A children's game played with a big rubber ball the size of a soccer ball. Very similar to baseball in that there are bases, three outs an inning per team, and the scoring is the same. Different in that the ball is rolled instead of pitched, has to be kicked to be put in play, and nobody uses a glove. Various neighborhood rules include...

  • Indian Rubber

    The ability to get a runner out by hitting him with the ball. Otherwise, only tagging or force outs are allowed (a la baseball).

  • Headhunting

    Throwing the ball at a person's head. Generally considered illegal unless the person moves their head into the ball.

  • Leading & Stealing

    Leading - the ability to step away from the base before the ball is kicked.
    Stealing - the ability to take another base before the ball is kicked.

    I have yet to see a kickball game that allowed stealing. Interpretations of leading allow for some pretty big leads, but the prospect of Indian Rubber usually discourages them.

  • Fouls To Midnight

    The ability to continuously kick balls in foul territory without penalty. An alternate of this rule would be three fouls and you're out.

  • Do-Over

    Perhaps the easiest way to settle a kickball dispute. Simply do it all over again. Everyone returns to where they were before the argument, and play resumes as though nothing happened.

  • Into

    Pronounced in-tow, short for interference. Any kicked ball that hits a tree branch, power line, or is in any other way altered by existing structures is called an Into. An Into almost always becomes a do-over.

  • D.C.

    "Doesn't Count". Refers to a younger person who wants to play, but whose talent would be detremental to the team in question. Their actions at the plate are ignored in the grand scheme of the game, but this way they aren't excluded and can still have fun with the big kids. The abbreviation is used to prevent the yute from learning the truth about his kickball status.

    Also known as a Washington.

  • Spinning

    The art of putting spin on a rolled ball such that kicking it often results in a foul ball or a pop up.

All rule variations must be discussed prior to the game to avoid any permanent friendship endings (which usually last two days). The typical pre-game meeting between kickball captains goes something like this:
     OK.  Fouls to midnight, leading but no stealing, 
     Indian Rubber but no headhunting.

     Right.  Into's a do-over, OK.


     And Eddie's a D.C.

     Eddie?  Why?

     He can't kick.

          (beginning to pout)
     Come on!

     Look, he has to go inside in ten minutes anyway.

          (in full-out pout mode)
     OK, fine.  But no spinning, then!

As well as the name of a game, it's also the name of the ball used to play the same game. These balls are usually 8 to 10 inches in diameter and made of rubber or a rubber like material. Typically inflated with 6 to 8 pounds of air. They are also usually red in color, although I have seen orange, blue, yellow, and even green variations. They're generally fun to fool around with too.

While I can fully appreciate the writeups above, I do feel that there is something most important to add:

Kickball: It's not just for kids anymore!

Yesterday, I performed my first duties as the official captain of a kickball team, organising my group for a quick, dusk-shortened scrimmage with another. The teams which participated were just two of the thirteen that exist in Northern Virginia which, alone, has three divisions.

At this point, I'm sure you're probably shaking your head, thinking, "Kickball divisions?".

Let me assure you that it's true. It's all true.

Since its inception in 1998, the World Adult Kickball Association, or WAKA, has continued to grow at an astounding pace, with 13 divisions currently existing in the DC/Virginia/Maryland area alone, where it originated. Beyond the beltway, it had expanded to three divisions in California and one in Ohio. In 2003, the growth has been explosive, however. Today, there are now divisions in the process of forming, all across the United States, in cities such as "Atlanta, Denver, Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, L.A., Orange County, San Diego, Portland, Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, NYC, Boston, and others."1

"Everybody Loves Kickball(TM)" is the WAKA motto, and it is proving to ring true. This is my second year playing; after having enjoyed it so much last season, I ended up with my own team!

Some background:
  • Adult league kickball pretty much follows most of the same rules you played as kids -- in fact, WAKA even has its own official rulebook, to give some semblance of order to the many permutations listed in earlier writeups. In addition, there are referees (usually members of another team) to make sure everything is played correctly.

  • Games are five innings long.

  • WAKA games use an official, red Baden 10-inch playground ball. It's not as easy to kick as you might recall it being, either.

  • WAKA bills itself as "A social-athletic organization". Yes indeed, the emphasis is on social, because:

  • There is a World Championship of Kickball, where competing teams vie for the coveted Founder's Cup.

In the end, although a lot of people might view it with some skepticism, virtually all who play adult league kickball end up enjoying it. You probably would too!

WAKA's website can be found at: http://www.worldkickball.com/

1 - http://www.worldkickball.com/home.html

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