In 1997-98, Italy?s top league, known as Serie A, comprised 11 teams. The clubs play a double round-robin schedule in the first stage, with those who finish fifth to 11th playing another double round-robin. The best two teams from this stage then join the top four clubs in the final round. After that double round-robin series (with three points for a win, one for a tie, none for a loss), the top four teams advance to the playoffs. Semi-finals are a best-of-three affair while the finals are a best-of-five. In addition to the Serie A league, a few of Italy's top teams also compete in the Alpenliga.
Situated below Serie A are the Serie B1 and B2 leagues followed by Serie C. Serie B1 has 10 teams playing a quadruple round-robin schedule with the top eight teams advancing to the playoffs. Best-of-three series are played in the quarter-finals, with the semi-finals and finals using a best-of-five format. Serie B2 is divided into two groups, Group A (eight teams) and Group B (nine teams). The Serie C league has four teams.
Italian juniors (under 20) have been playing for a national championship since 1962. In 1997-98, seven teams battled for Italy's national junior title. There are also national competitions for those under 18 (11 teams), under 16 (16 teams in two groups), under 14 (eight teams), under 12 and under 10-years-old.