What is KIN-BALL? KIN-BALL is a sport that is gaining in popularity around the world, with more than 30 countries now playing either in schools or in organized teams. KIN-BALL can be played by kids in school as well as adults. The sport and subsequent OMNIKIN games originated in Canada in the 80s. According to the International KIN-BALL Sport Federation, KIN-BALL’s values are cooperation, respect and sportsmanship.
Are you a PE teacher or professional interested in learning more about KIN-BALL? We provide all the details to show you how KIN-BALL is an amazing way for people of all ages and physical abilities to get active and have fun!
How to play Kin-Ball
KIN-BALL is the only organized cooperative sport in the world as all players must touch the ball during offense plays and all players must be involved during defence. It is played with an oversized, lightweight ball, traditionally pink in colour. What makes this sport so different from other team sports is that it is played with three teams, not just two. Each team is composed of four players, and the game is played on a surface of up to a maximum of 20 x 20 m (60 x 60 ft.).
The goal of the game is very simple. Each team must try to catch and control the ball when the ball is served before it hits the floor. A match starts off with an offensive team calling out “OMNIKIN!” and then calling out the colour of another team. The ball is then hit inside the court with a body part above the hips.
Players of the designated team have to catch the ball using any part of their body before it touches the floor. If the designated team is not able to catch and control the ball, a point will be given to the other two teams. The team that dropped the ball then becomes the offensive team. If the team succeeds in catching and controlling the ball, no points are awarded and that team has 10 seconds to hit it to the team they’ll designate.
At the beginner and intermediate levels, KIN-BALL is played from between one to three periods. Each period can last from seven to ten minutes. Players can commit different faults throughout the period, such as:
- Hitting the ball out of bounds
- Hitting the ball less than 3 m (10 ft.)
- Hitting the ball with a downward trajectory
- Not all players touching the ball at the moment of the hit
Want to check out some cool KIN-Ball videos? You can view some high-octane matches here.
How Big is a Kin-Ball?
The original KIN-BALL match is played with a ball that measures 1.22 m (4 ft.) in diameter and weighs 1 kg (2 lbs.).
However, in order to accommodate other OMNIKIN games and playing KIN-BALL outside, Omnikin, the company that invented KIN-BALL, now offers a wide range of ball sizes. You can find Street, Outside, Practice KIN-BALL, to name a few.
KIN-BALL is a straightforward sport to learn and play. In fact, children as young as seven can play because even though the ball is big, it is lightweight. This video provides a great introduction to how to play KIN-BALL. A comprehensive set of KIN-BALL rules is available for all world cup players and organized teams within the International KIN-BALL Sport Federation.
Omnikin also offers training sessions for PE teachers, educators and sports professionals so that they can effectively teach the ins and outs of KIN-BALL.
The ball used for KIN-BALL does not have to be used just for the sport.
Kids can enjoy an array of OMNIKIN games—many of which have very intriguing names, like Spider Web Tag, The Pac-Man, Cowboy, Bubble Gum Bulldog and Monster Truck. In fact there are over 50 to choose from!
What is great about these games is that PE teachers and educators can take advantage of the KIN-BALL’s light weight and size; many of the aforementioned games could not be played safely or at all with traditional balls.
Benefits of Kin-Ball
There are many benefits to KIN-BALL. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits in more detail:
- The number-one benefit of KIN-BALL is it gets kids of all ages and physical abilities moving! Even children who typically don’t like sports and special needs clienteles are drawn to playing KIN-BALL! Children don’t just have to play KIN-BALL the sport; there are many different games that can be played with the same KIN-BALL ball!
- KIN-BALL emphasizes physical activity, physical literacy, social inclusion, teamwork, fair play and healthy living. The game is easy to learn and kids are automatically intrigued by the novelty of the sport.
- KIN-BALL can be played in a gym, on the grass, at the beach or even in the snow, making it very adaptable all year long…unless it is very windy!
- It doesn’t require extensive sports experience.
- It can be taught to special needs and mixed-ability clienteles.
- There is no one superstar: everyone gets a chance to play and everyone must play an active role in the game.
- It teaches participants how to develop strategy, communication and quick-thinking skills
- KIN-BALL incorporates different skills that can be found in volleyball, soccer and basketball.
- KIN-BALL helps to improve full-body movement, spatial perception, coordination and agility
- The game significantly boosts cardiovascular health.
In a recent study at the Department of Kinesiology at Auburn University in Alabama, researchers studied the extent of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) when participants of different age groups played KIN-BALL. For a 15-minute period of KIN-BALL 72.3% of the game time involved MVPA (45.6% walking and 26.7% very active). There were no instances of sitting or lying down.
Above all, the most important benefit of KIN-BALL is that it expands the accessibility to and love for active living. Many PE teachers and educators notice that kids who are normally shy or not necessarily athletically inclined become alive and energetic when they play KIN-BALL. In addition, many kids who are not keen on traditional team sports seem to take a fresh liking to KIN-BALL.
What Makes Kin-Ball Different From Other Sports?
KIN-BALL is in a class of its own. While it is akin to classic invasion sports, such as hockey, rugby, soccer, basketball and football, it differs in that all participants play the entire court: there are no individual offense and defense positions.
In addition, it democratizes sports. Because KIN-BALL is a relatively new game, as opposed to many other sports that were created in ancient times, everyone is on the same playing field. For example, if one player is good at basketball, it doesn’t mean they will excel at KIN-BALL right off the bat.
Finally, because participants don’t have preconceived notions about KIN-BALL and their perceived lack of being good at it, they tend to start off playing more willingly. Since they haven’t had a bad experience or “poor” performance in the past, players tend to be more willing to get in on the game, which can substantially facilitate the job of a PE teacher or educator.
Do PE Teachers and Educators Like Kin-Ball?
There are many recent interviews that offer objective insight into the perceptions of both PE teachers and educators with regard to KIN-BALL. On the PE Express Podcast, for example, Texas-based physical educator Chris Nichols says that KIN-BALL has been a fixture in his PE program for quite a while now, explaining that the sport helps his students develop creativity and cooperation.
Researchers are also conducting studies on the effectiveness of KIN-BALL. In 2020, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study by the University of Granada on “The Effects of An Alternative Sports Program Using Kin-Ball in Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.”
The study’s conclusion?
“The main conclusions obtained through evaluation of the adequacy of a physical activity program based on Kin-Ball are that all participants increased their speed, endurance, strength, coordination, and balance. Participants also reported high levels of satisfaction and motivation towards this alternative sport.”
History of Kin-Ball
KIN-BALL has come a long way since its beginnings in the 80s. Here is the fascinating history of KIN-BALL, its founder and how the sport evolved over time.
Who Invented Kin-Ball?
Mario Demers founded Omnikin in 1985 with a mission to create a whole new team sport that complemented the very limited hours of physical education programs in schools.
KIN-BALL as the sport was invented by Mario after attending a festival during which a giant ball was thrown in the crowd and got people very excited, he thought that this could be an interesting idea to use to motivate people to get active. Lots of work was involved in striking the right mix between the type of ball to be used and the specific sport that would galvanize participants to play. Over time, Mario fine-tuned the concept and fellow professors helped develop the rules. KIN-BALL was then born.
Physical educators from different schools worked together to experiment with KIN-BALL. In August 1987, the sport was constituted with official regulations. The number of schools across the province of Québec that tested out KIN-BALL as an extracurricular activity rose from 10 in 1987 to 129 in September 1991.
The Québec KIN-BALL federation was officially recognized by Québec’s Ministry of Education in 1992, followed by KIN-BALL Canada and the International KIN-BALL Sport Federation (IKBF) in 2000. The latter’s goal is to develop the KIN-BALL market around the world.
Very active in education and schools, Omnikin and the IKBF have experienced unprecedented success in the past decade. Many examples can be found on different continents. For example, after introducing the sport in 2008 in South Korea, KIN-BALL gradually grew in numbers to obtain an official recognition from the country’s Ministry of School Sports. It was also chosen as one of 17 subsidised sports. Used in hundreds of schools (elementary and high school) by physical education teachers, KIN-BALL became, in 2018, the most practiced sport in South Korea’s extra-curricular activities.
In Europe, more than 2000 Danish sports teachers have completed a training with an IKBF instructor and more than 50% of schools have been practicing the sport for quite some time. Also in Europe, the federation of Belgium (Fédération Francophone Belge de Kin-Ball) has had the sport recognized by the nation’s sports ministry. In Czechia, the sport was introduced in 2010. Today, more than 50% of schools are playing KIN-BALL as part of their sports curriculum.
All these compelling case studies are the fruit of long-term partnerships with hundreds of dedicated sport teachers and passionate volunteers who share the love for KIN-BALL and its values. It is thrilling to note that at least 10 million students are introduced or play KIN-BALL in schools each year.
Today, there are 14 KIN-BALL federations affiliated with the International KIN-BALL Sport Federation, with nearly 15,000 members. KIN-BALL is played in over 40 countries—no small feat for a completely unique team sport with a pink ball! Omnikin has also branched out with other innovative games with oversized balls, including soccer, volleyball, football, Poison tag, Poison game, noodle games, and Fassen-Ball®.
Kin-Ball World Cup
It was also in 2001 that the first Kin-Ball World Cup was held in Canada. Four countries were in competition: Canada, the United States, Japan, and Belgium. Over the years, KIN-BALL World Cups have taken place in Belgium, Spain, France and Japan. With each world cup, more countries joined, increasing the popularity of the sport. Canadian teams have dominated both men’s and women’s finals.
The most recent KIN-BALL World Cup was in Les Ponts-de-Cé, France, in October-November 2019, just before the global pandemic. The next World Cup will take place in fall 2024; however, the location has not been determined yet.
A couple of fun facts about KIN-BALL World Cup tournaments:
- The average age of participants is between 23 and 25
- The Canadian national women’s team has never lost in any of the 10 tournaments
- The Japanese teams are the only ones in the world that participated in the 10 tournaments
- The average experience level of National teams is between 7 and 9 years
- 3 World Cups were held in Canada, 2 in Belgium, 2 in Spain, 2 in France and 1 in Japan
The Future of Kin-Ball
KIN-BALL as a sport and OMNIKIN activities are showing no signs of slowing down. Omnikin envisions extending the support to more countries as well as adapting OMNIKIN games for retirement homes and other groups with special needs.
KIN-BALL is becoming increasingly popular in Latin America, particularly Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. The team at Omnikin believe that several Latin American countries will likely become a part of the international federation within the next few years. Other areas around the globe, including Southeast Asia and Oceania, are promising new markets for KIN-BALL. Ultimately, Omnikin hopes to get 100 countries playing KIN-BALL by 2035 that it will one day become an Olympic sport.