Jai alai can be played by individuals or teams. In double jai alai, a team will consists of one frontcourt player and one backcourt player. The frontcourt player of one team is responsible for serving the ball to the opposing team.
Jai alai is played on a court (the cancha), which is walled in three directions (front, back and on the side). The ceiling is high. Most jai alai courts are walled on the left side, meaning that all players – even those that are left-handed – must play with their right hand. The floor has 14 parallel lines, with line #1 being the line closest to the front wall.
During a game of jai alai, all three walls are in play.
Playing jai alai
Jai alai is played with two or four players on the court. One player throws the ball against the wall, and the other player must catch and return it. Your object is to throw the ball in a way that makes it so difficult for your opponent to catch and return the ball that they fail. Your opponent must catch the ball either before or right after the balls first bounce.
A round of jai alai is started by one person serving the ball, i.e. throwing the ball against the wall. If you are the one to do this, you must make bounce the ball behind the serving line and hurl it using the cesta. You hurl the ball directly to the front wall. When it rebounds, it should bounce between the lines 4 and 7 on the floor. If it bounces outside this area, it is an under or an over, and your opponent will score a point.
Your opponent must catch the ball on the fly or on the first bounce. He or she must catch and throw the ball in one fluid motion. If a player holds the ball to long, or if the ball is allowed to pop up, the judge will rule “juggling”.
Blocking your opponents lone to the ball on the catch or to the wall on the return is not allowed. The judge will rule “interference”, provided that the ball was playable.
Spectacular Seven Scoring, etc
The most commonly used scoring method for jai alai is the Spectacular Seven. The Spectacular Seven scoring method can be used for both team contests and contests between individuals.
With this scoring method, games are played to seven points, with points doubling after the initial round. The first team/player to score seven points win. When this happens, the team/player with the second largest points collection is said to have placed while the team/player with the third largest point collection is said to have shown. If there is a tie, playoffs are carried out.
Jai alai is typically played in a round-robin rotation fashion, with eight teams or single players participating. The winner of a point gets to stay in the court and face a new opponent, while the old opponent leaves. The leaving opponent will go to the end of the waiting line and wait for a new chance to play.
In Superfecta games, you need nine points to win. Seven points is not enough.