New Moves for New Rules

We hear a lot about tetherball in our house. The boys play at school a lot, and have both been itching to play me.

So, naturally, we bought them a tetherball set for Christmas. I set it up in the backyard after they went to bed on Christmas Eve.

They were thrilled when they saw it – and ready to challenge their dad.

My oldest was up first. I explained that height is a huge advantage in tetherball, but he’d apparently been playing the gym teacher at school, and he said he was ready.

He served. I hit it back. He threw up one hand to block it, then smashed the ball with his other hand.

“Woah!” I said. “No fair. You can only hit it once.”

“Na-ah. This is how we play at school.”

The argument went back and forth a few times before I called a halt. We went to the computer, pulled up the World Tetherball Association web page and read the official rules.

Sure enough, you can only hit the ball once when it’s on your side. You also can’t hit it with anything other than a hand or a forearm, and you’re not allowed to hit the rope. Finally, any foul – even one – results in immediate forfeiture of the game.

Educated, we went back out to the court.

He immediately forgot and hit the ball twice.

“One game for me,” I said.


During the next game, I missed a hit and the ball smacked into my middle.

“It hit your belly!” he shouted. “I win!”


“It’s not your hand or your forearm. You hit it with your belly. That’s not allowed.”

Oof. Insult and injury all rolled into one. “You’re right.” I said. “You win.”

“My turn!” his little brother said.

“Just aim for his belly,” my oldest said. “That’s how to beat him.”


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