Patterns of Innovation: Tchoukball

Brendan Tan

A ball sport with no aggression and reduced risk of sport-related injuries? Tchoukball provides all of the above, but still guarantees a whole world of fun.

What is Tchoukball? Tchoukball (pronounced ‘chookball’) is a sport developed by Dr Hermann Brandt, a Swiss biologist, in 1975. He wanted to create a sport that would reduce sport-related injuries and aggression between players on the court. Putting together elements of handball, volleyball and squash, Dr Hermann Brandt created Tchoukball.

Scoring in Tchoukball is simple. Two trampoline-like “rebound frames” are placed at both ends of the court within a semicircle with a 3m radius called the “forbidden zone”. To score a point, the scorer has to take a shot from outside the 3m region and rebound it off the frames. Points can only be scored if the rebounds land outside of the forbidden zone. However, unlike most sports, points can be scored at both ends of the court. Further, only three consecutive shots at a frame are allowed before players have to score at the separate end.

Teams consist of 12 players, but only 7 players on a team are allowed on the court at once. Because Tchoukball is based more off teamwork and less on physical traits of the players, most teams comprise of players of all ages. In Tchoukball, there is no interfering with passes or movements and players of opposing teams are not allowed to block any of the shots. With simplified mechanics of gameplay, Tchoukball is touted as one of the easier sports to pick up, and national coach and physiotherapist of the Tchoukball Association of Singapore states that only 15 minutes are needed to learn and play the sport competently.

Tchoukball is a unique blend of handball (playing with hands and similar boundaries around the scoring area), volleyball (preventing the opponents’ shots from touching the ground) and squash (rebounding element in the game). This fabulous example of combinatorial innovation puts together elements of different established sports to create a sport with reduced injuries.

Similarly, as we go about our daily business, there are times where problems arise that traditional problem solving and optimisation cannot solve. By bringing different elements together in new ways, or even sitting down for a chat with someone outside of our daily circles of interaction, ideas may be sparked through the combination and reinvention of our preexisting ideas.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s feature on combinatorial innovation in sport!

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