Switchball: the sport of sports

"the sport of sports"

My neverending search for new sports that embrace new ways to play, or at least ways to play that are more focused on fun than on winning, has just led me to a game called Switchball, the brainchild of Floris Koot and Jan-Paul De Beer.

It is what you might call “a sport of sports.” Not the sport of sports, but rather a sport in which several sports get played. I was fortunate to stumble across Dr. De Beer’s excellent description, from which I liberally quote:

The game is played in 3 rounds of 20 minutes. The players themselves will determine the number of teams. It is possible to play with a minimum of 3 teams and up to 7 teams at the same time. To determine the teams the players will have to run one lap around the pitch. The Switchball pitch is a circle. The sequence of arrival decides who can choose a goal first. Players can form an own team or join another team. Teams are allowed to reject people. In our case 4 teams were created. 2 teams of 4, one of 3 and one of 2 persons.

After the team creation a special phase starts: The Cote, named after the godfather of the game Floris Koot :). Every round starts with the Cote phase. During the Cote phase the teams first have to decide where they want to place their goal on the pitch. It’s allowed to place it anywhere on the field as long as there is at least 2 meters distance between the goal and the the outer line of the pitch. You can score from both sides of the goal. Where you place the goal will influence the gameplay.

I elaborate just a tad: You don’t know what what you’re going to be playing. You do know that there will be as many goals and balls as there are teams. So if there are five teams, there’ll be 5 goals. Is it better for you to place your goal closer to one team than another? Is it? Dr. Koot notes: “we prefer to play on a round field (not always possible) so that it’s the postion of each goal that influences tactics and alliances. After that the teams and audience vote together which kind of game will be played.” Furthermore: “If one team is too strong in one game, at the least three teams and or the audience can change the chosen game into something else. We’ve seen very strong players become arrogant and then get beaten by all other teams. So relationships and networking is very important”.

I continue with the quoting from Dr. De Beer:

After positioning the goal each team has to choose the type of ball game they want to play. You can choose between football, handball, dodgeball and a combination of hand- and football. Each game has it’s own ball. The game with the most votes will be played during the next round of 20 minutes. The audience also got a vote in choosing the game. When the game is picked the referee starts the game by throwing the ball onto the field.

The goal of the game is to score the most points. Each team starts the game with 5 points. When teams score they get one point from the team they scored against. So If team red scores against team yellow, red will have 6 points and yellow 4. When a team is out of points the next goal against that team will result in a player loss. The losing team has to choose one player that will go to the scoring team. But if the player doesn’t want to go that particular team, other teams can offer to buy him for one point. The point will go to the team who scored. It is really important to have a team that the other players like.


Unique to this game is that it’s designed for everyone to be able to join. Men, women, athletes and non-athletic people can all play together. Furthermore the audience got a role in it aswell; during the Cote phase the audience also votes for the gametype. But that’s not all. The audience can also switch the gametype even when it’s not the Cote phase. For example when the game gets boring to watch. By implementing this, the game is more focused on giving everybody who is involved positive energy.

Including everyone who wants to play. Including even the people who just want to watch. Focusing everyone on creating and sharing positive energy. Yes, and again, yes.

link via Lori Kane

1 Comment

  1. Lily on August 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Can you imagine the play-by-play? There’d be so much going on, one might need commentators for each team. I love it. I can see alliances building. Goal placement fun. So much of the game is made up on the spot. Nobody is left “out” even when a team loses, the players just end up on other teams, and play continues.

    Love and laughter,

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