The 2008 edition of the ball

Waboba is an outdoor toy and sporting goods brand based in Stockholm, Sweden. Waboba is the creator of balls that bounce on water. Even though Waboba's products began with "the ball that bounces on water" in 2005, it has since expanded to introduce a range of accessories and land items. The slogan used in advertising is Keep Life Fun. The name Waboba is a registered trademark and the balls are internationally patented.


Even though Waboba is short for WAter BOuncing BAll, the name is specific to the brand and its products only.


All balls can bounce on water when thrown at a shallow angle with sufficient speed to hydroplane.

This was the principle employed by WW2-period British inventor Barnes Wallace when he developed the "bouncing bomb" used in the famous "Dam Busters" raid against the Ruhr District dams.[1] He had been inspired by the story of a technique historically used by the British navy that bounced spherical canon balls off the ocean surface to achieve accurate hits against enemy ships. Wallace worked out the physics by bouncing marbles, steel spheres, and various sizes and shapes of balls across a pond and then a long trough before progressing to larger-scale experiments. Even solid steel balls would bounce across water.[2] Ordinary tennis balls or any other plastic balls can skip on water if thrown at a low angle at a fast speed.[3][4]

In Sweden in the early 1980s, inventor Jan Von Heland got the idea of commercialising something that skips on water after throwing a Frisbee upside down and noticing it skims the surface of water much like skipping a rock. Over the years, he began to test different shapes, materials, and compositions until he discovered in 2002 that a ball could bounce more efficiently than other balls on water if it was soft and had a Lycra covering which enables easy flow separation at the hydrodynamic stagnation point.[5] In 2004, Jan created the commercial concept for marketing balls that bounce on water multiple times with little effort, and eventually patented what has become the Waboba Ball.[6]

The patent reveals prior art in commercialised water skipping balls such as the "skidderball" and other patent claimants.[7]

However, Waboba PR marketing efforts that suggested the waboba was the first ball to bounce on water, and the reluctance of online media to fact-check the spurious claims, led to articles incorrectly claiming uniqueness.[8]

The ball is made of different types of polyurethane covered in Lycra, allowing it to bounce on water and float.[5] Its patented design and durability gives Waboba its quality. To bounce the ball on the water, one must throw like skipping a rock. The ball bounces high on the water in between players when thrown at the right angle (overhand) with the right force. The ball does not bounce well on land.[5]

In 2005, the Waboba Ball in widespread advertising made the false claim to be the first ball to bounce on water, a claim easily debunked by history and by simply throwing a tennis ball the same way and seeing that they easily bounce on water, and introduced it to the market where it was succeeded by the Waboba Extreme.

To date, there are six different types of Waboba balls (Pro, Extreme, Surf, Blast, Big Kahuna, and Fetch) as well as several land items and accessories.[citation needed]

Geographical spread[edit]

The Waboba Ball was first introduced in Sweden in 2005, where it was sold for two years before it was introduced to new markets in Europe, United States, and Australia in the summer of 2007. In summer 2008, Waboba entered markets in Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. During the fall of 2008 and spring 2009, Waboba was introduced in Brazil, China, Singapore, Kuwait, Dubai, Germany, Portugal, Scandinavia, France, Spain, and Cyprus. By 2013, Waboba was sold in all European countries and all continents except Antarctica.[9]


Water Bouncing Balls[edit]

  • Pro - engineered for athletic control and accuracy in the lake or ocean.
  • Extreme - bounces fast, far, and high in the lake or ocean.
  • Surf, for beginners. It is soft and easy to handle in the lake or ocean.
  • Big Kahuna, the biggest and most versatile Waboba ball for all water environments - lakes, oceans, and pools.
  • Blast, engineered for pool play.
  • Fetch, water-retrieval ball for dogs [9]

Water accessories[edit]

  • Catch - neoprene glove paired with the Waboba Pro for water play.
  • Waboba Lacrosse - in 2014, Waboba partnered with STX to release water lacrosse using FiddleSTX and a Waboba Extreme ball.[9]

Land items[edit]

  • Moon - super high-bouncing land ball
  • Street - unusual shape gives it an unpredictable bounce
  • Flyer - an oversized shuttlecock that lets you hit it with your hands, knees, feet, or rackets.[9]


  • Special Needs Approved by AblePlay [10]
  • Dr. Toy Best Toy for Vacation [11]
  • Gold Award, Family Review Center [12]
  • Moon Ball 2013 Toy of the Year Award winner by Creative Child Magazine [13]

The game[edit]

Two people playing Waboba

Official match game[edit]

The object of the 4v4 game is to bounce the Waboba Pro on the water in order to pass to team members and score points by bouncing the ball into a goal.

Described as a cross between ultimate frisbee and water polo, the official match game is a team water sport played with the Pro ball that bounces on water. Teams consist of 3 field players, a goalkeeper and 2 substitutes. The winner of the game is the team that scores the most goals. The object of the game is to pass the ball with at least one bounce on water between team members in order to score goals. No direct passes allowed. There are no offside rules so teams have the ability to spread players across the game field, facilitating long, uninterrupted passes.[14]

Ultimate Waboba[edit]

Use any Waboba ball. Each team, a minimum of 2 players per team, passes the Waboba to each other to complete a round. A team gets 1 point when each team member has caught the ball without interruption from the opposing team. A pass must bounce on the water before being caught. First team to 3 points wins. Passes have to be made within 5 seconds after receiving the ball. No holding players allowed.[14]


An elastic ball that bounces on water, the Waboba water ball flattens like a pancake when it hits the water surface, increasing its lift and propelling it upward. When it hits the water at a shallow angle, it too creates a bowl-shaped depression. But because it is soft, the ball flattens into a disc-shape when it hits the surface and this allows it to aquaplane efficiently across the surface. And the angle of the bowl-shaped depression causes it to launch into the air where the ball regains its shape, making it look as if it has bounced. The process is remarkably similar to the way stones skip across water, even though they are denser than the liquid. A shallow impact with the water surface creates a bowl-shaped depression that launches the stone into the air as it leaves.[15]

Naval use[edit]

Researchers with the U.S. Navy's University Laboratory Initiative have been studying the mechanics and elasticity of the Waboba balls. The military branch is interested in how elasticity affects motion in water.[16]


  1. ^ "bouncing bomb". YouTube. 5 April 2009. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  2. ^ National Physical Laboratory (27 August 2009). "Barnes Wallis Experiment Slow Motion Video". YouTube. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  3. ^ "YouTube". Youtube.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  4. ^ r00stercom (15 June 2007). "Do Tennis Balls Skip On Water? (JTE Short Edition)". YouTube. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "Ball that bounces on water is summer craze". Telegraph.co.uk. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Ball suitable for water games". Google.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Water-skimming sport ball for use in competitive water play". Google.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  8. ^ "The Waboba Ball - it bounces on water". Gizmag.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d Waboba. "Waboba". Waboba. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-04. Retrieved 2014-07-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Dr.Toy The Best Advice on Childrens Products". Drtoy.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  12. ^ Center, Family Review. "Family Review Center is proud to announce that Waboba Balls have won the GOLD Award!". PRLog. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Creative Child". Creativechild.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-08. Retrieved 2014-07-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Like Stones, Why Some Balls Bounce On Water". Technologyreview.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  16. ^ "US Navy Toys With Physics of Bouncy Balls". Livescience.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.

External links[edit]