whirlyball strategies and secrets

The other day my office went and played whirlyball. It’s a fun game that every American should participate in (except those with chronic back problems.)

If you don’t know what whirlyball is, then check out whirlyball.com or whirlball.net or this cartoon. Four things make up whirlyball: bumper cars, plastic scoops, a whiffle ball, and two nets.

Here’s some strategies and secrets to help with your whirlyball game. They are broken up into two groups: fun strategies and hardcore strategies.


1. Yell, “I’m open,” when an opponent has the ball.
This will confuse the opponent, especially when it’s someone who really doesn’t know what they’re doing. I’ve never had an opponent actually pass the ball to me, but it will cause temporary confusion leaving enough time for a teammate to swarm the opponent’s car.

2. Steal your opponents’ rackets/scoops.
Obviously don’t do this when you are near the ball. There’s only one ref and he has his eye on wherever the ball goes. So it’s basically an anarchy system anywhere where the ball isn’t.

3. Do what you want when the ref steps out of his ref box.
This is the best whirlyball tip in the list.
This is whirlyball here. The refs are usually 17-year old guys getting paid minimum wage. When you get the ball, check the ref box to see if he’s there. You’d be surprised how often he’s not in his box. At that point, you can do whatever you want. The easiest thing to do is to throw the ball with your hand. That stupid stoop can be difficult to manipulate.

It goes back to the old Extreme Croquet saying, “It ain’t cheating if you don’t get caught.”

4. Crash into your opponents a lot.
This doesn’t help much for winning a game, but it sure is fun and that’s what whirlyball is all about. No one remebers who won what game, but people sure do remember the best crashes.

5. Wear a samurai bandana while playing whirlyball.
It’s another intimidation tactic. I forgot my samurai bananda when i played, but I guarantee that there would have been some sparks flying from the wet puddles that people left on the floor. (It’s bumper cars, so the floor is electrically charged.)

6. Stand outside your car and practice swinging your scoop like a baseball bat or tennis racket before the whirlyball game starts.
It’s another intimidation tactic.


7. Wear your seatbelt loosely.
This will allow for maximum stretching and reaching. Often on the whirlyball court you will find yourself reaching for the ball that’s just barely out of reach. By loosening your seat belt you will be able to reach those impossible balls. You will also be able to reach balls high in the air. People will call you the Michael Jordan of Whirlyball. Be cautious if you are going to implement tips #4 and #7 at the same time.

8. Throw the ball with the ball in the open portion of the scoop.
Do not throw the ball when it’s in the tight portion of the scoop. The tight portion is the area next to the handle. See this photo.

9. You don’t have to whip the ball to score points.
When you’re just a few feet away from the net with the ball, don’t throw too hard. A gentle toss will get the ball in the net more often that an agressive throw. I actually have more luck scoring when I hook it Dr.-J-style or Magic-Johnson-style. That way I’m not throwing very hard.

10. Be cautious when you sit in front of the net waiting for a pass or a rebound.
An opponent can very easily bump you into the wall BEHIND the net. At this point you have officially become useless and you must retreat to an open area.

11. If at all possible, try to follow strategies found in basketball.
Establish guards, forwards, and centers. This is only if you’re a hardcore whirlyball professional. Most people, like me, just like to go out there and have fun. It’s more fun to watch a bunch of people get into traffic jams which brings us to tip 12.

12. Avoid traffic jams.
When you get into a traffic jam, you are often at the mercy of another driver. If that driver doesn’t know what he/she is doing you can be stuck in a corner for minutes upon minutes. It’s insanely frustrating. Let someone else go for those loose balls in the corner. They can’t score from the corner anyways. And they ain’t going anywhere when they get the ball in a traffic jam. The only thing they can do is pass the ball. That’s not much reward for the effort.

13. Drive in circles around your opponent in the open court.
We’ve established in tip 12 to avoid traffic jams. When I played, most eveyone chased after the ball like 2nd grade soccer players. That often left me and one opponent in the open court. By driving circles around your opponent, you will drive them insane. This really should be classified as a fun strategy and not a hardcore strategy. But I like how it follows up tip number 12.

Tomorrow’s post will have a review on the best ways to crash into your opponent while playing whirlyball.

happy whirlyballing.



Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom Saaristo
15 years ago

You can play Whirlyball without the bumper cars too. I played with my nieces and nephews in my mother’s backyard over Labor Day weekend.

Matt Maldre
15 years ago

Wow, i was gonna write a whirlyball post like this some time ago, so I’m glad to see you went ahead and actually did it. I would be really curious to see what it’s like to go in with a serious strategy. Yes just driving around like crazy for an hour is fun. But then the second hour you start to desire some more strategy and thought. It would be cool to actually play positions like basketball players. I can’t stress enough the importance of tip 7: wearing your seat belt LOOSE. When I say loose, I mean get that… Read more »

Matt Maldre
15 years ago

I also highly recommend that at the start of your first game to drive around in the open and get used to the steering on the car. The cars are not operated by a reagular steering wheel but rather by a gyro stick mechanism which can be confusing at first. Understand what it takes to make yourself go left, and right. And then try stopping and going in reverse. This will make getting out of jams so much easier. Getting stuck in a traffic jam has to be the most stressful part of the game. You are in a corner… Read more »

Mark R
Mark R
15 years ago

Whirleyball always sounded like fun. but I have never played. Now I really want to try it out.

I wish I could talk my employer into doing this as a company outing. It would be much more fun than just a dinner, drinks and dancing.

Mark R
Mark R
15 years ago

You know how it goes… They rent some room at a banquet hall. They have an open bar, serve dinner, and play some music. Sometimes people dance. One party even had karaoke. Usually very boring and dull.

I have been on the committee organizing the parties the last year or so, and I’ve been trying to make them more entertaining/fun. Last year for example, we did a Cubs/White Sox rooftop game (which you went to).

This year, we are doing dinner and a show at Pheasant Run in the winter, and then an outing at Arlington Track in the summer.

14 years ago

i have another tip, you should bounce the ball on the floor to pass. it’s not that exciting, but it works.

Matt Maldre
12 years ago

Rob, I would disagree with you on the seatbelt issue. I’ve played whirlyball twice in my life. The first time i put the seatbelt on nice and snug. I walked away with bruises all over my hip. The second time I played, I put the seat belt on super duper loose. Basically, it’s like i didn’t have the seat belt on at all. I walked away with no bruises. Do you really need a seat belt to play whirlyball? I mean, really. The seat belt in a bumper car is just to give the illusion of safety. All the seat… Read more »

Matt Maldre
10 years ago

this post has 15,139 views. I’m happy that this post is able to share wisdom across such a wide audience.

9 years ago

Taking the basketball strategy one step further, whether you have positions for your team or not you can play WHirlyBall with a basketball (or maybe soccer/lacrosse – I’ve never played them). WHen you have the ball in the open court, don’t just pass it haphazardly to get rid of it – take it to the net! The other team – if they are under the net – will have to do one of two things: 1. Come out and get you, which will leave your teammates open for a pass inside and easy shot; or 2. Leave you alone and… Read more »

9 years ago

And when you’re driving in an open court and the defense is aproaching, do a little fake one way and go the other – I guarantee that the other guy (or gal) can’t change directions fast enough to stop you from going around them.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x