Written By: Jose Alvarado
My first sighting of Knocker Ball was a YouTube video that made it to my Facebook feed about a year ago. That YouTube video now has over three million views and if you haven’t seen it, today is the day.
When the video first came up it seemed like a surreal experience which would make almost anyone wish it was an actual sport. Ever since the video came out the opportunities to play Knocker Ball (aka Zorb Soccer or Bubble Soccer) have sprouted out of nowhere. Local businesses have made it grow from a one-hour experience with friends to half-time shows being featured in games around the globe.
A year later I found myself soaring through the air after receiving two back-to-back hits while being inside one of the famous Zorbs. Knocker Squad is one of the local Minneapolis companies that have brought the sport to the Twin Cities area, and we booked a 90-minute activity with them.
Bubble Soccer is a lot of bubble and not a lot of soccer. Once you have the ball in your feet you might be able to dribble for a very limited amount of steps; independently of if you pass the ball or not, you have to brace for impact almost immediately. The small size of the field and how big the Zorbs are make it very difficult not to be in your rival’s reach within seconds. As a relatively short and thin guy the only thing I could do was rely on momentum. No momentum was commonly associated with flying, and potentially, flipping. Exhibit A:
The two staff members of Knocker Squad had three different formats for us. The first was the classic soccer game, the second was Shark vs. Minos, and we ended with an epic Battle Royale. In Shark vs Minos there would be two “Sharks” in the middle and “Minos” would try and get from one side to the other. If a Mino was flipped by a shark they would become sharks until only one Mino would remain.
Battle Royale was exactly what you would think it would be: chaos. In the end it was Andrew Evans against Casey Gilbert, battling for a can of Red Bull. A very quick start from Casey made Andrew look like a sitting duck, and all he could do was wait for the Casey Train to run over him.
The experience overall was very memorable and it definitely flew by (pun-intended). There are two things I think I should point out about Knocker Ball: 1) you will sweat like you’ve never done before and 2) the hits are very much absorbed by the Zorb, but you’ll wake up next morning and struggle to get out of bed. Then again, all things considered, it was worth it and would do it again without a second thought.