What is Spikeball: The Rules and How to Play8 min read

Spikeball or roundnet may only be a decade old but it has definitely caught on, with leagues popping up all over the U.S. It’s a fun and competitive game that’s super easy to learn for people of all ages and skill levels and you can find it at most retailers. In this post, we’ll provide you with a little more insight into the game, the basic rules, and how to play it. So you’ll have an awesome new game to introduce to your friends and family to at your next barbecue or picnic.

What is Spikeball?

Before we can start discussing the Spikeball rules, let’s first discuss the name of the game because new players often get confused with how it differs from roundnet. Roundnet is the actual name of the sport, while Spikeball is the name of a brand that sells roundnet equipment. The two terms are often used interchangeably, leading to the widespread confusion.

There’s a perfectly logical reason behind this mix-up. The game was first marketed as Spikeball by the original inventor. However, other brands began coming up with their own “Spikeball” equipment. So in an attempt to preserve their trademark, the brand came up with a new term for the game – roundnet. (To add another layer of confusion, check out Spikeball vs. Slammo)

So even though some people still call the game “Spikeball,” it should really be called roundnet. However, we will be using the term “Spikeball” in this post for the sake of consistency and to avoid too much confusion.

Spikeball Equipment

A Spikeball set uses two pieces of equipment – a ball and a net. But although the game takes inspiration from volleyball, the equipment is where there’s a significant difference between the two. The ball is a lightweight plastic ball that’s typically yellow in color and much smaller than the ball used in volleyball.

The official rules of the game require that this ball should have a circumference of 12 inches. This means that it’s slightly larger than the size of a softball. Some players prefer to fully inflate the ball, which makes it hard and therefore, much more difficult to control. You might want to avoid doing that and instead inflate it till it’s semi-soft so you can control it more easily.

Even when it comes to the nets used, there’s no similarity between Spikeball and volleyball. Instead of being vertically propped up on poles, the net is laid out horizontally like a trampoline. This net stands about 8 inches from the ground and is typically 36 inches in diameter for 2-on-2 games. However, the brand has come up with a new XL net for 3-on-3 games that’s 45 inches in diameter.

The tension of the net is what mainly affects the quality of play. The net should have consistent tension throughout for proper game play. You can make adjustments by pulling it tighter in the areas where the net seems loose. To test whether the net is properly set up, try dropping a ball from 3 feet above. It should be able to bounce at least 12 inches.   

Check out the following video from The Spikeball Guys to see how to properly set up and tighten your spikeball net.

Basic Spikeball Rules

Since Spikeball is inspired by volleyball, even the rules have been adapted from it. So there are a lot of similarities in how to play the two games. The main difference is in the equipment used, as mentioned earlier, and the number of players. Spikeball is typically a four-person game with two people on opposing teams.

These four players will surround the net with players on the same team lining up next to each other. So like in volleyball, the two teams will be standing across the net from each other. The main goal of the game is to make it harder for the opposing team to return it.

This can be quite challenging because players cannot carry or hold the ball. Plus the Spikeball rules allow them to use only one hand to touch the ball.

The game starts with one team serving the ball by bouncing it off the net. The official rules require that the server should stand at least 6 feet away from the net, while the receiver may stand at any distance. As soon as the server hits the ball, players are free to move closer to the net as desired.

Possession changes as soon as the ball touches the net. And players no longer have to stay on their assigned sides once the ball is served. They can move around the net as much as they need.

The opposing team has up to 3 hits to return the ball after they receive it. If they can’t do this, the other team will score a point. Otherwise, they will continue the volley until one of the team fails to return the ball. The volley also stops when the ball bounces more than once on the net or when someone double hits the ball.

Here’s a video from Spikeball showing you exactly how to play the game, if you’re more of a visual learner.

Scoring Rules in Spikeball

Spikeball scoring rules are pretty straightforward. Games are typically played to 21 points but games can be played to 11 or 15 points depending on what the two teams agree upon prior to the start of the game. For tournaments, the winning score limit will rest on the specification of the tournament director.

According to the official Spikeball rules, the winning team must score at least 2 points more than their opponents by the end of the game. But this rule can also change according to prior agreement between the two teams or specification by tournament officials.

Image Credit: Elvert Barnes on Flickr

One or the other team gets a point at every serve. Here’s how points get awarded according to the official rules:

  • When the ball you served hits the ground, the opposing team gets 1 point.
  • When you hit the rim with your ball, the opposing team gets 1 point.
  • When your ball bounces on the net more than once, the opposing team gets 1 point.
  • When your ball fails to bounce and instead rolls across the net, the opposing team gets 1 point.
  • When you catch or throw the ball rather than hitting it, the opposing team gets 1 point.
  • When you double hit the ball i.e. touch the ball more than once in a row, the opposing team gets 1 point.
  • When you fault two times in a row while serving, the opposing team gets 1 point.

Faulting in Spikeball

There are certain moves you cannot make under Spikeball rules. These will be labeled as “faults” and if you commit them, it could sometimes result in points for your opponents. If you’re going to learn how to play the game, you need to thoroughly learn the conditions of faulting. Here are the main faulting rules in Spikeball:

  • You need to stay at least 6 feet away from the net while serving the ball. Otherwise, it’s a fault and if you commit it twice in a row, your opponents will earn a point.
  • Players should not serve the ball straight out of their hand. Spikeball rules require that they toss the ball in the air at least 2 inches before they can hit it.
  • When you toss the ball, you need to hit it for it to be a valid serve. Any other action such as catching the ball, dropping the ball, or missing a hit will all count as a fault.
  • While you may take just one step as you serve, you cannot move sideways or you will commit a fault.
  • Crossing the 6-feet serve line while serving will count as a fault.
  • Hitting the rim of the net while serving or during play will count as a fault.
  • Players should not block their opponents from getting to the ball. When this happens, they have to replay the game.
  • You need to serve the ball so that the opposing team can reach it without jumping. Hitting it higher than your opponent’s outstretched hand will count as a fault.
  • When your ball hits the net and rolls to the rim instead of bouncing out, that’s called a pocket and it counts as a fault.

Final Thoughts

As you can tell from these rules, Spikeball isn’t a difficult game to learn and you’ll get the swing of things after a few games. There’s some nuances when it comes to faults, but as with any game, you’ll figure those out as you play the game more and more. We also have a Spikeball FAQ guide if you still have more questions. Finally, rules and technicalities aside, the goal is to have fun, so get out there and have fun with your friends!