Yes, there is “striking” similarity between volleyball and fistball: the object of both games is to place the ball in the opponents’ half of the field in such a way that it cannot get returned. The crucial difference in fistball: the ball is struck with either fist or arm – never with open hands – and it is allowed to bounce after each contact. The game was first mentioned in 240 A.D. by the Roman emperor Gordianus. In 1786 it was Johann Wolfgang Goethe who wrote about fistball being played between “four noblemen from Verona and four Venetians.” Today’s game has five players per side jettisoning the ball over the ribbon – at speeds much beyond the 100 km/h – and making spectacular dives to avoid that it bounces more than three times in their half.
Fistball features in The World Games 2013; check the event calendar for details about when it is scheduled.
DID YOU KNOW THAT...?
Three hits, three bounces ...
Fistball belongs to the group of games where a ball gets hit across a net, or a ribbon in this case, from one half of the field of play to the other. Like in tennis or volleyball, the aim is to place the ball in the opponents' half in such a way as not allowing them to reach it, even after a bounce. The ball is hit with fists or arms. After passing the net, the ball may be made contact with up to three times by the five players on each team, with a bounce being permissible after every contact.
The field of play, best of three ...
The men's outdoor game, which is featured in The World Games, is played on a field of 20 by 50 meters. The center line divides the field in two halves; 2 meters above the center line a 6 cm wide net or tape is strung across the field. Service lines are marked at three meters from the center line in each of the halves. The ball is made of leather, has a circumference of maximum 68 centimeters, weighs up to 380 grams, and it is inflated at 0,75 bar. The matches are generally played to a system of "best of three sets," with a set won by the team accumulating 20 points.
Perennial champions ...
In the 2005 Duisburg fistball final Austria won the first set rather convincingly, 20:11, but Brazil fought back by taking the next two 20:15 and 20:14. All of a sudden it looked as if the "Carinha" around standout player George Schuch would be able to revenge the loss in the 2001 Akita final. But no, Austria prevailed in the "best of five" match against the two-time wold champions.
Brazil returned to the final in 2009 Kaohsiung. Playing a strong Switzerland, the Brazilians turned this match again into a clash between different ways of interpreting the same ball game. One only needs to look to soccer to find a similar dividing line between a Teutonically disciplined and a more playful ball handling "do Brasil." This time the round leather bounced in favor of the playful!