The best way to describe wallyball is to say it's volleyball played on
a racquetball court. The game is similar to volleyball in a lot of ways, but
enclosing the playing surface adds a new dimension. The side walls and ceiling
come into play.
Players can bank their shots off the side walls, adding new angles, twists
and spins to their game.
Games are played until one team reaches the predetermined score, usually
15, 18 or 21 points. The winning team must win by at least two points. Only
the serving team can register a point. If the serving team loses a rally,
the serve then shifts to the opposing team, giving that team an opportunity
to score points.
The rules are quite similar to volleyball. But because the walls and ceiling
can come into play, there are a few differences. The basic rules state that
out-of-bounds is when a ball -- while crossing the net -- hits the ceiling
and back wall of the opponent's side or two walls consecutively on the serve,
volley or block.
The ceiling and back wall on your own side are in bounds if your own player
touches it. Players are not allowed to climb the walls or be assisted by a
teammate to gain height at the net.
Because the size of the wallyball court is smaller than a regulation volleyball
court, the number of players on each team is also smaller than the usual six-player
volleyball teams. There are leagues and tournaments for two-, three- and four-player
teams. There can be men's, women's and co-ed teams.
The sport of wallyball dates back just over 20 years. It was created in
the summer of 1979 in California, to respond to the declining popularity of
racquetball. With fewer people playing racquetball, wallyball gave racquetball
club owners an alternate use for their empty courts.
The man credited with creating the game is Joe Garcia. He is commonly referred
to as Mr. Wallyball around wallyball circles. After several years of promoting
the sport around the U.S., Garcia sold the rights to the sport to former Olympic
men's volleyball player Mike O'Hara in the 1980s.
O'Hara formed Wallyball International Inc. (WII), in an effort to sanction
leagues and tournaments in the U.S. Eventually, several members of the WII
broke away and formed the American Wallyball Association (AWA). It was meant
to act as a clearinghouse for information and equipment. Both the AWA and
WII still exist today.
The future of wallyball looks very bright in the U.S., according to Rudy
Morel of the AWA. Morel estimates there are currently a million people playing
in organized wallyball leagues in the U.S.
Morel says that number has increased dramatically since the sport was introduced
at the college and university level. Morel sees the popularity increasing
even more in the years ahead, once the game moves to grade schools and community
Wally Choo is involved with a wallyball association. He says the number
of players in his area is growing steadily.
In the U.S., the sport is played in virtually every state, but is most
popular in California, parts of the Midwest and in the East.
Morel adds that there are some teenage players involved in the sport. But
most players he knows are between 20 and 50. Choo adds that most players he
is familiar with are over the age of 25.
Aside from a pair of athletic shoes, Choo says there is very little equipment
a beginning player will need to purchase. "Just knee pads to save their knees,"
he says. "Nets and balls are normally supplied by the club or facility they
are playing at."
There are no specific physical requirements needed to play the game. That's
one reason it is so popular as a social pastime.
"There are no physical requirements, but speed and agility sure help,"
Choo says. "It is mostly a social sport, but it certainly does get competitive.
Players range from recreational to intermediate to advanced."
Choo notes there are two ways to learn the rules for wallyball. He recommends
formal lessons, but he adds that most players learn from other players.
"Yes, I'd recommend an instructional course, but in most cases beginning
players just come out and try it first hand with a friend that plays," says
There are very few paid positions available for someone looking for work
strictly in the sport of wallyball. Choo notes that volunteers organize most
leagues and tournaments. Employment in a racquetball club that also caters
to wallyball players is one possibility.
American Wallyball Association
1041 North Main St., Ste. 227
Minnesota Wallyball Association
The Official Book of Wallyball,
Although this book is currently out of print you may be able
to locate a copy at a used bookstore.
Joe Garcia and Murray Dubin
American Wallyball Hot Links
Check out this list of resources
Le Mesa Racquetball and Wallyball
Claims to be the home of the world's largest wallyball league
Get to know the rules of the game