Unusual Sports: Slam Ball — The sky’s the limit

If you’re a basketball lover who likes flips and heights, then this may be the sport for you! This sport is called Slam Ball. Created by Mason Gordon, a basketball enthusiast who wanted to try and create a real-life game that mirrored capabilities seen in video games, such as super high jump and dunking. People have described this sport as being a mashup of both basketball and acrobatics! It is also played as a full contact sport. 

The game space consists of a regular basketball court with four trampolines placed in front of each net (8 total). This sport was first featured on tv in 2002, and since then it has been growing in popularity! It was first introduced in an LA warehouse! 

The objective of the game is fairly similar to basketball; you are trying to score more points than the opposing team. However, this sport has been known for unofficially competing to see who can do the coolest dunks. This sport requires you to be extremely fit, as well as having good communication and teamwork skills – if both of you go up to get the ball, falling awkwardly or uncontrollably at such a great height could be dangerous and career ending… 

Something different in this game compared to basketball are the positions being played. Each team has four people on the court at a time. There’s three official positions: Stopper, Handler, and Gunner. The stopper is what it sounds like; a defensive player whose objective is to stop the opposing team from scoring. You would rarely see this player in the offensive zone, just because this sport is placed at such a fast pace that in mere seconds, the other team could transition and have the ball by your basket, so the stopper needs to be ready to defend at all times. The next position is the handler: they are seen as the midfield player, and their main contribution is to handle the ball and bring it from the defense to offense. These players also help out on the defensive end as well when their team doesn’t have the ball. The last position is called the Gunner. This position is mainly just offensive and they tend not to play any defense. Their main goal is to score as many points as possible. Since there are 4 players and only 3 positions, the 4th player can play whatever position the team wants, depending on the team’s strategy so there is some variety! 

You may find it surprising to hear that there is no safety equipment required for players to wear – though there IS special equipment made for this particular sport. The court itself is also surrounded by a wall of plexiglass, similar to hockey, possibly for both the players and crowd’s protection. 

How does scoring work? Just like in basketball, you can earn two or three point shots. You can earn two points by shooting the ball through the hoop without the opposing team touching it. You can get three points on the other hand through slam dunks or from all shots outside the three-point arc. 

How do you win? Like most sports, the team with the most points after the clock runs out wins – but what if it’s a tie? These rules are pretty similar to hockey; if it is a tie, the two teams battle in what is called a “face off” where one person from each team competes against one another to try and score (1 being a defender and the other trying to score). Each team is allowed one attempt at trying to score, per face off, there can be multiple, until a winner is declared. 

What are the rules of Slam Ball? The game is played in four quarters that last 6 minutes each with a ten minute halftime break. Each quarter starts off by a “bounce off”, which is where the ball is bounced into the air. Again, similar to basketball, there is a time limit. There is a shot clock of 15 seconds, which is the time the team who possesses the ball has to shoot. Also, if one player fouls another, they compete in a face off again. To readers who are seriously considering this sport, I advise caution; there are frequent midair collisions and full-force body checks, and without wearing any safety gear, that may become problematic. Play at your own risk!

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