The History of Spikeball: The Rise of The Sport

Spikeball has a peculiar start as a sport, and it wasn’t until recently that it gained so much popularity (or became popular once again), and people started learning more about it and playing it.

The History of Spikeball

The game itself and the spikeball rules were invented in the 20th century, but who invented it and who popularized it remains to be seen in the text below. So let’s start tracing back spikeball together.

When was spikeball invented?

The origins of spikeball go back to the toymaker Jeff Knurek in 1989, who invented it and marketed it through the Japanese entertainment company Tomy.

In the next 6 years, spikeball was quite popular and played by many people. However, it slowly began fading away because the inventor or other toy producers didn’t update the equipment, which somehow became obsolete.

It wasn’t until 2004-5 when Spikeball Inc.’s CEO Chris Ruder revived spikeball by making some design changes and improving the original equipment. How come?

During his trip to Hawaii in 2003, his friends brought their old spikeball set to play. When he got a hold of the game, he got so interested that he did a research after only to see that the game’s trademark had expired and there was no patent on it, and it was definitely in need of some restoration and upgrading.

After seeing the potential, he decided to seize the opportunity and acquired the trademark for just $800. After a few years of doing the necessary market research and improvements on the spikeball set, and after redesigning the old equipment, he started marketing it and selling it as such.

When spikeball Inc. was launched in 2008, he used his basement as a warehouse, and in the next 5 years, he generated over $1 million in annual revenue.

Gaining popularity

After that huge success, large retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods acquired spikeball in their stores to sell. This was when the internet trends started turning in favor of spikeball with hundreds of new searches every day, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise given how fun spikeball is to play.

However, this also didn’t put spikeball in the spotlight as much as “Shark Tank” did in 2015. Namely, Spikeball Inc. appeared on the final episode of season 6, which made it mainstream popular for the first time right there.

Chris Ruder offered Daymond John 20% of the company for $500,000. Still, even though they didn’t close that deal immediately in the following months, spikeball had already gained some significant publicity and hit it off.

He negotiated a deal with Daymond and offered him 20% of the company for $500,000. However, they did not close the deal in the months that followed. In spite of this, the game had already gained a lot of exposure through the show, and that’s how Spikeball founded mainstream success.

After that, shows and publications like Dude Perfect (one of the most influential sports entertainment groups with 38 million YouTube subscribers), “The Today Show” and Inc. Magazine started featuring spikeball, which additionally amplified this sport’s popularity in the mainstream media.

And What About The Name?

Well, as I wrote about it here (link to the 1st spikeball article), the name Spikeball comes with a lot of confusion around it because of the whole revival of the brand.

You see, the first set of spikeball invented in 1989 was also called spikeball, and then when Chris Ruder discovered it and revived it, due to the trademark being expired, he took on the same name and made it famous.

However, with all that mainstream success, the competition started appearing, and other sport equipment manufacturers wanted to produce spikeball sets and monetize on the game. This jeopardized the original trademark of Spikeball, especially if more brands continued to market similar equipment under the same name.

For this, Spikeball Inc., under Cris Ruder, came up with a solution in order to protect the trademark of their brand. Namely, Spikeball became Roundnet as a general name for the game. This was a logical thing to do because of the round net that the set has for playing the game.

Now, even though other brands call this sport roundnet and there is only one spikeball officially, people still use these two names interchangeably because it is how it first got famous. 

Other Roundnet Brands

Now speaking of competition to Spikeball and other brands designing similar sets, there are several other that gained significant popularity in recent years. Probably one of the most confused brands with Spikeball out there is Slammo and people confuse these two more often than any other brands.

For the main differences, read my post on Slammo Vs. Spikeball. You will gain a lot more perspective on all things related.

Additionally, there is Bounceball, but it is mostly popular in Brazil and Revol, which is also popular but not as Spikeball.

So, out of all these manufacturers, Slammo is the most successful competitor of Spikeball, selling similar equipment at a lower price. This made the brand a famous alternative for the original Spikeball. However, old players of the game prefer Spikeball because of the few differences in the set and the overall quality.

The history of Spikeball

All in all, Spikeball has quite the history behind it, and it is a success story when we see it from the perspective of Cris Ruder. He accidentally stumbled upon an obsolete piece of equipment for a long-forgotten social game. He created a million-dollar business out of it thanks to his improvements and marketing of the game and the mainstream media and recognition from reputable sporting goods retailers.

Having played it, I genuinely believe spikeball deserves all the success and recognition it gets and being so much fun for all ages, I think all families should have a set of it for those long sunny weekends.

If you want to know more about spikeball, check out the FAQ section I have created with some basic and not so basic info you cannot find anywhere else online.

In the meantime, I’d love to connect with you on my Facebook and Instagram account for more cool tips and recommendations on paddle boards and kayaks.

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)