Paintball is considered the fastest growing, and most widely played extreme sport in the U.S. and a few other countries. There are two types of paintball games that are widely known. Woodsball is where paintball originated. This combat game is played out in the woods or fields. The other version that is widely played is speedball. Speedball moves much faster than woodsball.
Speedball has made paintball a more formal sport. Professional leagues have evolved, and it is finding much more support. Unlike its woodsball counterpart, speedball can be more structured and refereed. It is still fun, and can be even more so with the fast pace and high energy. Speedball is set up with bunkers on both sides of the playing field. These bunkers are mirrored on both sides of the play area. With this structure, viewing and participating have become greater. The arena style playing field gives spectators a greater visibility of the activities.
Each league maintains its own individual format and structure. The competitive edge remains strong in all such leagues. Since the dawning of paintball, it was merely an activity for groups of individuals on weekends. With speedball, paintball has been revolutionized into a real sport. The defining characteristics of speedball teams are things like athletic ability, coaches, team practice and ethic, endorsements and sponsorships, a high volume of media coverage, and an intense and large fan base. The team players in speedball tend to have a smaller marker or gun. This keeps less of their person being exposed during a match.
During the 1980s and 90s, paintball was exclusively played in the woods. Each park or tournament area had its own layout, making all of them a different experience for marksman. There was, however a playing field in Southern California called SC Village. This playing field included a treeless area, called Beirut, which had several plywood buildings. This would become the favorite field of many who would even travel large distances to play. This field offered a faster pace. This was the birth of speedball as it is known today. Dennis Bukowski and Giovanni D Egidio owned SC village and provided the foresight for the growth of paintball.
In 1996 Brass Eagle introduced the first inflatable bunker playing field. The field was introduced at the 1996 Paintball World Cup. It was released as the Ultraball field. It was more commonly known at the time by its trademark as Hyperball. During this NPPL World Cup, in Orlando Florida, Paintball as a sport began to change dramatically. Paintball began to leave the woods and enter the speedball field. The following year a Moroccan company introduced the Sup’Air Ball inflatable bunkers. These new layouts brought about a lot of press for paintball.
The new press still had not given the infant speedball that push that it needed to become what it is today. The amount of press was incredible, in fact. The NPP: series, International Amateur Open, and Great Western Series did finally begin to incorporate some of the speedball concept fields. They all continued to primarily use wooded playing fields. In the year 2000, the Paintball World Cup was played using only the speedball concept fields. The following year, the first season of speedball concept play, without wooded fields, had arrived. The move to speedball had come from teams pushing to gain more photo coverage.
This new found media coverage opened an entirely new avenue of opportunities for teams and players. With this kind of coverage teams and players could recruit corporate sponsorships and endorsements. The coverage allowed for the development of a much larger fan base. The sport had truly become a national sensation. With that many smaller tournament fields began to open, giving the public an ease of access to the sport that had never existed before.
As the sport is now it is typically played by teams comprised of 3, 5, 7, or 10 players. It can be played with more players for a more intense experience as a recreational event. Speedball is normally defined by its smaller playing field, inflatable bunkers, and a shorter game time. For a team to be successful in this type of environment they must maintain constant communication. Some other qualities that make a team successful are aggressive forward movement, and a lack of fear. With the playing field being so small, and with small bunkers, the teams can usually see one another during game play.
The teams’ communication, teamwork, aggressive drive and combat skill make a team successful. If any of these areas are lacking for any one team, they will not be successful in the sport. There is also no longer a need for camouflage uniforms by teams. Most teams have decided to go to bright colorful jerseys and pants. The new uniforms tend to have sponsors and team names printed on them.
Tournament speedball is typically based on a point system. This point system is different based on the respective leagues. The NPPL is the largest league. The NPPL uses a ‘capture the flag’ format. In this format a team is awarded for capturing a flag, or hanging a flag. Points also come from shooting an opposing player or not being shot out in the rounds. PSP is a format in which a flag is hung in the center of the field and points are awarded each time a team hangs a flag in the opposing teams start box. When a player is shot out they are usually sent to a dead box until a game has been completed. There is no standard for a marker, or paintball gun, in these leagues. The most common markers used have electronically assisted firing mechanisms that can be capable of firing up to 30 rounds per second.
Speedball is also available in many localities as a recreational activity. They are often found in cities with populations that are above 10,000. This has opened the door to people of all ages and backgrounds to the fast paced world of speedball. With speedball’s popularity, the availability of markers has increased. This new accessibility has led to a new generation of athletes.
Tags: Arena Style, Athletic Ability, Beirut, Bunkers, Combat Game, Competitive Edge, Counterpart, Ethic, Extreme Sport, Fan Base, High Energy, Marksman, Media Coverage, Paintball Games, Play Area, Plywood, Professional Leagues, Real Sport, Spectators, Woodsball