive opportunities. (think hockey)
2) When a team is up by a goal or two with little time left in the game, they may want to play keep away. This is when the opposing team "pulls" their goalie allowing for that goalie to roam the entire court. Now you go to a man-on-man format and aggressively force the pass looking for an interception. NOTHING is more exciting than seeing that goalie come charging across mid-court and forcing a turn over and become involved in the goal scoring opportunities!
3) (for advanced play) While Sabakiball is a non-contact sport, players have an equal right to a "loose" ball. A dribbled ball is considered loose as it is in no ones possession. If contact occurs between us because I exercised my right to the ball, it is not a foul so long as I actually make contact with the ball. So, advanced players will actually use their body to come between you and the ball you are dribbling, dive for the ball being dribbled, or attempt a maneuver similar to a slide tackle in soccer (in fact we call it a slide tackle). These attempts can sometimes be called for "warnings" or penalties depending on the referee, but they make the game more exciting.
Also, using a shot-clock forces a team to shoot when no open shot is available. So, a big team can simply form their "wall" defense effectively blocking the shooting lanes and just wait out the clock.
During an advanced league game, a team was able to use "keep away" during a penalty kill and when the other team aggressively came after the ball in order to take advantage of their opponent being a man short, the penalized team was able to catch them off guard defensively and score the game winning goal while short-handed. This is an example of how the team that had been DOWN two goals was able to utilize the strategy to come back and win the game and do we really want to take that away because newer players are not yet experienced enough?
The problem with rules (and we learn this lesson day in and day out in Sabakiball) is that when a new rule is implemented in order to solve one problem, more often than not it effects other elements of the game that we had not thought were connected. We like to say, "let the players play" meaning that they WILL find ways to win given time and creativity.
What are the dimensions of a Sabakiball court?
An official Sabakiball court is 50 feet wide and 90 feet long. There is a mid-court (center) line dividing the defensive and offensive zones. Sabakiball is designed to be played on an existing basketball court, can be played indoors or outside, and is also often played on grass using cones to mark out the court.
What determines when a ball is "out of bounds"?
When a ball that is not in a player's possession touches the boundary line of the court or touches the ground outside of the boundary line, it is deemed out of play and the team that touched the ball last loses possession to the other team's goalie (who then has three seconds to retrieve a new ball and start play). When the ball is in a player's possession the player becomes the ball and the ball is considered out of bounds if any part of the player's body touches the boundary line of the court or touches the ground outside of the boundary line.
What happens if the game is tied at the end of regulation time?
If a game is tied at the end of regulation time, teams play a five minute sudden death period followed by a "best out of three shots" shoot-out. If neither team scores, the shoot out goes to sudden death. The goalie that played at the end of regulation must be used in the sudden death period and shoot-out. Goalies may be utilized as shooters. Teams do not switch sides of the court for overtime period unless the referee deems that an unfair advantage exists for one team, such as sun, wind, etc. Both teams are awarded one point for the tie, with an extra point awarded to the winning team.
What is the typical final score of a game?
Sabakiball can be a high scoring affair, however, the quality of your goalie and defensive strategies determine the outcome. It is not unusual to have teams combine for 10 or more goals in a game (6-4, 7-3, etc.) but some games can be very low scoring as well.
When and where was Sabakiball first played?
The very first Sabakiball game was first played in August, 2008 in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was modified a bit as it was prepared for the patent process but was formalized in January, 2009 when Sabakiball International was incorporated.
Why does Sabakiball have a Japanese name?
Sabakiball founder Michael Cerpok has studied and taught the martial arts for more than thirty years. His focus has been on Japanese martial arts and thus he speaks Japanese. One of the skills that he teaches his students is termed Tai Sabaki (to move the body) and is common in the practice of Jujutsu. While developing the sport of Sabakiball, one of his students (Sonja Stone) suggested the word sabaki due to the constant movement of the ball and the players. Hence, Sabakiball became the name given to the game method.