The NWA has authorized the printing of the full and official NWA wallball rulebook as part of Wallball: Fundamentals and Official Rules by authors Ammon Service and Ashton Service. These rules can be found on pages 25-48 with tournament charts and helps.
Section 1. Wallball Basics
Rule 1.1 Number of Players
Wallball may be played by two players at a time.
Rule 1.2 Description
Wallball is a competitive game in which either hand, either fist, or any portion of the hands (including two hands used together to strike the ball) may be used to serve and return the ball.
The goal is to win each play by serving or returning the ball so the other player cannot keep the ball in play. This is most commonly done by making the ball hit the ground before it hits the wall in a way that the opposing player cannot return it.
Rule 1.4 Match
A match is won when one player earns 10 points.
Section 2. Courts and Equipment
Rule 2.1 Courts
The specifications for a standard wallball court are:
A. Dimensions. The court is 20 feet wide and 30 feet deep
B. Lines and Zones. Wallball courts shall be divided and marked on the ground with 2-inch-wide lines. Recommended colors are white, yellow, or red. The lines shall be marked as follows:
i. Service Line. The service line is parallel to the wall and begins at exactly 10 feet from the wall.
i. Material: The material should be rubber or synthetic material.
ii. Color: Color is optional.
iii. Size: 8.5-inch diameter, with 1-inch variation.
iv. Weight: Between 11 and 14 ounces.
B. Selection. For each match or tournament a new ball may be selected by the referee and not the players. The referee has the authority to change balls if she/he deems it necessary. Though it is the referee’s decision, she/he should honor requests made by both players or when erratic or wobbly bounces are detected.
Rule 2.3 Gloves
A. General. Gloves may be worn.
B. Style. Gloves may be any color and made of a soft material or leather.
C. Foreign Substances. No foreign substance, tape or rubber bands shall be used on the fingers or on the palms on the outside of the gloves.
D. Wet Gloves. Gloves must be changed when they become sufficiently wet to moisten the ball. This is the referee’s decision. It is the player’s responsibility to have an ample supply of dry gloves.
Rule 2.4 Clothing
A. General. All clothing, consisting of a shirt, shorts or pants, socks and shoes, must be clean at the beginning of a match. Only appropriate wallball attire, in the referee’s judgment, can be worn. Players may not play without shirts. Shirts must be full length and not cut off in the torso.
B. Color. Color is optional. Unusual patterns or colors that affect the opposing player’s view of the ball or distract him/her may not be worn.
C. Wet Shirts. Referee may demand that a wet shirt be changed. Players must have an ample supply of dry shirts.
D. Lettering and Insignia.Lettering or insignia in poor taste is not allowed.
E. Shoes. Shoes must have soles that do not mark or damage the floor or ground.
Rule 2.5 Eye Protection
A. General. Protective eyewear may be properly worn during play.
Section 3. Play Regulations
A. Order. The player that wins the coin toss chooses to serve or receive.
B. Start. Games are started by the referee announcing the score, “0-0,” and then, “Play ball.”
C. Place. The server may serve from anyplace within the bounds of the playing court but not in front of the service line. No part of either foot may extend over or touch the service line. Violations are called “footfaults.” After serving, the server must immediately move in a manner so as not to obstruct or “body block” the receiver from returning the ball.
D. Manner. Before serving, the server must come to a complete stop before beginning the serve. The server may bounce and catch the ball several times before serving. If a player delivers a defective serve on the first serve of the point, a “fault” will be called. Only one fault per point can be allowed. A second defective serve will result in the receiver being awarded the point and be given the ball to serve. The ball must be struck by the server so that it hits the ground in the service zone first and then hits the wall.
E. Time. A serve may not be made until the referee has announced the score. The referee shall make a call, such as “point” as soon as a rally ends. The receiver then has up to 10 seconds to assume a receiving position. When the receiver has assumed a receiving position or 10 seconds have elapsed, whichever occurs first, and the server has had reasonable time to get to his/her serving position, the referee shall announce the score and the server must serve (strike the ball) within 10 seconds. If the first serve results in a fault, the referee shall give the defensive player a reasonable time to take a receiving position and then the referee shall announce “second serve,” after which the server must serve within 10 seconds.
Defective serves are of four types and result in penalties as follows:
A. Dead-Ball Serves
A dead-ball serve results in no penalty and the server is given another serve without canceling a prior illegal serve. This occurs when an otherwise legal serve results in a:
i. Screen: If, in the referee’s judgment, the ball passes so close to the server that the receiver’s view of the ball is obstructed, a screen should be called.
ii. Saddle: A legally served ball that travels between the legs of the server is an automatic screen.
iii. Court Hinder: If a served ball takes an erratic bounce due to a court obstruction or wetness, a court hinder is called and the serve is replayed.
iv. Defective Ball. If the ball is determined to have become flat, wobbly, or loses its bounce on the serve, a new ball shall be substituted and the serve shall be replayed, not canceling a prior fault.
B. Foot Fault
i. The server begins the service motion with one or both feet outside the service zone or touching any line.
ii. The server leaves the service zone (either on the ground or in the air jumping out of the service zone) before the served ball hits the ground.
C. Ceiling Serve
Any serve that hits the ground first but then either hits the wall and then touches the ceiling before hitting the floor, or hits the ceiling first before touching the wall is a fault.
D. Out-of-Bounds Serve
Any serve that first strikes the ground and then the wall but then rebounds out of the court without touching the ground is a fault.
Rule 3.3 Outs
Any of the following results in an “out” if rotating players, or a point is awarded to the opposing player if keeping score and playing to ten:
A. Miss. Any attempt to strike the ball that results in a player completely missing the ball allowing the ball to hit the ground twice.
B. Out of Bounds Hit. Any hit where the ball goes out of bounds before hitting the ground within the court first.
C. Hold (Holdy or Catch). Any time the ball is caught.
D. Two Consecutive Fault Serves. When a player serves two faults in a row
E. Out-of-Order. When a player touches or strikes the ball when it is not that players turn.
F. Double Bounce. When the ball bounces on the ground twice in a row before it hits the wall.
G. Double Touch. When a player strikes the ball twice during that players turn
H. Service Delay. The server fails to serve the ball within 10 seconds after the referee has announced the score.
A. Receiving Position.The receiver may stand anywhere on the court when the server serves the ball.
B. Legal Return. After the ball is legally served the player receiving the ball must strike the ball either before or after the first bounce, and before the ball touches the ground the second time. The receiver must then return the ball to the ground in bounds which must then hit the wall. Failure to make a legal return will result in a point for the server.
A server may serve the ball until he/she is out or does not earn the point. When the server loses the serve or point, he/she becomes the receiver and the opposing player becomes the server.
Dead-ball should be called when interference affects the play.
A. Interference. If, in the referee’s opinion, an erratic or wobbly bounce is caused by a court obstruction, an Interference should be called. The player should not stop play at any time in anticipation of a call. Included in court interference is the ball that hits a wet spot on the floor, walls or ceiling, causing it to skid. This is the referee’s call, not the player’s. Another form of Interference includes outside objects entering the space of the court, such as but not limited to other balls, animals, or people. Finally, an Interference is called when a player is in the direct and immediate way that prevents the opposing player from reaching the ball that the player would have been able to reach otherwise.
B. Ball Hits Opponent: When a returned ball touches the opponent before hitting the ground, and the shot obviously would not have reached the wall after bouncing one time, the player who is hit by the shot will be awarded the rally. If the ball had any chance of reaching the wall after a bounce or if there is any doubt in the referees mind as to whether the ball would have reached the front wall, an Interference will be called.
C. Body Contact: If two players come in contact with each other (such as running into each other) and the referee believes it was enough of a hinder to stop the rally, either for the safety of the players or because the contact prevented a player from being able to return the ball, an Interference will be called. However, physical contact is not an automatic Interference. It is the judgment of the referee as to whether the bodily contact impeded the play insomuch that it caused an Interference.
D. Screen Ball: Any ball rebounding from the wall so close to the body of the defensive player that it interferes with or prevents the offensive player from clearly seeing the ball. The referee should not call a Screen Ball so quickly that it takes away the opportunity for the ball to remain in play.
E. Straddle Ball: When a ball passes between the legs of a player if there is no fair chance for the opposing player to see or return the ball.
F. Safety: Any player about to strike the ball who believes he/she will strike the opposing player with his/her hand or arm may immediately stop play and request a Safety. This call must be made immediately and is subject to approval by the referee. The referee must grant the Safety if she/he believes injury was possible.
G. Other Interference: Any other unintentional interference that prevents a player from having a fair chance to see or return the ball.
An avoidable Interference results in an out or a point, depending on whether the players are playing for points or to get their opponent out. Player intent has no bearing on an avoidable call. An avoidable Interference should be called only when the Interference could have been avoided with reasonable effort. Avoidable Interferences are called when:
A. Failure to Move: A player does not move sufficiently to allow his opponent to hit the ball when it would have been possible otherwise.
B. Blocking: A player moves into a position that affects a block or crowds his opponent about to return the ball.
C. Moving into Ball: A player moves into the path of and is struck by the ball just played by his opponent.
D. Pushing: A player forcibly pushes an opponent during a rally.
E. View Obstruction: Moving across an opponent’s line of vision just before he strikes the ball.
F. Distraction:Any avoidable distraction or intimidation that would interfere with the offensive player.
G. Hit Interference: Any positioning that would not allow the opponent to use a normal stroke. This especially applies to a player moving in too close and being hit by or restricting the follow-through of the player hitting the ball.
H. Improper Equipment: The loss of any improperly worn equipment, or equipment not required on court, that interferes with the play or the safety of the players.
A technical is assessed for unsportsmanlike conduct, for improperly worn attire, or any malicious act intended to hurt another person either by actions or words. If a referee issues a technical, one point shall be deducted from the offender’s score. The technical has no effect on service changes or sideouts. If the technical occurs between games or when the offender has no points, the result will be that the offender’s score will be a negative one. Three technicals in a match will result in forfeiture.
A. Types:Some examples of actions that may result in technicals are:
i. Too frequent complaints made against the referee’s judgment.
iii. Excessive arguing.
iv. Threat of any nature to opponent or referee.
v. Excessive or hard striking, throwing or kicking of ball between rallies.
vi. Anything considered to be unsportsmanlike behavior.
B. Warnings:If a player’s behavior is not so severe as to warrant a technical, a technical warning may be issued without a point deduction and should be accompanied by a brief explanation of the reason for a warning. A technical warning may precede the penalty of a technical but is not necessary.
A. Time-Outs: Any player may request a time-out (up to three per game for each player), but not after the referee has announced the score or called “second serve” after a fault. Time-outs must not exceed one minute. Time-outs may be called consecutively. Players may leave the court during a time-out.
B. Equipment Time-Out: At the discretion of the referee, equipment time-outs may be granted for shoes that come off of the players feet, broken shoelaces, flat or wobbly balls, wet gloves, wet shirts, wet floor, or other reasons deemed appropriate by the referee. Players are not charged for such time-outs, and two minutes is the maximum allowed to correct the situation.
C. Injury: An injury time-out shall be given to a player who is injured during play. An injured player shall not be allowed more than a cumulative total of 15 minutes of injury time-out during a match for any reason. If the injured player is unable to begin to play again after a period totaling 15 minutes, the match shall be awarded to the opponent. Injury time-outs shall be allowed only for injuries that occur accidentally during the match. Pre-existing injuries, illnesses, fatigue or cramps do not warrant injury time-outs. For any injury, the Referee, after considering any available medical opinion, must determine whether the injured player may be allowed to continue.
D. Between Games: Five-minute time-outs are allowed between games. Players may leave the court.
Section 4. Tournaments
Contestants may be asked to play two or more games on the same day with little rest between matches. If possible, tournament directors should schedule at least 15 minutes of rest period between matches for a player playing back to back matches.
Each entrant should be entitled to participate in a minimum of two matches. As such, players who lose their first match should have the opportunity to compete in a consolation bracket. In tournaments of fewer than seven players, a round-robin bracket can substitute a consolation bracket. The Tournament Director has the option of not holding consolation matches, but this decision should be in writing on the tournament application and in the tournament information packet.
Rule 4.3 Notice of Matches
After a player participates in a match it is that player’s responsibility to check the posted match schedule to understand when and where that player’s next match is. If changes are made to the schedule at any time after the posting of it, the committee or Tournament Director is responsible of notifying all players of the change. This can often be done via broadcast text message.
The Tournament Director may choose to change of courts or any aspect of the tournament before, during or after any tournament if it is determined by the Tournament Director to improve the experience and performance of the players and spectators.
The referee is has the authority to terminate a game and disqualify a player if the player behaves in a way that poses any type of threat to him or herself, the other players, spectators, the tournament, or the game of wallball. This includes the authority to request the expulsion of fans and/or spectators who exhibit rude, offensive, or abusive behaviors or actions unbecoming of a good sports fan. The referee may terminate a match if such fans do not comply with requests to leave. It is also incumbent on the player whose fans are acting in this manner to attempt to get them to change their behavior so that the game may proceed as scheduled.
Officials and Officiating
Rule 4.6 Tournament Director
All tournaments shall be managed by a Tournament Director who has registered with the National Wallball Association. This Tournament Director shall be responsible for choosing official Referees, Line Judges, and any other official as needed.
A. Responsibilities: The Tournament Director is responsible for overseeing the entire wallball tournament and those duties do not end until the tournament is finished and all prizes/certificates, if any, have been awarded and the location is left in better condition that it was before the tournament. The Tournament Director or an official representative chosen by her/him must be present at all times from the moment set up for the tournament begins until the last person leaves and the location is cleaned.
B. Rules Briefing:Before each tournament all officials and players must be reminded of the wallball Rules and be briefed on court interferences, changes to the rules or regulations, and other unique circumstances. This briefing should also be in writing and if possible included in the information packet and application.
If one or more players request that a referee be removed and a new referee assigned the Tournament Director must hear the complaint in person and immediately investigate the issue at hand. If all players are in agreement that the referee should be replaced, the Tournament Director is strongly encouraged to do so or consider pausing the tournament until a replacement can be found.
Rule 4.8 Referee
A. Pre-Match Duties: Before the beginning of each match the referee is responsible for:
i. Court Playability: Ensure the wallball court is up to NWA standards and is fully playable.
ii. Equipment: Ensure the balls to be used are available, properly inflated to the correct size and bounce, and that scorecards and pencils are present and in the hands of official score keepers.
iii. Assisting Officials: Ensure that officials are ready for each match and understand what their duties are.
iv. Court Hinders: Explain to the players if there are problems or abnormalities with the court.
v. Inspect Clothing: Clothing, eye protection, knee pads, and any other item used on the court must be inspected.
vi. Start Game: Start each match by having the players introduce themselves to each other. A coin toss determines who serves first. Ensure that all players and officials are ready before saying out loud, “Play!” which signals the start of the match.
vii. Time: The referee should arrive at least 15 minutes before the match is scheduled to begin.
viii. Two-Minute Warning: To notify players that the game is about to begin, the referee should announce for all to hear, “Two-minutes to game time,” two minutes prior to the match.
ix. Scoring: Announce in a loud voice so those present in the immediate match can hear the scores before each serve. First announce the score of the player serving the ball followed by the score of the other player.
B. Decisions: The referee makes the final decisions on all plays and rules. When line judges are present, the line judge will announce the ruling for his/her viewpoint and then the referee shall announce the final judgment. When there are no line judges both players must disagree with the referee before revising the call.
C. Protests: If there are disagreements pertaining to rules, rulings, or judgments, those disagreements must be settled before the next serve. If the parties cannot come to a settlement it will be the responsibility of the head referee or Tournament Director to make a ruling. When the ruling is based on judgment calls, those rulings may not be protested. If a player protests a call or judgment and the call or judgment is made in the protesting player’s favor, then the ruling will be changed. If a player protests a call or judgment and the players protest is not upheld, then the player will receive a warning. If the player reaches three warnings, he/she will lose a point. If the player loses two points in a single game in this manner then the player will be disqualified from that match.
D. Forfeitures:A match may be forfeited by the referee when:
i. Intentional unsportsmanlike behavior. Showing disrespect for the referee’s or Tournament Director’s decision or engaging in unsportsmanlike behaviors, including showing disrespect to other players or spectators in any way is grounds for possible forfeiture.
ii. Two Points. A player loses two points due to receiving 6 warnings in a single match.
iii. Leaving the Court. Any player who leaves the court area without permission from the referee and causes the game to be delayed in any way.
iv. Failure to Check-In. Upon arriving at the Tournament, all players must check in at the Tournament Table.
v. No Show: Any player fails to report to the court to play their scheduled match.
E. Spectators: The referee shall have authority over the spectators, the players, the court, and the equipment in use while the match is in progress.
Rule 4.9 Line Judges
A. Line Judges: If possible, two line judges should be officiating in all matches, positioned at the best point outside of the court that allows the Line Judge to see the location of the ball at all times. A line judge may speak up if he/she disagrees with the referee’s call or if the referee asks the Line Judge for clarification on a play involving the ball and the line. If a line judge is uncertain about a bounce on or near the line, he/she should say, “No opinion” if asked by the referee.
B. Duties and Responsibilities:Line Judges are called on to help decide what the proper calls are when the ruling is disputed or the referee is unsure of the call. In the event of a dispute, the players will explain their issue with the referee. The referee may then choose to involve the Line Judge by providing a brief explanation of the dispute and asking the line judge must what hi/her opinion on the matter is. The signal to show agreement with the referee is arm extended with thumb up; disagreement is shown by thumb pointing down. The signal to show no opinion or that he/she is not certain as to what the call should be is to extend the arm with an open hand and the palm down. Line judges should not provide an opinion or signal unless asked by the referee.
C. Result of Response:In the unlikely event that both line judges have no opinion, the referee’s call stands. If both line judges disagree with the referee’s call, the referee must rule according to the Line Judges opinions. If one line judge disagrees with the referee’s call and the other agrees with the referee’s call, the referee may choose between the calls or call for replay.
Official Score Keepers are responsible for keeping a record of the progress of the game as instructed by the Tournament Director. The score keeper may only mark points if the referee makes the call that a player has received a point.