Cycle-Ball: A 120 Years Old Sport You’ve Never Heard of

Imagine a person who is a cyclist and a football player at the same time. You might find it strange, but only if you haven’t discovered RedBall, or also called Cycle-Ball. Still doesn’t ring a bell? It’s because you have never heard about this sport. 

This rare discipline has been around for 120 years and has a very long tradition in many European countries. It might look a bit silly at first, but you should try navigating the ball with your bicycle while remaining in the saddle. Such a thing requires incredible acrobatic skills.

However, it does not take too much space in media nor the interest of a wider audience. This unusual sport seems to be made for real enthusiasts and people who love weird things.

Peter Huys (DarkSideX) from Lovendegem (Ghent), Belgium [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

What Is Cycle-Ball, and How to Play It?

Cycle-Ball is a rare combination of football and cycling. It requires two teams, players who know how to steer bicycles and a ball.

It was initially invented by the German Nick Kauffman, back in 1893. At first, people had called this game the “red ball,” but it was renamed afterward. Since the nineteenth century, it took sympathies all over the world, especially in Western Europe and Japan. Yet, it has never become a mainstream sport, perhaps because it has never fit into traditional and conventional sports competitions.

The Court

The game requires specially built courts that can be outdoors, but are more often indoors. The field has a rectangular shape and is half the size of the standard basketball court. As in football, each side has goalposts. The whole rectangle is barrier-lined to prevent the ball from going out. 

The Team 

In the most popular version, the game is played two-on-two. There are some competitions with teams that can count five or six players. All players are on their bikes during the entire match. The bicycles are custom made, with fixed gears and no breaks. Players are using their bikes and wheels to maneuver the ball, but they can’t use their hands or feet. Whenever someone’s foot touches the ground, or a player falls from the bike, the referee will charge penalties. 

Kurukuruback [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

The Game

Each match has two 7-minute long periods and 2 minutes of halftime. It’s very dynamic with lots of turnovers and crushes. The goal is to push the ball into the opponent’s field by using bicycles’ wheels and gears and to score. It is similar to soccer but a bit harder, as you can’t kick the ball but must move it with the power of a bicycle.

The team that scores the most goals wins the game.

The Most Famous World Competitions

For almost 125 years, Cycle-Ball has been a real thrill for fans and a great challenge for players. It has a professional league and the Cycle-Ball World Cup competition. Officially, it is a part of the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships.

It is legitimate to say the Cycle-Ball is one of the most intense sport disciplines that involve superior skills and endurance, but also a lot of breakage and injury for players. For such reason, this unusual sport is real excitement and has many followers in countries like Germany, France, Austria, and even Japan.