Zhubal Rules

”This is the best #?$*ing game ever invented!”

The purpose of the rules of Zhubál is to provide a guideline which describes the way the game is played. It assumed that no Zhubál player will intentionally violate the rules; thus there are no harsh penalties for inadvertent infractions, but rather a method for resuming play in a manner which simulates what would most likely have occurred had there been no infraction.

In Zhubál, an intentional foul would be considered cheating and a gross offense against the spirit and intent of the game.  Violations of the rules constitutes point penalties in current and future games as well as possible forfeiture from tournament and league play. The integrity of Zhubál depends on each player’s responsibility to uphold the spirit of the game, and this responsibility should not be taken lightly.  Only through honest play can the game continue to be the best game ever invented.

Zhubál’s creation came from a spark of inspiration, desperation, and innovation.  All game play is a direct result of the emotions and tensions that were present the day it was created.  Only through revisiting these emotions can the game thrive.  Passing along the knowledge held within the rules and the teaching of the game in it’s own unique method is the only way to have the game grow in numbers and success.

    ”Those without the ability to adapt to the rules have no respect for the game.”
  2. Description
    Zhubál is a non-contact sport played by two (2) to twenty-five (25) players (maximum of 10 for Tournament play).  The object of the game is to win by having the lowest score possible. Players hit the Zhubáll to opposing squares in an attempt to have other players hit the ball out of the grid or miss the ball entirely, thus increasing the faulted players score.  The player with the least amount of points at the end of a scrimmage, game, or tournament is the victor.  Players exit the Grid once they reach 15 Points.  Leaving one player remaining.  You must win by 2 points.
  3. Spirit of the Game
    Zhubál relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship which places the responsibility for fair play on the players. Referees are not necessary due to the high integrity that the players exhibit in the use and recognition of the rules.  Highly competitive play is required, but never at the expense of the bond of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play.  Such actions as taunting of opposing players are allowed but never to the degree of harshness.  All “good” play needs to be respected and rewarded by all players and with a high degree of appreciation.
  4. Rule Respect
    A game may not be played under any variations of the rules unless agreed upon by representatives of The Zhubál Champions Congressional Committee.  At least one representative must be present, contacted via e-mail, or via telephone prior to any game play that is to be altered.  Representatives are all Founders, Current or Past Champions in the respective field of play, or Special Committee Members.
    “That guy is acting like such a niner!”
  6. Titles:
  1. A “Player” is any of the four (4) participants who are actually hitting the Zhubáll in the grid.
  2. A “Decker” is the participant who is waiting “on deck” on the highest designated waiting block for his/her entry into the game.  The Decker also carries the responsibility of Zhubál Scoreboard.
  3. A “Blocker” refers to remaining active participants waiting to become the Decker.
  4. A “Loser” is a player at the lowest ends of the waiting block who has a point score of 15.  The first player to become a loser is the biggest (or 1st) Loser of the game.
  5. A “Sixer” is the angriest person involved in the game.
  6. A “Niner” is the most un-organized, un-coordinated person involved in the game and tends to be a bit annoying.
  7. A “Founder” is one the original inventers of the game.
  8. A “Champion” is a player that holds a current or past title from a tournament.
  9. A “Committee Member” is a person that holds a position on the Zhubál Champions Congressional Committee.
  10. A “Ball-Buster” is a player that destroys the Zhubáll during a tournament.
  11. A “Knocker” is the player who is the Last Loser.
  12. A “Scratcher” is the player who is the Second Last Loser.
  13. A “Ringer” is the player who is the Third Last Loser
  14. A “Rockbanger” is a player who has more than 20 Serves in a Tournament.
  15. “Losing a Point” is an addition of a point to your score.  If you have a score of 7 and lose a point, your score is now 8.  Even though the “number” increases, the player has actually “lost” something.
  16. A “Duecer” is a penalty received by a player if they lose a point and commit a contact fault.  The player receives a two (2 point penalty)
  17. A “Fault” is an error that occurs on a serve that does not allow further play.
  18. A “Foot Fault” is a fault that occurs on the serve where a participant steps on or into the Grid.  This fault is called by the Decker.
  19. “Zhubál Scoreboard” is a running tally of stats that is kept by the Decker at each Zhubál Tournament.  Generally the Scoreboard is a paper document attached to a clipboard present at each Tournament.
  20. A “Tournament” is an officially ZCCC Sanctioned game that has stats recorded.  It is required that a minimum of 5 participants and a maximum of 10 participants be involved.  Regional and Intergalactic Tournaments may have different limits as determined by the ZCCC before the sanctioned Tournament.
  1. The objects surrounding the Zhubál Grid are all playable as long as the Zhubáll does not hit the ground  outside of the Grid.  “Everything is playable.”
  2. The Zhubáll may be hit in any direction.
  3. No player may ever announce their own score outside of the Serving Procedures.
  4. All new Participants not willing to read this compendium before playing must learn the Rules of Zhubál in a Negative Reinforcement Manner.  Rules will only be told to new Participants upon mistakes and with the addition of point penalties.  However, questions may be asked by the Rookie Participant as answers to these question would help them adapt to their environment.


”We can’t play here.  The janitor is being an ass!”

  1. The field of play is a square grid with four (4) equally sized boxes as shown on the accompanying diagram.


  1. The playing field must be completely flat.  Wood or Cement is preferred.  The optimal conditions for Zhubál are a Grid that is located indoors.  Outdoor play is permitted, but certain rules must be applied.
  2. The grid lines are part of the playing field. A ball is in play as long more the 65% of the ball is inside the square.  Determinations and controversy will be discussed later.
  3. Grid lines must be either present (cement slabs) or may be marked with paint or white electrical tape.  Colored or black tape is frowned upon but not restricted.
  4. Grid size is determined by available playing area, challenge of play, and current conditions.  Zhubál Grids must be within the following sizes:
    • Zhubál —  10 feet to 12 feet per square (20’ X 20’ up to 24’ x 24’ complete grid)
    • Turbo Zhubál – 8 feet to 10 feet per square (16’ X 16’ up to 20’ x 20’ complete grid)
    • Titanic Zhubál – 16 feet to 20 feet per square (36’ x 36’ up to 40’ x 40’ complete grid)
     “Without the ball there is no game!”
  1. All Games must use a regulation sized Zhubáll.  Zhubálls are the following sizes:

Zhubál – 65cm 25” air-filled rubber ball
(sometimes known as a Yoga ball or a Resist-a-ball)
(Blue is a preferred color)

Titanic Zhubál – same as Zhubál or
75cm  29” air-filled rubber ball
(sometimes known as a Yoga ball or a Resist-a-ball)

Turbo Zhubál – 16” air-filled rubber ball
(sometimes known as a kickball or playground ball)

  1. Players may not wear shoes.  Socks are allowed in season B (winter months).  Players are preferred not to wear footwear in order to keep all players on “equal footing”.  Shoes are allowed in outdoor venues at the discretion of players for safety reasons and in venues that are operating at a temperature below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Other gear such as jerseys or goggles are allowed but not required.


    “Is Rudy here yet?”

1)       TIME

  1. a) Game time length is dependent on the number of players on the waiting block and the skill of the current players.  Zhubál has no time limit.

2)      POINTS

  1. a) Scored points cost one point for the losing player.
  2. b) A game lasts until all but one (1) player have 15 points.
  3. c) Final Player must win by two (2) points.
  4. d) In tournament play players rotate in and out of the waiting blocks when a player on the grid reaches 5 points.  When this happens the decker enters the game becoming a player. All of the blockers move up one block making the highest ranked blocker the decker.  The player that just exited the game now becomes the lowest ranked blocker.
  5. e) As players reach 15 points they leave the grid and take their place on the lowest waiting block.  They are now classified as a If other players going from the Grid to the waiting block have fewer than 15 points, they take place higher in the waiting blocks than the Loser since Losers are eliminated from the game.  This keeps the remaining blocks in line for the decker position and keeps the Losers where they belong.


    “Dude, my feet are ganked!”
  3. a) Injuries always stop play.  If a player is too injured to remain in the game, the player forfeits their remaining points and does not return to the waiting blocks.
  4. b) Play stops for ball retrieval.  Once the ball is retrieved it is given back to the player  that won the Serve for serving.
  5. c) In the event that play must stop before the conclusion of the game, the game may be re-started from that point if all players return to the same grid within a 16 hour period.  This includes all players, the decker, and the blockers.  Losers are not required to return to a game they have already lost.  If all players, decker, and blockers are not able to return, all stats and scoring are forfeited and will not be recorded.  A new game is required.

“I have to go see if the truck is here”

1)      Substitutions can be made only:

  1. a) If the replacement player being substituted in has never won any form of Zhubál Tournament.
  2. b) If the player leaving the game will not return before the conclusion of the game.
  3. c) If the replacement player substituting in is not a current loser.

2)      Players who are substituted forfeit all stats from the game in which they departed.

3)    If a Participant leaves a Tournament without finishing the Grid and has no other participant substitute for them, they have their stats accumulate and recorded as if they had played the entire game.

”I’m serving first.  So I have that going for me, which is nice.”

1)       Deciding who first plays as a Player, who is the Decker, and who are the Blockers is dependent on the participants who are in attendance.

  1. a) Previous champions (of the game variation being played) must start in the first round.  Due to their increased skill levels, champions must start in order to show the level of play and to assist in the further training of newer players.
  2. b) If more than 4 champions are in attendance, then champions will start in the Grid in accordance to their ranked level on the Leader Board posted at www.zhubal.com
  3. c) One new player must receive a player position if available.
  4. d) Founders have their choice of any position prior to the games start.  Founders preclude all above mentioned rules and are recognized for their title and status in the Zhubál Community.
  5. e) All remaining participants (after champions and at least one (1) new member a chosen) will (when available) quickly acquire seats in the waiting blocks and Decker position in a “musical chairs” fashion.  Founders and champions may change the order of the blockers before the game if they feel inappropriate measures have taken place.  Champions and Founders may not change the Decker once selected.
  6. f) When physical blocks are not available, participants will line up in a waiting blocks area in accordance to alpha rules.   Participants line up alphabetically by middle initial.  “A” being the closest letter to the player position.  In the event that a participant does not have a middle initial, the first letter of their nickname will be used.  In the event that a nickname is not present, the letter “M” will be used as it is in the middle of the alphabet.
  7. g) Any participant attempting position in the waiting blocks that has a “Z” for middle initial automatically receives the Decker position.
  8. h) After the players, Decker, and Blockers have been chosen, the Decker and Blockers will take their assigned position.  Before entering the Grid, players must participate in the Opening Ceremonies by walking/jogging by the blocks presenting their right hand for “fives” or any other quick moral boosting gesture the blockers see fit.  It is customary to stop and shake the hand of the Decker before entering the Grid for play.


    “Control the Serve, Control the Game.”
  2. The decision of who has the first serve is the Honor of the Decker.  Hence the custom of shaking the Decker’s hand before the game begins.
  3. All Players take their stances out side of the Grid.  Players may stand at any strategic position they would like as long as it is outside of the Grid and around the perimeter of their own square.
  4. The Server holds the Regulation Zhubál over their head and announces the name of the game as well as his/her current score.  On the first serve the score is zero (0).  Failing to announce the score or failing to announce the name of the game is a penalty of 1 point.
  5. After the Server announces their score ALL remaining participants must announce their score.  This includes the Players in the Grid, the Decker, and all members of the Waiting Blocks.  This occurs as one mass announcement.  Failing to announce the score is a penalty of 1 point.  Players police each other in the enforcement of this rule.  Finding someone that didn’t announce their score is pointed out immediately.  If the serve occurs and the culprit was not identified for not saying their score, the penalty is forfeit.
  6. Scoring and the Name of the Game Announcements occur before every Serve.
  7. Later in the game when Losers are in the Waiting Blocks, Losers announce their title (Loser) rather than their score of 15.  Failing to announce their title during scoring is a loss of a point in their next Zhubál Tournament.  It is customary for a Loser to announce their title just after the mass scoring is announced.  For example you would hear. “Zhubál 7!”   “8!”(Mass announcement) ….. “Loser!”
  8. The Server must hit the Zhubáll into a different square upon the serve.  The Zhubáll must not hit within the servers square before bouncing in an opposing square.  Servers are allowed to bounce the Zhubáll within their square before hitting the initial serve.
  9. If a server faults twice, the server losses a point but retains the serve.
  10. “Foot Faults” can be called by the Decker for safety reasons.  This is the only call the Decker may call and not have to be held in question to the 3/4 Majority Rule.
  11. The server must “Hit” the Zhubáll.  This can be done with any motion, but a “push” is never allowed.  “Pushing” is an automatic fault.  In question Serves, the Zhubál tone will be the deciding factor.  Also see Interference and Controversy later in this compendium.
  12. After the Serve, Players are allowed only one (1) bounce of the Zhubál in their square per hit.  If the Zhubál bounces more than once this is ruled a “double bounce” and play stops.  The last person to hit the Zhubál to the player that “double bounced” now retains the Serve.
  13. Returning Serves and Volleys
    “Good Volley!  Yay!”
  14. Players are allowed only one (1) bounce of the Zhubáll in their square per hit.  If the Zhubál bounces more than once this is ruled a “double bounce” and play stops.
  15. Players may use any part of their body to hit the Zhubál.  Custom and most effective play show the majority of hits are made with the hands in an open position or fisted.  Due to the size and weight of each Regulation Zhubáll, hits with other parts of the body are difficult.  While kicking is allowed, it is frowned upon and known to be “un-gentlemen” like.
  16. If any player, Decker, or Blockers feels that a good volley has occurred (several hits around the Grid with no points being lost) then they announce “Good Volley”.  Play stops, all players must “High Five” toward the center of the Grid, and the Decker and blocks stand and applaud.  Failure to recognize a “Good Volley” once it has been announced is a one (1) point penalty.
  17. Players may use whatever items are close by the Grid to “bounce off” the Zhubáll in order to hit into an opposing square as long as the Zhubáll does not bounce off the ground outside of the Grid.  For example, if the Zhubáll is hit into the air and goes outside the grid and then proceed to bounce off a wall back into an opposing square while never hitting the ground outside of the Gird, the Zhubáll is still in play.
  18. Zhuballs that are hit into the area where the blockers reside will only continue to be in play if a blocker(s) “blocks” or hits the Zhuball with their arms in an “x” formation.  Other types of blocks or hits by the blockers nullify play and are treated as unreturnable.
  19. Winning the Game
    “Winning is a winner!”
  20. Once the Decker and all of the Blockers have become losers, only the Players in the Grid can win.  Once one (1) of the four (4) remaining players becomes a Loser, play is now restricted to the three (3) remaining squares in the Grid.  The vacant square is now in the out of bounds territory and all “out” rules apply to it.
  21. As Players become eliminated, they become Line Judges in Tournaments with no Referees so that the 3/4 majority rules are still in place.
  22. Once one (1) of the remaining three (3) Players becomes a Loser, play proceeds to the Sudden Death Scenario.  In the Sudden Death Scenario, the two (2) Players must play in Diagonal opposing squares.  Play resumes until one (1) Player wins the game.
  23. There are three (3) types of Zhubál games as well as three (3) different classes of winner’s.
  24. Scrimmage:  This is a game that has less than four (4) Players.  Winning a scrimmage garnishes no title change.  You do however receive bragging rights
  25. Game:  This is a game with four (4) Players only.  Winning a game awards you the title of Winner.
  26. Tournament:  This is a game that has at least four (4) players and a Decker.  Winning a Tournament awards you the title of Champion of the particular state or venue that the match has been sanctioned in.
  27. After the winner has been decided, the Game Winner or Champion must stand in the center of the Grid, lift the Zhubál over their head, and announce their final score using the scoring procedures.  As the announcement is being made all Losers must applaud the winner/champion.  Failing to do so results in a one (1) point penalty in the next tournament.


XII. Controversy
“All Controversy results in an automatic do-over”

  1. In any game controversy on a play hampers the production.  In Zhubál, all controversy results in an automatic redo of the play.  Controversy is classified as a conversation taking an inordinate amount of time to resolve or “the ten second rule”.  If controversy ensues and takes this inordinate amount of time to resolve, the Zhubáll is returned to the Server and play resumes with no point penalties.
  2. Controversy does not occur if three (3) out for (4) players on the Grid came to the same conclusion on a particular call.  If three (3) of the four (4) players are in agreement, then the call made is a call played and play is resumed.
  3. The Decker and the Blockers may add in their opinions to sway the decision of the players, but no official call is made from the waiting blocks.


XIII. Interference and Penalties
 “Dude!  You did it! Stop being such a Sixer and take the Point!”

  1. Interference occurs when a player interferes with another player’s ability to hit their Zhubáll.  Since you can be anywhere in the Grid to hit a return after a Zhubáll has bounced into your square, it is imperative that other players not interfere with your play.  Interference of a play is a one (1) point penalty.
  2. If two (2) Players attempt to hit a Zhubáll at the same time, the Zhubáll must be hit into a square occupied by a third player in order for play to continue.  If the Zhubáll is hit by either Player into either one of their squares and “Do-over” ensues.  This rule only applies for Zhubáll’s attempted to be hit that have NOT bounced of the ground in a Players square.  If a bounce has occurred and two people touch the Zhubáll, then interference rule 1 would be enforced.
  3. If the Zhubáll bounces on a Grid Line and more than 65% of the Zhubáll is in the opposing square the ball is in play.
  4. If the Zhubál bounces on a Grid Line and less than 65% of the Zhubáll is the the opposing square, it counts as a bounce in the square of the persona that hit the Zhubáll.
  5. If the Zhubáll is split 50% in each square (as determined by controversy rules), then a DO-Over ensues.
  6. 6. Below is a list of point penalties for inappropriate play:
  7. Any Player not participating in the pre-game “fives” before the first Serve –1 point penalty
  8. Any Blocker or Decker not participating in the pre-game “fives” before the first Serve –1 point penalty
  9. Server does not announce their score on the Serve — 1 point penalty
  10. Server does not announce The Name of the Game on the Serve — 1 point penalty
  11. Player does not announce their Score on the Serve — 1 point penalty
  12. Decker does not announce their score on the Serve — 1 point penalty
  13. Blocker does not announce their score on the Serve — 1 point penalty
  14. Loser does not announce their title on the Serve — 1 point penalty in the next Tournament
  15. Any Player, Decker, Blocker, or Loser announce an incorrect Score — 1 point penalty
  16. Any Player, Decker, or Blocker announces their Score outside of a serve –1 point penalty
  17. Faulting on two (2) Serves — 1 point penalty
  18. Standing inside the Grid during a Serve –1 point penalty
  19. Any Player not participating in a “high five” after a Good Volley has been announced –1 point penalty
  20. Any Decker or Blocker not applauding after a Good Volley has been announced –1 point penalty.
  21. Any Winner or Champion not announcing the Name of the Game in the Closing Ceremonies –1 point penalty in next Tournament
  22. Any Winner or Champion not announcing their final score in the Closing Ceremonies –1 point penalty in the next tournament
  23. Any Loser not applauding for the Champion in the Closing Ceremonies –1 point penalty in the next tournament
  24. Error in Score recording on Zhubál Scoreboard –1 point penalty
  25. Intentional changing of Stats on Zhubál Scoreboard –automatic 1st Loser Status in current game (if applicable) , immediate Suspension from the current Season’s Play, and a 5 point penalty in next tournament played.
  26. Any Player, Decker, Blocker, or Loser describing Zhubál as “like four-squares” to a new participant during a Tournament –1 point penalty
  27. Any new participant describing Zhubál “like four-squares” while play or waiting in a Tournament ­–1 point penalty
  28. If a participant makes contact with another participant while attempting for a ball that has not been designated for a player by a bounce, that participant receives a point if they are the other players square.  If this contact occurs outside of the grid or in a different participants square, the penalty of one (1) point applies to both participants.  Play stops as it would in an interference call.

XIV. Stats

  1. Stats are to be kept for Tournament play only.
  2. Stats are to be recorded by participants using the honor system.
  3. In order for Stats to be recorded (a ZCCC Sanctioned Event), there must be one (1) Member of the ZCCC in Attendance for the entire Tournament.
  4. It is the responsibility of all ZCCC Members to obtain the e-mail addresses of all new participants, as well as the correct spelling of new participants names for web publication.
  5. Stats are recorded at Tournaments by the Decker.  Subsequently, each participant playing in the Tournament will record stats at one point.  Once there are only Losers and Players left at a Tournament, as Players become losers they take over the Zhubál Scoreboard.  The last person to complete scoring will be the loser before the Ringer (or Final Four).
  6. Stats are recorded at Tournaments by the Decker on the Official Zhubál Scoreboard.  Score sheets for the Zhubál Scoreboard can be found in appendix A of this compendium.  Stats must be recorded on the Official Scoreboard during the Tournament.
  7. During Tournaments, due to the Zhubál Scoreboard responsibilities, Deckers are not required to announce their score upon each serve.  Better to focus on the scoring of the match.
  8. In order to stay on top of Stat recording, Deckers have use of the Time Out/In call.  After a play, if a Decker has a question or needs more time, the Decker would say “Decker Time Out!”.  Once completed with Stat recording play will resume once the Decker says “Decker Time In!”
  9. It is the responsibility of the 1st Blocker to protect the Decker at all costs, as the Decker may be looking down at the score sheet when the Zhubáll comes screaming at his/her noodle (or various other body parts).
  10. Stats are to be communicated within a 24 hour period to the Statistician via e-mail , telephone, or fax.  Stats not communicated in this time period maybe forfeit with the discretion of the Statistician and at least one Founder.
  11. Stats will be posted on the Zhubál Web Site for accuracy and observation before being transposed to that years trading card series.
  12. Stats will be divided into the two (2) Zhubál seasons.  Season A of the year being from January 1st through May 31st.  Season B being from June 1st through November 10th.  Games and Tournaments occurring from November 11th through December 31st retain no titles or stats due to the off season status.
  13. The Following stats are collected and recorded by the Decker on the Zhubál Scoreboard.
  14. Serves Per Tournament
  15. Faults Per Tournament
  16. Points Per Tournament
  17. Total Interferences
  18. Total Aces
  19. Final Position/Score Per Tournament
  20. Over Under Statistics
  21. The following stats are to be collected and recorded by the Statistician:
  22. total championships
  23. total wins
  24. total tournaments played
  25. total games played
  26. win percentage
  27. total points per tournament
  28. average points given per tournament
  29. total points received
  30. average points received per tournament
  31. total serves
  32. total faults on serve
  33. average faults per tournament
  34. total aces
  35. average aces per tournament
  36. total interferences
  37. average interferences per tournament
  38. best final score in tournament
  39. Average final position per tournament.
  40. Average Over Under score
  41. Cash Tournaments
    “Uh…I’m a little light.”
  42. Zhubál may only involve a cash reward for winning in Tournament play.
  43. A Cash Tournament may only occur once per Venue per day.
  44. In a Cash Tournament, all participants must pay the standard entry fee of $1 (US).  In Canadian venues the standard entry fee is $2 (Canadian Coin).
  45. 20% of all collected entry fees will become property of the ZCCC for use in exploring better venues and equipment.
  46. If a participant does not agree to pay to play, they must only engage as a spectator and may not give input on interference calls.
  47. Higher entry fees must accompany sponsored events or venues that have free beverage.
  48. The Decker collects and holds the Cash Prize with the Zhubál Scoreboard at all times.
  49. At the conclusion of the game, the Cash Prize is released to the 1st Loser for the presentation.
  50. Once the Tournament is over, following the closing ceremonies, the 1st Loser approaches the Champion with the total cash prize in a “fanned” position in their left hand and points their index finger at the Champion with their right hand.  The 1st Loser then folds the cash and places it in their right hand.  The 1st Loser then presents the Cash Prize to the Champion in a “Hand shaking” fashion.

XVI. Titles
“I won the duper bow”

  1. A title will be given to all Players that win a Tournament.
  2. All Titles will be given as “Champion” and the name of the Venue where the game is being player.  For example “Turbo Zhubál Champion of Portland, Maine”
  3. Regional Titles will only be given out at larger functions (as determined by the ZCCC) where a “Regional Tournament” has been scheduled.  Example Titles for Regional Tournaments would be “Zhubál Champion of Rhode Island”
  4. Generally, most Regional Tournaments take place in the summer months as August 3rd approaches.  There are some Regional Tournaments after the August 3rd Anniversary Day.
  5. Intergalactic Champion of the World Titles can only be awarded on Tournaments held on August 3rd.