We would like to introduce you to Rob Drake. We met Rob in 1999 in San Diego. At that time we had never met anyone so committed to the sport of wallyball.
Rob first played wallyball in 1980, and he hasn't stopped playing since that time....
In 1990, after playing for several years with the same group, Rob contacted some other players he had seen playing the game, and he organized an eight team league at the La Mesa Racquetball/Wallyball Club in La Mesa, Calif. The players enjoyed the competition so much that Rob was encouraged to set up another league.
From that small beginning, Rob's hobby, "CourtMasters Wallyball," has expanded to the point that he regularly mails wallyball notices to over 500 players and potential players. Each week, you will find around 125 people involved in CourtMasters leagues, classes or clinics. Players taking part in the leagues travel to La Mesa from all over San Diego County.
Rob also volunteers his time to teach free clinics. An overview of the sport is presented (rules, ball handling, positioning, strategies), participants practice some drills, and the last hour is devoted to playing the game. People who want to continue in the sport are either offered a chance to play in the leagues or they are offered the opportunity to take one of Rob's eight week wallyball classes that are designed to prepare them for the leagues.
Rob is just one of many great assets the wallyball community has today.
Let me begin by stating unequivocally that I’m a wallyball player, not a volleyball player. Sure, I’ve played a lot of social volleyball and a little low level competitive volleyball, but I’m a wallyball player. I don’t pretend to know all the volleyball rules.
Nevertheless, volleyball is a sport enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. Many of these people also play the newer sport of wallyball. Because of this overlap, some players would like to change the rules of wallyball in order to make the sports more similar.
Well I strongly object! I’ll bet that the vast majority of the people that play wallyball do not play competitive volleyball. To change the rule for the above reason would be changing the rules to benefit only a small group of players.
I believe that Volleyball and Wallyball are, and should remain, two distinct sports. Sure there are similarities, and it is true that wallyball was modeled after Volleyball.
But if you want to play volleyball in a racquetball court, then do so. If a ball touches a wall, the play is dead and a side out is called or a point is awarded. If the ball hits the ceiling, play the point over. There you have it! Volleyball in a racquetball court.
However, wallyball is not just volleyball played in a racquetball court. It is a separate sport with separate rules, and playing the sport requires the development of a separate set of skills. Wallyball is a faster game than volleyball and as a result, it is a harder game to master. [Perhaps those players that want to change wallyball to be like volleyball are players that find it hard to master the intricacies of wallyball.]
The most obvious element that differs between the sports is the fact that wallyball is played in a racquetball court. The walls are a critical factor in wallyball.
Because of these walls, the serve can be used as a potent offensive weapon. Instead of just getting the ball in play over the net, there are legal ways of putting spin on the ball so that when the ball contacts the wall it rebounds at unexpected angles.
Players must develop a skill set that allows them to anticipate where the ball will be once it rebounds off the wall. They must take into consideration the arm speed and the angle of the hitter’s hand, the speed of the ball, the type of spin on the ball (if any) and the spot on the wall where the ball makes contact. (This same skill is used in the receipt of a spiked ball.)
Some players believe that blocking the serve should be legal. If this were done the value of the serve would taken away and, like in volleyball, a serve basically becomes just the way play is started. The rationale behind this seems to be that highly skilled servers can "run the serve" when competing against lesser skilled players. This causes the lesser skilled players to be driven away from the sport.
Not a valid argument in my opinion. I think it's more likely that a highly skilled (make that read young, tall and with the ability to jump) player that spikes the ball really hard will drive players away from the sport. Sure you can attempt to block them, but unless you have a comparable jumper, blocking is not effective. However, I would never advocate doing away with the spiking element of the sport.
In wallyball, the serve must rotate between teammates, but instead of forcing players to rotate positions, wallyball players can utilize their individual size and quickness and become blockers/hitters, diggers/hitters or setters/diggers. This enables players to make the most out of their given abilities.
Setting and passing the ball can also be done using the walls. It takes lots of practice to be able to make the wall your friend instead of your enemy. With practice, a player can pass the ball to a teammate or even set a teammate by bouncing the ball off the wall.
Blocking………..What’s so difficult about the concept? To block a ball is to stop it from crossing the net into your court. To block a ball I feel that you must be at the net (in immediate proximity to the net) and you must be above the net. (NOTE: I lost this argument when the new rulebook for the Association of United Wallyball Players was developed. The board of directors over-ruled me and the rule states that you must be at the net with your hands above your head.)
People that cannot jump high enough to get their hands above the net simply cannot block a ball. That’s just the way it is! I’ve heard wallyball players’ state that you don’t have to be above the net to block the ball. If the ball comes down, hits your hands, and goes back over the net, you’ve blocked the ball. HA!!! You have not stopped the ball from coming over the net into your court; you have simply played the ball on your side of the court. (NOTE: Yep....I lost this argument.)
Using this philosophy, does this mean that if I’m in the backcourt and the ball is spiked and bounces off my hands back over the net, I’ve blocked the shot? I think not!
I also understand that in some tournaments, if the ball contacts your body above knee, the ball is still in play. The original rule stated that the ball must contact you at or above the waist to be considered good. Is this a gradual move toward letting you use your feet in wallyball? I understand that is permitted in some forms of volleyball.
If you want to use your legs and feet to play the ball, PLAY SOCCER. Your legs and feet are the tools you use in soccer to play the ball, and your arms and hands are the tools you use in wallyball to play the ball.
I think it is a fact that until a single body rises to administer the sport, different groups of players will attempt to change their rules so that the game is played the way they want it to be played. I also think that these changes will (for the most part) be made using tunnel vision. Rules will be changed without consideration for the big picture, the game itself.
[Note: Since I wrote this page (4/9/03), the AUWP has produced a rulebook and has implemented procedures where players can suggest rule changes. A committee of volunteer players will review the suggestions and make recommendations to the AUWP National Rules Director. The Director will evaluate the recommendation and he/she will have the final vote.]
I used to think that a group of "gray beards" (people that have been instrumental in the overall development of the sport) should be the only ones authorized to change the rules of the sport (ideally there would be only one set of rules for the sport).
I used to say that if I had my way, I’d anoint Joe Garcia (inventor of the sport), Rudy Morel (President of the American Wallyball Association) and Mike O’Hare (President of Wallyball International, Inc.) as the committee of three that would be responsible for rule changes. (Whew…..can you imagine the three of them working together on anything?)
But after years of trying to bring the three together it's become apparent that this is not going to happen.
I believe that if you are having trouble playing the game of wallyball according to the rules, understand that this is normal. It’s a hard game to master. Work harder to develop the skills needed to play the game properly. Play at the appropriate level. If you can’t hang with the Open Level players, play at the Advanced Level. If you can’t hang with the Advanced Level players, play at the Intermediate Level. Once you develop the skills, move up to the higher level.
Don’t try to change the game. It is a great sport!