When you live in a competitive household such as the Towers house, and have nothing but time on your hands, great things can happen. And in this case, that great thing was the birth of Rage Ball.
“On the bounce back we would always play lacrosse tennis, and then we put in a court and then we made rules for it and a name,” James Towers, the 13-year-old son of Chaos LC head coach Andy Towers, said.
“Eventually we moved the driveway court to the grass court and we rallied and sort of added rules based on what was happening in our rallies. And within the span of about 30 minutes we basically came up with the rules to the game,” Andy Towers said. “That’s sort of how a lot of our intrahouse games evolve,” he added.
The rules of Rage Ball are fairly simple, but introduce a unique mix of a number of sports. The game draws inspiration from tennis, volleyball and of course, lacrosse.
The game is played on 10 by 20-yard court, set five yards out from the bottom of the bounce back, or whatever surface you choose to play on. The point of the game is also simple: to score points on your opponent using a mix of skill and strategy.
Points are scored (and lost) in a fashion very similar to tennis or volleyball. You simply return your opponents shot against the rebounder or wall, and try to get the ball to hit the ground before they have a chance to return it. But if your shot goes out of bounds or hits the edge of the rebounder, it’s a point for your opponent.
There are of course, variables, based on the skill level of the players playing and the surface and location of the game.
“The bounce back is at about a 10-15 degree incline, and the greater the incline the longer the points are because it’s harder to hit killshots,” Andy said. “If you’re playing with more skilled guys you can have a steeper incline, but with less experienced players you’re going to want a greater incline,” Andy added.
If you’re planning to play on a wall, Coach Towers has one key piece of advice to give. “You have to play with a one-bounce rule if you’re playing on a wall.”
Since the invention of the game, the Towers family has begun keeping a running tally of how many games James and Andy have each won. At the time of this interview, the score was 4-2 in favor of Andy, but James was forcing his father to stay on his feet and plan for the skillset that James brings to the table.
“He’s exceptionally skilled for a 13-year-old,” said Andy of his son. “I’m dealing with a faster, younger opponent that’s in better shape and can run forever and can dive for all his shots, so I’m very very aware of where my opportunity for success lies. And that’s in the craftiness of my shots,” he added.
Since the creation of the game, the Towers family has seen it explode in popularity, particularly on social media, where the winner of the days match gets to hold an interview with the days loser.
“There’s not a lot of feelings that are a lot better than walking into the house knowing that you are the interviewer and not the interviewee,” Andy said. “And you get the belt,” James added.
The interviews have become very popular on Twitter, as have highlights of their daily matches. Tweets of the two Towers’ playing the game and the subsequent interviews have routinely garnered thousands of views and hundreds of likes and comments.
James also says that he learned his post game interview skills, complete with cliches and everything, from watching the pros. When asked where he learned to navigate an interview like a professional his answer was simple, “From the sidelines of the PLL, from Paul Burmeister, watching my dad,”
The interviews, which are typically available everyday on Andy’s Twitter page, have been increasing in popularity, which in turn has led to a spike in fellow lacrosse lovers playing Rage Ball while confined to their own homes. And from the perspective of Coach Towers, a coach with years of experience at the Division-I and professional level, the game serves a purpose as an excellent drill and learning tool as as well.
“What it does for your ability to catch cross-body passes, back-hand passes, it eventually it eventually forces development of deception in the way that you take your shots, whether they are pull-overs or whether they’re look high- shoots lows,” Andy explained. “You really start to evolve into taking shots that have a ton of deception,” Andy said. “And placement,” James added.
Coach Towers also added that one of the rules in place, where you are allowed to obstruct your opponent’s vision while they attempt to catch the pass, forces the development of the same skills that players need when attempting to catch a ball in a high traffic situation.
“It really forces you to concentrate on the catch. But if the ball hits you, or the ball hits the ground, you lose the point,” Andy said.
With the games unexpected popularity on social media, the Towers family is hoping that when regular lacrosse is being played again, Rage Ball will continue its popularity in the lacrosse community.
“We can set up five fields at one time and have a massive tournament and it would be unbelievable in terms of the quality of an event like that. So we’re not limiting ourselves,” Andy exclaimed.
As for the near future though, both Towers men have their sights solely set on the next win. When asked which Towers has the most competitive fire when it comes to Rage Ball, James says that both of sports creators have an equal competitive fire to win the next match.
“Both of us. We’re a competitive family.”