When getting together with family and trying to come up with a game that everyone can play―including children, the elderly, mom, dad, and all the aunts and uncles that may be present―there may be no better game than Wiffle Ball. As a scaled-down and safer version of baseball and softball, Wiffle Ball removes the danger of hardballs and the intense running that is associated with baseball. This makes it perfect for older players and children alike, and creates a game that can be enjoyed by the entire family or in limited spaces.
While the term 'Wiffle Ball' is used generically to refer to a baseball-like game that uses a plastic bat and a plastic ball with holes, the game is actually the creation of a company called 'The Wiffle Ball Inc.', based in Connecticut. For those who absolutely must play games 'by the rules', checking out the company's official website will lead to opportunities to learn the 'official' rules of Wiffle Ball and to buy merchandise, including the trademark skinny plastic bat and Wiffle balls. For those with a looser interpretation of things, playing Wiffle Ball is as simple as grabbing a plastic bat or broom handle, a plastic ball, and making up some rules that will be adhered to for that particular game.
Part of the beauty of Wiffle Ball, in fact, is the spontaneity. In the course of Wiffle Ball history, statements like "if you hit that red car over there, it's a home run, but the tree over there is a ground-rule double, and that stump over there is a foul ball", are the norm rather than the exception. The beauty of the game, in addition to being suitable for people of any age and playable in any setting, is that the rules can be defined loosely and according to what playing area is available. While I would encourage anyone playing Wiffle Ball to make up as many of their own rules as possible, here are some tips that cam get you started:
Choose Your Bat Carefully
For athletes of any stripe, the 'official' skinny plastic Wiffle bat is the way to go. The small diameter of the bat barrel requires good hand-eye coordination, and can be challenging for those who have not played baseball or softball, or who don't have an athletic background. For young children and non-athletes, the large, oversized-barrel bats that you can pick up in any toy store will be the best choice, and if playing with a large and disparate group, it is recommended to offer both types of bats.
For those who want to take the game to the next level, doctoring the bat is almost as much fun as playing the game. Copious amounts of electrical tape around the barrel will add weight to the bat, and will allow for a more spread-out game in a cul-de-sac or t-ball baseball field. For those who want to go every further, chopping off the bottom of the bat and shoving newspaper into the barrel adds more weight still, and leads to a game that can be played either with the classic plastic Wiffle balls or with tennis balls. In any event, bat doctoring is entirely unnecessary, but it can lead to variations of the original game that are fun and adaptable.
Curveballs Are for Athletes Only
As with the thin vs. thick-diameter bats, the way the Wiffle Ball is pitched will play a large role in how players enjoy the game. Ball players and athletes will generally have no trouble hitting a curveball, which can easily be thrown by holding the ball with the holes to the left or right when pitching. To throw the ball straight―for non-athletes and children―simply place the holes at the top of the ball when pitching, right underneath the fingers. It can take a little while to grow accustomed to how the ball will move when the holes are aligned in different areas, but for the fun of playing with those of all skill levels, the 'straight ball' is the best option.
Run as Much or Little as You Like
Some folks will play in the same manner as baseball or softball, whereby, hitters will run to first base, etc., after putting the ball in play. The essence of Wiffle Ball, however, is that you do not have to run the bases. Instead, mark areas in the field that represent the different hits that can be achieved, i.e., single, double, triple, and home run. Also, mark foul lines, so that balls that are out of play can be easily noted. When a player hits a ball into the single area, they are awarded first base, but do not actually stand on the base. Rather, a 'ghost runner' is assumed to be there, and can advance when subsequent batters achieve base hits.
Runners can advance in a rather specified manner. For instances, if there are runners on base, each advances one base if a single is hit, two bases for a double, three bases for a triple (meaning that anyone on base will score), and everyone, including the batter, will score on a home run. This arrangement moves the game along quickly, removes the difficult fielding process, and means that Grandmom or Granddad can just as easily play ball as a professional athlete. All in all, this makes Wiffle Ball just about the perfect summertime family game.