You’ve heard the old adage: Be the ball. With KnockerBall, you literally are.

Knock-Out Workout

Written by Lauren Loftus Category: Health & Fitness Issue: December 2016
Group Free

KnockerBall is not what you’d call “a gentleman’s sport.” A genericized brand name for bubble soccer, KnockerBall basically consists of people encasing themselves in inflatable orbs and, quite literally, knocking into each other. There isn’t a whole lot of strategy or sportsmanship. If anything, it’s a “bro’s sport” – but dang if bros don’t know how to have fun.

Bubble soccer originated in Europe and was popularized in the U.S. about a year ago by a guy named John Anthony Radosta, league commissioner of the National Association of Bubble Soccer (really), who hawked the sport on ABC’s Shark Tank last  year. TJ Kline, owner of KnockerBall Phoenix, says participants are technically supposed to play a regular game of soccer... just while wrapped in the human equivalent of a plastic hamster ball from the thighs up. But, he says, what usually ends up happening is people spend most of their time focused less on scoring goals and more on trying to knock each other down. At least all that bashing is a great workout. “It’s a much tougher workout than people think,” Kline says. The balls are quite heavy, he explains – about 30 pounds for the adult size – and require a lot of stamina and core strength to run around in, and into each other. Fifteen minutes into the game, “they’re dead,” he says.

The majority of Kline’s business comes from rentals for kids’ birthday parties and corporate events, in addition to a surprisingly high number of families who rent the KnockerBalls for get-togethers over the holidays (or maybe not surprising, because: family). At one recent corporate event, the membership sales team for the Phoenix Suns was enjoying working out their workplace frustrations via KnockerBall at Margaret T. Hance Park in Downtown Phoenix. “This is totally my workout [for the day],” pants Vanessa Soto after running around in the clear sphere for several minutes.

“It works on your cardio,” agrees co-worker Jennica Berry. The team quickly abandons attempts to play a game of soccer, instead preferring games from childhood like “protect the queen” and “sharks and minnows,” where the goal of each is to knock players off their feet.

And therein lies the real fun of KnockerBall – getting hit while encased in a large balloon of protective plastic and soaring through the air from the force, bouncing and rolling painlessly on the hard ground, legs flailing above you, giggling the whole time.