You probably know how to play soccer, but what exactly is kickball, and how is it different? Whilst the two sports might sound like the same thing… they are two different games with different rules, equipment, and ways to win! Here we’ll break down exactly the difference between the two.
Kickball and soccer are both team-based ball sports that involve kicking the ball. However, other than the fact that both sports involve kicking a ball, there really aren’t that many similarities between the two!
Baseball is a much better comparison when looking for similarities with kickball, minus the dangers of a 90-mile-an-hour fastball, of course! More like baseball, kickball is also played on a diamond (though it’s a softball field) with 4 bases spread out in a diamond shape, roughly 20 feet apart.
Whereas soccer is typically played on a pitch of roughly 105 by 68 meters, with lots of intricate markings.
To better understand how soccer and kickball are different, let’s go over a quick review of kickball rules. Doing so will really make it clear how soccer and kickball aren’t remotely similar – beyond they both use feet and a ball.
What is Kickball?
Kickball combines elements of baseball and soccer. It’s like baseball, but instead of bats and a small ball, you’ll be using your feet and a bigger ball! In fact, in Canada, it’s known simply as “Soccer Baseball” or “Football Rounders” in the UK.
Invented in the USA as early as 1910, it combines elements of soccer and baseball to create a fun, child-friendly sport for younger participants. Funnily enough, kickball was invented as a simpler alternative to help children learn how to play baseball. Yet even today kickball is enjoyed by adults who enjoy combining the two elements of soccer and baseball.
Rules of Kickball – the Quick Version
The rules of kickball are overseen by the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA). The game is designed to be very easy to understand. Like baseball, kickball also involves a pitcher, a kicker, several outfield players, and a catcher who stands behind the plate.
The pitcher rolls the ball to the kicker, who must kick the ball. Once the ball has been kicked, the kicker needs to run to as many bases as they can, without being made out by the outfield players.
Want the full kickball rules? Make sure you read our complete guide to kickball rules here.
Just like baseball, if the ball is caught directly by an outfield player after being kicked, the kicker is out. There are other ways to get the kicker out, which can be done by tagging either the player themselves or the base they are running to with the kickball.
However, unlike baseball, there are no strikeouts, leading off, or stealing allowed in Kickball.
Scoring & Winning the Game
Winning is simple. Each team takes turns kicking, and to pitch. To score a run, kickers must reach home plate before the end of an inning. The team who manages to score the most runs wins! Typically, the average game consists of 6 innings when playing under strict WAKA rules.
One of the best ways to win is to kick the ball beyond the outfield boundary, also known as a home run in baseball. When this occurs, the person who kicked the ball along with any other kickers at bases on the pitch is free to run to home plate without pressure from the outfield players, giving them one run each.
A Tied Score
In the rare event of a tie between the two teams, the winner can be determined with an “Accuracy Kick” as per WAKA rules. One member of each team is chosen to kick the ball as close as they can to the 2nd base. The team who kicks the ball the closest wins the game.
Due to the younger age groups involved, playing fair is of extreme importance to teach positive values to the players as they become familiar with the sport. Any form of cheating results in immediate dismissal by the referee.
Compared to soccer’s minimum start of 11 players, kickball is usually played with teams between 5 and 15. However, the World Adult Kickball Association recommends teams of 8 to 11 for the best results.
Contact & “Tagging Out”
One of the main differences with kickball is that players can be tagged “out” by being struck with the kickball in between running to bases. Soccer involves a lot more contact between players than kickball when defenders collide with attackers trying to win the ball.
An obstruction is any object or person that isn’t a part of the game and interferes whilst the ball is in play. Similarly, outfield players aren’t allowed to obstruct kickers from running between bases, unless they have the ball to tag them out.
How Kickball and Soccer Are Different
Kickball is baseball but with a rubber ball, while soccer is a team sport that involves kicking a harder ball up and down a long field into goals. In that sense, soccer is closer to American football while kickball is more like baseball.
Now, that’s a huge oversimplification. Because soccer is nothing remotely like American football, kickball is the only kind of like baseball.
But it’s important to note that kickball and soccer are very different.
Similarities Between Kickball and Soccer
Kickball and soccer are both team sports that involve kicking a ball. That’s pretty much the extent of where the similarities end.
Equipment similarities and differences between Soccer and Kickball
The beauty of kickball is that you don’t really need any equipment to get started, except a soccer ball of course!
Where soccer requires goalposts, corner flags, and strict pitch markings, an official game of kickball needs a diamond, bases, and a field.
On the other hand, an amateur game of kickball can be played with as little as 4 jackets for the bases and a soccer ball!
Granted, if you’re going to play a home pickup game of soccer, you could also use four jackets to outline where the goalposts should be.
So, we’re back to the “they’re not terribly similar” fact, aren’t we?
Is Kickball a Soccer Baseball?
Kickball does not use a baseball or a soccer ball. Kickball uses a much larger, softer, rubber ball. However, in Canada kickball is also known as “soccer baseball,” though it still uses a rubber playing ball.
Sometimes kids who play kickball at school do use a soccer ball to play kickball. When that’s the case, though, they adjust some of the kickball rules so that they aren’t throwing the harder soccer ball at players. Nobody wants to get hurt during recess!
Want to read more about kickball sizes – and how to adjust the game for when you’re using a soccer ball? Read our article: What Size Kickball Should You Get And Use?
Thanks to this, kickball is a much safer sport with less chance of injury to players. For example, this could be from accidentally letting go of the baseball bat while swinging, or the baseball hitting someone directly. This is another reason why kickball is more popular amongst children in schools.
However, the type of soccer ball used in kickball is quite different. It is much softer, made from inflated rubber, and roughly 16 inches in diameter.
Here they are side by side for comparison.
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- Here is an example of a kickball on Amazon.
- Whereas soccer balls are much harder, like this one on Amazon.
Sometimes kickballs are also called “playground balls” or “dodge balls,” though dodge balls can also be a lot smaller in size.
So, while kickball has some elements of soccer, it isn’t the same sport!
Kickball is a simple, fun, team-based sport that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike! It’s the perfect sport as a preliminary introduction to baseball for younger players, with a much lower risk of injury whilst learning.
Compared to soccer, it involves a much lower amount of skill and fitness to be able to enjoy. For any further information about the sport, feel free to check out the World Adult Kickball Association to learn more, or read our complete guide here: Kickball Guide: How to Play, Rules, and FAQs.
Not only do we keep things family-friendly, but we also make things simpler to understand so that you aren’t wasting precious family time trying to figure out the rules. That way, you can just get out there and enjoy being active with your families.
Learning from your own experiences is important, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as a family of sports nuts wannabes.
- “Kickball.” Wikipedia, 7 Aug. 2004, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kickball.
- “Kickball.” World Kickball Association, 6 July 2020, kickball.com.
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