What is Cycle Ball and How Is It Played?


Soccer, or also known as association football, is a kind of team sport that is played using a spherical ball between two teams with 11 players each. It is a very popular sport that is played in more than 200 countries by about 250 million players. But did you know that there is an unusual kind of soccer that is played in some countries? Yes, and it is called cycle-ball. 

Cycle-ball is also known as “radball” in Germany. It is a sport that is similar to association football. The only difference is that it is played by players riding bicycles. It is played indoors between teams of two riders. It has an annual international competition, which includes an annual world championship. The sport is governed by the International Cycling Union. If you want to learn more about this sport, read on as we’re giving you more information about cycle-ball.

Brief History of Cycle-Ball

an intense game of cycle-ball

The sport cycle-ball was introduced in 1893 by Nicholas Edward Kaufmann, a German-American. He drafted the sport by combining both bicycling and association football, being a pioneer artistic rider. In 1929, the first world championships for cycle ball were held. 

The sport is popular in Switzerland, Russia, Japan, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and Austria. The most successful players of cycle-ball were the Pospisil brothers of Czechoslovakia. They were world champions twenty times from 1965 to 1988. 

What is Cycle Ball?

game of cycle-ball

Cycle-ball is played between two teams with two players on each team. It can be played both indoors and outdoors, but most competitions are indoors. It uses a rectangular field that is about half the size of a basketball court. The whole field is surrounded by a small barrier that keeps the ball from going out of bounds. Both ends of the field have a goalpost, which is of the same size as the goalposts used in indoor association football. 

There are also 3 events of cycle-ball:

  • 2 riders’ cycle-ball: This is played by two teams with two players each. The field for this game is 11 meters by 14 meters and is surrounded by slanted boarding. 
  • 5 rider’s cycleball: This game is played on a handball field by two teams with seven players. One is a goal-keeper, four are field players, and two are substitutes. 
  • Field cycleball: This game is played on a half football field by two teams with six players each. 

Among these events, the most common one is the 2 riders’ cycle-ball, and it is mostly played in a hall or in a gymnasium. 

The Equipment Needed

For a game of cycle-ball, two things are needed, which are the bicycle and the ball. The bicycle has a special shape, which will allow the players to do good handling of it to shoot the ball into the goal while controlling the ball at the same time. It has a fixed gear system or no brake system. 

The ball, on the other hand, features a textile surface. It weighs around 600 grams, and it is about 18 centimeters in diameter. It is also filled with padding or other materials. 

How Is It Played?

men playing cycle-ball

Before starting the game, the referee will toss a coin to know which team shall start. The winning team will start the first half of the game by striking a ball placed on the center point of the field using the front or rear wheel of the bicycle after the whistle. The other team, on the other hand, will start the second half of the game.

A standard cycle-ball matched is played in two periods of 7 minutes each. There is also a 2-minute break between halves of each game. Players are permitted to move the ball only using the bicycle. Their feet and hands should not be used unless they need to be on the handlebars or the bicycle pedals. Headers are allowed. If a player touches the floor or leans on either the ball or the goal post, he is no longer allowed to continue playing. To continue the game, he needs to go back to his own end line and cross it once. 

When a player is inside his own penalty area, he is allowed to use his hands off handlebars as a goalkeeper. However, two players from the same team are not permitted to be in a penalty area at the same time. Other rules of the game are the same as Association Football. The game’s main objective is to score as many goals as possible. The team that will score the most goal will win the match. 

Brief History of Balls Used in Different Sports

The history of balls used in various sports is fascinating as much as some of its records come with a dark past. Players used whatever was available: simple stitched fabrics, inflated animal bladders, and even animal and human skulls. Materials and techniques have evolved since immemorial, and the sports balls in use today magnify that change. The original sports balls look quite strange compared to today’s sports balls. Read on to see your favorite sport in a completely different light. 

1. Baseball

Baseball came from various enterprises individuals, including shoemakers and cobblers who made balls from rubber shoe shards. Some early baseballs also had rubber cores wrapped in twine and covered with leather. Other early baseballs were made from sturgeon eyes rather than melted rubber. In the mid-1800s, pitchers sometimes made their baseballs. One of early baseball’s most famous “cover designs” was the “lemon peel,” One piece of leather was bound with four different stitches creating a softer ball that was twice as light. It was three times smaller than the current standard ball players use today. Early balls could travel longer distances and bounce higher than modern balls. 

2. Basketball

 a picture of basketball with a white background image

Originally, basketball was played by players with a soccer ball. It wasn’t until 1896, two years after the start of the sport, that a larger ball was used as the official ball of the game made by Overman Wheel Company, a bicycle manufacturer in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. The ball circumference was set at a minimum of 76 centimeters (30 inches) and a maximum of 81 centimeters (32 inches). In 1898, ball weights were fixed at 18 to 22 ounces. Other than minor changes in size and weight, today’s ball remains much the same as what was used in the late 19th century.

3. Bowling

a ten-pin bowler releases his bowling ball inside a bowling game sport hall image
By Xiaphias CC BY SA 30 httpscommonswikimediaorgwindexphpcurid=2587593

Ancient Egyptians who lived in 3200 BC began the sports around 1840 as a lawn game called ninepins which was quite popular among gamblers. The play was moved indoors when Connecticut banned ninepins from curbing the vice in 1841. In the early 1800s, bowling balls were made of wood, later replaced by hard rubber. The first rubber ball, “Evertrue,” was introduced in 1905. In 1914 the Brunswick Company produced Mineralite balls from a “mysterious rubber compound, which was then used for product promotional advertisement. Mineralite balls were sent on a YMCA tour across the country. Rubber balls had an unpleasant odor when pierced and did not have a core design, but like polyester balls, they were widely used by athletes in the 1970s.


Cycle-ball is like a more challenging version of Association Football as the players are required to use bicycles to control the ball. It is indeed an unusual sport but is fun and entertaining to watch at the same time. We hope this helps you learn more about the game of cycle-ball. If you are looking for more unique sports to learn about, you can also read our list of Unusual Sports You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.

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