Sign In


Self-Help: Floorball

Delving into some more offbeat sports, we join the city's Nordic contingent for a game of floorball, or "innebandy," as the Swedes say.
Last updated: 2015-11-09
In an attempt to reverse the downward spiral of your mental and physical wellbeing, in Self Help we bring you suggestions of classes, sporty things, team events, volunteering and educational stuff that might just pull you out of that boozy tail-spin.

All photos by Brandon McGhee

Week 12: Floorball

Yeah, we hadn’t heard of it either. It’s a hockey type game, played indoors with sticks and a hollow, plastic ball. Because its English name is a bit lame, we’ll call it "innebandy", its original Swedish name, to better summon up blondness and bears.

There are already two innebandy teams in Shanghai, Hakkapeliitat Shanghai and the Shanghai Sharks. Hakkapeliitat Shanghai is a Finnish-language team, so don’t bother going if you don’t speak Finnish. They practice at the Putuo Indoor Stadium on Wednesdays from 7-9pm. The Shanghai Sharks, the international English-speaking team, also practice at the Putuo Indoor Stadium, but on Thursdays from 7-9pm.

What you need

Gym gear. There are no showers and no changing rooms at the stadium. Walk into the building, past the table tennis tables, up the stairs on the right and you’re there. They have loads of different sized sticks that you can borrow for free, so get there early to have a rummage. You can buy bottled water and other drinks at the stadium.

Who goes

Northern European blokes, mostly. A couple of girls. Usually there are about 20 people, but with everyone on holiday we had less. Some were seriously nifty with their sticks. It was pretty obvious who the semi-pro guy was, as he wove across the stadium with sublime control. But there were also some of us who didn’t really have a clue. Even though I was one of the clueless, I got plenty of play, so you don’t need to be good to have fun.

Georg, who heads up the team, is very hospitable. He takes the time to explain the rules, diligently taking you to one side to explain another rule if he feels he’s forgotten something. Sometimes in Shanghai, you walk into a mostly male team sport event and feel like you’ve walked into a frat cult but that was not the case here. It felt understatedly sporting.

What happens

Before the games start, you do some warm up exercises like dribbling, or shooting at the goal. You’re then divided into teams and you play until people are tired, before taking water breaks. If there are more people, separate teams will swap in and out.

The rules are pretty complex and it would take us all day to explain them all (you can find them here), but in short, a team is made up of six players including a goalie. You can’t lift the stick or play the ball above your knee level, and you can kick the ball once. It’s a really fast game, so there is a lot of running up and down the court to follow the ball, but innebandy isn’t a contact sport, so it’s not like ice hockey, where collisions are likely.

I played with a few breaks over two hours, which was massively tiring, but when everyone returns after summer, you’ll probably get a more manageable amount of time on the rink.

How much of your life will this take up

This team plays two hours a week. If you’re really into it and speak Finnish, you can always double up and do the Wednesday night practices as well. You’re not going to get Olympian stamina from going to one practice a week. But it’s definitely a start if you want to get fit.

If you want to be able to wield your innebandy stick like a pro, it’s going to take a lifetime of dedicated practice. These sessions don’t involve any systematic tuition, as such, but you can learn a lot from the other players.

How much does it cost

It’s 75rmb a class, or you can sign up for a 1,000rmb season ticket, which lasts for up to six months. This allows you to play, on average, 25 times per season, making it a very affordable 40rmb a class if you go every week. You can join at any point during a season and buy a season ticket, at 40rmb a time, for the remaining sessions in the season.


It’s a great cardio work out. Everyone was looking fairly knackered at the end. The atmosphere is very couth, no rah rah Masonic handshakes involved. Half the players usually go for a beer and Dongbei food after, at the same place they’ve been going to for the past five years, so it’s very social. After a couple of beers, you get regaled with Nordic tales of moose hunting in the wilderness.


No showers at the stadium or changing facilities can mean more time than is pleasant in rank clothing. If you’re looking for pro training, these sessions may not be right for you as there isn’t any proper tuition. It’s also in Putuo, which is great if you live or work in Putuo, but you probably don’t. From downtown it wasn’t a long cab ride, but maybe in the rush hour, after a long day at work, the added distance might put you off.

For a map and address for Putuo indoor stadium, go here. For more details about the Shanghai Sharks, their training sessions and to RSVP and tell them you want to come down and join, visit their website.