Health Benefits of Wallyball

Jake Newby

| 4 min read

If you find yourself racking your brain for fun indoor activities this winter, consider wallyball!
A relatively unknown game compared to other sports, wallyball is played at most colleges. Fun fact time: it’s a sport adored by former President George Bush while he was in office. Wallyball is a close cousin volleyball, with the major difference being it is legal to hit the ball off the walls of the indoor racquetball court you play on. One of its nicknames is “rebound volleyball.”
It’s fun, it’s fast-paced, and if you’re someone who likes to stay active in the winter but find the gym routine a little mundane, it can be the source of an extremely good workout. 

How do you play wallyball?

Wallyball can be played with as little as two people (one versus one) or as many as eight (four versus four). Standard-sized racquetball courts are 40 inches long, 20 feet wide and 20 feet high, and include a dividing line at center court. You only need court space and a ball to play, no other equipment is necessary.
Wallyball and volleyball share many rules and techniques, but in volleyball, you score on every point, whereas in wallyball you only score when serving. Wallyball uses a modified form of rally scoring called “speed scoring.” Points are scored on every service until one team reaches the “freeze point,” which occurs when the trailing team has three fewer points than they need to win the game. When the game hits the freeze point, a point is awarded on the next side-out and to score further points, each team must serve.
This is a method of scoring that can take some getting used to if you’ve never played wallyball or volleyball. But most players should get the hang of it quickly. A match is won when one team reaches the required number of points, which are usually 15, 18 or 21. Teams must win by two points. Read the complete set of rules by clicking here

What are the health benefits of wallyball?

Wallyball is relatively low impact on the knees and joints, so it’s a game most adults can play without fear of injury. Here are some of the health benefits:
Burns calories and fat: Harvard Medical School reports that people between 125 and 188 pounds can burn anywhere from 240 to 336 calories in a game of beach volleyball. This isn’t an exact equation for wallyball, but since wallyball matches also typically last 30 minutes, you can expect your calories-burned total to be in that neighborhood while playing. The speed of wallyball game is comparable to that of an indoor soccer game, depending on the level of competition. That leads to a whole lot of cardiovascular activity.
Improves hand-eye coordination: Just like in volleyball, you have to follow the ball with your eyes and strike at the exact right time for an optimal serve. And on defense, you have to react not only to where the ball is going, but how it might bounce off the walls. 
Builds agility, balance, and speed: The sometimes-chaotic nature of the off-the-wall misdirection in wallyball means players have to change their pace, direction and positioning constantly. This requires you to be flexible, well-balanced, and quick on your feet. If you want to win, anyway!
Builds muscular strength: Both upper and lower body strength are built by playing wallyball. Your chest and core need to be strong, and a lot of squatting is needed while passing. You use your arms, hands and legs constantly to set, generate power and return serve. It really is a full-body workout.
Can improve interpersonal skills: Most wallyball settings involve full teams, so you have to cooperate with your teammates effectively to win. Sports in general have a way of building connections and networks with others through camaraderie and shared experiences. Wallyball is no different.
Enhances mood, builds confidence and reduces stress: Sports are known to help manage stress. Exercise is an endorphin-releasing activity through which the chemicals in your brain relieve pain and stress while engaged in it. Studies show that 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day can make people feel calmer. This calmness continues several hours after exercise. Not to mention the encouragement and bonding that can come from a shared goal of winning.
Call your local recreational center or health club to see if they have a wallyball court. Most do, and you can pay to rent them out for varying amounts of time.
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Photo credit: Getty Images

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