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Last updated: April 5, 2021
Spikeball is a fun sport that involves four people divided into two teams. It’s a relatively easy game to set up in the backyard or in the park, and is a great way to be active and social.
You will find that the rules of the game are quick to learn and follow, but to get good at this game, you do need to develop technical and tactical skills.
In this article I am going to walk you through everything you need to learn how to play spikeball, including rules, scoring and equipment.
What Is Spikeball?
The game spikeball is originally known as roundnet, a net sport that is inspired by volleyball concepts. The original game was invented in the late 1980’s, and was revived by a sports company called Spikeball. And so, roundnet became widely known as spikeball.
That makes spikeball essentially a branded and trademarked name, which is why you will also find other names for this game, such as spike game, volleyball spike game, slammo, and, of course, roundnet. These names are used by other sellers and manufacturers who can’t use the name spikeball.
In a nutshell, spikeball is a game set up with two teams of two players, with each opposing team taking a side across from each other. A circular net on legs is situated in the center dividing the two sides. A ball is served from one team to the other using the net, and players can move anywhere once the game begins.
The game’s goal is to hit the ball using the net so that the opposite team cannot reach or return it. A team player can touch or tap the ball up to three times in an attempt to return it to the other side. The game continues until one team is unsuccessful in returning the ball, and the other team wins.
Why Do I Like This Game So Much?
While the rules of spikeball are quite easy to learn, you do need technical skills to become really good at this game. It’s more than just a game, it’s basically a sport.
And once you have a few people in your circle excited about spikeball, the game just gets more intense over time as everyone develops their skills.
Spikeball Rules for Dummies
Before I dive deeper into the rules of spikeball, let’s first discuss the necessary equipment to set up your outdoor space.
Equipment and Setup
Any patch of grass, or sand, or flat outdoor surface can work. It’s essential to set up the playing area where there is extra room to run and dart back and forth without any trees or furniture nearby.
A spikeball game set is portable, and you can easily set it up in a public park or open space near a barbecue or picnic if you don’t have a big enough backyard.
Spikeball requires just a couple of core items to set up:
- A circular horizontal net (on legs)
- A ball
The net is placed in the middle of the playing area. The tension of the net should be consistently tight, though not too much.
You can purchase spikeball sets online with adjustable nets and multiple balls to use. Most nets include foldable legs, making them easy to transport and store when they’re not in use.
Which team begins first? Each side can either toss a coin or play rock, paper, scissors to decide who begins. Whatever works, basically.
Each team takes a position, equally spaced from one another, with two players on one team facing the opposing players on the other side. Each player must stand at least six feet from the net before the ball is served.
Once the initial set up is ready, the following rules are in effect:
- While each player must remain six feet from the net before the ball is served, they can move once the game has begun.
- When the ball leaves the player’s hands, everyone participating in the game can change their position to anywhere they want.
- The player who catches the ball can stand at any distance from the net or within the playing field.
- Once the ball hits the net, it becomes the possession of the opposing team.
- Each team has a maximum of three ball hits during the possession period. Not all three hits are required, and once the ball bounces from the net, it becomes the opposite team’s possession.
Rules may vary slightly in tournaments, though the above are pretty standard for all spikeball games and generally followed with little to no changes.
Players continue each game until one team reaches 21 points and is declared the winner. After one team scores 11 points, the team players switch sides. Changing sides is a good way to keep the playing field fair, especially if sunlight is a factor.
The winning team must win by at least two points, although this can be different in specific tournaments.
You can score points in the following manner (one point each):
- When the ball hits the ground, the opposite team scores the point.
- The ball hits the net’s edge, including the rim or the clips; you award a point to the other team.
- When the ball isn’t returned onto the net after max three hits, which is the most allowed during one possession.
- The ball bounces more than once on the net; the other team wins a point.
- Illegal serves result in a penalty, which means the other team gets a point.
How can a team lose a point or cause an infraction? Some key moves can penalize a player, and their team’s points, if they do any of the following:
- Players on the defense must make every effort to stay out of the opposing team’s way. This rule is always in effect, even where players can travel 360 degrees around the net while the game is in session. A team member who purposely blocks an opposite player can be called out. The other team can call “hinder” and have a right to a replay.
- Any player on the defensive side that attempts to play the ball when it’s not their turn loses a point for their team.
- When the ball hits a player from the same team, they lose a point after their mate serves the ball. This also applies if a player is hit with the ball after serving or aiming at the net.
- Any tampering or moving of the net to change the ball’s angle or trajectory, even unintentionally, results in the loss of a point.
Assigning a referee, even for a casual game, is always a good idea to ensure teams are following all the rules and the play is fair. If there are more willing participants than players, you may decide to rotate with several extra players and one or two referees.
Unless you’re playing in a tournament, you can take as many breaks as you like and switch players if more people are available.
The terminology for spikeball is simple and easy to understand, but you may come across different terms depending on where you play.
During play, you may hear the terms “bump, set, spike”, which refers to the three hits allotted for each side during a “possession”. Possession refers to the period from when the ball bounces off the net after the opposing team’s serve or hit.
Spikeball is a friendly sport, but as you can imagine, it can be pretty competitive. Mutual respect between players and opposing teams is not only a requirement, but it makes for a better, more enjoyable game.
Since this game is played in a relatively small area with lots of running, jumping and other sudden movements, there is a high risk of collision. Each player must keep their distance from their opponents and not attempt to block or inhibit their play.
Accidents can happen of course, but fair play goes a long way and keeps the game more enjoyable. When the opposing team claims a hinder, don’t try to challenge it when in doubt.
Check out this video with a quick breakdown of the basics of spikeball:
Spikeball Sets to Buy
Keen to buy a brand new spikeball set so you can start practicing this great game at home in your own backyard?
You can either buy a genuine spikeball set, or an alternative roundnet or slammo game set on Amazon. Let’s walk through these options in a bit more detail.
1. Spikeball Pro Kit
The Spikeball Pro Kit is the gold standard game set, suitable for tournament players who play at the highest level.
The set includes a net with sturdier legs and rims, two spikeball pro balls for extra spin and control, a portable pump and gauge, and a durable lightweight backpack.
- FOUR PLAYER ACTION – Spikeball is a fun, active, and competitive (if you want...
- 33% STRONGER RIMS AND LEGS - Less likely to break from an errant fall or dive....
- BETTER BALLS - Added texture on the Pro Balls enable more spin and control on...
2. Spikeball Original Kit
If you’re starting out with spikeball and have the intention to slowly increase your skills as you play more, rather than going for a pro set, you might want to choose the original kit.
The size of the net and the height of the legs are the same as with the pro set, but it comes with three original balls, a rule book, and a drawstring bag.
- FOUR PLAYER ACTION – Spikeball is a fun, active, and competitive (if you want...
- PLAY ANYWHERE - Spikeball is perfect for the backyard, the beach, or even your...
- FOLDABLE LEGS make the product tougher. Errant dives and falls happen, these...
3. Spikeball Rookie Kit
The spikeball rookie kit, as the name suggests, is perfect for those looking to learn how to play spikeball with a much easier setup.
The main difference between the rookie set and the two sets above, is that the rookie set includes a net that is 50% bigger, making it easier to keep the rallies going for longer. This set is also more suitable if you have children playing with you.
- GREAT GAME FOR ALL AGES - Spikeball is a fun and active 2 on 2 outdoor indoor...
- DESIGNED WITH NEW PLAYERS IN MIND - Larger equipment and modified rules make it...
- 50% BIGGER BALL with added texture is easier to control, pass and spike.
4. GoSports Slammo Game Set
An excellent alternative to the official spikeball sets is this GoSports slammo game set which is in essence very similar to the spikeball original kit you can see above.
The setup is the same, with a net with five legs, three balls, and a carrying bag. If it was up to me though, I would go for a real spikeball set, but if your budget is a bit lower, this GoSports variant is a good alternative.
- SLAMMO: An exciting outdoor lawn game for kids and adults. Set includes 1 slammo...
- WHAT IS SLAMMO: Slammo is an action packed 2 on 2 volleyball style outdoor game;...
- ACTIVE FUN: Slammo is an engaging game that works great for just having fun and...
Check out this video with a quick breakdown of how to set up a spikeball set:
Whether you are just learning how to play spikeball, or you’re a seasoned player, it’s a great game to get yourself active and social.
Beginner players will find that the first few rounds require a bit of energy and skill to get to understand the game. Like any sport, it takes every player a bit of time to get accustomed to the game’s techniques and tactics.
Stick with it and you will get better. And once you’re at a certain level, that is when spikeball becomes such an addictive and fun game to play in the backyard.
If you’d like to learn more about this sport, or even participate in tournaments, check out the Spikeball Roundnet Association website.