Ok, so not so surprisingly (in hindsight) the actual experience isn’t quite as dynamic as the video I discovered (view youtube, youku). Maybe it’s the lack of epic background music and comical/overweight ref. Either way, it is still a great way to get active with friends (especially if you want an excuse to knock them around a bit) and do something just a little silly/fun/different/crazy.
After watching the behind the scenes of the video above (after I had played the game myself) I thought “yeah, now I see how that’s a staged video. To get another more “normal” look, you can also watch this home movie—we had about the same amount of laughter and helplessly rolling across the pitch in our zorbs.
Another way to imagine the experience: you’re a minion, playing full contact soccer. Go! But even that makes it sound like you have to know how to play—or even like soccer, or full contact sports for that matter—which you don’t for Zorb ball.
Ok, what I mean is…you just have to try it for yourself. And lucky for you! Shanghai has a new spot offering Zorb “Bubble Ball” Soccer (this one is for you pudong!) in JinQiao.
Arena, a new-ish indoor sports venue located near the expat-heavy JinQiao area, offers turf rentals for a variety of sports—one of which is Zorb “Bubble Ball” Soccer. You can play up to 4 v 4 at a time (we played 3 v 3 and boy do you get tired! Who knew how much work it took to run around in a bubble ball!). The venue has a lofted Bar/Snack area that supporters can view/laugh/eat/drink from.
Each game is 5 minutes or until one team scores 3 points. Rental is for 90 minutes with each person paying ¥100 to play (cost is the same no matter how many or few people there are). Arena provides a ref who helps to explain the rules, and also flips you back onto your feet if you get stuck upside-down, and your own awesome zorb ball to run around in.
The zorbs have straps like a back-pack (to keep it securely on your back), or in the event that you get stuck upside-down, the straps also keep you inside your zorb so you don’t knock your head on the ground. There are also two sturdy handles for you to hold onto inside the zorb.
As I said before, even if you don’t consider yourself a “contact sport” type of person—don’t worry—this game is still for you! As one player said: “I like how this game is so rough but it’s [almost] impossible to get hurt.” I added the [impossible] because (insider tip) actually at venue the red teams’ zorb balls’ “backpack” straps are much more comfortable and protective than the Blue teams’. (See, now you know which team to chose).
My recommendation is bring 12-16 people and have constant rotating games. You’ll definitely need a rest after a 5 minute match and be happy to watch a game in the interim. Of course you can go with fewer—we only had 7 people total—but unlike with normal soccer, where one person could play the entire 90 minutes, with Zorb ball you sure are looking forward to a rest after even just 5 minutes of playing time.
Jinqiao / ARENA / Sports Events Bar
For enquiries, rentals and pricing contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call: 158.2103.6248
Cost: ¥100 per person for 90 minutes of Zorb ball and turf rental. Up to 8 people (4v4) can play at one time.
Address: Lane 2622 (SanQiao Rd), Warehouse #29 (off of Jinqiao Rd, near Jinxiu East Rd.)
Finding it is a little complicated as its down what looks to be a very local Chinese side-street, so here is an extended explanation:
Arena is located just past Chapin House in JinQiao, on a side street (2622 / Bridge Street, 三桥路) off of JinQiao Road. Find the green location marker in the map below, or visit the google map for more detail.
Sanqiao Rd (三桥路), the road that you turn off JinQiao Rd onto is one stoplight before JinXiu Rd. (The stoplight makes it easy to turn onto this road going either direction on Jinqiao Rd.)
Drive past where Chapin House is located. Arena will be on your right. This is what the outside looks like.
Sometimes they have a small sign standing outside. Otherwise look for the big blue roll-up doors, and the small #29. If you look inside you’ll be able to see giant indoor-turf playing areas.
They have some snacks available at the lofted snack area/ bar. So feel free to bring friends/family that just want to hang out and watch! 🙂
There are two, large indoor courts.