Downball is a playground game similar to table tennis, except that it is played on the ground and the ball (typically a tennis ball but other balls can be used) is hit with a player's hand. The origins of downball can be traced back to Australia. Downball is usually played in primary schools.

Downball Squares

Downball Squares is played on a hard surface. The markings on the ground may have 2, 4 or 6 different squares. A 2 or 4 square game will usually have the same size squares. A 6 squared game is like a game with 4 squares only 2 rectangles are on either side of the court.

Downball Wall

Similar to Downball Squares, Downball Wall is played against a wall. The main benefit of this version of the game is that there is no limit to how many people can play at once.A game area usually consists of only 1 wall, on which the players hit the ball against making sure that the ball hits the ground once before hitting the wall. A player has the option to let the ball bounce once after hitting the wall or they may choose to hit it straight away.The round begins with the Champ(ion)/King serving the ball against the wall (one bounce on the ground then off the wall back into play) from which all players begin to hit the ball back at the wall in an order.The order of which people hit the ball stays the same through the whole match and is only changed by a player going "out". A player failing to hit the ball back against the wall or hitting the ball into a designated out of bounds area goes "out". When a player is "out" that player must vacate the field of play and not interfere with play until the next match (not round).A match is made up of as many rounds needed to get all but one players out of the game. This one player left behind is the new Champ(ion)/King and serves during the next match. In the event that the ball is hit by every player to the end of the line of players the game will continue in a loop with the Champ(ion)/King restarting (not with a serve, but a continuance of play). In the event the Champ(ion)/King goes out, the player second in line will become the new Champ(ion)/King for the remainder of the match."Psych Outs"/"Psyching" a player are considered against the rules in some competitions in which the offending player is penalised by going out. A "Psych Out" usually consists of purposely distracting/disadvantaging a player from making a shot. The main forms include pushing/blocking a player from making their shot or by waving the hands over the ball to confuse/disorient the player attempting to take a hit (this is also known as "Jinxing" a player). Although considered unsportsmanlike it is sometimes allowed as an extra difficulty when more advanced/skilled players play together.A commonly confused/controversial rule is that of "jacks". Depending on who and where you are playing the "jacks" rule can mean one of two things. The first being the case in which the round in replayed from the start if a hit is made where ball lands right in the corner between the ground and the wall (as by hitting the ground first you'd be in and the latter would be out). The second rule being that if the ball makes its first bounce off the wall further back than the designated space the player may allow the ball to bounce one more time (twice in total) before hitting th ball back (sometimes the rule states that in this case the ball must be hit straight onto the wall, which would in any other event be considered an "up-ball" which is also out).A rule known as "Wallie" is enforced in most Victorian schools. Similar to "jacks", "Wallie" designates that if a ball hits the wall and the ground simultaneously, and is called by a player whilst the ball is rising up the wall, the point is to be replayed.The rules of interference ("Inter" or "Into") are the same as in Downball Squares except for the small difference that it can also be called because a player accidentally (not to be confused with a "psych out") got in the way of the player attempting to make a hit.


An optional rule is too have different rankings on each square. When someone goes 'out' everyone with a ranking below the person who went out moves up one. The person who goes out only goes to the lowest ranking square (Hell or Bums). The highest rank is usually Heaven or King. The Heaven/King square is one of the large rectangles in a 6-squared game and the Hell or Bums square is the other large rectangle.

Positioning of players

the positioning of the players is based on the current rankings in the game, thus they are marked 1 through 6 due as thats how many squares there are. The names for each of the squares are different throughout the world. Generally the positions are named (in order of position)1.King2.Queen3.Jack4.Prince5.Janitor6.Dunse or Dunnies

Occasionally, Ace is the highest rank, and King is secondary.


These rules are general rules only, and there are numerous variations to them.


The person who serves is either the player in the Heaven/King square or the player who won the last point in a 2-squared game (which is usually has a score kept). When serving, the server must bounce the ball straight to another player and must not be too fast.


In some versions of the game, when a server goes out on a serve, they get a fault. There is only one fault allowed per serve.


Servers may call out 'Eveready' to warn others that they are about to serve. Saying 'Eveready' ensures that no one can say that they weren't ready for the ball. The Server may also call 'Ready all Times' instead of Eveready.


When the ball bounces into your square, you must hit it back. Before you touch it, you may let it bounce once or you can hit it straight back. When hitting the ball, it must bounce only once in Player X's square and then go over into another player's square.


If the ball bounces more than twice in Player X's square before it goes into Player Y's square before X touches it, X is out (out in Downball means either the other player gets a point or they go to the lowest square). Doublebounce also applies if X hits the ball but it bounces twice in X's square.


If the ball is hit by Player X and it goes over into Player Y's square without bouncing first in X's square it is an over and X is 'out'.But you can also play so that if it bounces twice in your square then you can kick it back to someone elses square but it must not bounce in your square again.

Out of bounds

If Player X bounces the ball legally but it lands past the outer boundary of the Downball court, it is Out [of bounds] by Player X. If X bounces the ball legally and it lands in Y's square but bounces out of bounds (past the outer boundary) it is Out [of bounds] by Player Y. The actual outer boundary line is considered out of bounds.


Interference, usually nicknamed as Inters or Intos (pronounced Int oh's) is called out by any player if anything interferes with gameplay, such as someone walking through the court. Interference is common in schools because of walking carelessly through the game. Game resumes similarly to a replay. Protest, ie. calling out "Into's!", is usually required for the rule to apply, unless the interference disadvantages everyone rather than one player. Interference sometimes does not count unless the interference actually contacts a player or the ball, under these rules, players try to 'psyche out' or induce 'flinching' by yelling and swinging limbs at opposition without intent to contact.


If a result is strongly disputed (due to the regular absence of an umpire), a replay can be called. Sometimes, the person who had the ball last initiates the replay, whereby the previous result is disregarded, and the game is replayed. In other rulesets, the play is initiated by the King.


While when the ball hits the line it is often considered to be 'in play' (like tennis), there is an alternate rule where a ball is disputed to have touched the line, that a lineball, or "liner", is called. This involves bouncing a ball high (similar to a ruck contest bounce in Australian rules), and the ball going back into play. Some rulesets require a lineball to return to one side or the other before being played, others allow play to initiate as soon as the ball is bounced. In the later case, there is an additional optional rule, the 'tip in'. The player must call 'tip in' or 'tips', and can tap the ball into their side of the line. If it does not hit their square after a 'tip in', then an out applies. Also, this does not count as a play of the ball, and therefore, they must play the ball after this or get out.


When the ball is hit directly at an opposing player without touching the ground, it is known as a "Sharky". The player that is sharkied is out, and the only way to save himself is if he or another player catches the ball before it lands on the ground. In games where rebounds are allowed (walled areas), the sharky is considered valid if it rebounds and hits a player.


These can be performed by making an attempt to distract the player hitting the ball, without touching him/her or intruding into their square with two feet.

Out of square

If the ball has gone out of play, after a round for instance, as the server (king/heaven) returns they may call "out of square". After saying this they may serve a full toss serve from the outer bounds of the square.


A "zinger" is full toss serve, possibly including spin. For this serve to be legitimate the server must call "zinger" before releasing the ball. A Zinger serve may land in any square on the full.

Dead square

when a player needs to leave the square, for a phone call for example, in order to leave the square and not compromise their position/stature in the game they may call "dead square"
*when dead square is called the player may leave the square.
*If the ball lands in a 'dead square' the ball continues play as it bounces through the square, when the ball exits the sqaure and enters another player square it becomes playable once more.
*If the ball travels through the square and goes out, the last person to touch the ball (any part of body) will be out.

Poison square

An alternative to the dead square, if the ball lands in it, the player who last touched the ball is out.

Challenge to the death

When a game becomes intense between two people and they have hit it back and forward 3 times to each other one of them may call "challenge to the death" and they must continue versing each other till one of them slips up. If the ball enters another square that is not apart of the "challenge to death" the game continues as normal.


A variation ruleset, where all players are on one side of a line in a large rectangle, and an opposing same size (or smaller) square is occupied by the King (or Ace, Champion, Heaven, ect.) In this ruleset, any of the Kings opponents can play the ball from the shared square, and if King gets out, the last non-King player to touch the ball takes his position.


Elimination uses the ranking system. It comes in three main variations: Poison/Dead elimination, Instant elimination and Dunse-n-out. Poison/Dead elimination causes the square of any player to get out to act like either the Poison Square or Dead Square as explained above, the highest player left is the acting server. Instant elimination involves any player that gets out to step out of the game, and everyone to advance a square. Empty squares at the end of the game become out of bounds. Dunse-n-out is the most common. In this game, players who get out move from their position to the last one (often called dunce or dunnies) and everyone after them advancing one square. If the player who gets out IS in the last position, however, they are eliminated, and their square becomes out of bounds. The second last square then becomes the last square. This game also occasionally has lives/continues/chances which are used when a player gets out in last space.

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