Whirlyball is a fun and exhilarating game that people of all ages and abilities can play and it just so happens that Minnesota is lucky enough to host a single Whirlyball court in Maple Grove; a former movie theater right off I-94, south of the Weaver Lake Road exit. We had driven past this place about a dozen times, my husband’s face pressed up against the window of our car each time with the wonderment of a 9-year old, before I gave in and rented out a court for his birthday party this March. Whirlyball was definitely something new for us and everybody else at the party.
How to play
Although the venues may vary, the rules are always the same in Whirlyball: Up to 10 people (5 on each team) speed around the court in “Whirlybugs” passing a wiffle ball with handheld nets between players to score a goal. The goal post is similar in height to a regulation size basketball net backboard.
Players have to hit the backboard in the center to score a point against the opposing team. Periods last nine minutes. A referee is usually on standby to make sure that nobody is engaging in any foul play (ie: players hitting other players with their nets, net-on-net contact) and help in case a ball gets stuck. Players are told to stay in their Whirlybugs at all times.
Think it sounds easy? Not so fast.
First, Whirlybugs don’t exactly act and drive like bumper cars. Standard bumper cars have vertical posts on the backside that are powered by overhead grid. Since those posts would obstruct the gameplay, Whirlybugs are instead powered by plates on the floor . Also, there’s no steering wheel but rather a crank that the players have to turn in order to move forward, turn a corner or back out. It definitely takes some getting used to. There was more than one Whirlybug pile up that night, some taking more than a few minutes to undo.
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