What happens when you mix one part tennis, one part volleyball, a lush field or sandy beach and a trampoline? You get Spikeball, a new sport that evolved from a Shark Tank pipedream to a game now played by thousands across the country.
The game is a resurrection of a 1980s Toys R’ Us kit and is fairly simple. There are four players, a soft ball, and a bouncy net built around a circular rim (like a trampoline). The first team serves the ball and has three hits before the ball has to “spike” off the net. The object is to “spike” the ball so well that the other team can’t “spike” it back. It’s a 360-degree game, meaning the whole net is in play.
Since there’s no actual “field of play”, players can Spike the ball as far as they want, increasing the difficulty. The game has no boundaries. Some are even adding floaties to the bases of the rim and playing on water, reinforcing the beach vibe of the sport.
While it draws from several different sports, the pace of the game makes it unlike any of the others. It goes on almost uninterrupted with very few stops for substitutions, flag waving penalties, or halftime wardrobe malfunctions. The gameplay is fast and unnerving, resulting in a fairly decent workout.
Spikeball’s rustic style has made it very popular across college campuses. A simple YouTube search will garner any number of video highlights from West Coast state schools to Midwest liberal arts institutions. It sure looks like tightroping and lawn darts might be taking a back seat to Spikeball on the Quad next spring.
The sport even has national competitions with some very talented players. Spikeball claims to have more than one million players in the US and 1,500 ranked teams in various leagues. Major competitions seem to happen quarterly and people convene from all over the place to challenge for titles as Best Spikeballing Team.