The Maya ball game is recognized as the oldest team sport in the history of mankind and its characteristics, as mentioned in the specialized site of Mexico Alma de Chiapas, make this activity a surprising practice full of mysteries and unknowns that remain undetermined by researchers in the area.
This game had a very important connotation in the Mayan culture. The ancient great fields where this sport was played, which today are ruins, contain elements that denote great value. Such as figures of their gods and the representation of the field as a divine space.
Mayan Ball Game
This sport consisted of two teams that had to hit a ball and manage to pass it through a stone hoop. We could say that it has similarities to basketball, volleyball or soccer, however, this sport is much more complex than it seems.
Rules Mayan Ball Game
Players could only touch the ball with their elbows, shoulders and hips. For this reason, the best warriors were chosen, since they had to have amazing strength and agility to hit the ball as far as possible.
Research has shown that the teams had between two and five players, depending on the size of the playing field.
It is believed that the way to win in the early days was to keep the ball from falling to the ground. However, the Maya ball game evolved with the implementation of hoops in the courts through which the ball had to pass in order to score points.
Ball Mayan Ball Game
The ball was mainly made of rubber, but it was hardened through a vulcanization process and the combination with other fibrous plants.
This composition gave the ball an extraordinary hardness and also a bouncing capacity like no other material at the time. It could be said that the Mayans built the first solid rubber ball.
Playing fields Mayan Ball Game
There was a great effort behind the construction of the fields, these had vertical walls that formed a narrow and long court. After these walls followed a sloping wall of much greater height. At the top of the wall was the hoop through which the ball had to pass.
It is worth mentioning that each court had different dimensions, the Chichén Itzá court being the largest and most important within the Mayan culture.
Uniforms Mayan Ball Game
The clothing worn by the teams consisted of loincloths and leather protections on the head, elbows and hips. The protections were placed due to the hardness of the solid ball and had the name Pix’om.
Maya ball game today
Today, studies continue to be conducted on this sport in order to solve the mysteries and clarify many erroneous beliefs about this marvelous and amazing activity.
Some studies speak of the use of racquets in courts where the hoop was very distant from the players, also making a connection with the Ulama game. Still, much remains to be discovered about this culture and its flagship sport.
Trying to play a modern version of the Mayan ball game at home is not difficult, it is enough to get a rubber ball and practice with a hoop the blows with the hip, elbows and head. Then have fun trying to emulate what the Mayan ancestors did.
In some tourist places in Mexico, the Mayan ball game is one of the attractions and attractions for visitors, being Xcaret one of the greatest exponents of the Mayan culture and knowing it should be one of the things you have to do in Cancun.