Is Tetherball a sport or game? A Comparative Analysis


Tetherball is a backyard game where two players strike a ball similar to a volleyball which is hung from a pole by either a tether or rope.

Tetherball is also known as tether tennis to even swing ball. So, how it played? One person begins the game standing by bouncing the ball with both their hands and hitting it into the opposite direction.

The rules for tetherball are simple: two players face each other in opposite directions of the pole, and each aims to hit the ball in their direction.

A player commits a foul if they:

  • step onto the other person’s half of the pole,
  • by accidentally touching the rope instead of the ball,
  • striking the ball before circling the pole or before it is returned by the other player.

The game finishes when one person hits the ball and it circles across the pole in their direction and hits it the pole above the line featured on the pole. Same players can play up to 2 or more matches for a tetherball game.


Initially, tetherball was played with a tennis ball that was covered in a net and tied to a pole with a rope. Renowned companies sold their versions of tetherball game with sets of rules. With volleyball becoming a popular ball sport in the start of 1900, tetherball also rose to fame with a volleyball replacing the tennis ball played in a game of tetherball. The exact place of where tetherball was originated from is not verified. However, it was first played in Britain in 1875 with rackets, called tether tennis back then.


Tetherball game uses a set of equipment including a rope, stationary pole, and a ball. The tetherball’s ball is similar to a volleyball in terms of the size and weight. Tetherballs typically have a bar that the rope is tied to. The height of a tetherball pole is around often 10 feet high, however it can be as lower as 7 feet for younger kids.


Since there is no official governing body for the game of tetherball, it cannot technically be regarded as a sport. Tetherball used to be a popular backyard game for kids till other ball sports came into being that were safer to play. Although, it does seem like a fun sport to try out.

If you want to play tetherball, you can do so by purchasing the equipment online or from a local sports store but I highly recommend playing with safety precautions in an open area such as a park or a big backyard!

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.