What is GaGa Ball?
I had heard of it. I knew that we sell a GaGa Pit at S&S Worlwide. I have listened to my kids tell stories about it in PE class. Yet, I still didn’t understand what ‘IT’ was! Is it like soccer with hands? Is it like handball? Is it dodgeball with no throws? “Big deal” I thought. Then our school’s PTO purchased one. Now that they got it, and I’ve played it. I get ‘IT’! I can now say that the GaGa Ball game is a blast and a huge hit with kids, getting them active while having fun. Isn’t that our goal?
My first introduction to the GaGa Pit was when I showed up on a Saturday morning with Gator Skin Balls in tote to greet kids chanting “GA GA! GA GA! GA GA!” My kids gave me a run down on the rules of GaGa on the 5 minute ride to the school. The rest we might call ‘experiential learning’. GaGa Rules of Play are simple and the kids pick it up quickly.
Before I list the rules of play and instructions, I just want to let you know that like any game, there are many variations to GaGa Ball. I am going to try and stay true to the way that we play, but I will highlight with an (*) in areas where there are popular variations. The best advice I can give everyone though is to KEEP THE GAME SIMPLE! The kids will have fun.
Object of GaGa Ball:
- To be the last player in the GaGa Pit.
- To keep the ball in play and moving (if you make this an emphasis it helps players to see the game as a constant flow, instead of aiming to catch the ball)
- Aim for players’ feet.
To start play:
- All participants enter the pit and touch a wall with both hands, waiting for the ball to enter play.
- Someone outside the pit/play space throws the ball in the air so it bounces close to the center.
- The ball is to bounce three times with the crowd chanting “Ga Ga Go” as it bounces. *Some people play with 2 bounces “Ga” “Ga”.
- Keep hands on the wall until the 3rd bounce.
- Once everyone can release from the wall, they can go for the ball or pick a defensive strategy.
How to play:
- In order to move the ball, players hit the ball with their hands only, and may not carry or throw the ball – it should be hit with an open hand. The key here is to keep the ball low.
* A big variation to this is to allow punching of the ball in addition to open hand hit.
Here are some reasons we do not play that way at our school:
– Players can miss the ball and punch the ground which will increase their injury.
– Changing rules between younger players and older players can get confusing when creating a game for many ages, so we keep it simple – open hand hits only.
- If you hit the ball and it touches someone from their foot to their knee, they’re out.
- If you hit the ball and it touches someone between their knee and shoulders, play continues and both players stay in the game.
* A variation to this is to allow catching the ball (similar to dodgeball) where the player that last hit the ball would be out if another player catches it. The main reasons we do not play this way:
– It breaks continuous flow of the game. Currently if someone catches the ball it is
considered an above the knee hit and play continues.
- If you hit the ball and it hits someone above their shoulders, you (the person who hit the ball) is out.
- If the ball goes out of the pit, the person who last struck the ball is out. (unless you have included catching the ball, then the last player that the ball touched is out because they were unable to catch it)
- To restart the ball when it goes out of the pit, bring players back to the wall where they have to start with two hands and the bounces. (see how to start play above)
- Once the player hits the ball, he or she must wait until the ball touches someone else before hitting it again (no double touches). If there are only two players remaining, a player may hit the ball up to 3 times in a row. The ball is “reset” by contact with the wall, and the hit count resets.
It’s that simple. Many times the ball is just rolling on the ground being passed around and jumped over by players.
The kids are now playing in PE class, at recess, and after school. The parents are able to join in the fun after school, on the weekends, and during school breaks. One of the afternoons during our winter break I simply posted on the school’s PTO Facebook Page a day and time. We ended up having around 15 kids, ages 5 to 12 years old, with 5-6 parents. I’m not sure who had more fun, us or the kids!
Things to consider:
- Make sure you have plenty of water.
- Use an open hand to hit the ball.
- Use a larger Gator Ball, like an 8″ or 10″.
- Introduce a second Gator toward the end of a round to make it go faster is play is slow and many players are waiting.
Finally, this family friendly activity has the potential to become a family fun night for schools or community centers. We are working on a Glow in The Dark Night Fundraiser at the GaGa Pit in which we use glow sticks on the walls and a couple of Glowround Gator Balls.
HOW DO YOU GAGA? Let us know in the comments below.
Submitted by: Brian Armstrong, Key Account Manager at S&S Worldwide