Hall Pong: Doubles

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I bought a set of four new hall pong paddles today, and you know what that means… or maybe not. It was time to try out 2v2 hall pong!

Since its inception early this year, hall pong has always been a 1-on-1 sport. (Simply because we always had only 2 paddles) The thing is, when playing 1-on-1, whenever you work the ball up the court, you’re abandoning the defense of your goal, which means that if you don’t score, your opponent has a clear shot. It tends to lead to rather quick points. Besides, there’s only so much creativity involved in the kinds of plays you can make — basically it’s just a matter of how close you’re willing to get to your opponent’s goal before you decide to spike it on them. Either you take a long shot, which is easy to block, or you get up close and then it turns into a struggle for who can get a lucky hit on the ball in one direction or another.

Adding another person to each side introduces a whole new level of strategy, though. When you’re playing doubles, you still have the same options as with singles hall pong — namely, keep the entire team back on defense, or send both team members up to the opposite end of the court to play offense — but there’s also the fairly logical choice of splitting the team, one person back defending the goal and one person forward to shoot on the other goal. This is a nice way to set up some pass-action plays. For instance, if the “goalie” has the ball, usually one of the other team’s players will come forward to try to knock it away from them, but then that leaves your team’s offensive player wide open. Your goalie can easily hit the ball around the other team’s offense, and then your offensive player has most of the hall space available to set up a shot, without worrying about an open goal behind him (or her, whenever we can get some women into the sport).

As one might expect, playing doubles invites a few modifications to some of the original “rules,” or guidelines really (the actual rules 1-3 are fortunately unchanged):

  • You can safely get away with a slightly longer hallway
  • It’s kind of silly to have all players retreat to their respective ends of the hallway when starting play. The goalies can be at their goals, but the two offensive players will probably want to both move to the end of the court away from the server.
  • A nice effect of doubles play is that the offsides guideline seems wholly unnecessary. It was introduced to prevent a player from getting so close to the other goal that their shot would be effectively impossible to block, but with two defenders, it’s a lot harder to score, even when you are right up at the end of the court. Plus if you take the typical strategy of leaving a goalie back to play defense, you wind up with a 1-on-2 matchup, which seems fairly balanced in our experience.

Although it took a little while to work out the kinks, 2v2 hall pong seems really promising and I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun with it this season. Hopefully you can say the same!