Hybrid Sports for the Adventurous - Mash-Up Week
ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS Zach Schepis

By Zach Schepis

Bored of the same old recreational pastimes? Pick-up games of baseball and soccer starting to lose their flash of excitement? Fear not–here at BTR we’ve gone on a mission to discover funky, innovative, and downright bizarre new ways to spruce up sports.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but then again they probably never tried taking it skijoring.

Commonly known as “hybrid sports,” these mash-up activities range from overtly physical to sheer theatrics. But a common thread ties them all together: they sound incredibly fun. So make sure to get out of your comfort zone and try some of these sports with your friends this summer.

Bossaball

If you’ve ever dreamed of marrying the graceful movements of martial arts with the laid-back atmosphere of beach volleyball, then this one’s just for you. Bossaball manages to fuse together elements of football, gymnastics, dance, and capoeira. At its heart, however, the hybrid sport is essentially volleyball–with the minor addition of trampolines.

That’s right. Two teams of up to five people play on an inflatable court replete with trampolines, changing the gravity of the traditional game to incorporate newfound freedoms such as spiking a ball with an air-bound kick.

Perhaps the most festive aspect of the game is the samba referee, making judgment calls within the game. This special ref makes also serves as a “master of ceremonies,” a position that includes the help of a whistle, microphone, percussion instruments, and an exotic DJ set (hence the name of the sport).

Despite the outlandish looking inflatable stage that needs to be seen to be believed, the playing field takes less than 45 minutes to set up.

Check it out:

Chess Boxing

If the name sounds ludicrous that’s because it is. What two activities could be more diametrically opposed in terms of strategy, physical exertion, and pacing? Perhaps that’s precisely why they end up working so well together in this strange mash-up.

The origin is almost as eccentric as the sport itself. Invented by Iepe Rubingh in 2002, chessboxing was actually inspired by Enki Bilal’s comic Cold Equator. The game was such a hit that chess and boxing experts from Berlin teamed up with Dutch chess and boxing confederations to make official rules for the new sport.

The matches seek to stretch the mind: a rubber band springing back and forth between physical bouts of fury and thoughtful strategy. Opponents are given four-minute long rounds of chess, followed by only a minute break before they box one another for an intense three minutes. After 11 rounds pass (six of chess, five of boxing), the one with the most points–cumulatively gathered from both the board game and fight–is declared the winner.

A checkmate, however, is still an instant game-ender.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Underwater Hockey

Why should hockey be limited to the ice rink? What about all of the fans who want to play during the warm seasons?

Enter underwater hockey, where both teams don neon fins and goggles to face-off against one another in a giant swimming pool. They circle and dive like fish in a feeding frenzy, skating along the top equipped to snorkel or cruise the depths with breath held. This is nothing to scoff at–only those with peak endurance have what it takes to play.

The puck is eight times heavier than a traditional ice hockey puck, which allows for it stay grounded at the bottom of the pool. Players are given 12-inch sticks that make maneuverability less cumbersome in the slow-moving arena.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this half-century old sport (it was invented in England in 1954) is the three-dimensional strategy that can occur when water is introduced into the mix. Players are able to flank their opponents from above, the side, and even underneath, placing a special emphasis on defense. And lifeguards.

Check out the USA women’s team for a better look at how underwater hockey is played.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Skijoring

You probably wish you thought of this: take a pack of sled dogs, a horse, or even a motorcycle, slap on a pair of skis, and get pulled along at high speed.

The activity has been very popular in Scandinavia and Alaska for years, and is beginning to get picked up in other regions of the world. Competitions are often associated with sprint races and generally run anywhere from three to 10 miles in length. However, in recent years there has been greater interest in hosting long distance events.

Races aren’t necessary though–if you’re just looking to hit up some cross-country trails with a little bit more adrenaline, then a solo skijoring session is the perfect solution. Just make sure the trails you go to are dog/horse/motorcycle-friendly.

Photo courtesy of Anna Soluch on DeviantArt.

Polocrosse

Speaking of horses, last but not least we have this classic British sport that is by far the oldest on the list (dating all the way back to 1938). For those who don’t know, polocrosse essentially amounts to a game of lacrosse played on horseback. Each rider carries a cane stick replete with a racquet head and loose net, which they use to catch a sponge rubber ball. The main objective is to score goals by throwing the ball at the opponent’s goal posts.

There are some interesting little peculiarities present in the rulebook, such as: players are only allowed to use one hand (right or left) consistently to hold the stick while in play, players can’t ride horned-saddles, and players are only allowed one horse per game. Some rough play is allowed but for the most part referees try to keep the games safe to avoid injury.

And don’t even think about feeding your horse performance-enhancing drugs, as both rider and horse are drug-tested.

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