Discover Newcomb and the Popular Volleyball Sport: A Comparative Analysis

Newcomb ball is a simplified version of the popular ball sport, Volleyball that was also invented in the late 1800s in the United States. This sport has some historic significance as it is regarded as one of the few sports that was created by a woman and also played by women in America. Clara Gregory Baer, a physical instructor at a college invented this variation of volleyball as a more casual ball game that can be easily played at schools and colleges, with much simpler rules for the game that we will discuss in the blog. If you are curious as to how it is similar and different to volleyball, then keep reading below!


Newcomb, also known as Newcomb Ball and informally referred to as “Nuke ‘em” is a team sport that uses similar rules as volleyball. A ball or a volleyball is used with a large net with ropes that divides the court into two halves for each team.

The objective of the game is to score a touchdown – throwing the ball in such a way that it lands on the opponent’s side of the court, making sure that it touches the ground and is not received by them. This helps the team score a point and the team with the highest number of points wins the game.

As for the number of players in each team, this is where it differentiates from volleyball; Newcomb can be played with any number of players, mostly up to 20 players per team! In addition to that, there is no set time for the duration of the match, both teams can agree on a time before starting the match, and the game is divided into two halves. Both males and females can play Newcomb.  Newcomb is played at indoor courts, gymnasiums, or other spaces where you can find a net and a ball. Cones can be used at the outer sides to mimic the boundary of a court.

On the other hand, volleyball is a recreational as well as a professional net sport that is a part of the Olympic Games. It has another recognized variation of the game: Beach Volleyball which has the same rules as the original game of Volleyball but it is played at a beach or in a sand court and there are two players in each team.

 Volleyball has standard rules with an organized play which includes 6 team members in groups of two. A game of volleyball can go up to 90 minutes with a set format. The first team to obtain 25 points by a two-point margin wins a set, with each game comprising a best-of-five sets format. Another important rule for the game is that a team can touch the ball up to 3 times to pass and throw it to the opposing side. However, one player in a team cannot touch the ball two times in a row.


Volleyball is not the only sport that is similar to Newcomb! I found a few more ball sports that are similar. Firstly, Throwball is also considered a relative of this ball sport. In addition to that, some of the least popular sports such as Catchball, Hoover ball, and Fistball also have similar gameplay as Newcomb!


Q. What is the difference between Newcomb and volleyball?

Newcomb is regarded as a variation of volleyball. The games have the same standard objective of winning; however, the number of players and duration of the match may differ.

Q. Is it Newcomb or Nukem?

Newcomb is sometimes pronounced as “Nuke ’em” ball which gave birth to the nickname.

Q. Is Newcomb a sport and why?

Newcomb ball is a team sport that is a variation of volleyball but with a much simpler gameplay. it was invented by a physical instructor, Clara Baer in a US college as an easy-to-play ball sport with any number of players.

Q. Is volleyball more popular than Newcomb?

Yes, without a doubt volleyball is a more popular ball sport that is widely played around the world and is also part of the Olympic Games.

Author’s opinion

 If we compare the popularity of both ball games, I think it is pretty obvious that volleyball is a widely played sport that cannot be beaten by this easy version of the sport. If we talk about the popularity of Newcomb as an individual sport, then unfortunately it is regarded as a declining sport. The governing body for Newcomb – National Newcomb Advisory Committee is also no longer in effect.  However, I think it is a suitable version that can be played by beginners as a more casual game or by people with disabilities.

What do you think?

Written by Usama

Usama J. is a passionate writer about the sports and works as an in house sports journalist at Openiun, and covered many international sporting events including ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022.