Switchball I How to Play!

The rules of the most thought provoking sport in the world.

Watch, act, but don’t touch any player or even the ball if someone is holding it.. #JH


  • Game or Sports events and trainings should be a shared experience of players and audience. Everyone should leave more energized and happy and feel they have been part of the experience.
  • The whole game and experience around it create a sense of community and sportive.
  • Games should bring about fun, flow, fluidity and energy, and may be complex in play, both physical and mentally.
  • Games should challenge several aspects of the player. Attitude is as important as skill, drive, capability and execution. And modern skills that help prepare for our day and age, should be ignited by the game play. We believe dealing with change, fluidity, loss, co-creativity, mindfulness and cross gender play should be included in the game, as should it stimulate cooperation, participation, leadership, mediation, self regulation, invoking enthusiasm.
  • The game should train modern world skills*). We see more and more people switch careers and collaborations between big and small organizations. Thus you may have to switch team ingame and or teams don’’t have to be the same size. Deal with it.
  • As a player or audience you lose if you get overtaken by stress or anger.
  • Players should start as individuals and end with team spirit, including all players. We are the community, lets play it.
*) We believe, contrary to capitalism and competition, that the strongest, most healthy, society is not the one with winners and losers, but the one, that develops everyone to their fullest potential. Switchball has proven beyond doubt that a game that doesn’t focus on competition, doesn’t make people play or run slower or be less innovative.
  • Game and the objectives are explained.
  • Warming up that trains the right culture and attitude and warms up the body.
  • Field is set up.
  • Team formation.
  • General Game rules explained. Voting system explained.
  • Côte is being played: goals placed to the liking of the teams, play is voted.
  • (for new players first specific game rules of the play are explained) Game begins.
A winning hero gets the votes with hands on her shoulder. And yes, men, woman en children can play it mixed!

Content of this document

  1. Game preparation
  2. Entry ritual
  3. Team setup
  4. Game objectives
  5. The Côte
  6. Play
  7. Finish
  8. Culture

1. Game preparation

*) We are still finding out the best way to do this. Feel free to experiment with this.

2. Entry Ritual

Players take pictures of the winners, heroes, buddha and winning team. Watch the mood of those that ‘lost’ towards the ones who celebrate ‘winning’ and titles. #JH

3. Team Selection

*) In our modern times, we work with differences in size all the time. Freelancers working with corporations, project teams with several organizations. This game accepts and invites that reality in the sport. Small teams can win, by favour, by smarts, through their actions.

4. Game objectives

5. The Côte

A team votes their preferred play at the end of the Côte. In this case handball.

6. Play

*) Motivations may vary, from being allied, to political flirting or, making up for something or pure admiration.
*) With advanced players, you can even allow the team that was scored against to change one rule that increases play pleasure for everyone. This makes it more an experimental game. Often invented rules will be withdrawn by other teams. And that is okay.

General Playing Rules

  • People of all genders and ages may play at the same time (though a minimum of 7, preferably 9 keeps the feeling of sport alive). This demands high respect towards all players. All physical contact is forbidden, except during celebrating*. Small accidents will happen, but too heavy touching, slamming into another player (even when it was just because of speed!) is a foul. Players have the responsibility to take care of each other. Saying sorry for accidents is also a desired custom.
*) Hugs may only be initiated by women towards men or children towards adults. Not the other way around! Buddhas pay extra attention towards fair play, respect between sexes and ages!
  • There is no referee. Players have to work it out among themselves. With beginners a referee might be a good idea, though he or she, should also guard the nature of the game and not just the rules.
*) The players may also choose one or more Buddhas, to keep an extra eye on the game and who can intermediate in times of indecision, or arguments. His or hers decisions should be respected. He or she should always seek to stay above partiality towards his or her own team. If no Buddha’s are pre-selected, everyone is in the running to become one! :)
  • The game starts with someone kicking the ball very high, generally towards the teams with the least points.
  • The one who touches a ball, or frisbee, first, owns it. You may never strike, push, grab the ball out of a players hand, even when he or she touches it with one finger.
  • The ball or frisbee can only be played through the air, and never be passed on by hand.
  • One cannot walk with the ball, or frisbee. One step to stop when running is allowed, but not a considered extra one.
  • When a ball goes out, or a foul has been made, the ball can only be brought into play by another team than the one that made the foul, at the least seven paces away from a goal. Players of other teams have to stay at the least four paces away. Mostly the one taking a free ball, or throwing it back into the game (football style) will be the first to get the ball, unless a foul was made against a specific player, then he or she plays the ball. With all free balls cannot be scored directly.
  • Rough fouls may lead to a penalty thrown from seven paces and the player committing the sin, leaves the game for the rest of the round, unless the player it was committed against forgives him or her sooner. Physical struggling over a ball means you’re out of the field until forgiven or a next round.
  • Game time is put on hold during the Côte, time outs and after any goal until the ball is brought into play again. Extra Côtes may take place when new players enter or leave an informal game.
  • When two teams want a time out, by making the time out gesture over their head, this is given for three minutes. After that only a new sport is voted, but no Côte takes place.

Special rules for different styles of play

  • Frisbee: No extra rules for the frisbee. Voting the frisbee play, is waving a flat hand horizontally above the head.
  • Handball with a Rugby ball: No extra rules, except that a kick out of the hand is allowed. Avoid kicking towards players close by, this might be considered dangerous play. Kicking a ball on the ground is strictly forbidden. To vote for this play, hold the hand as it throwing a rugby ball and wave it high next to the body.
  • Dodge Ball: You only may play the ball, when you are at a full standstill. You can only throw people out lower than the head. To avoid being thrown out one may either catch the ball or defend with the bare palms of the hand. If you’re out you stand outside the field, until you get hold of an out ball first or catch a ball thrown at you. Scoring is the normal way. To vote for Dodge Ball, hit one open palm, with a fist above your head.

(Use the following 2 Specials, only after a few matches)

  • Hockey*: One is allowed to stop the ball by foot, but kicking is forbidden. The stick may never be played higher than the hip. To vote for Hockey hold your hands above the head, with a 90° angle inward.
*) Make sure you use a softer ball than a real hockey ball in this game. Possibly even less bouncy than a tennis ball, so the distances you can play it are a bit smaller.
  • All Ball: (Only play this with men or women only, of just about same age and size, for otherwise it will be too unfair or accident prone for the smaller lighter people!) At All Ball the ball may be played by hand and foot. One may not walk with the ball in hand. Picking up the ball by hand is a foul, even when no one is near (for safety reasons, bending with the head towards someone kicking is both stupid and dangerous). You kick the ball up however so you can catch it yourself. Free balls can both be kicked as thrown.
  • The Bear. In the 3rd round the team with the least points can ask for the Bear. This is a special glove. The player wearing this glove gets double points if they score. If a team however score against the team with the Bear, they obtain the Bear. In the 4th round it goes once again to the team with the least points.
  • Audience vote. If there is an audience, they may change the play as well, by signalling en masse what type of play they’d love to see. If there is a clear majority, the play on the field has to change accordingly.
Playing with improvised goals works just as well. Though pyramids are the real thing!

7. Finish

A Buddha of the game poses for the camera.

8. Culture

  • After every score, or brilliant safe, everyone applauds, including the ones who ‘suffered’ from the action. Thus beauty of play is celebrated regardless of personal interests.
  • Also all players celebrate the match winners, as they would be their fans. Carrying the Heroes and Buddha’s on the shoulders of all others players is totally fine (with respect to sex and age differences and local culture). When there is music near the field, play a dance song for all players at the end.
  • When there is a score, it is a player of the team who has been scored against, that hands over the trophy in a almost ritual way to the opponent. Often a little bow is added for courtesy. The play only starts again when this ribbon is placed in the goal of the receiver of the ribbon, which might not even be the scoring team.
  • During the game you can make signs of respect to other players. Does someone make a Hero action you touch your heart with your forefinger and middle finger and then point to your Hero of the moment with them. Does someone make a Buddha action, you spread both arms and make the famous Buddhistic mudra in his or her direction.
  • At the end of trainings or games, or even during the Côtes, players can compliment each other and share what they like about each others contribution. Only the coach can sometimes be a bit critical or discuss negative effects players are having.
The handing over of a trophy to the team that scored. Often a little bow is added for courtesy.

Switchball Dictionary:



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Floris Koot

Play Engineer. Social Inventor. Gentle Revolutionary. I always seek new possibilities and increase of love, wisdom and play in the world.