Wall ball as played by the Texas Rangers is a variation of a game played on many playgrounds by children of all ages. It’s a relatively simple game that requires a minimum of equipment. All you need is a secluded flat wall, a level concrete or asphalt playing surface and a bouncy rubber or tennis ball. Before starting the game, players need to establish the dimensions of the court by either marking lines or using natural boundaries like bushes, cones or lines on the playing surface.
There are many variations of the game, but the basic format involves one player throwing the ball against a wall and the opponent catching it on the first bounce off the floor/playing surface and throwing it back against the wall so that it bounces back within the boundaries of the court. A point is awarded every time an opponent misses or drops the bouncing ball, catches it after it bounces more than one time, fails to throw it against the wall or throws it so that the first bounce is out of bounds.
The game is played by two opponents. Prior to starting the game, players must decide how many points are needed to win, e.g. 10, 15 or 20, and who will serve first. The game starts with both players standing behind the serving line. The server throws the ball against the wall. The receiving player allows the ball to bounce once on the ground before catching it and throwing it back against the wall. Play continues until the ball is out. That is until one player misses the ball, allows it to bounce twice, throws it so that it bounces before hitting the wall or throws it so that it lands out of bounds on the first bounce. The first player to reach the pre-determined number of points is the winner.
Another variation popular with baseball players is “3 Strikes”. The game starts the same way, but when a receiving player misses the ball, he must run and touch the wall before his opponent is able to retrieve and throw the ball against the wall. If the ball gets to the wall before he does, he gets a strike and play continues until one player gets three strikes.
Advanced players can modify the rules by adding bonus points or penalties for things like one handed catches or using the opposite/non-dominant hand to throw or catch. If the rule is broken, a player can be penalized or rewarded for making a difficult move. If for example, players decide that that can only catch and throw with the opposite/non-dominant hand, an opponent can be penalized with a strike for using his dominant hand to catch and throw.
Intensity can be increased by adding a third player and having two players compete against one in a game of cut-throat or adding a MD ball for more resistance. Younger, less skilled players can use a dodgeball and progress to a rubber or tennis ball as skill improves.
Wall ball is a simple, fun, competitive game with multiple uses. It can be used as an effective tool for improving reaction time and hand-eye coordination. It is also good for helping improve the ability to start, stop and change directions and enhance agility, coordination and body control.
Napoleon Pichardo, CSCS, RSCC is the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Texas Rangers.