(AFP) – A bouncing roundnet, a ball, two teams of two players each and the game begins! The Roundnet, also called Spikeball, is the most popular warm-up exercise for many top athletes. It has even become a sport in its own right.
In a room in Saint-Denis, near Paris, between four transparent walls, Olympic medalists have fun kicking the ball with one hand so that it bounces onto a small circular net, outlined in yellow and placed less than a meter off the ground . The game comes alive, the players have a lot of fun with this particularly invigorating exercise.
Pauline Ranvier, vice-olympic champion of the French team at last summer’s Tokyo games in foiling, is addicted to Roundnet, an outdoor sport trying to gain an indoor spot with Urban Roundnet, which has its heart in Saint Denis Find.
“There are many tactics, you have to play between strength and skill, that gets us fencers a lot: the movements, we go far, we run, so it’s really cool and we found each other there. Even the girls who are there on Didn’t like it at first, love it now!” Pauline Ranvier, who has been practicing for four years, told AFP.
Invented in 1989 by a toy manufacturer as a beach game, the round net then experienced a desert crossing before it was completely relaunched in 2008 by the American Chris Ruder. But only in 2015 the game was released after being noticed in an episode of an American reality show (Shark Tank).
– From the NBA to English football –
In the years that followed, many videos circulated on social networks showing top athletes training with round nets, such as basketball players from the NBA franchise Dallas Mavericks or players from the English soccer club Crystal Palace.
In France, foil fencers made training visible with posts from their training sessions during the 2020 Olympics.
“The sport arrived in France in 2015-2016, for 2-3 years there has been an exponential increase. Finally, the Covid has helped a lot in the practice of this sport, since it does not require much installation and one of them was the exercises that we could do outdoors during confinement. It’s a mixed sport, accessible and very easy to understand. We play everywhere,” President Jean-Romain Sintes told AFP. and founding partner of Urban Roundnet.
“It’s a good warm-up, sometimes you can make the game very hard, very strong, with power and very fast balls, but you can also make a short ball, which is very interesting. As for fencing, you have to pay attention to opponents, see what he does and how he plays,” Hong Kong fencer Cheung Ka Long told AFP.
– “Mainstream” sport in the making –
The 2020 Olympic foil champion, who arrived in Paris for a competition in December and has since been “stuck” due to the quarantine imposed in his country, uses his long stay in France to practice Roundnet in particular.
The practice has reached a milestone with the creation of the International Roundnet Federation (IRF) – Outdoor – which will organize its first Worlds in September in Belgium. In France, the 2020 national federation was born under the impetus of Louis Jouve, player alongside his brother Thomas.
“The first time you play, it’s a blast! All the top athletes who try it immediately have fun and incorporate it into their routine,” Louis Jouve assures AFP.
According to him, there would be 200,000 players in France. “When I first played in 2015, no one knew. Today 80% of people have heard about it. It’s going to be + mainstream + sport (wide audience),” he predicts.