Gaga Ball

What is Gaga?

You know that everyone’s going gaga over gaga. But what is it? Here’s the 101 on how to play gaga ball:

Gaga is a fast paced, high energy sport played in an octagonal pit. The more players the better! Dubbed a kinder gentler version of dodge ball, the game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, Gaga Ball and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. Players need to keep moving to avoid getting hit by

Gaga Ball

the ball. Fun and easy, everyone gets a serious workout.

Easily addictive, people can’t wait to get back in the pit. The games move quickly…after a few short  minutes, the action heats up with a second ball, sure to get even the best players out within minutes. Once the game ends, everyone is back in for the next round.

What we know for sure is that the excitement surrounding gaga is exploding!

Rules of Gaga Ball

It’s super simple. Basically, we throw a bunch of players and a ball in a pit. Turn up the music, everyone for him/herself; if the ball touches you below the knee, you’re out. The last one in the pit wins. Then, everyone hops back in for the next round. Games last no more than five minutes. It’s fast, it’s sweaty and it’s really addictive. As soon as you get out, you can’t wait to hop back in. That’s why they’re all talking about it!

The official game rules of The Gaga Center:

  • All players start with one hand touching a wall of the pit.
  • The game begins with a referee throwing the ball into the center of the pit.
  • When the ball enters the pit, the players scream ‘GA’ for the first two bounces, and ‘GO’ on the third bounce, after which the ball is in action.
  • Once the ball is in play, any player can hit the ball with an open or closed hand.
  • If a ball touches a player below the knee (even if the player hits himself or herself) he or she is out and leaves the pit. If a player is hit above the knees, the play continues.
  • If a ball is caught on a fly, the player who hit the ball is out.
  • Players cannot hold the ball.
  • If needed, a second ball can be thrown in the pit to expedite the end of the game. The last player standing is the winner of that round.
  • Gameplaedit

    Gaga is played in a large fenced-in area (usually an octagon or hexagon) called a gaga pit. The gaga pit generally consists of flat walls atop a smooth dirt, turf, sand, or rubberized surface. The gaga ball can vary in size and form, generally ranging from a foam dodgeball to a rubber kickball. In some games, the ball may not actually take the shape of a sphere if the proper equipment is not available. The game begins when one player or a referee throws the gaga ball into the air; while the players’ backs or hands are set against the wall, they shout “Ga” on each of the first three bounces. After three bounces, the ball is in play, and the players may leave the wall and hit the ball at each other in the pit. A player who is hit by the ball or breaks a rule is eliminated and must leave the game. Players may not hit the ball twice in a row, and a player who causes the ball to leave the pit is out. When the ball is caught in the air on a fly, the last person to hit the ball is out.

    General rules

    1. A player can hit the ball with their hands, but picking up the ball and throwing it at a player is not allowed. Some versions do not permit scooping, or curling one’s fingers while hitting the ball, so as to project the ball into the air. In some games, only open hand hits are allowed to prevent striking injury to small children and also to enable greater control of the ball, keeping it low and inbounds.
    2. If the ball touches a player anywhere on or below the knee (in some versions, below the ankle or waist), that player is eliminated from the game. If a player hits themself with the ball on or below their own knee they are out.
    3. A player may not hit the ball out of the pit. The penalty for breaking this rule is assigned to the last player to touch the ball before leaving the pit, rather than to the original hitter. Because this provision can result in a strategy of hitting the ball upwards to eliminate another player, the rule prohibiting scooping attempts to discourage this. In some versions, an exception is made if the ball hits a wall or the ground before leaving the pit; in this scenario, the exit is deemed to be the result of a ricochet, and the player is not eliminated.
    4. Holding or otherwise using the wall to assist a jump is termed “spidering” and is prohibited. However, some variations allow spidering.
    5. No player may hit the ball twice in a row, unless the ball comes into contact with the wall or another player between touches. This rule is sometimes expanded to include “self-serving,” which prevents the player that served the ball from being the first to touch the ball. Some sets of rules may allow double-hitting if enough players have been eliminated, usually when there are two players left.
    6. In some variations, if a player pops the ball up into the air, another player may catch it and ground it. The other player is then out. However, most variations prohibit catching completely.
    7. When a player gets out, that player must step out of the pit completely to show that they have been eliminated.
    8. A player must start the game with one of their hands (or some versions feet) touching the wall of the pit; however, some versions do not make it a rule to touch the pit as the game starts. One player or a referee has to throw the ball in and have it bounce thrice and chant “ga-ga-ball” (Some versions use “ga-ga-go”, “ga-ga”, and “ga-ga-ga”, among others). If a player removes their hand (or foot) off the wall before the third bounce, they are eliminated.
    9. The winner of the last game has the right to serve to start the next game.
  • Other rules may be added as necessary, and some may choose to play without all of the above rules. Additional rules that vary in frequency of implementation include the prohibition of blocking (using one’s hands as a barrier between the ball and one’s feet, rather than jumping), crouching, playing on the ground, and rolling. In other variations, an additional ball may enter play towards the end of the game if the two or three remaining players are making slow progress. Commonly, there will be a 20-second count down when play is too slow and only 2 or 3 players remain. At the end of the countdown, a new game is started

    Tablet magazine investigation

  • In 2016 and 2017, Tablet magazine reporter Stephen Silver wrote a two-part investigation of gaga’s origins,[4][7] sifting through the various theories and rumors that had circulated over the preceding 60 years. In the second of the two articles, titled “Is the Mystery of Ga-Ga, Everyone’s Favorite Summer-Camp Game, Finally Solved?” Silver interviewed a 61-year-old native of Baltimore, Maryland, Steve Steinberg, who claimed to have invented gaga in 1975 as a teenage camp counselor to six-year-old boys at Camp Milldale, a Jewish Community Center camp in the Baltimore area. “[Steinberg] says he started the game for the same reason it’s still played today at countless summer camps,” Silver wrote, “to keep campers busy on rainy days.” Contrary to the theory that the game’s name derives from the Hebrew word meaning “touch-touch,” Steinberg explained to Silver that during a moment of frustration with his campers, he’d told them that they “all look like a bunch of babies,” and that the children responded by chanting “goo-goo, ga-ga.” Steinberg said that the game became very popular with his campers, and that he eventually shortened the name to “ga-ga” so that it would fit on the printed activity schedule. The Steinberg story has been repeated in many other magazines, journals and blogs across the country.


    Gaga is a fast-moving and high-energy game that keeps all children active and engaged. Known as the “great equalizer” in playground sports, gaga requires no special athletic skill or ability and is enjoyed by children of all ages.


    The Gagasphere is the only indoor facility in Northern New Jersey dedicated to year-round gaga play for kids and adults of all ages. Our three pits can accommodate any size group for game play.

    The Gagasphere official Gaga Rules:

    1. Players start inside the pit touching the sides. One player throws the gaga ball up into the air. Players yell “Ga” as it bounces and the ball is in play after the second bounce (“Ga-Ga”).
    2. Players can hit the ball with one hand, but cannot pick up and throw it.
    3. If the ball touches a player anywhere on or below the waist, that player is eliminated.
    4. A player cannot catch the ball, they may block it and “dribble” it for 3 seconds, then it must touch the wall or another player to be in play.
    5. Players may not kick the ball since this means touching the ball below the knee.
    6. If the ball is hit out of the pit, then the last player to touch the ball is out.
    7. Players who are out must leave the gaga pit immediately.
    8. Players who are outside the pit after elimination who catch a ball leaving the pit earn another chance to go back into the pit to play.
    9. The last player out is the winner and gets to start the next game.

    Domination GaGa

    This variation is great for “leveling the playing field” among players of various ages and/or athletic ability. Gameplay is as above except that when a player gets “out”, any player who was previously gotten out by that player can re-enter the pit.

    Mayhem GaGa

    Use up to 4 balls for this game (different colored balls work best to help keep track of “double touches”). Players may not see it coming!


    Team GaGa

    Players stay on opposite sides of the pit (which can be re-shaped into a rectangle or even “figure 8”) and play until one team is totally eliminated. Getting each opponent out allows a teammate to re-enter.

    Defender GaGa

    Each player picks a wall panel to defend from being hit by the others, like a goal keeper would. Keep score by number of hits and high score loses

    Rules to Gaga Ball

    Starting a Game
    • To begin, each player must have at least one hand touching the Gaga Pit wall
    • One player throws the ball in the air, then let the ball bounce three times
    • Everyone yells “Ga” on each of the three bounces – “Ga, Ga, Ga” signals the start of the game
    • On the third bounce, the ball is in play

    Just like Dodgeball, the last one standing wins. However, contrary to Dodgeball, the rules to Gaga Ball carefully consider safety. Let’s go over what’s allowed and not allowed:

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