How Spikeball Works

A cross between volleyball and four square, spikeball is popping up on college campuses and in recreational leagues all over the U.S. See more sports pictures.
Spikeball, Inc.

This is not your grandmother's lawn game. From what I can tell, it's not even your out-of-shape cousin's lawn game. And actually it doesn't require a lawn.

The endorphin rush that is Spikeball is tough to classify, but its creators call it a cross between volleyball and four square. Basically, shrink a volleyball net, make it a circle, flip it on its side, and use it as the base for the most vigorous, two-on-two four-square game of your life.

It all looks a little awkward at first glance, what with that low-lying, hula-hoop-sized net at the center of an otherwise airborne game, but since its relaunch in 2009, Spikeball has become full-on rage [source: Ruder]. The game was on store shelves briefly in the early '90s, which is when Spikeball president and co-founder Chris Ruder started playing it. Over the years, observers asked Ruder and his friends so often what they were playing and where it was sold, they decided to put it back out there [source: Nagurski].

Now, Spikeball nets dot campus quads, parks and beaches all over the United States and beyond. In fact, the company briefly ran out of inventory in July 2013. Chris attributes the current success to the power of the Internet. Plus, he says, players average 28 new friends per five minutes of play and an attractiveness increase of 48 percent during the game.

Chris is a kidder.

But he has a point. By all accounts, Spikeball is a remarkably welcoming sport. When I contacted Tommy Adesso at the Spikeball Denver league for a quote, he invited me to play with them at the park the next day. And as far as attractiveness goes, I wouldn't be surprised if at least a few of the hard bodies leaping and spiking got that way by playing Spikeball. Leisure game this is not.

But it does share some traits with leisure games like ladder ball and bean bag toss. It's portable. You don't need a ton of space. Setup is easy. Trash talk is required. It works on pretty much any surface. And it'd be rare to find a Spikeball net without a 12-pack of beer close by. Though in Spikeball, you probably won't be holding one while you play.