SPORTS

Basque pelota

In Basque pelota, competitors must hit a ball against a wall or “frontis” for their opponents to receive the ball.

It can be played individually or in couples, this being a sport where concentration and communication play a central role. In addition, something that really calls spectators’ attention is seeing how fast the ball goes.

In the picture, a female basque pelota player about to hit the ball with his racket.

History of this sport

Basque pelota is a very popular sport in Spain. Nevertheless, there are some records that show that its origin is in France, where people used to play jeux de paume (palm game) wearing gloves to hit a ball against a wall.

This sport spread across many countries of the French monarchy and many court walls were built during the Middle Ages. Time after, this activity reached the north of Spain -specifically Navarra and La Rioja- where competitions started in 1925.

Basque pelota was added as an Olympic sport at the 1900 Games in Paris, and included as a demonstration sport at Paris 1924, Mexico 1968 and Barcelona 1992.

In the picture, a female basque pelota player about to hit the ball with his racket.

How do you play?

First, a player serves against the wall or “frontis” hoping that their opponent fails to respond. For the play to be valid, the ball must hit a delimited sector on the surface of the wall.

When the ball bounces twice and the opponent fails to hit it, the point belongs to the server.

No player can grab the ball, only hit it.

The names of Basque pelota variants depend on the elements used to play it. For example, Cesta punta is the sport that is played with a basket. There is also share (racket), or hand pelota.

The International Federation of Basque Pelota (FIPV) considers 16 specialties. They correspond to eight games: Cesta punta, frontball, frontenis, hand pelota, paleta cuero, pala corta, paleta goma, and share. In addition, three factors must be considered:
Some specialities are played in more than one mode
Some specialities are played only by men and only by women
Some specialities are played individually and others in pairs, and at least in two modes

Quiz

Did you know that one of the specialities of Basque pelota began in America?

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