There’s nothing quite like the feeling of launching yourself in the air, swivelling mid-flight and booting a rattan ball over a net. According to professional sepak takraw players, that is. Yes, sepak takraw is a sport. Even if you’re not a pro at one of these unusual sports, it’s always fun to try a new approach to fitness. Here’s where you can join in.
Sepak takraw is like volleyball, but the ball is much smaller and harder, and you can’t touch it with your arms or hands. Originating in South East Asia, professionals flip, jump and flail, contorting their legs into impossible positions for the perfect shot. For everyone else, it’s closer to playing hacky sack. Just keep the ball off the ground and hit it over the net without using your arms.
Sepak takraw is an easy game to get together because the court is set up just like it is for badminton. The only thing you need is a tightly woven rattan ball, but a volleyball is an effective substitute.
Takraw Australia can get you started.
Some might find it hard to take this game seriously, taken as it is from the pages of Harry Potter. But that doesn’t mean it’s not thoroughly enjoyable. Instead of flying, players run around a field with broomsticks between their legs. There are players whose only role is to obliterate others by throwing balls, and in the midst of everything there’s one player whose singular focus is to catch a marathon runner (the all-important golden snitch). It’s not easy to improvise a game, but a Quidditch Australia membership can set you up with a team.
Squash and racquetball
Though confined to a four-walled room around just 10 x 7 metres square, squash is a fast-paced, relentless workout. The game doesn’t have the grace of tennis, nor is it much of a spectator sport, due to the game’s speed, the low visibility of the ball and the small quarters. But what it lacks in profile it more than makes up for in intensity.
Racquetball is much like squash, but with a bouncier ball, a bigger court and more surface areas to whack the ball at. It’s extremely fast, highly athletic and addictive if you and your opponent are at a similar standard (one expert will make for a dull game).
What’s more fun than playing soccer in a park? Playing soccer in a park while encased inside a giant inflatable ball. Obviously.
Zorbing is basically soccer, but players are inside inflatable spheres. There’s a lot of crashing, falling and general brawling, but none of that matters because everyone is protected by three feet of packaged air. The best way to engage in all the chaos is with a third-party zorb-dealer. It can bring whatever you need to play to an area of your choice, or organise a venue to do it at.
There are four people on each team, each with a small bat, a snorkel and flippers. On the floor of the swimming pool there’s a puck. Your team has to push it into the opposition’s goal more than the other team pushes it into yours. It’s just like hockey but … harder.
To organise a game look into the Victorian Underwater Hockey Commission, which organises games and a competitive league. For a more casual affair, get together some friends, snorkels, fins, a hockey puck, a pool and a collection of water-friendly brooms and go for it.