Traditions, Values and Young People

Home            Participating Schools            Project Topics            Imprint

Pilota Valenciana - A Traditional Sport from Spain

Pilota Valenciana

The origins of Valencian pilota are not known with certainty, but it is commonly supposed to have been derived from the medieval jeu de paume along with several other European handball sports (for example the Basque iaxoa, French longue paume, Frisian handball and Italian pallone) similar to the actual Valencian llargues variant.

The general rule involves two teams made from two up to five players each (the numbers depend on the particular version played). Exceptionally, individual matches are also played (mostly in Escala i corda and Raspall) between the most renowned players.

The second characteristic is that it is not played against a wall. Instead, similarly to modern tennis, two individuals or teams are placed face to face separated either by a line on the ground or a net.

A distinctive trait of Valencian pilota is that the spectators are often seated or standing very close to the court, which means that they may be hit by the ball and thus become an (unwilling) part of the game.


Raspall (Valencian for "scraping") is a variant of the handball game, Valencian pilota, played mainly in the Valencian regions south to the Xúquer river: the Safor, the Costera, the Marina Alta and the Marina Baixa. It is also popular in the Ribera Baixa. It is one of only two variants that have professional players - the other being Escala i corda.

The game may be played either indoors in a trinquet or outdoors on the street. In either case the playing area is divided into two halves called the "serving" and "receiving" fields. Among its distinguishing features is the lack of any formal divider between the two halves and the rule that the ball is allowed to bounce as many times as desired. This rule makes the game one of the most energetic variants of Valencian pilota, as the players must frequently stoop to hit the ball close to the ground.

Raspall can be played in one-on-one matches, but it is most often played as a team sport. Teams have two or three players. Opposing teams do not necessary have the same number of members. Evenly matched sides make the game more interesting to betters, so matches will often oppose three average players against a twosome consisting of a strong and weak player.

Teams play face to face, throwing each other the ball with one hit of the hand until one of them is not able to send it back to the opponents ("fault" by the loser and so a quinze for the winner), or the ball is sent to a place where it can't be thrown back (direct quinze). Those special places are the "llotgeta" and the "galleries" (if the match is played in a trinquet or the ball is sent behind the opponent's "line fault" (if it is played on a street).

The winner of a "Raspall" match is the team who attains 25 points (if playing in a trinquet), or 40 points (if on a street). Points are counted in five blocks called jocs. That is, a match is played until a team gets five "jocs". Every "joc" consists of four quinzes: 15, 30, val and joc. Whoever wins the "val" gets the "joc" and scores five points.

In the raspall a kind of ball called vaqueta ball (Valencian for little cow ball) is used; it is a small and extremely fast ball, very tough and a good bouncer. The name comes from the fact that it is made of cow leather. The sizes for adults are 42 mm diameter, 138 mm circumference, and 42 grams of weight.

Due to the extreme toughness of this sport, players must wear special protections on the hands: Readying the hand.

readying hands for Pilota

Players wear red or blue, red being the colour of the allegedly stronger team or the favourite in the bets.

(Source for the text:,

During the project meeting at Ibi (Spain) the students from the other countries who attended the meeting were taught to play Pilota and tried it out.

students learn Pilota during workshop

At the participating school in Detva (Slovakia), the students who had been to Ibi played the game at home and showed it to others, so that you could see the unusual sight of Pilota in the middle of Slovakia.

Pilota game in Slovakia