Samba volleyball with a trampoline

Okay, here’s a hybrid sport for you: combine volleyball, football, and gymnastics. And (why not) throw in a trampoline and make the referee double as the DJ.

Bossaball Master / CC BY-SA

Hybrid sports have appeared on this blog before: chess boxing, of course, and paragliding crossed with hawking. Those two are impressive for the incongruity of their source sports, but they’re still only crossing two of them. In 2005, Filip Eyckmans created a hybrid out of pretty much every fun sport he could think of: Bossaball.

The court looks like a giant inflatable bouncy castle (without the roof, of course). In the middle, a volleyball net. Two teams of four try and get the ball over the net, scoring points when the other team fails to return it. So far, so good. You can use standard volleyball moves (serve, pass, set, and spike) but you can also use football-like moves: headbutts, kicks, and double-moves like blocking it with your chest and then kicking it. In fact, in Bossaball it’s compulsory to use at least one football move. Just, I suppose, for the sake of showiness and drama. If your last move is a football move, you get more points if your opponents fail to return it.

(Side-note: apparently there’s nothing in the rules of volleyball to prevent you from kicking or headbutting the ball – it’s just a really bad idea because it’s too easy to lose control.)

Anyway, you’re allowed to push the ball around on your own side of the net up to five times before it goes over. Most commonly, the last move goes to the player on the trampoline.

Oh wait, did I not mention the trampoline?

On each side of the court there is a trampoline. One player is allowed on it at a time, and they can get enough height to do some pretty impressive spikes. The trampoline is also a target: if you hit your opponent’s trampoline, you get bonus points.

If all of this doesn’t feel carnival-like enough, the whole game is played to some pretty intense high-tempo music. The main referee doubles as the DJ; he or she is also equipped with a whistle, a microphone, and bossa nova / samba instruments (like a surdo and a clave).

This is a new sport – fifteen years old – and it would be easy to be cynical about such a mishmash of gimmicks. But, honestly, everyone playing it has such joie de vivre that it’s difficult not to get into the spirit.

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