Watchlist: ‘Double Ball’

03.14.2024 Kamiah Koch Watchlist
Smoke Signals screenshot


By Kamiah Koch

Social media/digital journalist

Native Youth Wellness Day was held Friday, March 8, in the Tribal gym. Outside the gym and throughout the day, there were Native youth running around the field with long sticks pointed in the air. The game they were playing is called double ball.

A short video on YouTube published by Thomas J. Elpel shares the rules to the sport, calling double ball “incredibly addictive” and showing video of double ball players having what looks like a lot of fun.

According to Elpel’s website, he is the founder of Green University LLC, an immersive camp teaching traditional skills, survival and sustainable construction inspired by Native culture.

“Double ball originated as a Native American sport similar to lacrosse,” Elpel said.

Both sports have sticks to pick up a ball, goals on each end of the field and involve a lot of running.

Elpel explains the namesake, double ball, was traditionally two sacks of buckskin filled with hair and sand connected by a strap. However, today these are usually tennis balls and paracord but function just the same.

The players must move the double ball around without touching it with their hands.

“Players are not allowed to physically touch the balls but use sticks to pick them up, run with the balls, fling them or catch them,” Elpel said. “Rules vary, but the way we play it there are no boundaries.”

The video shows the sticks can also be used to smack the double ball off the opposing team’s stick.

Elpel goes on to explain that one point is scored when the ball goes through the front of the goal, or three points for landing and wrapping around the goal post. The game is over when one team reaches 10 points.

You can watch more of the game continued in the video at