New Game: Spike Ball

spike ballWhat do you get when you cross volleyball with foursquare – you get a whole new game: Spike Ball! Chris Ruder first created the game back in 2007 and since then, there are over a quarter million active players on over 1000 teams in the USA. Regional Spike Ball tournaments occur every year and a champion gets crowned.

The game itself is pretty simple. The “net” looks like a small, round trampoline. Teams of two spike the ball off the net and the opposing team, like in volleyball, has three touches to return the ball by spiking it off the net again. There are no boundaries, so there's lots of jumping and diving.

Ruder grew the game the old-fashioned way – by promoting the crap out of it. Spike Ball has a ton of videos on Youtube and they do a great job getting their message out via social media. Creating a whole new sport in just 7-8 short years is quite a feat, but growth could really blow up after Spike Ball appears in Shark Tank episode 623. Beach season is upon us and Spike Ball is kind of a poor man's beach volleyball. If Shark Tank nation likes what they see, there will be a Spike Ball set in every beach bag this summer.

My Take on Spike Ball

I have a daughter who'll be playing volleyball on a college scholarship next year. She's also entering some beach volleyball tournaments with a friend this summer. I went to a lot of her high school games and she plays on a whole different level. When I play volleyball at the beach or in the back yard, my biggest concern is not spilling my beer. I think Ruder had people like me in mind when he invented Spike Ball.

While the elements of the game are like volleyball, Spike Ball has a more four square-like difficulty level. I don't mean to disrespect the “hardcore” Spikeballers – some of the teams that compete in the national tournaments are very athletic – but the core Spike Ball player (and the bulk of the people who buy a set) are more recreational players.

It looks like a fun game and I'd love to try it out on the beach this summer, but only if my daughter is on MY TEAM!

Do Sharks Play Ball?

I think Spike Ball is on the cusp of being big. It's easy to learn and play, there's a proven following, and people are always looking for a fun new game for the beach. Since Spike Ball has some history and a grass-roots groundswell of support, there must be some decent sales figures.

If they come in with good numbers and a reasonable valuation, I expect multiple offers. Daymond could brand the game well, Mark likes “events-based” businesses, Nick Woodman is the consummate California beach guy, Lori could sell it on QVC, and Mr. Wonderful could find a way to extract a royalty. Maybe all 5 Sharks will team up and Spike the Ball with Spike Ball!

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

Comments

  1. Jeff Knurek says

    Rob,
    If you watched the episode, you’ll see that Chris, when asked by Kevin, tells of how the game came out in 1989. He did not invent the game. I did. As a professional toy and game inventor, it was my first invention to make it to market. I worked at a invention studio at the time. The game, produced by Tomy, only lasted on the shelves two years. Bad promotion and bad weather, did not help it’s life. Years later Chris and his friends approached me about getting more games. They also expressed a desire to start making more. I couldn’t give them that permission, because the owner of the studio was still looking for manufacturers to bring the game back. Honestly, why would he work with a bunch of people with no manufacturing, distribution or retail connections as opposed to talking to real game manufacturers. Chris and his group went ahead a applied for the dead trademark and started producing the game, without any royalty agreement with my old boss. They essentially cut the ability of the rightful owner of the game to proceed and they moved forward. Unfortunately for Daymond, he didn’t ask if there were any other people producing the game. Because of how well Chris and his group promoted Spikeball, there are at least 6 other manufacturers producing the game at half the cost. He will have his work cut out for him to compete with less expensive games.

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