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Rules of the Game - Strictly VolleyPong

13 min read

At work we have pretty much always had either a ping-pong table, a foosball table, or both. A healthy group of us play one or both of the games but, after a point, we get bored with the same-old, same-old in ping-pong and foosball. We don't want to stop playing but we ache for a change so we put our creativity to work and devise new games that can be played with the existing equipment. While we no longer have a ping-pong table at work (we still have foosball) we have invented some cool games for both tables whose rules I thought I would share.

Some of these are kind of complex when you read about them; however, once you play they are actually pretty straightforward.

With that said lets look at ping-pong's reincarnation as volleypong. Volleypong is an amazing hybrid of racketball, volleyball, and ping-pong with a few other twists thrown in for good measure. Volleypong can be played by teams ranging in size from 2-5 players. We haven't exceeded 5 because we didn't have a big enough area to support larget groups without risking serious injury.

The ideal location for a Volleypong game is a room that gives you about 5 feet to either side of the ping-pong table and 10 feet to either end. This provides the perfect amount of space for 2 man teams. However, most people don't have a room they can dedicate just to volleypong. Optional locations can be in a corner near two walls, build walls with cubicles, or a wide open space with no adjacent walls but where you can put some bookshelves or other objects around the perimeter to increase the excitement of play.

Once you have your court setup you get your teams together. Each team at a minimum has to have two players; the Handler and the Crusher. The Handler receives the opposing teams serve and the Crusher sends it back to the other team. If you have more than two players you pick up a Digger, a Deep Digger, and beyond that even more Diggers, Handlers, or Crushers. A Handler has to have good soft hands with their paddle, the Digger has to be willing to get low and keep the ball off the floor, and the Crusher needs to be good and overhead slams of the ping-pong ball - both accurate and with speed without hitting it so hard that they break the ball on impact. Now that you have a court and teams let's talk about how you actually play the game.

The Rules

Serving

  1. Player must hit the ball so that it bounces on his side before crossing the net.
  2. Serve can make contact with the net while crossing and still be a legal serve
  3. Player may lean over the table as far as they want while serving
  4. Player may hide the ball in their hand while serving
  5. Player may serve the ball to any point on the opposition side of the table (does not have to be cross court).
  6. Player must announce the score before serving or the serve is considered a bad serve and the opposing team earns the point and service
  7. If you fail to hit the table with your serve at all the opposition gets 2 points and the serve
  8. If your paddle touches the table while serving the opposing team gets the point and the serve
  9. Every serve is worth a point and the service.
  10. All players must be behind their respective baseline when the ball is served
  11. The opposition does not have to be watching or ready when making the serve
  12. You can't introduce any foreign objects into the field of play to distract the returning team
  13. You can try to convince the returning team to look away before you serve to them
  14. It is possible to have an unintentional-reverse-serve. These have special rules.
  15. Nobody can stretch forward and interfere with the net during a serve (i.e. lower the net)
  16. The server CAN pull a second ball out of his pocket at the end of a point and serve with a new ball before the old ball is recovered. He must say the score before serving; it's especially important on these trick serves.
  17. If the server completely misses the ball and it hits the table the ball is still alive, The server can still serve the ball. They can't catch and re-release the ball but they can try to hit it, have it hit their side of the table, and then go over the net and hit the other side of the table. If an ace is achieved via this manner it is worth 1 point. A whiff serve can not be hit by anyone else on the server's team during the service sequence even if it results in an unintentional-reverse-serve.

Aces

  1. An ace is any serve that goes over the net without touching the net and without being played off of any other surface before going over (or around) the net which is not hit by the other team before the ball bounces twice. The first bounce after crossing the net has to be on the receiving side of the table (can hit an edge) and the second bounce can either be on the table or on the floor. If the ball is hit by anything before the second bounce (hand, leg, foot, face, etc) then it is not an ace.
  2. An ace that fulfills the definition is worth 2 points.

Unintentional Reverse Serve

  1. An unintentional reverse serve (URS) is a serve that when struck by the server hits the edge of the table and goes backwards instead of in the initial direction of the serve.
  2. When a URS occurs the ball is treated as if it were served by the other team than the team that served it. Thus, the serving team becomes the receiving team.
  3. A URS can never be an ace
  4. The person who served the URS can be the first person to touch the ball after the URS occurs.
  5. The first person to touch the URS can not send the ball over the net; they must pass it to another player on their team first.
  6. The second (or subsequent) player to touch the ball can hit the ball over the net using any of the standard receiving rules.

Ball out of Play

  1. A ball out of play is one that has not touched the ground yet but is in a non-hittable position. Examples of non-hittable positions are: in a foosball table; in a lamp shade, over a partition wall and into someones office, wedged between furniture and the wall. Whichever team last hit the ball before it became out of play automatically loses the point.

An example:

Team A is serving to team B. Team B handles the serve and crushes the return so that it bounces off the far wall and into the bowl of an overhanging light fixture before Team A can touch the ball. Team B loses the point and Team A maintains serve.

Another example:

Team A is serving to team B. Team B. handles the ball and crushes it to team A who digs the ball but, when they attempt to set it to their crusher the ball floats over and into the same overhead light fixture. Team A loses the point and team B takes over serve.

Receiving

  1. The first player on the receiving team can not return the ball back over the net. They must pass it.
  2. The receiving team can hit the ball a number of times equal to their team size plus one. So a two man team can hit the ball three times.
  3. Receiving players must alternate hits. The same player can't hit the ball twice in a row unless they are dribbling or a "hand call" is made
  4. A hand call occurs when a player attempts to play the ball with their paddle but it hits their hand or finger (anything below the elbow) The player must call "HAND!" and then they can hit the ball again. The "Hand" hit does not count towards to the teams hit total
  5. The ball, once returned, does not have to cross the net. Nor does it have to hit the top surface of the table.
  6. Any contact with the table on the oppositions side of the table including the sides and the legs is considered a valid return. The bottom of the playing surface is out of play. Updated 2015 You can still hit the side of the table surface but none of the supporting structure.
  7. The ball can be played off of any object in or near the playing area. Walls, bookshelves, boxes, bodies etc are all in play.
  8. If the ball comes to rest (no motion at all) on an object (book, shelf, paper) the ball is still in play so long as you can get the ball off the surface in 3 seconds without touching the ball with your hands. If you need to use your paddle to dislodge the ball it counts as a hit towards the team total. You can move the object the ball is resting on but only in the Z axis (up/down) you can't move the object in a direction that is parallel with the floor.
  9. You may hit the ball with your body, head, shoulder, elbow, legs, or feet and it does not count toward your team hit count.
  10. If using partition walls and your return bounces off the table and over the partition wall it is considered an out of play shot and your opposition wins the point and the service.
  11. If you break the ball on the Crush the opposition wins the point and the service.
  12. If you step on the ball while playing the opposition wins 2 points and the service.
  13. If your paddle hits the table with force the opposition wins the game.
  14. If you hit the net and "knock it down" the opposition wins the game
  15. If you lose control of your paddle (it leaves your hand) then you automatically lose the game.
  16. If the ball hasn't hit the oppositions side of the table yet you can reach over the net and hit the ball; if you hit the ball after it bounces the opposition automatically wins that point. However, if the opposition is trying to hit the ball at the same time and you hit paddles (or bodies) the opposition wins the "paddle clash" and the point.
  17. You can not use your non-paddle hand to hit the ball. Doing so is called a "Snake-Bite" and results in the opposition team winning the point and the service.
  18. If the ball crosses the net, hits anything (including another players body; with the exception of their non-playing hand) and then comes back across the net the ball is still in play and the return is considered valid. An example of this is a crushing return that bounces off the table, hits a far wall, and then the ball flies from the wall all the way back over the net and lands on the crushing teams side of the table. The crushing team now has to handle that return just as if it had been returned by a player.

Dribbling

  1. A player is considered to be dribbling when they hit the ball in a way that causes it to come in contact with a downward facing surface parallel to the tables top surface.
  2. A player is considered to be dribbling if they hit the ball in a way that causes it to come in contact with any part of a non-rectangular object connected to the ceiling.
  3. A player is considered to be dribbling when they hit the ball in a way that causes it to hit another players body without the other players consent(but not their paddle).
  4. A player can not dibble off of themselves. If a player hits the ball with their paddle and the ball then hits their own body the player can NOT hit the ball with his paddle again until the ball is either dribbled or hit by another player's paddle.
  5. Any dribbled ball is not considered a hit towards the teams total.
  6. If a player dribbles a ball they may immediately hit it again.
  7. A dribble can be followed immediately by another dribble with no penalty.
  8. A player who hits the ball into the net so that it bounces back out of the net, without hitting the table, and stays on the strikers side of the table,can hit the ball again before another player. This only counts as one hit.

An example of a dribble using dribble rule 1

Nick digs a crush and it immediately hits the ceiling above him. Nick can hit the ball, with his paddle, again at no penalty. If the subsequent hit also contacts the ceiling then Nick can hit the ball again. This can happen as many times in a row as possible.

An example of a dribble using dribble rule 2

Nick is attempting to dig the ball but so is Joe. Joe leans in to hit the ball and misses it but Nick hits it and the ball bounces off of Joe afterwards. Nick can hit the ball with his paddle again at no penalty. It is not advised that Nick hit Joe with the ball again; but if he does it is another dribble and Nick can subsequently hit the ball again with his paddle at no penalty.

NOTE: If Nick had hit the ball with his paddle and then Joe and kicked the ball then it would not be a dribble.

The Crowd

  1. The crowd consists of people watching, but not playing in, the game.
  2. If there is a crowd they must stay in the designated "Crowd" area.
  3. If the ball goes into the crowd they may hit the ball
  4. The crowd can pass the ball back into the game
  5. The crowd can hit the ball as many times as they want so long as they don't leave the crowd area
  6. The crowd can attempt to hit a winner for either team when they pass it back into the game
  7. Crowd hits do not count toward either teams hit total
  8. If the ball went into the crowd and was a valid hit and the ball doesn't come back from the crowd the last team that last hit it across the net wins the point and the service
  9. Players may enter the crowd area to hit the ball
  10. Crowd members can't hit the ball more than one time in a row (with the exclusion of "dribbling").
  11. The crowd is not subjec to the "HAND" call rule

Winning

  1. First team to 21 winning by 2 wins. If no team is winning by 2 then the first team to 25 by one wins.
  2. Any lead of 2 points beyond scoring 21 points is considered a win.
  3. If the winning team is going to continue to play they switch sides of the court.
  4. If Either team damages the table or dislodges the net they lose the game.
  5. If any player loses control of their paddle that players team loses the game.

This is the first article in my series of "The Rules of the Game". In my next article I will discuss Fireball Foosball the latest incarnation of Foosball here at the office.