Basque pelota (pilota in the original Basque language also pelota vasca in Spanish, pelote basque in French) is the name for a variety of court sports played with a ball using one's hand, a racket, a wooden bat or a basket, against a wall (frontis or Fronton) or, more traditionally, with two teams face to face separated by a line on the ground or a net. The roots of this class of games can be traced to the Greek and other ancient cultures.
The term pelota probably comes from the Vulgar Latin term pilotta (ball game). It is a diminutive form of the word pila which may relate to a hard linen or leather ball filled with pilus (fur or hair) or to the Latin words for strike or spade and is related to the English word pellet.
Today, Basque pelota is played in several countries. In Europe, this sport is concentrated in Spain and France, especially in the Basque Country. The sport is also played in Latin American countries such as Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Cuba. Operated as a gaming enterprise called Jai Alai, it is seen in parts of the U.S. such as Florida, Connecticut, Nevada, and Rhode Island.
Since its creation, the International Federation of Basque Pelota has standardised the different varieties into four modalities and fourteen disciplines, with fixed ball weights, rules and court sizes. The four modalities—30 metres (33 yd) wall, 36 metres (39 yd) wall, 54 metres (59 yd) wall and trinquete—admit fourteen disciplines, depending the use of bare hand, leather ball, rubber ball, paleta (pelota paleta), racket (frontennis) and xare. Two of the fourteen disciplines are played by both men and women (frontenis and rubber pelota in trinquete); the other twelve are played only by men. This allows championship play at the international level, and allows the participation of players and teams from around the world using the same rules. There is, however, criticism about this, since purists might argue that some of the original traits of each particular modality could be lost.
Even with protection, accidents do happen. With the ball easily travelling at 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph), pelota can kill if safety equipment is not used properly or at all; while rare, occasional deaths do occur.
A game of pelota as played in Ustaritz
|Highest governing body||International Federation of Basque Pelota|
|First played||13th century|
|Team members||Single or doubles|
|Type||Hand sport, Racquet sport, Basket sport|
|Equipment||Basque pelota ball|
|Olympic||Part of the Summer Olympic programme in 1900|
Demonstrated at the 1924, 1968 and 1992 Summer Olympics
Recognized as an Olympic sport
The origin of this sport is tied to the decline of the ancient jeu de paume (jeu de paume au gant), ca. 1700. While the game evolved to the modern jeu de paume (with racquet, called real tennis in England) and eventually to tennis, rural Alpine and Pyrenean communities kept the tradition.
In the Basque Country the "pasaka" and "laxoa", local versions of the paume evolved to the peculiar style of the pilota: instead of playing face to face, with a net in the midfield, the Basques began to fling the ball against a wall.
According to the Basque pilota historian Chipitey Etcheto, the first recorded matches took place in Napoleonic times; it is believed that the game was close to currently rare specialty of "rebot".
The mid-19th century saw the explosion of the "pelota craze". The player "Gantxiki" is considered the original "father" of the chistera, the basket-shaped racquet that can propel the ball at incredible speeds, introduced around 1850.
The top champions of the end of the 19th century, such as "Chiquito de Cambo", were immensely popular and the best-paid sportsmen of their time. The first official competitions were organized in the 1920s and led to the world championship in the 1950s.
In 1924, the United States built its first fronton, in Miami. Jai-Alai is used for betting. During the '80s and '90s, Jai-Alai was especially popular in Miami and Florida, where the frontons had press boxes and restaurants and going to the Jai-Alai was seen to be a privilege. Men often came in suits and women came in elaborate dresses for the "special event". Nowadays, Jai-Alai has dropped in popularity. Instead of thousands of people who came to watch, now there are barely a couple hundred.
Pelota is usually played in the Basque regions of south-western France and north-eastern Spain, where it originated. There are also federations of Basque ball in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Philippines, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, the United States, Venezuela, the Netherlands, Sweden, India and Greece. Due to the origin of the game, there are many good players who are Basques, either natives or from the Basque diaspora.
Basque pelota was an official Olympic sport once, in the 1900 Paris Games, and a demonstration sport in 1924 (men), 1968 (men) and 1992 (men and women). See also Basque pelota at the 1900 Summer Olympics. In the 1900 Paris Games there were only two teams competing, France and Spain. The Spanish team: Amezola and Villota, beat the French team: Maurice Durquetty and Etchegaray by an unknown score.
Basque pelota is usually played in a two walled court (Basque: frontoi or pilotaleku, French: fronton, Spanish: frontón). As seen in the picture, there are also courts with one wall, a modality prevailing on the French side of the Basque Country, some spots of Navarre or at the highly exceptional court of Zubieta in province Gipuzkoa. Yet they are not recognized by the International Federation of Basque Pelota for international tournaments, and usually reserved to joko-garbia and open-air grand chistera games.
The trinquet is a court in Pelota where there is a front wall, a glass wall on the right and a wall on the left that has a dugout built into it and lastly a wall at the back. where the right wall and the front wall meet there is small 45 degree wall. The trinquet is 8.50 meters high, 28.50 meters long and 9.30 meters wide.
The mur a gauche is French for 'wall on the left' which it truly is, as represented in the diagram below where there is a front wall called a frontis, a left wall and a back wall called a rebot. The mur a gauche is 36 meters long, 10 meters wide and 10 meters high.
The Jai-Alai court has the same layout as the mur a gauche, but instead of being 36 meters long, it is 54 meters long.
The basic principle in hand-pelota is that there are two teams of two players each. The team to serve bounces the ball, then propels it towards the playing area of the narrow, front wall where it has to rebound between the low line demarcating the low off-area and the high line demarcating the high off-area.
The ball may either be played so it rebounds directly off the front wall onto the playing floor or onto the long side wall first. The opposing team may either play the ball immediately after rebounding from the front wall or side wall without rebounding from the playing floor or after having rebounded from the playing floor once.
A team scores by:
A team may also score by the opposing team:
The ball used to play pelota is called pilota in Basque, pelote in French, and pelota in Spanish. There are different sizes, different weights and different materials for each discipline that is played.
The ball is made out of a boxwood core from 20–36 mm (0.79–1.42 in) in diameter. The ball is then wrapped in a latex wire (for Hand Pelota, Grand Chistera, Jai-Alai, and open-air Pala). It is important to know that the core of the ball is different for individual age groups so that the weight limit is respected. The core can also be made from latex (for Cesta Punta, Xare, Pala Corta, and Remonte).
A wire of pure new wool is then wrapped around the core very carefully so that the ball is round and even throughout. A structure of cotton wire is sewed on the surface of the ball so that the wool stays in place. Number eight shapes are cut out from goat skin and are sewn together onto the ball in one or two layers.
Some of the disciplines in pelota require the use of a glove or Chistera.
Chistera Joko Garbi: A short and shallow glove that is used in Joko Garbi and is played on a fronton.
Grand Chistera: A long and deep glove. In France, the grand Chistera is used to play Grand Chistera on "place libre", and it is called Cesta Punta when it is played on a Jai-Alai.
Chistera de Remonte: It is only used in Spain for Remonte (played on a Jai-Alai court). It is a shallow glove like the Chistera Joko Garbi but longer.
The Palas and Paletas are wooden made rackets that are used to strike or hit the ball. The difference between them is their weight, length, and width.
Paleta Gomme Creuse-Paleta Goma: The larger of the two Paleta Gomme, it can weigh from 400 to 500 grams. It is used in the trinquet and on the mur a gauche.
Paleta Gomme Pleine-Pala Ancha: This Paleta is narrower but thicker than the Paleta Gomme creuse and is also 400 to 500 grams. It is used in the trinquet and the mur a gauche as well as the fronton 'place libre'.
Paleta Cuir-Paleta Cuero: This Paleta is thicker and narrower than both of the Paleta Gomme rackets and weighs from 500 to 600 grams. It is used in the trinquet, mur a gauche and fronton 'place libre'.
Grosse Pala-Pala Corta : A Pala that is even thicker and narrower than the Paleta Cuir, which results the Pala to be from 600 to 800 grams. The Pala is used in fronton 'place libre' and mur a gauche.
Pala Larga: Only used in Spain to play a game also called Pala Larga, it is the longest and heaviest of all the Palas and Paletas with a weight of 900 grams.
This is the version known outside Europe as jai alai. It is called zesta punta in Basque and cesta-punta in Spanish (literally: 'edged basket'). It uses a special glove that extends into a long pointed curved basket (hence the name), circa 60 cm long in straight line and 110 cm by curved line. The basket (xistera in Basque and chistera in French) was introduced by Gantchiqui Dithurbide from Saint-Pée, France in 1860, and its long version by Melchior Curuchage, from Buenos Aires in 1888. The players use it to catch the rubber ball and propel it back against the main court. The Basque Government claims it as "the fastest game on Earth", the record being 302 km/h or 187.65 mi/h (José Ramón Areitio at the Newport Jai Alai, Rhode Island, USA on 3 August 1979).
It is a modern Mexican fusion between tennis and Basque pelota. It uses tennis rackets in a short court, although the ball has a different surface to the tennis one. Men and women both play this game. It is played only in 30 meter courts.
Hand-pelota (Basque: esku huska or esku huskako pilota, Spanish: pelota a mano) is played barehanded (or with minimal protections) and with a traditional ball made of wool around a hard core and covered with leather. The standard ball should weigh 92–95 grams. It is played in the short court either individually (one vs. one) or by pairs (two vs. two). Traditionally and professionally it is reserved for men. Players can be distinguished by the swelling of their hitting hand. It was originally played in the 13th century in the Basque region of Spain and France, and has been played for a long time in Mexico, South America, Cuba, Italy and many US states, including Florida. The sport is similar to squash or fives, players hit the ball against the end wall, trying to get the ball out of the opponent's reach.
Also called "Argentine paleta goma", this is played with a short and broad wooden bat, called paleta in both Spanish and Basque, and a gas-filled rubber ball. The ball is neither solid nor hollow. It is made from two halves glued together. Before being glued, the core is filled with a special gas which gives the ball firmness and bounce, and thus greater speed. Paleta goma can be played by either men or women. This version of paleta was invented in Argentina and is widely played there. The Argentine male pelotaris are used to dominate international competitions.
This variant is played with a bat similar to the previous one but with a traditional leather ball. This game is mainly played by men.
This is played with somewhat shorter but thicker and much narrower bat (pala ancha). The ball is leather or rubber. It is reserved, in principle, for men.
Is played with a longer bat (pala larga), again thick and not much wide. Leather or rubber ball in the long court. In principle, this game is reserved for men.
This version of the sport is played essentially in France by 2 teams of 3 players on an outside court referred to as "place libre" meaning free space in French or "Cancha" meaning court in Spanish. The court is 16 m wide and 100 m long with the limit for play being at 80 m from the wall or Fronton and has no side walls. The sport is played with the same glove as the zesta punta.
A variant of the above. The basket-glove is shorter and less deep and it is allowed to retain the ball only momentarily. The Basque name joko garbi means "pure game", in opposition to the abuse of atxiki, typical of the late 19th century style of playing, dubbed joko zikin ("dirty game").
This game is for men only.
Similar to joko-garbi, but the xistera is flatter and doesn't allow the atchiki foul. It can be played by individuals or teams of two players. This game is still performed by professionals in several Jai-Alai frontons in northern Spain.
Xare or sare (from name of the racket, which means "net" in Basque; also spelled share in Spanish) is played with a wooden ring strung with a net, meaning that the ball is thrown instead of hit. It is played only on the trinquet court. Xare is known for the quick, precise and sharp movements of the pelotaris who are capable of reaching balls considered impossible for pelotaris of other specialties. Bicycle-like helmets are also worn. It is traditionally strong in South American countries, especially Argentina, as a result of which it is also known as raqueta argentina and raquette argentine in Spanish and French.
Professional competitions and exhibitions in the Basque Country are organized by Asegarce and ASPE for the discipline of handball, Orriamendi for Remonte, Inpala for Pala Larga. Various tournaments exist for Cesta Punta professional players in France and Spain.
In the United States pelota is mainly a professional sport, strongly tied to betting and the pari-mutuel system.
In professional environment is common to play special plays called "quinielas" well adapted to the betting needs.
Professional games are open to betting on the results, as usual in most traditional Basque competitions. In the USA and Macau it is mainly this aspect of the competition that has given it some popularity. Besides the federations, there are professional competitions such as the League of Companies of Basque Pilota. The International Jai-Alai Players Association is a union defending the players of Jai Alai.
ASPE Jugadores de Pelota S.L. is a sports management company dedicated to promote Basque pelota.Asegarce
Asegarce is a Basque event production and deportive license company, mainly devoted to Basque pelota. Through the Bainet company, it has also made audiovisual productions.Basque Pelota World Championships
The Basque Pelota World Championships is a quadrennial tournament first organized in 1952 by the International Federation of Basque Pelota. The modern championships crowns the best amateur players in fifteen different playing categories.Basque Pelota at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games
The Basque Pelota competition at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games was held in Veracruz, Mexico.
The tournament was scheduled to be held from 18–23 November at the Basque Pelota Pavilion.Basque pelota at the 1900 Summer Olympics
At the 1900 Summer Olympics, a Basque pelota tournament was contested. Only two teams registered but one of them withdrew before the competition. The first prize was given to the Spanish team.
This was the only Olympiad where pelota was an official sport, being revived at the 1924, 1968 and 1992 Games as a demonstration sport.Basque pelota at the 1924 Summer Olympics
Basque Pelota was a demonstration sport at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. It was the second time that the sport was included in the Olympic program; it was an official Olympic sport at the 1900 Games that were also held in Paris. It would be included as a demonstration in another two occasions at the 1968 Games in Mexico City and the 1992 Games in Barcelona.A court was built at the Porte de Billancourt for the Basque pelota events. The teams of France and Spain were the only participants.Basque pelota at the 1968 Summer Olympics
Basque Pelota was a demonstration sport at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. It was the third time that the sport was included in the Olympic program; it was an official Olympic sport at the 1900 Games in Paris, and a demonstration sport in 1924. It would be included as a demonstration sport once again at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.Basque pelota at the 1992 Summer Olympics
Basque Pelota was a demonstration sport at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. It was the fourth and last time that the sport was included in the Olympic program; it was an official Olympic sport at the 1900 Games in Paris, and a demonstration sport in 1924 and 1968.
The Basque Pelota events were held from 25 July to 5 August in the Olympic area of Vall d'Hebron, where a 54m long court, a 36m long court, and a trinquet were built and a 30m long court was refurbished. In each modality, the participants were the four best classified countries at the World Championships held in Cuba in 1990. However, the United States renounced to participate and had to be replaced by the team that had finished in fifth place when necessary.Basque pelota at the 2011 Pan American Games
Basque pelota at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, were held over a six-day period from October 21 to October 27. The events took place at the Basque Pelota Complex in Guadalajara.Basque pelota at the 2013 Bolivarian Games
Basque pelota (Spanish: Pelota vasca and Frontón, meaning pelota court), for the 2013 Bolivarian Games, took place from 18 November to 25 November 2013.Basque pelota at the Pan American Games
Basque pelota was contested at the Pan American Games in 1995, 2003 and 2011.Basque pelota ball
A Basque pelota ball is a ball designed for the sport of Basque pelota, variations of the kind and size of balls are given by the peculiar category.Frontenis
Frontenis is a sport that is played in a 30 meter pelota court using racquets (a tennis racquet or a similar frontenis racquet) and rubber balls. It can be played in pairs or singles, but only pairs frontenis is played in international competitions. This sport was developed in Mexico around 1900, and is accredited as a Basque pelota speciality.
In frontenis, one player of the pair hits the ball with the racquet toward the front wall. The ball must strike the playable surface of the front wall and return to the playable area of the court. The opposing players must strike the ball before it bounces a second time on the floor of the court. As with other racquet sports, the best stroke is one that the opponent cannot return. Frontenis demands having a great mobility, skill, physical agility, mental agility, coordination and training.
For many years, frontenis was played only in Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and a few other countries, but now it is played in approximately eighteen countries worldwide.International Federation of Basque Pelota
The International Federation of Basque Pelota (Spanish: Federación Internacional de Pelota Vasca (FIPV), Basque: Euskal Pilotaren Nazioarteko Federakuntza) is the worldwide governing body for Basque pelota, recognized by the International Olympic Committee. It sets the regulations for international competition and organizes the competitions.Jacinto Quincoces
Jacinto Francisco Fernández de Quincoces y López de Arbina (17 July 1905 – 10 May 1997) was a Spanish football player and manager, as well as President of the Valencian Pilota Federation. He was a central defender and is regarded as one of the greatest defenders of the inter-war era.
He played 25 matches for the Spain national football team from 1928 to 1936, and was part of Spain's 1934 FIFA World Cup team. He was Spain's national coach in 1945, taking charge for two matches.Jai alai
Jai alai (: [ˈxai aˈlai]) is a sport involving a ball bounced off a walled space by accelerating it to high speeds with a hand-held device (cesta). It is a variation of Basque pelota. The term, coined by Serafin Baroja in 1875, is also often loosely applied to the fronton (the open-walled playing area) where the sport is played. The game is called "zesta-punta" (basket tip) in Basque.Mexico at the 1995 Pan American Games
The 12th Pan American Games were held in Mar del Plata, Argentina from March 12 to March 26, 1995.Mexico at the 2011 Pan American Games
Mexico hosted the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico from October 14 to 30, 2011. Mexico has competed in every edition of the Pan American Games since the first games held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mexico began their participation having achieved 782 medals in total with 155 of them gold. In August 24, 2011 the head of CONADE, Bernardo de la Garza stated that the Mexican athletes would look to break the country's historic record of achieving 23 gold medals in a single Games, which happened at the 1995 Pan American Games in Mar del Plata, Argentina. For that specific objective, the Mexican delegation has landed its hopes on the disciplines of diving, taekwondo, archery, racquetball, basque pelota, and athletics, most specifically in the athletes: Paola Espinosa, Paola Longoria, Alberto Rodríguez, Eder Sánchez, Damián Villa, Yahel Castillo, and Juan René Serrano (flagbearer), who are the strongest possibilities of winning a gold medal in their respective disciplines.The Mexican Olympic Committee (COM) announced that the Mexican delegation would be made by 646 athletes, 279 of them women and 367 men, who will participate in all 36 sports. On September 20, 2011 the COM announced that the Mexican archer Juan René Serrano would be the flagbearer. On a protocolary ceremony held on September 23, 2011 the Mexican president Felipe Calderón made the official handing of the national flag to the archer, encouraging both pan American and parapan American athletes to give their best effort at the games.Spanish Federation of Basque Pelota
The Spanish Federation of Basque pelota or Federación Española de Pelota Vasca is the main governing body of Basque pelota in Spain and one of the most important in the world along with the International Federation of Basque Pelota.
|Pelota at the Olympics|
|Stick and ball sports|