Come Out and Play- Ulama

Ulama is a Mesoamerican game that was popular in ancient Central America. The Mayans called the game Pok a Tok and the Aztecs called it Tlachtli. Today, it is called Ulama. Originally it was a very harsh and violent game. People were often harmed and some even died. It is the oldest team sport in the world, and the stone courts are found in almost all Mesoamerican cities. Now they are just grey stone blocks that form a rectangle the size of a football field. The stone walls are slanted and also an ancient gray. Originally, the courts were brightly colored and covered in religious art.

  • Two stone hoops are placed high on the side of the court walls.
  • There is a single heavy rubber ball.
  • There should be two teams of between two and six players.
  • Using hips and feet, the players hit the rubber ball between
    each other and try to knock it through the hoop.
  • The ball cannot hit the ground and must be kept in motion.
  • When the ball is hit through the ring, the game is over.
  • Points are scored when the opposing players miss a shot at the hoop or can’t return the ball before it bounces twice or the ball is hit out of bounds.
  • The team with the most points wins.
  • It is very similar to volleyball.
  • Some versions allow for the ball to be hit with hands and feet.

Ulama was much more than just a fun game. It also had political and religious importance. Tribes would often play against each other and a win or loss might serve as a way to solve an argument instead of fighting. Today it is a game played by children and women just to have fun with each other and appreciate their history.

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