Bossaball: facts about this spectacular variation on volleyball

There are a lot of variations on volleyball. We have beach volleyball, pool volleyball, snow volleyball, and indoor volleyball but what is bossaball? Bossaball can be described as volleyball with a bouncy court. There is a trampoline in the middle of the court and a bouncy area around this. It is therefore a mix of gymnastics and volleyball. This allows players to jump higher and create insane blocks and spikes. Let’s dive further into this fun sport. 

What are the rules of bossaball?

It is played with three players on the court and one player on the trampoline per team. This results in 8 players in total on the court. A maximum of five touches are allowed to get the ball over the net. One player can touch the ball twice if you use your head or feet. This is clearly different from volleyball. This offers more flexibility and can make attacks more unpredictable than in indoor volleyball and can lead to unique combinations.

What is unique about this type of volleyball is that we see a mix of male and female players in the same team. This is not common in volleyball as the height of the net differs for men and women. Given that players jump in bossaball, this factor is less important and teams can be mixed.   

There are 2 ways to score: a kick and a volleyball spike. If you use a volleyball spike, 1 point is scored when the ball is dropped in the playing area of the other team and 3 points when you score a point in the trampoline of the other team. If you kick the ball, 3 points are awarded for landing the ball in the player’s area and 5 points for dropping the ball in the trampoline of the other team. Players are encouraged to use special moves and tricks to make the sport more entertaining. For example, backflips can create very cool serves. 

You have to see it in action to believe it:

 Similar to indoor volleyball, you can use the standard volleyball touches or use any part of your body. Teams rotate clockwise and every player is able to get their chance on the trampoline. There is also no time limit and the first team that scores 25 points wins the game. There are also 3 or 5 sets per game. Players dig and block the ball in defense. In offense, at least one kick is needed if more than 2 touches are executed. Jumping is very intense and requires a lot of energy. 

The fun factor is a big element of the sport and music is played to encourage players. This attracts a lot of people. The main challenge is finding a court as you need an inflatable terrain with trampolines. Given that bossaball is quite new, it is possible that the rules will change in the coming years. 

Bossaball court and ball

The court in bossaball is inflatable (similar to a bouncing castle) and this makes it very soft to land on and makes it easy to jump around. Air pumps need to be active the whole time to keep the court inflated. This is the main expense of setting up a court. The big advantage of this type of court is that you can set it up in under an hour and can remove it very fast as well. This makes it a great option for music festivals and other events. A court should last several years so it can be quite affordable given the long lifetime. It is mainly installed on grass as this is better for the fabric that the court is made out of.

The court has 4 main areas: The trampoline area, the playing area, the bossaball (between the trampoline and the playing area), and the safety zone. The safety zone gives players the chance to slow down when they are doing backflips or other spectacular moves. It also makes sure that no one is standing close to the court.  The height of the net can be adjusted on the level of the players and this makes the sport accessible to many. In many instances, the net is around 9.8 ft high.

The court can be of any size but are usually around 150 ft in length and 90 ft in width. 

In most instances, outdoor volleyball is used to play bossaball. This ball is typically waterproof and is able to handle hot weather. If the FIVB keeps working on this sport, the balls of Mikasa will probably become the official balls as FIVB and Mikasa are working together. 

The referee is standing under the net and makes sure that the teams follow the rules. The role of this person is quite similar to indoor volleyball. 

Required equipment to play bossaball  

The great thing about bossaball is that players don’t need a lot of equipment. Often underwear, a shirt and a short are enough. Some players just wear a short as the sport is played outside and it can be quite intense. In some instances, players are wearing socks and sunglasses. Other than this, players don’t need to have anything. Knee pads are not needed as players make a soft landing. Shoes are also not required given that the underground provides enough traction. It is important that players don’t wear anything with sharp edges as this could damage the court. Some players wear a bandana or an arm sleeve as this is a cool fashion accessory and it can drain the sweat from the player. The court can get slippery if there is water on it so therefore players want to avoid this.

Some players also wear sports glasses to see the action at all times. Players with long hair may use hair clips so that they can control their hair while jumping around. This could distract the players. 

Players of national teams wear country colors on their shirts during official tournaments. For example, players from the USA is using blue and white in their uniform. Everyone on the team has to wear the same colors so that it is clear who belongs to what team. 

The fact that you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started makes the sport very accessible. For example, it has been played during music festivals and people could just start playing without any preparation. This gives people a chance to give the sport a try and see if it is something for them or not. The terrain is a big expense as you need to have air pumps working but sponsors can cover these costs and keep it affordable. 

Bossaball history

Bossaball is actually quite new. It has been invented more than a decade ago by Filip Eyckmans. During a trip to Brazil, he noticed how popular volleyball was and was intrigued by the beach volleyball scene. He liked the joy of life and music that surrounded these matches. He eventually combined this with his love for trampolines to create bossaball. Music is an essential part of bossaball as it provides more fun and a specific atmosphere. Bossa means ‘attitude’ in Portuguese and it refers to the positive vibes that surround this sport. 

The International Volleyball Organization (FIVB) is taking a look at this variation of volleyball and has invited the inventors to demonstrate the sport during Copacabana. They could create an official competition around this sport in the coming years given the popularity of the sport. 

The future of the sport is still unclear as a lot of people are taking a look at the sport and it will be exciting to see if there will be competitions popping up across the world. At the moment it is mainly played outside but it could be played indoors as well so the sport can have a big future ahead of it. 

The sport has been applied in a lot of countries to build up communities and to keep people engaged. This social mission of the sport has been supported by the inventor and it adds to the fun and positive vibe that surround bossaball. Over the years a number of copycats have emerged that try to emulate some of the elements of this sport. 

Since 2005 five international bossaball championships have been organized. This includes indoor editions as well. 

To conclude, we can say that bossabal is a fun twist on volleyball, gymnastics, and soccer. Given that it involves music and a lot of positive vibes, it attracts a lot of players and could grow out to be a big sport that is played worldwide. Given that the sport is still quite new, it is possible that it will still evolve in the coming years.