What is stoolball?
Stoolball is an exciting team sport, similar to Twenty20 cricket. Two teams compete to score the most runs. There are two wickets standing at shoulder height, about 14 metres apart. The bats are willow, with a round face and a long, sprung handle. The ball, small and hard, is bowled underarm towards one wicket.
Just like cricket, batsmen score by hitting the ball into the field and running between the two wickets. They can also hit the ball beyond a boundary line to score 4 or 6. Batsmen can be bowled, caught or run-out, or even body-before-wicket.
Who can play stoolball?
Anyone! You don’t have to be really fit to play, and it’s a great way to make friends. Children start playing at around 8 or 9, and some people play league stoolball right into their 70s. There are lots of ladies-only teams, as well as mixed teams with six men and five women.
In the mixed game there are rules to ensure everyone gets a fair chance: half the overs must be bowled by women and half by men, and usually there’s a man and a woman batting together.
How much does it cost?
Not much. Clubs provide all the equipment. Typically it costs £1-£3 per match to play, but many clubs offer an annual membership which works out even cheaper. You can often play all day at a Sunday tournament for just £1.
Where can I play?
Any large grassy area will do in summer, and in winter we play in sports halls. Stoolball doesn’t need a perfect pitch and it’s quick to set up, which is great for schools. You can even use a school playground. Take a look at our list of stoolball teams.
A proud history
Stoolball is an ancient English game which has been played for over 500 years. It is the origin of baseball and perhaps cricket too, and is mentioned in Shakespeare’s ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen’.
Once popular right across England, it has been played at Lord’s cricket ground and in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, and overseas including Sri Lanka, India and Australia – even on ocean liners! In 2012 stoolball made history again with its first ever England match. Read more about the fascinating history of stoolball.