NJAA

History of Jai-Alai

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What is Jai-Alai?

Jai-Alai (pronounced “hi’li”) is the world’s fastest sport. It offers more excitement, more action, more thrills and more fun than any sport in the world.

Jai-Alai originated in the Basque Country of Northern Spain almost four centuries ago.  Nestled between the Pyrenees Mountains in North-Central Spain and Southern France, the game was played outdoors using church walls as thecourt. The game originated asan attractionfor the annual festivities meaning “Merry Festival”.  The first indoor court was built in 1798 in Marquena.  It was first introduced in the USA at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.  Jai-alai was first played professionally at the Miami fronton in 1926, and exciting non-stopaction continues to this day in several frontons across the state of Florida.   

 

How is the game played?

cestaJai-alai is a distinctive sport which requires its own special equipment.  The cesta, a Spanish word for basket, is a long, curved basket a player uses to catch and throw the pelota and is hand-women specifically for each individual player.  The wicker basket is made from reeds found exclusively in the Pyrenees Mountains and the frame is made of steam bent Chestnut.

 

 

The pelota is the hardest ball of any sport.  It is roughly ¾ the size of a baseball and is harder than a rock.  The core consists of Brazilian virgin de pola rubber, is layered with nylon and hand-stitched with two goat skin covers.

Player

Jai-alai is played on a special court called a “cancha”.  There are three walls, with the front wall made out of granite because it is the only material that can withstand the impact of the ball.

 

 

 

 

 

Jai-alai is played on a special court called a “cancha”.  There are three walls, with the front wall made out of granite because it is the only material that can withstand the impact of the ball.

 


The rules of jai-alai are similar to those followed in racquetball.  All games start with a serve which must land in a certain lined area.  The receiving player must catch the pelota in the air or on the first bounce, then return it to the wall in one continuous motion.  The player continues to volley until the pelota is missed or goes out of bounds.  Games are played with a single player on a team, or doubles with two on a team.

 

 

 

 

Some frontons around the country and the world.