This article was originally published at ThriveSports.com. The publication contributed the article to LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

While the NFL is hard at work trying to grow its own popularity in Europe, some Americans in Chicago have adopted a young European sport called bubble soccer.

Germans call it Loopyball (my favorite) while other countries in Europe call it bubble football.

It started out as a joke by Henrick Elvestad and Johan Gold, hosts of the Norwegian comedy sports show “Golden Goal.” They posted the video of them playing on YouTube and its popularity spread across Europe like warm Nutella. Mmm.

The game itself is a cross between soccer (most of you know what soccer is so I’ll skip ahead) and sorbing which is a sport in which an individual rolls down the side of a hill or sometimes a level surface in a giant plastic orb. The plastic orb surrounding the player is similar in construction but differs where these allow the player’s legs to run around freely or essentially wear the orb. The objective of the game is to score against your opponent’s net and knock each other down while you try. You could argue that this is one of those games where defense is more fun.

In the video above, the game starts much like a competitive game of dodgeball. When they hear the whistle, players fearlessly rush in to the center to find and kick a soccer ball through their about-to-be sweaty bubble. The increasing amount of sweat will eventually make visibility an ongoing struggle because the exercise is real and it is most definitely can be a sport.

Players’ hands are fixed inside the bubble so players have to maintain balance using just their legs. Mobility is sacrificed in this game but the giant orbs have also leveled the playing field for players of different sizes. Leaping ability and daily stress levels are the two most relevant variables.

Finally, in regards to safety, I have the belief that it is the coach and players sitting on the bench who are in the greatest danger. It might take a few rotations for a player’s feet to find ground so it becomes somewhat of a #wreckingball.

Maybe we got it all wrong with those helmets and pads.

Sources: The Boston Globe, odditycentral.com

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on LiveScience.

Our course has focused on developments in international soccer, and to complement our analysis of soccer politics, I thought it would fun to share an update about a recreational spin-off of the sport: bubble soccer.

Retrieved from http://www.2mencave.com

Bubble soccer is more or less what it sounds like. Participants play soccer while strapped into inflatable, plastic bubbles. The players frequently rebound off each other during high-speed collisions and end up rolling on the ground.

Bubble soccer first started in Norway and spread throughout Europe. In the United States, the National Association of Bubble Soccer (NABS) has active leagues in 32 cities with thousands of registered players. Unsurprisingly, the rules of bubble soccer are different than traditional soccer. VICE Sports reports the games are played in six to seven minute quarters with five to eight players per team, depending on the field. There is considerably more physical contact in bubble soccer, although NABS has implemented rules similar to ones in the NFL that ban hits on defenseless players.

Although official leagues exist, other companies also rent the equipment for birthday parties or other small events. I first encountered bubble soccer while I was walking through my neighborhood last summer. A group of elementary school students was running around a soccer field with bubbles strapped on their bodies. Most of them were so short that if their bubbles rolled upside down, they got stuck with their feet in the air and had to wait for the referee to tip them back over.

Retrieved from http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/2014/06/17/bubble-soccer-hits-nashville/10628483/

Despite the fact that much of the integrity of soccer is lost, bubble soccer offers a way for people who are out of touch with the sport to become more involved. For example, several of my friends played bubble soccer last summer during a company-sponsored orientation event. Other than bubble soccer, these girls probably wouldn’t have touched a soccer ball since high school. Bubble soccer is also tremendously fun for spectators, and it’s almost impossible to watch video footage of a game without laughing.

A few years ago, an article on Bubble Football was published on our class blog in French. Read the article here!

Aldi’s Slingin’ $30 Inflatable Bubble Balls, So Catch Me Rolling Away From All My Problems

Today’s Aldi Special Buy has bargain hunters like myself losing their minds. The budget supermarket are selling those human-sized bubble balls for a measly $29.99. I have spent more than that on a singular cocktail. Yes, that cocktail was a mistake.

This excellent buy started today, so you might have to fight off your local bargain hunter for a last-minute grab tomorrow morning. But if you’re a desperate bubble boy-wannabe like me, it’s worth the risk.

Do I need a giant inflatable wearable sphere? Absolutely fucking not. But will I buy one and roll down my hallway like Violet Beauregarde? You bet your damn blueberries, I will.

Me rolling away from the haters in my bubble ball.

For context, these bad boys usually retail on eBay for around $60-100, so as your neighbourhood cheap bitch™, I am here to inform you that this is a certified bargain.

I simply must have one of these glorious inventions.

Obviously, the Kmart mums and fellow cheap bitches on Facebook loved the deal, with over 80,000 comments, 8,000 likes and more than 1,500 shares in less than a day. What did I tell you? People will buy anything if you tell them it’s on sale.

The balls inflate to a whopping 121cm diameter, which is roughly the length of a small child, I think, depending on the child. They also come equipped with grips and shoulder straps if you’re going to indulge in a little game of human dodgeball.

As long as you’re taller than 110cm, you’re ready for some ballin’.

The possibilities are endless with this glorious invention. You will get precisely 32 minutes of fun before you inevitably land on a stick or another sharp object and pop your bubble, but for $29.99, what can you really expect?

I’m not a psychologist, but I’m convinced these bubbles will solve all of my problems.

Unpaid bill? Talk to the bubble.

Need to vent your anger? Would you look at the time, it’s bubble o’clock.

Bored? Bubble.

Significant other really giving you the shits? Sorry, I can’t hear you, I’m in my bubble.

If you need me, I will be desperately searching every searching every Aldi in Melbourne to scavenge one of these bad boys. If you’re interested in becoming an IRL bubble boy with me, I’d suggest giving your local store a call to check stock levels because I’m sure these were rolling out the door today.

Image: Aldi

Bubble Soccer 

GUIDELINES, RULES & SAFETY

Here are BubbleSoccer2U, we do everything to ensure that players, spectators and our staff are as safe as possible. With that in mind, please take the time to read through our rules below.

Remember that all Bubble Sportz participants play at their own risk. As with most other sports, there is potential for players to be injured whilst playing. Players with pre-existing injuries, who lack conditioning or can’t afford to be injured should seriously consider whether they believe they should put themselves in a Bubble.

ATTIRE

  • Sporting attire (shorts or leggings and t-shirt/polos) is recommended as it does get quite hot running around. We advise that you don’t wear a singlet as straps can rub on shoulders.

  • Players must wear sports appropriate closed toe footwear.

  • Players who require glasses must accept the full responsibility for any injury or damage suffered due to the wearing of glasses..

  • Players must remove any loose jewellery and cover any items that may cause injury or damage to the bubbles.

BUBBLE SAFETY – TO BE OBSERVED AT ALL TIMES

  • Do not deliberately roll on your head or tip others on their head.

  • Avoid hitting other players from behind where possible.

  • Hold the handles with both hands.

  • Keep the straps on over your shoulder.

  • Keep your straps tightened and done up to ensure appropriate clearance between the top of your bubble are your head.

  • Check with your instructor if you are worried about the level of inflation in your bubble.

  • No coordinated rough impact charging, particularly from long distances or by jumping into each other.

  • Take care when bumping near your referee/instructor.

  • No spectators are to be present on pitch, subs are to change over as quickly as possible.

DON’T DELIBERATELY BUMP INTO A…

  • Person not in a Bubble Suit.

  • Person on the ground or trying to get up off the ground.

  • Person who is not near the ball and/or isn’t expecting contact.

  • Person from a long distance away.

  • Anyone when the referee has stopped play or before play is restarted after a goal/stoppage.

  • Goal post, goal net, corner, net, frame or other rigid objects.

POSSIBLE PENALTIES

  • Free/kicks and penalties during the game.

  • Player being red carded and ejected from the pitch.

  • Player being green carded, ejected from the pitch and having their bubble removed from the game.

  • In cases of serious breaches for rules, the booking will be immediately ended.

HEAT POLICY

  • In the event that the temperature on pitch exceeds 37 degrees all Bubble Soccer 2U games/bookings will be cancelled.

  • Bookings that are yet to start or less than 30% complete will be entitled to a full refund or able to move their booking to another appropriate date.

FAQS

What is Bubble Ball Soccer?

Bubble Ball Soccer is the newest sport in the US! An exciting twist on the traditional game of soccer, you will be wrapped in a giant, soft inflatable Bubble Ball with shoulder harnesses and handles inside! Get ready to have a blast! Once you strap on one of these huge, bouncy hamster-balls you will have a hard time not laughing as you bump into opponents while trying to kick the soccer ball into the goal. Tons of fun for players and spectators alike! Most people have only seen videos on Facebook and YouTube! Now you can play too! Get off the bleachers & get in the Bubble Ball! Our minimum age is 5 to 6 to play around in the bubble balls, however, we have lots of bouncey balls and horses for kids younger than 7 to play with and even a 6 foot tall inflatable soccer ball that they love!

Bubble Ball Soccer & our other Bubble Ball games are perfect for birthday parties, team building, church groups, corporate events, schools, private parties, bachelor parties, family reunions, fund-raisers & beach get togethers! You name it, we do it!

How do I rent & How much does it cost?

We need to know about how many players you will be expecting so we can determine how long we will be playing. Once we understand what you want to do – we can give you a few options. We are flexible. Will we be coming to you (if yes, where are you located) or are you coming to us in Safety Harbor to play?

If you would like to book a Bubble Ball Party or event or Open Play – please email us [email protected]

OR call or text us at 727-324-3674

Where do we play?

You can come to us in Safety Harbor – we play indoors at the Rec Center and outdoors at local fields in the area. We also come to you! We just need a grassy field that is free and clear of sticks, rocks, glass and shells and we don’t need much space! About a 1/4 the size of a regulation field!

Although we are based in Safety Harbor – we play everywhere! St. Pete, Tampa, Spring Hill, Sarasota, Lakes Wales, Lakeland and everwhere inbetween! We own a lot of Bubble Balls so we can be in 2 places at the same time!

If you would like to rent, please email us [email protected]

OR call or text us at 727-324-3674

How much does it cost to buy my own Bubble Balls?

Email us and we will send you pricing. Bubble Ball Rentals & Sales tab please.

Do I have to pay for set-up and break-down time?

No. We do not charge for set-up or break-down. Price quotes always reference the amount of time available to actually play, so 60 minutes means you can play for 60 minutes. (Travel fee may apply for distant destinations.)

Is there a minimum amount of players and/or number of Bubble Balls to rent?

No, a typical game is 4vs4 or 5vs 5 with a few substitutes rotating in and out.

But it’s your game – we can play 3vs3! We are open to discuss other options since we have tons of Bubble Balls! Just ask!

Open Play – Pick up games

We host OPEN PLAY dates and are in the process of finalizing a Bubble Ball

Soccer League & MeetUps. OPEN PLAY iis similar to a pick up game!

We may be indoors or outdoors! All of the equipment will be set up!

MUST make reservations So, grab a few friends! Get off the bleachers!

Click on OPEN PLAY info to find out more about this. Be sure to “LIKE US” on Facebook – this is where we put our Open Play dates and times.

Do you have a facility where I can come play?

Yes, we rent fields in Safety Harbor or we come to you.

We provide the equipment and you supply the field. We play in public parks & open fields in the Tampa Bay area. We even play in backyards! And we can play on tennis courts & in gyms too! You do not need a full size soccer field – about 1/4 of the size! Also, some schools offer their fields for recreational use for the community.

Note: Some parks and fields require a permit, reservation, and/or a use fee for some organized or team activities, and that is your responsibility.

Do we play indoors or outdoors?

Both indoors and outdoors make for great playing areas. A basketball-court size field or court, either indoors or outdoors, works great!

Gyms, large auditoriums, tennis courts or any open field without rocks or sticks will work great! Obviously, we can’t play where there are sharp objects or on cement!

Do I need a full-size soccer field?

Definitely not. In fact, for most groups, a much smaller field is better, to reduce the running and increase the bumping!

Do I need any additional equipment?

No. The game requires Bubble Balls, soccer ball, boundary markers & goals. We provide all of these. Some people bring their own knee pads for extra comfort/protection and to make it easier to stand up without using their arms.

Do you include a referee to explain everything?

Yes, each rental includes a referee who will instruct you on how to use the equipment and how to play safely, as well as help organize your game. And to help get you back on your feet sometimes too!


Do you require a liability waiver (and what about minors)?

Yes, we do. As with any athletic sport, there is a risk of physical injury when playing Bubble Ball Soccer. We will give you some tips on what not to do, but you are responsible for playing safely and sanely. For minors, 17 years of age and younger, a parent or guardian must sign a liability waiver.

Is Bubble Football a Coed sport?

Yes

What’s the age limit?

Ages are around 6 and up to play around in the bubble balls, however, a lot depends on them physically as each player has to run around carrying a bubble ball! We have a ton of other inflatable toys and games for the younger kids!

Are there any player restrictions?

Yes, anyone with heart conditions, pregnancy or having a health issue restricting them from physical activity should not participate. pat

What shall I wear?

Please wear loose and comfortable sports clothing, preferably without zippers.

Appropriate closed footwear, like gym shoes is required. No cleats of any kind.

No jewelry, necklaces, watches, rings or earrings anywhere on your body.

No hair barrettes or bobby pins.

No belts. No casts. No activity trackers.

No sunglasses or eyeglasses unless worn with Sports Goggles & a head strap.

What is the object of the game?

The object of the game is to get the soccer ball into the net to score a goal! And to have a fun time while you are attempting to score while bumping into players on the other team! It’s a hilarious game!

What are the rules?

We loosely follow traditional soccer rules. For example, there is no Off-Sides! You start the game with the soccer ball in the middle of the field. The players stand several feet away and when the ref blows the whistle everyone runs to the ball at the same time resulting in some Bubble Ballers rolling around on the ground! The real fun is just beginning because when you crash into another player, both of you will go flying in different directions.

  • Each team typically has 5 players and at least 1 substitute
  • The game is exhilarating & exhausting so bring a sub if possible
  • Substitutions can be made during the game as needed
  • There are 4 periods lasting 10 minutes each with a few 2 minute breaks
  • Each team can call a 2 minute timeout during a half
  • All play stops immediately when the referee blows the whistle
  • No kicking or bumping into a player when they are are down
  • No bumping a player when they are trying to stand back up
  • No knocking players over when the ball is out of bounds
  • Don’t knock down someone who is not facing you
  • No fighting – ejections will happen (no refunds)
  • No launching into anybodys legs at any time
  • No kicking the equipment (Bubble Balls)
  • If the Bubble Ball gets punctured please let the ref know
  • You must remain in the Bubble Ball when in play
  • Please arrive 20 minutes early to sign waiver & get comfortable in the Bubble Ball! Don’t forget to drink plenty of water so you stay hydrated during the game!

Do you offer other games besides Bubble Ball Soccer?

Yes, we have Bubble Baseball, Bubble Smash & Bubble Rumble

See other Bubble Ball Games we play!

Do I have to blow up the balls myself?

No, we have pumps for that, and we will inflate them prior to your start time.

Can I just rent the gear and do everything myself?

No. The bubbles require special expertise and equipment for proper inflation and deployment. Additionally, we require our staff to be present during use for the safety of both the participants and the bubbles.

Cancellation, Refund & Weather Policy

We require a credit card, check or cash payment in full to reserve your game as no other game can be booked for this time. Once you pay, this will confirm your date and time and we will no longer take reservations for your spot as space is limited. The booking with a credit card, check or cash is non-refundable. There may be exceptions for paying upfront – just call us and we will talk.

Weather – we will not offer refunds for games cancelled or shortened due to adverse weather, acts of God, or events not within the reasonable control of Tampa Bay Bubble Ball Soccer. We will not play in inclement weather as safety comes first. Games must be called off 2 hours before scheduled game time in situations of inclement weather unless you have an indoor place where we can play! We will work with you to reschedule the game!

Is the deposit refundable if we cannot attend? No.

How do I pay?

We will email an invoice to you that will allow you to input your credit or debit number into directly. This will automatically send you a receipt.

Can players/groups drink alcohol while playing?

No! Any players or groups found drinking alcohol while playing or who we determine are intoxicated or impaired will be asked to sit out. No refunds.

Do you want to start your own Bubble Ball Business?

Yes, we can help – send us an email at [email protected]

Bubble bubble bubble ball

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