Gateball "pass"

I’ve been watching a number of gateball competitions and have noticed that sometimes striker after striker will intentionally hit their ball just a couple of inches, pick up the ball, and then fall back into line. What is the advantage of doing this?

I’m not familiar enough with the rules of Gateball to answer your question fully (I’m a croquet player so there is a small amount of overlap), but I suspect they are doing this before the start. In Gateball, you start in front of the first wicket/gate/hoop and to get your ball in play, you have to hit it through cleanly. If you fail, your ball is not yet part of the game and is removed from the court until your next turn. So I assume this is what these players are doing - deliberately failing to score the first point so that they do not enter the game until a later stage. I assume there is some strategic or tactical advantage to this but that is where my knowledge ends as I don’t know what that advantage could be. I assume it is because the more balls that are played into the game, the easier it is to make a break. This means that if you are the last player to get going, you may have an easier task to reach the finish. But of course you can’t leave it too late because of the time limit.

Apologies if you already knew all this…

Sounds reasonable to me, Dead Cat. My experience with the game so far has been at a purely local level in South Korea. There was not much strategizing at that level–people just liked knocking the opponent’s ball into the next county whenever the opportunity arose.

FWIW, I’m moving to China this month and, no doubt, will continue my love affair with the sport. I hope, at some point, to qualify as a referee.

Great - I’m from the UK and gateball is played very little over here, even in comparison to croquet, itself a minority sport. But it is huge in China and Japan, and presumably South Korea as well - I believe Japan hosted the World Champioships fairly recently, and as you say (like croquet) there are bound to be more tactics and strategy at the top level. I keep meaning to play the game myself as one of our croquet club members has a set, but I haven’t had the chance yet.

It’s not surprising that the Gateball World Championships were held in Japan as the game was invented and developed there. I’m surprised it’s caught in other countries.