Originating from the streets of 1930s New York, Wallball is a game that can be played almost anywhere (as long as you have a wall). Harking from a wider family of handball games that come in all shapes and sizes - you may have heard of Pelota, Gaelic Handball, Patball or Fives, Wallball (or 1-Wall Handball as it is also known) has now become the global standard and the game is played right up to the top level of professional sport.
As more courts pop up all around the UK there are now, more than ever before, opportunities and pathways to play the sport at a high level or just get active with your friends. But at its heart, it remains that street-sport. A simple game in which you hit the ball against the wall with the palm of your hand.
Do you need the official ball to get going? No. Do you need the official wall? No. Any wall, any ball, any time!
As you dive deeper into the game you begin to uncover some of the details which make it so special. From terminology to technique, let us tell you all about Wallball.
What Do You Need to Play Wallball
A wall. A ball. Easy!
Ideally, your wall should be nice and flat and you can mark out your court with chalk, paint, or tape. Alternatively, you can find a community wall and get going on a full size court right away.
The official balls are great fun. They’re bouncy and make a great sound when you hit it just right. If you don’t have an official Wallball, you can get going right away with a tennis ball.
You can get the official One Wall Ball from Decathlon.
How do you play Wallball and what are the rules?
The traditional game
- You can either play on a traditional court or mark your own with chalk, tape or paint.
- You basically have a rectangle on the wall and a rectangle on the floor.
- You have to slap the ball so it hits the front wall and lands in the court.
- Then your opponent has to hit it back and you keep rallying until someone wins the point.
- Every point counts
- The winner keeps serving.
- You lose a point if it bounces twice or you hit it out.
- Play up to 21.
- Play singles or doubles (or invent your own version).
Advanced rule: Blocking
- What makes Wallball different from loads of other sports? Well, you can block people!
- That’s right. If you hit the ball and don’t move after you hit it then you become a natural obstruction on the court that your opponent needs to get around.
- It’s a non-contact sport, so your opponent can’t tackle you out of the way, but may have to try their best to get the ball back between your legs or around your body.
- To block properly you must stay perfectly still!
- A top tactic is to shoot the ball at yourself so it narrowly misses you or goes between your legs - that’s a great block.
- BUT, if you move your opponent can call out “BLOCKS”, and the point has to be replayed.
- If you hit the ball into yourself you lose the point.
- In doubles you can use your partner as a block too. They can’t move after you hit it - so it’s sometimes a good tactic to aim between their legs as well!
There are some more complicated rules to learn as you get going but you can pick these up as you get going.
Our friends at UK Wallball (the National Governing Body in the UK) have put together a handy video to get going right away here.
You can also find loads more information and resources on their website.
What games are similar to Wallball?
Similar in many ways to Wallball, patball is a game a ton of us have played at school. The major difference is that in Wallball you slap the ball directly to the wall, whereas in patball you hit the ball to the ground before it hits the wall. A fun version, especially if you’re short on space!
A game that dates back to ancient European cultures, this is the name for a selection of different court sports that are played either with hand or with a racket. Played against 1-wall, 2-walls or 3-walls, in its most basic sense, Basque Pelota is played as doubles, playing against a narrow, front wall and two long sidewalls.
Exactly the same as Wallball, but you use a padel racket instead of your hands (and there’s no ‘blocking’). If you’re struggling to move around the court easily then it might be easier for you to play with a padel racket instead of your hands. You can even take on the good Wallball players - hands vs padel!
What are the well known Wallball terms?
- Killshot: The ultimate shot. Hit the ball so it hits the nick where the wall meets the floor. The ball rolls out, the crowd goes wild! High risk, high reward. Also known as a ‘roller’
- Blocks: Shout this out and raise your hand if you think your opponent has done an illegal block. I.e. moved at the last minute while trying to block you.
- On the fly: volleying the ball.
- Short-hop: the half-volley.
- Tomahawk: overhead smash killer
- Nastyyyy: a particularly impressive killshot (normally shouted out by the crowd)
- Black Magic: feigning a shot and withdrawing at the last second so the ball hits your opponent behind you - they then lose the point. You can do this if they were trying to block you out.
- Choke: when the ball is almost a killshot but hits the floor before the wall. So close! But you ose the point. The ball chokes up and doesn’t roll - that’s how you know.
- Drop shot: a gentle shot in the corner to win a point.
- Fisting: as it sounds, you can fist the ball instead of slapping it. Lots of power but rather difficult to control.
Benefits of Wallball
- Can be played anywhere for minimal cost - super accessible and inclusive.
- Great for cardio and power
- Use your right AND left hands - true ambidextrous skill
- Super fun
- Design your own court (murals are great and help to differentiate your court)
- Street to elite. Take it seriously and you might end up playing for Team GB or on the European Tour.
- Great community. The Wallball community is global and super friendly. You can get involved right away by tagging your game to @ukwallball