Newcomb ball

Newcomb ball (also known simply as Newcomb, and sometimes spelled Newcombe (ball))[Note 1] is a ball game played as a variation of volleyball.

Invented in 1895 by Clara Baer, a physical education instructor at Sophie Newcomb College, Tulane University in New Orleans, it rivaled volleyball in popularity and participation in the 1920s.[1] The game is significant because it was invented by a woman and became the second team sport to be played by women in the United States, after basketball.[2] In an article in the Journal of Sport in 1996, Joan Paul speculates that Newcomb ball may have been an influence in the development of volleyball.[2]

Newcomb ball
Newcomb Handbook
Newcomb featured in Spalding's Red Cover series of athletic handbooks in 1914
Highest governing bodyNational Newcomb Advisory Committee (now defunct)
NicknamesNuke 'em
First played1895
Team membersUp to 20 per team
EquipmentSimilar to volleyball

Early development

Baer invented the game of Newcomb as the result of an effort "to place before her students a game that could be easily arranged, could include any number of students, could be played in any designated time and in any available space".[3] The game was first publicised in an article by Baer in the Posse Gymnasium Journal, where the name "Newcomb" was first coined. A more detailed paper was later prepared for the American Physical Education Association, which was received with "hearty approval".[3] Baer first officially published a description of the game in 1895, together with the first book of rules for women's basketball.

Originally, Newcomb ball involved two teams placed facing each other in a small gymnasium, the object being for one team to "throw the ball into the other team’s area with such direction and force that it caused the ball to hit the floor without being caught."[2] This was called a “touch-down” and scored a point for the throwing team.

Original rules (1910)

The game

Baer published an official set of rules in 1910. These listed 22 separate rules and 16 fouls, with the major objective still being to score touch-downs by throwing the ball so that it hit the ground or floor on the opponent’s side of the court. The game was to be played with an official "Newcomb Ball" (size 1 for grammar grades and size 2 for high schools and colleges).

The court

The playing area was divided by a "Division Line" into two equal halves. The height of the rope defining the Division Line varied from three to seven feet, according to the age of the players. Neutral zones called "Bases" were marked across the entire court, six to seven feet from the Division Line. The space between the Base and the end of the playing area was called the "Court".

The rules

The rules were defined as follows:[3]

  1. A "touch-down" shall count for the side sending the ball
  2. A foul shall add one point to the opponent's score.
  3. A majority of points shall decide the game.
  4. The team that secures the "toss-up" opens the game.
  5. The players must stand within the Boundary Lines.
  6. No players shall step over the lines except to secure an "out" ball, or when running for the "Toss-up".
  7. A ball thrown by a player out of the Boundary Lines shall be counted a foul.
  8. The ball must be thrown with one hand. It cannot be kicked.
  9. No player shall catch or throw the ball while down. She or he must be standing.
  10. The ball must clear the rope and touch the opposite court to constitute a "touch-down".
  11. If a ball is batted into the neutral ground by a player receiving it, it shall constitute a foul against the side receiving the ball.
  12. An "out" ball beyond the Boundary Lines shall not constitute a foul unless tapped by a player as it passes over the court, when it counts against the side receiving the ball. it should be returned to play at the nearest point of its passage and exit from the court.
  13. If, in passing the ball to another player on the same team, it should drop to the floor (ground) it shall constitute a foul.
  14. In the gymnasium, when the ball strikes any flat surface it may constitute a point.
  15. A ball striking the wall and bounding into the neutral ground shall constitute a foul for the team sending the ball.
  16. There shall be no protests, except by the Captain; no talking, no general disturbance of the game.
  17. The ball must not be thrown under the ropes nor between the Base Line.
  18. In match game, unavoidable loss of time shall be deducted.
  19. When the question arises between teams as to whose ball shall be used, each team may furnish the ball for one-half of the game.
  20. In match games, the length of each half must be determined before the game.
  21. In the absence of a regular instructor, the Captain shall decide the position of the players on the court.
  22. The teams shall change courts during the second half of the game.


The following were defined as fouls:[3]

  1. When the ball touches the rope.
  2. When the ball passes under the rope.
  3. When the ball falls into neutral ground - counts against side sending the ball.
  4. Tapping the ball over the lines - counts against the side receiving the ball.
  5. Striking a player with the ball.
  6. Falling.
  7. Audible signals.
  8. Needlessly rough playing.
  9. Unnecessary protests.
  10. Talking, or any disturbance of the game.
  11. Running all over the court.
  12. Stepping over, or on, the Lines.
  13. Playing out of Boundary Lines.
  14. Needlessly high balls.
  15. Dropping the ball.
  16. Any violation of the rules of the game.


The rules required that each team be represented by a Captain, elected by the team or appointed by the physical education instructor. In match games there was to be a referee, a time-keeper and an official scorer.[3]

Later rules (1914)

A later set of Newcomb rules was published by Baer in 1914, and consisted of 14 rules with 79 sections.[4] By this time the Spalding sports equipment company marketed a "Newcomb Outfit" including ropes and wall-posts.[2] The rope divider was set at six feet for girls' games and eight feet when boys were playing. The revised rules allowed six to twelve players on each side and required both teams to agree on the number of participants at least a week prior to the game. The rules permitted up to twenty players in recreational and playground teams.

A 30-minute time limit, consisting of 15-minute halves, was prescribed for a Newcomb ball match, which could be altered with agreement between the teams before the game began. The rules were also changed so that a point was scored for each foul and the ball awarded to the team fouled, rather than taking the ball back to the center base area for a jump-ball between captains.[2]

National Newcomb Advisory Committee

Around 1911 Baer established a Newcomb game advisory committee. Members included Baroness Rose Posse, President of the Posse Normal School of Gymnastics, Boston, Massachusetts; Miss Ethel Perrin, Supervisor of Physical Training, Detroit Public Schools; Mrs. Fannie Cheever Burton, Associate Professor of Physical Education, State Normal College, Ypsilanti, Michigan; Miss Mary Ida Mann, Instructor, Department of Hygiene and Physical Education, University of Chicago; John E. Lombard, Director of Physical Training, New Orleans Public Schools; and Otto F. Monahan, Physical Director, The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Connecticut.[2]

Newcomb ball today

Today Newcomb ball is not widely played on a competitive basis, but remains a popular game for people with limited athletic ability or those with certain disabilities or as a simple introduction to volleyball. It has also become popularized in many northern New England summer camps. The sport teaches children the fundamentals of volleyball and is beneficial in promoting the development of hand-eye coordination and motor skills. There is evidence of the game being played in the United States,[5] Canada,[6] Mexico,[7] China,[8] Argentina,[9] Australia.[10] and Israel.[11]

Rules may vary widely. One version of Newcomb ball rules today is:

"Two teams each having 9 to 12 players on the court at a time. Play begins with the server from the serving team throwing the ball over the net to the opponents. The ball remains in play being thrown back and forth across the net until there is a miss. Three players may play the ball before throwing it over the net. If the receiving team misses, the serving team scores a point and the next play begins with the same server. If the serving team misses, it loses the serve. No point is scored for either team and the next play begins with the opponents as the serving team. Each time a team wins a point, the same server serves for the next play. Each time a team wins the serve, players on that team rotate and remain in the new position until the serve is lost and won back again. The first team scoring 11 points or a set time limit wins the game."[12]

Variations and similar games


Throwball, played in India, is very similar to Newcomb ball.

Prisoner ball

Prisoner ball is a variation of Newcomb ball where players are "taken prisoner" or released from "prison" instead of scoring points.[13]


Popularized by US President Herbert Hoover, Hooverball is played with a volleyball net and a medicine ball; it is scored like tennis, but the ball is caught and then thrown back as in Newcomb ball. The weight of the medicine ball can make the sport physically demanding. Annual championship tournaments are held annually in West Branch, Iowa.[14]

Rhode Island Rules Newcomb

Another local variation of Newcomb ball is played on a beach volleyball court with two players per team. The game is played to 11 (must win by 2), and points are awarded following college volleyball rules (e.g. a side must serve in order to score). The game is played at a much faster pace than in the playground variant, and rewards speed, strategy, and positioning.

Basic rules prohibit leaping off the ground while throwing, holding the ball for more than three seconds, and blocking or tapping the ball back over the net on a return. Passing between teammates or moving while in possession of the ball are both prohibited (though pivoting is allowed). A player who dives or falls making a catch must throw from his or her knees. Service is delivered from the back line.

Advanced players develop a varied arsenal of throws using different throwing motions to result in curveballs, knuckleballs, sliders, and more. These throws add complexity to the game and require a higher degree of athletic ability than in many other varieties of Newcomb.


Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert describes the details of a game he calls "Scottyball" with rules very similar to Newcomb ball on his blog.[15]

Nuke 'em ball

Newcomb ball is sometimes spelled and pronounced "Nuke 'em" ball.[15]


Newcomb ball is also known as cachibol in Spain, Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries.[16]

Catchball (kadureshet)

A similar game is called Catchball, or in Hebrew, Kadureshet(כּדורשת- Hebrew transliteration - "Netball"). An Israeli national league was formed in 2006, and in 2013 consisted of 12 teams.[17] It is the fastest growing sport for women in Israel. Thousands of women join teams all around the country and meet other teams for league games every week The Israeli Catchball Association is the official professional organization. In addition, there is another league called "Mamanet" (its name being a portmanteau of "Mama" and "net") that is organized through schools, especially for mothers of schoolchildren. It is the most popular adult women's sport in Israel[18]


  1. ^ As the game is named after Sophie Newcomb College, its name has been typically capitalized.


  1. ^ Dale A. Somers, The Rise of Sport in New Orleans, 1850-1900 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972),
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Paul, Joan, A Lost Sport: Clara Gregory Baer and Newcomb Ball, Journal of Sport History, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Summer 1996)" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  3. ^ a b c d e Baer, Clara G. The Game of "Newcomb", Volume III, November 1910, Number 1, access date 23 January 2007
  4. ^ Baer Clara G. Newcomb: A Game for Gymnasium and Playground, "Spalding Red Cover" Series of Athletic Handbooks (No. 41R, New York: American Sports Publishing Company, 1914)
  5. ^ Physical education at Charles Campagne School, New York, access date 21 January 2007
  6. ^ St. Peter's Academy, Newfoundland, Intramurals, access date 21 January 2007
  7. ^ Vigo 4 Costados Newsletter, 4 July 2006, access date 24 January 2007
  8. ^ The Shanghai American School Newsletter March 2006, access date 21 January 2007. Archived June 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Club San Fernando, Buenos Aires, website, access date 30 January 2007 Archived February 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Brookvale Primary School, New South Wales, School Sports, access date 21 January 2007
  11. ^ Israel Catchball Association access date 02 April 2017
  12. ^ Irving ISD Physical Education - Newcomb, access date 21 January 2007
  13. ^ Donnelly, Richard Joseph; Helms, William G.; Mitchell, Elmer Dayton (1958). Active games and contests. Ronald Press Co. p. 570.
  14. ^ "HERBERT HOOVER: Hoover-Ball". Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Archived from the original on 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  15. ^ a b The Dilbert Blog: Cure for Volleyball, 8 March 2008, access date 29 March 2009
  16. ^ CACHIBOL. El Deporte de la Eterna Juventud (trans. Cahibol. Sport of Eternal Youth), access date 25 July 2009
  17. ^ Avivi, Yuval (12 November 2013). "Druze women empowered through sport". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  18. ^ This women's sport you've never heard of is taking Israel by storm, access date 04/02/2017

External links


Baer (or Bär, from German: bear) is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Alan Baer, principal tuba player for the New York Philharmonic

Arthur "Bugs" Baer (1886–1969), American journalist and humorist

Buddy Baer (1915–1986), American boxer

Byron Baer (1929–2007), American politician

Clara Gregory Baer (1863–1938), inventor of Netball, Newcomb ball and author of first rules of women's basketball

Donald Baer (1931–2002), American Developmental Psychologist

Eric Baer, polymer researcher

George Baer Jr. (1763–1834), American politician

George Frederick Baer (1842–1914), American lawyer and executive

Harold Baer Jr. (1933–2014), American judge

Jack Baer (1914–2002), American college baseball coach

Jack Baer (art dealer), British art dealer.

John Baer (actor) (1923–2006), American actor in Terry and the Pirates and other works

John Baer (journalist), American journalist at the Philadelphia Daily News

John Metz Baer, American professor of educational psychology

John Miller Baer (1886–1970), American congressman from North Dakota

John Willis Baer (1861–1931), American Presbyterian leader and college president

Julius Baer (1857–1922), Swiss banker

Karl Ernst von Baer (1792–1876), Estonian biologist

Kent Baer (born 1951), American football coach

Les Baer, founder of Les Baer Custom, Inc

Libbie C. Riley Baer (1849–1929), American poet

Max Baer (boxer) (1909–1959), American boxer

Max Baer Jr. (born 1937), American actor and director

Nicolai Reymers Baer, aka Ursus (c. 1550 – c. 1600), German mathematician

Susanne Baer (born 1964), German judge and legal scholar

Parley Baer (1914–2002), American actor

Ralph H. Baer (1922–2014), American inventor

Reinhold Baer (1902–1979), German mathematician

Richard Baer (1911–1963), German Nazi SS concentration camp commandant

Richard Baer (writer) (1928–2008), American screenwriter

Robert Baer (born 1952), former CIA officer and American writer

Steve Baer (born 1938), American inventor

Thomas M. Baer, American physicist

Will Christopher Baer (born 1966), American writer

William Jacob Baer (1860–1941), American painter

Yitzhak Baer (1888–1980), German-born Israeli historianVan BaerVan Baer (family), Middle Age noble family from the Dutch province of Gelderland

Frederik Johan van Baer (1645–1713), Dutch officer in the military service of William III of Orange

Stanny van Baer (born 1942), Dutch model and beauty queen who won Miss International 1961

Clara Gregory Baer

Clara Gregory Baer (August 27, 1863 – January 19, 1938) was an American physical education instructor and women's sports pioneer. Baer introduced the first teacher certification course for physical education in the Southern United States, and authored the first published rules of women's basketball. She also developed the sport of Newcomb ball and played a role in the early development of netball.

H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College

H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, or Newcomb College, was the coordinate women's college of Tulane University located in New Orleans, in the U.S. state of Louisiana. It was founded by Josephine Louise Newcomb in 1886 in memory of her daughter.

Newcomb was the first women's coordinate college within a United States university. This model was later used in partnerships such as Pembroke College at Brown University and Barnard College at Columbia University.

In 2006, Newcomb College was closed as part of Tulane's Renewal Plan following the major losses and damage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Heirs of Mrs. Newcomb sued, challenging Tulane on the issue of donor intent and seeking to preserve Newcomb as a separate coordinate college within the university, but the lawsuit ended in 2011 after appellate court declined to rule on the case.


Kī-o-rahi is a ball sport played in New Zealand with a small round ball called a 'kī'. It is a fast-paced game incorporating skills similar to rugby union, netball and touch. Two teams of seven players play on a circular field divided into zones, and score points by touching the 'pou' (boundary markers) and hitting a central 'tupu' or target. The game is played with varying rules (e.g. number of people, size of field, tag ripping rules etc.) depending on the geographic area it is played in. A process called Tatu, before the game, determines which rules the two teams will use.

In 2005 kī-o-rahi was chosen to represent New Zealand by global fast-food chain McDonald's as part of its 'Passport to Play' programme to teach physical play activities in 31,000 American schools.

The programme will give instruction in 15 ethnic games to seven million primary school children.The New Zealand kī-o-rahi representative organisation, Kī-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho, formed with men's and women's national teams, completed a 14 match tour of Europe in September and October 2010. The men's team included 22-test All Black veteran Wayne Shelford who led the team to a 57–10 test win against Kī-o-Rahi Dieppe Organisation, the French Kī-o-Rahi federation.

Shelford's kī-o-rahi test jersey made him the first kī-o-rahi/rugby double international for NZ. The women's team coached by Andrea Cameron (Head of PE at Tikipunga High School) also won by 33–0. These were the first historic test matches between NZ and France.

List of ball games

This is a list of ball games which are popular games or sports involving some type of ball or similar object. Ball sports are not sports in the true sense, but are instead considered to be games. These ball games can be grouped by the general objective of the game, sometimes indicating a common origin either of a game itself or of its basic idea:

Bat-and-ball games, such as cricket and baseball.

Racquet and ball games, such as tennis, squash, racquetball and ball badminton.

Hand and ball-striking games, such as various handball codes, rebound handball and 4 square.

Goal games, such as forms of hockey (except ice hockey which uses a hockey puck), basketball and all forms of football or lacrosse.

Net games, such as volleyball and sepak.

List of sports

The following is a list of sports/games, divided by category.

According to the World Sports Encyclopedia (2003), there are 8,000 indigenous sports and sporting games.

Quidditch (sport)

Quidditch is a sport of two teams of seven players each mounted on broomsticks played on a hockey rink-sized pitch. It is based on a fictional game of the same name invented by author J. K. Rowling, which is featured in the Harry Potter series of novels and related media.[3] The game is also sometimes referred to as muggle quidditch to distinguish it from the fictional game, which involves magical elements such as flying broomsticks and enchanted balls. In the Harry Potter universe, a "muggle" is a person without the power to use magic.

The pitch is rectangular with rounded corners 55 meters (60 yards) by 33 meters (36 yards) with three hoops of varying heights at either end.[4] The sport was created in 2005 and is therefore still quite young. However, quidditch is played around the world and actively growing.[5] The ultimate goal is to have more points than the other team by the time the snitch, a tennis ball inside a long sock hanging from the shorts of an impartial official dressed in yellow, is caught. Rules of the sport are governed by the International Quidditch Association, or the IQA, and events are sanctioned by either the IQA or that nation's governing body.

To score points, chasers or keepers must get the quaffle, a slightly deflated volleyball, into one of three of the opposing hoops which scores the team 10 points.[6] To impede the quaffle from advancing down the pitch, chasers and keepers are able to tackle opposing chasers and keepers at the same time as beaters using their bludgers—dodgeballs—to take out opposing players. Once a player is hit by an opposing bludger, that player must dismount their broom, drop any ball being held, and return to and touch their hoops before being allowed back into play.[7] The game is ended once the snitch is caught by one of the seekers, awarding that team 30 points.[8]A team consists of minimum seven (maximum 21) players, of which six are always on the pitch, those being the three chasers, one keeper, and two beaters. Besides the seeker who is off-pitch, the six players are required to abide by the gender rule, which states that a team may have a maximum of four players who identify as the same gender, making quidditch one of the few sports that not only offers a co-ed environment but an open community to those who do not identify with the gender binary.[10] Matches or games often run about 30 to 40 minutes but tend to be subject to varying lengths of time due to the unpredictable nature of the snitch catch. If the score at the end of the match including the 30 point snitch catch is tied (such that the team that caught the snitch was 30 points behind the other), the game moves to overtime where the snitch is constrained to the pitch's dimensions and the game ends after five minutes or when the snitch is legally caught.


Throwball is a non-contact ball sport played across a net between two teams of nine players on a rectangular court. It is popular in Asia, especially on the Indian subcontinent, and was first played in India as a women's sport in Chennai during the 1940s. Like volleyball, the game's roots are linked with the YMCA. Both volleyball and newcomb ball, while older games, share many similarities with throwball. Throwball rules were first drafted in 1955 and India's first national level championship was played in 1980.


Volleyball is a popular team sport in which two teams of six players are separated by a net. Each team tries to score points by grounding a ball on the other team's court under organized rules. It has been a part of the official program of the Summer Olympic Games since Tokyo 1964.

The complete set of rules are extensive, but play essentially proceeds as follows: a player on one of the teams begins a 'rally' by serving the ball (tossing or releasing it and then hitting it with a hand or arm), from behind the back boundary line of the court, over the net, and into the receiving team's court. The receiving team must not let the ball be grounded within their court. The team may touch the ball up to 3 times, but individual players may not touch the ball twice consecutively. Typically, the first two touches are used to set up for an attack, an attempt to direct the ball back over the net in such a way that the serving team is unable to prevent it from being grounded in their court.

The rally continues, with each team allowed as many as three consecutive touches, until either (1): a team makes a kill, grounding the ball on the opponent's court and winning the rally; or (2): a team commits a fault and loses the rally. The team that wins the rally is awarded a point and serves the ball to start the next rally. A few of the most common faults include:

causing the ball to touch the ground or floor outside the opponents' court or without first passing over the net;

catching and throwing the ball;

double hit: two consecutive contacts with the ball made by the same player;

four consecutive contacts with the ball made by the same team;

net foul: touching the net during play;

foot fault: the foot crosses over the boundary line when serving.The ball is usually played with the hands or arms, but players can legally strike or push (short contact) the ball with any part of the body.

A number of consistent techniques have evolved in volleyball, including spiking and blocking (because these plays are made above the top of the net, the vertical jump is an athletic skill emphasized in the sport) as well as passing, setting, and specialized player positions and offensive and defensive structures.

Volleyball variations

Several sports related to volleyball have become popular. Beach volleyball is an event at the Olympics, and sitting volleyball at the Paralympics. Other varieties are localised, or are played at an amateur or informal level.

Women's basketball

Women's basketball was developed in the late 1800s in tandem with its men's counterpart. It became popular, spreading from the east coast of the United States to the west coast, in large part via women's colleges. From 1895 until 1970, the term "women's basketball" was also used to refer to netball, which evolved in parallel with modern women's basketball. It is mostly popular in America.

The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup and Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament feature top national teams from continental championships. The main North American league is the WNBA (NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship is also popular), whereas strongest European clubs participate in the EuroLeague Women.

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