Like many off-the-wall Japanese creations, the sport has developed a sort of cult following abroad.
Terry Chatwin of the Canadian Snowbattlers, the only non-Japanese team to make it past the first day of world championship competition, raved about the experience.
“We were awe-struck by the Japanese players,” Chatwin said. “Between our first and second years, we practiced year-round, which helped; but the best training by far was going to Japan.”
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Chatwin said good players tend to be small and have quick, accurate hands. Players and teams improve just like musicians aspiring to Carnegie Hall, he says, through “practice, practice, practice. Japanese teams play year-round. They even play at their schools.”
No snow? No problem! Like Chatwin’s Snowbattlers, teams around the world practice and compete without snow—indoors, during warm weather, even on a beach—using modified equipment like tennis balls layered with tape. There has yet to be a Jamaican-bobsled-team-like tale of glory at Mt. Showa-Shinzan, though—Japanese teams always win.
“Championship players and teams have great teamwork,” he said. “Forwards use hand signals to defensive players to target specific people. It’s hard to adjust when you don’t know what the other team is doing.”
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