Stool ball is a very old game that date back at least to the 15th century, originate in Sussex, England. It might be an ancestor to baseball, cricket, and even rounders; stoolball was also known as “Cricket in the Air”. This game involves players on a field divided into two sections: one section is known as the pitching green and the other is known as the foul line. The object of the game is for your team to land as many “stools” into the opposing team’s “net” or batting cage, while avoiding the pins placed throughout the field.
When playing, the players place their hands, known as stools, under their arms. A “stool” is simply a wooden or metal rod with a metal loop on the end. Stools are not necessarily all the same shape, although most are long and slender, most between twelve and twenty-four inches in length. Batters usually use a three-pronged hatchet or club to hit the stools.
In addition to the above game, there also was “Heming Ball”, a game played in the Middle Ages between teams of knights and castles. Similar to “Cricket”, “Heming Ball” involved using the stools as bases, but this time, the stools were replaced by large wooden bats. It is believed that the game developed from “plate-and-socket” boxing, played by peasant conscripts called hucksters, which involved using wooden poles covered in nails for hand-to-hand combat.
During the reign of King William, around the tenth century, a game called “bowling” or “stoolball england” developed. It differs from softball by using small, lightweight balls instead of batons or long bows. According to legend, the first stools with removable lids were used at tournaments by members of the royal court. A ball with a hollow body was attached to each leg of the seat, enabling it to rotate while it was being used. The game was referred to as “rowling” or “stuttering” and was probably developed by monks who later became the country’s sportsmen.
Stool ball gained in popularity during the Middle Ages when it was adopted by the English knights of the day.
The stools were circular and made of iron. They were known as “rounders” or “coursers”. The name itself implied that the ball passed around a circle, hence the term, “round ball”. The original purpose of the circular stool ball was for the sport of wrestling, though, by the time of the Middle Ages, the use of stools for this purpose had evolved. The sport spread throughout England and was initially organized by the Abbot of Bath and Wells, sometime between the 11th and the 12th century.
Stoolball today has developed greatly since its humble beginnings. Stoolball is now played not only in public recreational parks but also in professional indoor sports facilities such as colleges and universities. There are even gyms devoted to this game, where players spend hours on end doing aerobics and stretching. Some people refer to it as “sport boxing”. It is no wonder that young women today are inspired to become professional stoolball players.
There are many different variations of the game, which can be played with two, four, six or eight players. The basic set up involves a ball (usually made from rubber foam), which is tossed from side to side, or from player to player, using only their bare hands. If a player drops his/her ball, it will automatically spin around once before landing into the lap of another player. Each team has a set number of tries before the game is declared void.
Stoolball has evolved greatly from its humble origins and has even spread into the modern world. Stoolball players wear various costumes such as medieval outfits, costumes for a “medal” competition, or even full body suits which are usually white in color. In some countries, a cricket team plays a regular football team. While this may seem strange to some, it is played in a number of countries worldwide. For a true medieval sport, there is no better costume!
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