This summer I discovered a new sport that I love to play on Barcelona’s beaches. It’s called Frescobol.
Frescobol is unique because instead of an opponent, you have a partner, and the goal is to support your partner rather than to try to win or score points. At the most basic level, it is a fun and intense workout that will elevate your fitness level and sharpen your reflexes. The exercises and movements during Frescobol engage the whole body in a way similar that a personal trainer might help you to achieve in a gym – many different muscle groups that work together are used during the game. Frescobol is normally played on the beach but can be played anywhere you have some open space.
Frescobol is sometimes confused with Beach Tennis – a mix of tennis, beach volleyball and badminton. It uses a net, and unlike Frescobol, the objective is to score points competitively against opponents.
As partners, Frescobol players stand facing each other, approximately 5 meters apart. First, players can start out hitting the ball back and forth slowly to get a rally going while establishing a rhythm. The ball is kept in the air as long as possible, the objective being the greatest amount of powerful, accurate strokes per player, not to score points but to support your partners defensive and offensive strikes. The distance apart depends on individual experience level, beginning with a closer distance with a controlled volley and increasing distance and speed as technique improves.
After some practice, players may begin hitting the ball with much more pace. The key, just like other racquet sports is to concentrate on the ball, keeping the eye on it all the way until it meets your racquet. After some practice, players get to fast pace rallies of 20 or more strokes.
The Frescobol Paddle
- The first thing you need to know about frescobol is how to hold and handle the paddle.
- Pretend your paddle is your friend and give it a good handshake!
- Now don’t be too sweet with this friend, he’s pretty competitive, so give and maintain a firm grip on that paddle.
- The angle of your wrist should be a natural 110 degrees, not any another other fancy wrist maneuvers.
- Your elbow angle is also important, keep the elbow bent at 90 degrees at all times.
- If you feel the grip is slippery due to use, just replace it with a tacky padel or tennis over-grip.
The Frescobol Body Stance
- In Frescobol, as in other sports, a balanced stance is key! So bend your knees a little and really get grounded.
- While balanced you will use the core of your body to open up for a hit. DO NOT use your shoulder alone; you’d be asking for an injury and no one wants that.
- Practice and use this back and forth motion with bending each leg to get used to how to use your body for a proper hit. Make sure you have a fluid upper body and shoulders.
- Also, use your legs to adjust to the height or distance of the incoming ball.
The Frescobol Hit
- Frescobol is a fast game, so one of the first things you need to remember is to start from the center of your body and always return to that position after every shot.
- A Frescobol hit needs control before you should add power. The ball and the paddle both have plenty of power.
- The hit is like a “volley” in tennis, a short forward controlled motion.
- Either grab a friend to work with or any wall and practice these simple drills
- For a forehand: Reach to the front with your free hand, which will open up your body to the right and your paddle will reach back, then swing through till the paddle is back to center.
- For a backhand: pull your freehand back, which will twist your body to the left, and then swing forward and back to center.
- Another HUGE tip for hitting the ball is to maintain a still wrist (NO wrist movent), this will ensure the face of the paddle will always be in the correct position which is perpendicular to the ground.
- Besides a forehand and a backhand hit in frescobol, there is also a defense movement, in which you are mimicking a wall for the other person’s attack. In some instances, you can even use your free hand as extra support.
- Use a wall to practice these swings. You can try using a beginner ball to slow down play and to help you really get a grasp on these movements.
The Frescobol Game
- The simplified rule to Frescobol is “not dropping the ball while having fun hitting back and forth between one another”, but if you want to play the game more seriously, “you are trying to control and find a balance between attacking and defending between one another without dropping the ball while adding as much power as possible”.
- The game of Frescobol is played either between 2 or 3 players. 2 players play in front of one another. As 3 players, one stands alone and the other 2 stand next to one another across the single player. The single player alternates hitting to each of the 2 players.
- The name Frescobol came from the word “fresco” meaning to refresh, therefore it was played in the shallow waters to stay cool but also assist in not chasing the balls as much. But really, you can play anywhere that has a soft surface; parks and soft sand areas are great options.
- The ideal distance is about 25 feet apart, but this should really be defined between the partners and what works best between the 2 of you. Find that sweet spot with each partner!
- You’ll notice that you need absolute focus in this game, daydreaming is not your friend in this game.
The Frescobol Rules
There are none. There is no limitation of field or playtime; the simple goal is to keep the ball in the air but ultimately it’s finding the perfect balance between attacking and defending between one an another without dropping the ball and instilling as much power as you would like.
Frescobol can also be played competitively where the objective is to keep the ball in the air as long as possible while scoring points for attacking plays. In a competition scenario (one couple disputes with another couple), eight criteria are observed by the judges, adding up points to denote a winning couple.
- The number of balls that fall to the ground. The least, the better.
- The number of attacking hit each partner conducts.
- The balance between the number of attacks of the player/partners. So you can not have one player only attack and the other only defend.
- The power of the attacks.
- The amount of rescues (almost lost balls that are redeemed).
- The number of risky hits (high reaches or deviations of low leg area attacks).
- The amount of setback (backside) attacks.
- The aesthetics of the game.