Hey folks, welcome to the first post live from our new location at Stairball.org! Today I’d like to present a game that Swarthmore alumnus Lawrence D.P. Miller sent in a while back when he heard about our project: Rafterball! I’ll let Lawrence speak for himself:

For ALASSCA, I give you the sleep-away camp game of my youth: Rafterball (adapted by me for play by people who are not 4 ft tall, and with tree branches in addition to rafters as possible fields of play)

Rafterball is a two-person game involving bouncing a ball from one side of a rafter to the other. Each player will stand on one side or the other of the rafter beam (or tree branch), and will play from that side throughout the match. The goal is to toss the ball from one side of the rafter so that it bounces on top of the rafter and goes over the rafter and falls on the other side. One point is awarded for each bounce, and a “roll” is worth 5 points. Games are typically played to 11, 15, or 21.

Players may stand as near or as far away from the rafter as they wish, up to directly underneath it. Players standing two or more feet from the rafter may toss overhand if they wish; players standing closer to the beam or directly beneath it must toss underhand. “Slam dunks” are not allowed; if the branch or rafter is within reach of the players, they are allowed to toss from approximately shoulder height or lower (unless standing 2 or more feet away). When standing beneath the rafter, the player must still toss from one side to the other; any shot that either fails to clear the rafter, or clears in the wrong direction, is considered a miss.

One player is designated the starting player; he or she gets first toss. Play continues in a “make it take it” fashion; upon scoring one or more points on a toss, that player keeps the ball and tosses again, continuing until he or she misses, and then play switches to the other player. When one player reaches the requisite number of points, the other player is granted “last licks”, and is given a single opportunity to keep playing until he or she misses. If the other player does surpass the score of the player who originally reached the winning score, that original player is then also granted last licks, and so on until there is one clear winner.

Typically, tennis balls are used, but any ball that can easily bounce on the rafter in question can be used.