Professional and amateur sports came to a screeching halt with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Youth and recreational sports also suspended operations in order to keep children and families safe.
As messages of “wearing a mask” and “practice social distancing” became the 2020 battle cry, people were looking for activities to pursue that kept them and those around them free of infection.
One such activity was tennis — the one sport that was naturally set up for social distancing, with players separated by a long net. With tennis participation on the rise, take a look at these other unusual racquet sports I’m sure you never knew existed.
Developed in China but made popular in Denmark, Qianball is a combination of tennis and squash. The court consists of two rectangular regions, the player zone and the ball zone, separated by a low net.
A weighted ballbag is placed in the middle of the player zone, behind the opponents. Extending from the ballbag is a rubber band with a small qianball attached to the end.
Players take turns striking the qianball without allowing it to bounce in the player zone. The ball can, however, bounce once on the ball zone. Players (or teams) are awarded a point if their opponent lets the ball bounce. Matches are played in a best-of-three 15-point set format.
Speedminton is a variation of badminton but is much faster and does not require a net. It can be played anywhere as long as players of a set of racquets and a special shuttlecock that is a little heavier than the one used for badminton.
The playing area can be created using tape, court lines, or objects such as cones to mark the four corners of the boundaries. Players stand in their designated zone and take turns hitting the shuttlecock back and forth. The goal is to have it land inside the opponent’s box or have them hit the shuttlecock outside the zone.
If you enjoy tennis, pickleball, or racquetball, you’ll fall in love with Platform Tennis. Developed in 1928 at Fox Meadow Tennis Club in New York, the court is about one-third the size of a regular tennis court and is surrounded by chicken wire fence 12 feet high.
The court is a raised platform made of aluminum planks and is scored very similarly to tennis. Some differences are it’s typically only played doubles style, players get just one serve per point, and the ball may be played off the wall as long as it doesn’t bounce twice.
Players use composite paddles and a sponge like rubber ball, rather than a strung racquet and a felt tennis ball. The average match lasts about half an hour.
Not so much of an original sport as it is a combination of popular racquet sports, Racketlon is exactly what it sounds like. The event is played in four sets, one in each of the following four sports: Table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis.
The scoring system allows each athlete or team to earn 21 points per sport. The Racketlon is played starting from smallest to largest racquet. The winner of the match is the player or team who has won the most points in total.
Deviating slightly from our bizarre racquet sports, we’d like to introduce Eton Fives, the British wall ball variation in which players use their hand as racquets to smack a rubber ball against a three-sided playing area filled with weird angles and obstacles.
Players will usually wear gloves to protect their hands as they propel a ball between the buttresses of church buildings in England. It’s fast, exciting, and somewhat awkward. There are a myriad of variations of the sport, each with their own set of rules.