Spikeball Is Officially The New Pickleball - What To Know About The Fitness Trend

Every few years, a new sport gains recognition as the latest "trend," or at least it seems that way. One year, it was racquetball. In other years, pickleball and padel got all the buzz, and with the start of a new century came another trend: Spikeball. Some compare the sport to pickleball because of its popularity. Plus, they both involve hitting a ball and a net, but a Spikeball net is very different from a pickleball net. More on that later.

So what exactly is Spikeball (also known as roundnet), and how do you play? You've probably seen a TV commercial or other ad, or a social media video of the game at some point. Maybe you've even played it before or seen others playing it at the beach or a park. In addition to pickleball, Spikeball shares similarities with volleyball in that it involves only two pieces of equipment, a ball, and a net. Plus, as the name implies, spiking is involved.

This fitness trend has an interesting history that dates back to the late 1900s. Like many other sports, it offers variations for how to play it, and of course, it provides some noteworthy physical and mental benefits as well.

A toymaker invented Spikeball as part of his job

In the late '80s, award-winning toymaker, cartoonist, and puzzle creator Jeff Knurek came up with the idea of a game involving a round net and a ball and called it roundnet. "I knew it was going to be a hit!" he told Magazin Des Unpopulären Sports during an exclusive interview, and he was right.

He created the game as part of his job as an inventor. Typically, he pitched dozens of ideas every year, but only a few made it to the manufacturing phase. In 1989, roundnet was one of them. Although it lacked a patent, the creation started out as a success, as Knurek predicted, but sales declined after 1995. That is, until the sport got an upgrade in the new millennium (via Roundnet).

In 2003, a man named Chris Ruder played roundnet for the first time at the beach and loved it. He bought the trademark and patented it as Spikeball Inc. five years later. Within just five years, the company made $1 million in revenue over a 12-month period. The sport gained even more popularity in 2014, thanks to Dick's Sporting Goods, and in 2015 after it was featured on "Shark Tank." Eventually, the sport became known as roundnet and Spikeball since the brand name gained so much traction.

How to play and score Spikeball

The rules for Spikeball are relatively simple compared to other ball games and can be learned just by watching for a couple of minutes. You can find the official rules on the Spikeball website. To play, you need two teams. Two players per team. Play begins with a serve, which compares to volleyball in that you spike the ball with your hand toward the other team. But unlike volleyball, the ball should hit the net, not go over it.

Once the ball hits the net, play shifts to the other team. Each team can hit the ball a total of three times, but by the third attempt, it must hit the net. The ultimate goal is to prevent the other team from being able to spike the ball onto the net. Yes, even more volleyball similarities. Because there is no dividing line between teams, both teams can move around the net throughout play.

In terms of scoring, Spikeball uses rally scoring, so you don't need to serve to earn a point. Points are awarded when the ball lands on the rim instead of the net, hits the ground or rolls across the net, or fails to bounce high enough to be returned by the other team. Games can be played to 11, 15, or 21 points, but the standard rules state that you must win by at least 2 points.

Spikeball variations

Can you play Spikeball with just three players? How about one on one? If you play indoors, can the ball bounce off the floor without a penalty? All great questions. Just as with many other games, there's more than one way to play. The Spikeball website lists dozens of variations, some of which the kiddos will absolutely love and can even make you feel like a kiddo yourself.

If you and your friends are playing the game for the first time — or if you're not — you can eliminate the "three-hit max" rule or just increase the number by a few. You can also change the scoring in different ways. For example, you can deduct 2 points from the other team's score if a player hits the rim with the ball. Speaking of players, yes, you absolutely can play Spikeball with just two or three players. And if the floor/ground offers some "bounce," yes, you can let it hit the ground just once during each turn.

Now for the kiddo stuff. Some people play the T-rex arms version, in which all players must tuck their arms into their shirts. Others play the trampoline shirt version in which players "use their shirt as a ball trampoline on the second hit of a rally," as per the website. There are many other variations on the site, and there's no rule that says you can't make up your own.

Physical and mental benefits of Spikeball

One of the most obvious benefits of playing Spikeball is that it's fun. It can be a great way to enjoy your friends and family and loosen up, and you can play it indoors and outdoors. At the beach, at the park, in your backyard, in your basement, in your garage, etc. Plus, it can serve as a great opportunity to test your agility and skills, and if you lack agility, playing Spikeball regularly can help you become more nimble.

The other benefits are physical. Spikeball is a sport, and like many other sports, it's a form of cardio and can be a great workout. The constant running around the net, spiking, and ball-chasing are sure to elevate your heart rate and put you in a fat-burning zone, as Roundnet HQ explains. Also, because squatting is required, you'll engage your leg muscles as you play. And if you're an advanced player, you may even dive a few times to save the ball.

Spikeball has reigned as one of the most popular fitness trends in the world since 2014. If you haven't had the opportunity to play it yet, it's worth a try. Spikeball kits are available for purchase directly from the Spikeball website or from Amazon, Dick's Sporting Goods, and many other stores. Happy spiking!