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Pummelball: The new action sport

While dodging in and out of eight balls that are being thrown in all directions, players of a new game with non-stop action can experience ongoing fast pace with no break. Combining the elements of dodge ball, baseball, soccer and basketball, the new non-stop action game makes up one sport: pummelball.

Pummelball was created by a USF honors class. The class has been working on this project since the second week of the semester.

USF Associate Director for Campus Recreation Eric Hunter was brought in to guide the class’ efforts because he has experience in recreational sports administration.

Hunter said the game was designed with middle school children in mind and that the final product was tested at Greco Middle School during their Physical Education class.

“Our whole class agreed that if we were still in middle school, it would’ve been cool for a group of college kids to come and teach us a new game, especially one as simple and interactive as pummelball,” said Steve Conklin, the student responsible for the basic idea behind pummelball.

Originally the class came up with six ideas to research, then the class divided into six smaller groups. One of these groups decided to create and market a new sport.

“The first group’s ideas were things like a soccer team warm-up game and dorm room boredom games,” Conklin said.

After some contemplation, Conklin came up with a concept for a game he called “crossfire.” The class spent weeks playing the game and modifying the rules and organization to create what is known today as pummelball.

Conklin said he believes that the most helpful class session they had was when they listed 10 of today’s most popular sports, along with one great aspect of the sport, which made it appealing to the masses.

“I took a mental list with me of these greatest aspects and then synthesized a game incorporating as many of them as possible,” Conklin said.

The class found that the “crossfire” game was a little too chaotic, so they introduced the element of teamwork and limited the number of balls offensive players can use from limitless to two.

Hunter said that the game is played on an area roughly the size of a basketball court. Each team consists of eight players. There is a 4 by 10 foot goal where balls can be thrown for points; there are also two different areas where offensive players can run or pass the ball into the goal area for points.

The offense has four players who attempt to score and four players who assist as retrievers. Their positions rotate every quarter, and there are four quarters of three minutes each, Hunter said.

Hunter also said the defense has players assigned to hit the offense with balls (eight color-coded balls), as well as defenders who can tag players out, and a goalkeeper.

“The action is non-stop with balls going in every direction,” Hunter said. “The game is fast-paced, yet requires teamwork.”

The class has been teaching the game at the middle school for two weeks. Kim Baker, a member of the class, said the kids at the middle school are taking to the game well, and they seem to enjoy it.

Baker also said the class has been working on an instructional video to accompany the instruction manual on how the game is played. The video is being created so that it can be distributed to middle schools, Baker said.

“Some students specialized in court design while others were more adept at the filming and editing,” Hunter said. “Each person’s strengths were sought in helping to design this product.”

Conklin is the producer and director of the five-minute long instructional video. Baker and other group members have been working on editing the video.

“The video introduces the game in a step-by-step fashion and was shot in a couple of classes in a row. It is in its final phase of postproduction,” Baker said.

There are no plans to promote the game as a national sport, but the class wanted to see if pummelball caught anyone’s interest during their intramural event, but because of lack of participation the event was canceled. Yet, the class still taught pummelball at the middle school to see if the kids liked it.

“If (they do), then they can have a copy of the instructional video and continue to play the game,” Baker said.

The class has met all of its goals in creating and introducing a new game. Time will tell if pummelball catches on.

Contact Annie Curnowat