Gaga Ball: More Than a Fun Playground Game
Our Lower and Middle School students love Gaga! They play before school, during breaks, and after school—anytime they can. Last Spring, Coach Rick decided to take our student’s obsession to one level higher. He formed our first Rainard Gaga Tournament.
Our First Gaga Tournament
Students of all ages formed teams of two and came up with a name to represent them. Coach Rick created two brackets–one for Lower School classrooms and one for our Middle School classrooms—and then the games began. While, in the end, our game brackets produced Elementary and Middle School winning teams, all of our students enjoyed the added element of team competition.
What is Gaga?
Dubbed a kinder gentler version of dodgeball, students play Gaga in an octagonal pit named appropriately “The Gaga Pit.” Add a soft ball, a bunch of students, and a set of agreed-upon rules, and you have Gaga! The game relies on skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping to avoid being hit by the ball while trying to hit your opponents with the same ball below the knees. You must keep moving. Strategy, awareness, agility, and pure stamina makes it a great exercise for both minds and bodies. It’s no wonder why our students love Gaga.
Outside of a tournament, all students who want to play start in the pit and someone throws the ball into the pit. Everyone for him/herself. It’s simple. If the ball touches you below the knee, you’re out. The last one in the pit wins. Then, everyone hops back in for the next round.
While we love seeing all ages playing together in one pit, we are most impressed with the high degree of sportsmanship skills our students continue to develop on their own, without formal instruction. We provide the opportunity, and we stand by to guide if needed. But honestly, we rarely ever do.
Once out, students can’t wait to get back in the pit. The games move quickly—so quickly that we have watched our students naturally develop excellent group management and self-regulating skills. They run their games. Students who are waiting on the sidelines act as referees by calling outs and providing the deciding votes when disputes in the pit occur. Collectively, they make sure the rules are followed and keep the game moving forward.
A player throws the ball into the pit to begin the game. After the ball hits two walls, the player bringing in the ball yells “GAGA, ” and the ball is in play. Any player can hit the ball with an open hand. No closed hands allowed! The ball must bounce. If a player catches a ball on a fly, the player who hit the ball is out. Players cannot hold onto the ball.
No double touches. A player cannot hit the ball consecutively. The ball must hit a wall or another player or another ball (when playing Double Trouble—2 Gaga balls at once). If a ball touches a player below the waist (even if the player is hit by a teammate or himself or herself), he or she is out and leaves the pit. If the ball hits a player above the waist, the play continues.
The last player standing is the winner of that round!