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Frisian Handball (Kaatsen)

Frisian handball, which is called keatsen in Frisian and kaatsen in Dutch, is a traditional sport usually played by people from the Dutch province of Friesland. It is has similar roots to American handball and fives.

This sport is usually played on a rectangular lawn 61 meters long by 32 meters wide. The sport is played by two teams with three players on each team. In the center of one end of the rectangular field is a receiving zone, which is defended by one team.

olympic kaatsen demonstration Kaatsen Demonstration
from: The Official Report of the Olympic Games 1928

A player from the opposing team serves the ball from a serving box, which is about 30 meters from the receiving zone. If the player is not successful in landing the ball in the receiving zone, the opposing or receiving team scores. If the receiving team is able to return the ball, then they also get a score. After this rally, the ball remains in a place called kaats which is marked with a small woodblock.

The players of the receiving team can wear a single hardened leather glove to aid hitting the ball back.

In parts of Belgium there is a similar game played called jeu de balle-pelote.

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