Jai Alai

Equipment

Cesta Helmet Pelota

Rules

Jai alai is played on a three-walled court, consisting of a front wall, back wall and left wall. The court is divided by 14 parallel lines going horizontally across the court. In doubles play, which is most common, one player is responsible for the frontcourt, and one for the backcourt. Play begins with the frontcourt player serving the ball to the opposing team. All serves must cause the pelota to bounce between the 4th and 7th line on the court. Teams volley by catching the pelota with the cesta and throwing it in a fluid motion. The ball must be caught in the air or after bouncing no more than once. A team scores a point if the opponent serves improperly, fails to catch the pelota or juggles the ball. Games are played in round robin format between eight teams, with the winner of each point staying on the court to meet the next team. Losers go to the end of the line. The first team to score 7 points is the winner.

Description

ai Alai is a team sport similar to handball where players volley a small ball around a three-walled court, using a large hand-held basket. Is jai alai the world's fastest game? According to its Basque inventors, yes. Yes it is. Played with a large basket and a small leather ball, jai-alai is a round robin doubles tournament popular in Spain and certain areas of the United States. Points are scored when teams fail to return the pelota or hit it out of bounds. Scoring points keeps teams on the court, while a failure to do so bring up the next team. The first team to score 7 points is considered the winner.

History

Jai alai was first played in the Basque Country (located in present-day northern Spain) in the 17th century. It evolved from handball games played throughout Europe. Rubber from South America and Africa changed the composition of the pelota, making it tougher and livelier. This caused the speed of jai alai to increase dramatically. The game was introduced to the United States in 1926. Today jai alai is played throughout Spain and in select areas of the United States, like Florida, Connecticut and Rhode Island.