Monday, February 17, 2003

Aeroball scores as new game

Competitors get intense workout, using trampoline, ball and goal

By Llee Sivitz
Enquirer contributor

[photo] Pat Curran plays Aeroball with his son, Alex, 15.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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What plays like volleyball, has a goal like basketball and feels like gymnastics?


Besides its intense aerobic exercise (players play for just five or 10 minutes at a time), the dynamics of the game allow the whole family to get an equal workout.

Maze Inc., the Utah company that started making Aeroball less than a year ago, says the Aeroball court at Town and Country Sports Complex in Wilder is the only Aeroball court in the Midwest.

The court is constructed of 12-foot-high netting enclosing four 5-foot-square trampolines. The net walls form two cages and a shorter net divides each cage into two compartments.

A player in one compartment tries to shoot a soccer-size rubber ball over the net divider and into a hole in his opponent's back wall. The players block and return shots just like in basketball - while jumping on trampolines.

Two points for basket

Shooting the ball in the "basket" earns you two points. If you miss the basket but the ball hits the floor of your opponent's compartment, you get one point. You have three jumps (beginner) or two jumps (advanced) to shoot the ball or a foul is called. Games are scored to 7, 15 or 21, depending on how many games you want to play.

Where to play: Town and Country Sports Complex, 1018 Town Drive in Wilder, is open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends. Cost (for two games): $4 for non-members, $2 members. Package discounts available. Information: (859) 442-5800.

Aeroball leagues and tournaments forming soon.

To purchase an Aeroball Home Court: Aeroball manufacturer: Maze Inc., 994 E. New Hope St., Draper, UT 84020; (801) 572-2384; Stretch before starting to prevent injury.

Playing tips: Beginners should not play more than 5 minutes. Increase to 10 minutes as your endurance builds.

• Starting out, don't jump too high. Get used to your balance. Then add the ball to start shooting.

• Don't try blocking at first. Gradually add that to your regimen.

• Don't arch your back or lock your knees when you land.

• If you have an orthopedic issue (back, hip, knee), are pregnant or have not been active, seek the advice of a doctor before trying the game.

The two cages allow for the ball to be passed or shot between them, so you can play with either two or four players.

The Curran family of Fort Wright offered a demonstration. It was fortysomething Maria Curran's first time trying Aeroball. Her trampoline jumping was tentative at first, but she eventually scored six points against her younger son.

"It most definitely gave me a workout - like the step aerobic classes they have here, but at a higher pace. Five minutes and your heart is pumping," Curran says.

She was happy to see that the game's design is safe for children. There's a 22-inch double dividing wall between each trampoline, and the springs lie outside the cage - so you can't fall out, you can't fall through and you can't be thrown off balance by other players.

He plays daily

Alex Curran, 15, is an Aeroball regular. He plays almost every day - "until they drag me out of there." He has an impressive vertical jump and is known to do "360s" in Aeroball games with his friends.

Playing against his dad was easier.

"I had an advantage and it wasn't a challenge," he says. "I felt like blocking him every time."

Pat Curran, 47, is an Aeroball novice. "Especially the first time, I was a little apprehensive about going up too high and coming down (on the trampoline)," he says. "But you work up a sweat."

He admits his son got the better of him."You can tell he was jumping higher from (playing) more often."

But dad will be back. "It's a way to go in and have a little competitiveness with your kids," he says.

The youngest (and shortest) Curran, Eric, 11, has played Aeroball four times before trying it with his family.

"I play for 10 minutes," he says, "After five minutes I take a time out and sit down for a minute." The game has improved his basketball shot, Eric says.

Aeroball can be more than fun and games.

"Our serious athletes like using this to complement their training," says Kevin Molony, president and part owner of the sports complex. He says Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills is incorporating Aeroball into its basketball training regimen.

Is Aeroball here to stay?

"It's safe, you can play at any level of ability, and get a great cardio workout," Molony says. " I think this is a slam dunk, based on the feedback and the `wow' factor that we hear."

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