Introducing Gaga Ball and My ROW80 Goals

This holiday, Santa was rather generous to my teenage sons.

At a youth group retreat early in 2013, they were introduced to a game called gaga ball. It’s also known as Israeli dodgeball and, like dodgeball, involves trying to hit another player with a ball to get them out. The game is played in an octagonal or hexagonal structure, and Santa Claus brought a “gaga ball pit” for Christmas.

Gaga Ball Pit
Playing structure, as shown and purchased from Coach Cliff’s Gaga Ball Pits

The basic rules are this:

  • All players begin with one hand on the structure’s perimeter.
  • The ball is tossed up into the middle of the pit and bounces twice before play begins.
  • Players then hit the ball with their hands, trying to aim at other players’ legs below the knee.
  • A player cannot hit the ball successively; the ball must hit a wall or another player in between hits.
  • Players are out when they are either hit by the ball below the knee or they hit the ball outside of the pit.
  • When two players are left, successive ball hits are allowed — up to three hits in a row.
  • Last player standing wins.

You can have as few as three players and as many as 25 or so. I’ve played several times, and it is F-U-N. Play alternates between slow strategy and fast-paced movement. The game is simple enough for any age to play, but engaging enough to entertain all ages as well.

Here’s the game in action (with just a few players in our back yard):

Let me first assure you that the girl hit by the ball is fine. Totally fine. She was startled, but the ball is rather soft — softer than the average one used for dodgeball. Only minutes later, she was back in the pit playing gaga ball again.

Why am I telling you all about gaga ball? Because it’s a fun game you might want to check out, and because I believe this game is going to keep catching on. Gaga ball pits are showing up at more and more campsites and playgrounds, and there is even a gaga ball center in New York City. As I said, it’s easy to explain, easy to play, appeals to many ages, and provides good exercise and entertainment.

For more information about it, here’s another video about building your own pit and the rules of play.

Now that I’ve introduced you to gaga ball (assuming you didn’t know about it before), how about I introduce my writing goals for the next 80 days? Tomorrow we begin the next round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the “writing challenge that knows you have a life” hosted by author Kait Nolan. In ROW80, writers set their own goals, then report progress once or twice a week and receive back pats or pushes, depending on what they need. If you’re a writer looking for a good challenge and a supportive community, I highly recommend ROW80.

Here are my 2014 Round 1 goals:

1. Read 12 books. My reading goal for the year is 50 books, and setting the goal at 12 books each round will just about get me there. (I continue reading between rounds as well.)

2. Complete two drafts of short stories. I have four young adult short stories written and in various stages of editing. I want to write two more, for a full collection of six to be published this year.

3. Take care of ROW80 sponsor responsibilities. I’ve been a sponsor before, but it’s been a while. I’m ready to jump back in and be a more engaged participant in this writing challenge.

4. Edit at least once through Good & Guilty, young adult mystery. I wrote this book sometime ago, but I have a real affinity for the characters and the story. I’m eager to jump into this WIP and shape it up.

That’s it. I’ve learned to make my goal list short and specific, which is the best way of keeping me focused and progressing.

So what are your goals for this round or this year? Have you ever heard of gaga ball? Ever played gaga ball?

11 thoughts on “Introducing Gaga Ball and My ROW80 Goals

  1. I have heard of Gaga Ball. The wee beasties were introduced to it at the rec center a year or so ago. Fun stuff and I must say I’m rather envious of you having the room for the pit 🙂

    Wishing you a very successful Round Julie!!

    1. Thanks, Raelyn! It is a fun game. I’ve also played, and I enjoy it for a while–until my one slightly arthritic knee reminds me I’m much older than all of those kids. 🙂

      Have a great round!

  2. I’d never heard of Gaga ball till now. Somehow I have a feeling that if I introduced this to my party of people it would quickly devolve into mild violence….much like the touch football that is really tackle minus pads.

    Good luck on your round!

    1. Funny you should say that, Kitt. There was a short period when the boys decided that the structure also made for a good wrestling arena. That lasted a short while, until they realized that wrestling hurt a lot more than gaga ball. (Ah, boys…)

      Here’s to a great year for you!

  3. I’ve never heard of it either; sounds like fun though. I wonder if it is specific to the mid west or east (I’m in Cali). It sounds like you have a pretty full year planned out, good luck and I look forward to following your progress throughout the year. I’ve decided to get involved in mindfulness this year. It’s a way of being aware of your thoughts, feelings and surroundings and how they act to affect you in life.

    1. I don’t know where the game originated in the U.S. I understand that there are tournaments and a championship in Europe somewhere, so it’s caught on there.

      Mindfulness is a great goal for 2014. Best wishes with it, Jerry!

  4. Add me to the list of people who hadn’t heard of gaga ball before this post; it sounds like a heck of a lot of fun. I really liked playing dodge ball as a kid.

  5. Gaga ball? That’s a new one to me, Julie. But I’ve already sent the post to my husband to see if he’d like to try building a pit in our back yard. It looks like something that would be just right here.

    Glad to see you’re sponsoring again, and your goal of finishing Good & Guilty…? Sounds like a plan.

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