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Two-ball is a game often played by baseball teams, designed to improve quickness, hand-eye coordination, and sharpen focus. It can be played with any number of players. The basic idea is that everyone stands in a circle. Two baseballs are tossed between the players. Each player gets three outs. An out is awarded for a bad throw or a missed catch. A player who records three outs must step out of the circle. The winner of the game is the last player remaining in the circle.

The Basics

The game can be played with any number of players, but four to ten is probably best. The players should stand in a circle, with each player approximately three feet from the players on their left and right. Play begins when one player serves the balls. To serve the ball, the player holds one ball in each hand, and tosses them underhanded to two different people in the circle. Each of these two people toss the balls to other players in the circle without disrupting the rhythm. The tossing continues until a ball is not caught, and play stops. An out is assessed to either the thrower (if it was an errant throw) or the catcher (if a catch that should have been made was not). Once an out has been assessed, play begins again, with the person who recorded the last out serving. Only one out may be recorded per frame.

Play continues in this manner until one person has been charged with three outs. That player has lost, and must stand outside the circle. Play continues with the remaining players.

At the point in the game in which only four people remain, the serve is different. Instead of one person tossing both balls to different players, two players who are across from each other start with one ball each and toss them simultaneously. When three players are left, serving returns to the original method, used for five or more players.

When two people remain, play becomes very different. The player with fewer outs throws first. If the two players have equal outs, the winner of a best-out-of-three rock-paper-scissors (no shoot) contest throws first. The players stand three to five feet apart. A player throws both balls one-hand, and the other player must catch both. If the throw is makes it impossible to catch both—at arm level, they are farther apart than the span of the catcher's arms—it counts as a catch, and catcher becomes the thrower. A player is out if they miss a catch but the other player makes the catch. The first player to get three outs, including outs from earlier in the game, loses.

Key Rules Not Mentioned in 'The Basics'

The Serve: No out may be charged on the serve.

Mid-Air Collisions and Negative Outs: If the balls collide in mid-air, play stops. Each player who catches a ball after a collision is awarded with a negative out. That is, for each ball caught by a certain player after a collision, that player is allowed an additional out before their side retires. If one player catches both balls after a collision, they receive two negative outs. Balls colliding on a serve produce no negative outs, since there can be no positive outs either.

Server Immunity: If after the server throws the balls to two different players, both players choose to throw their balls back to the server, and the server does not make the catch, they aren't charged with an out, and get the chance to serve again. If the server does make the catch, play continues as usual.

Putting the Balls Together: If both balls are caught at the same time, they may be "put together," at which point normal play stops. The balls may then be thrown according to the manner in which they are thrown when just two people are left. If the player trying to catch the balls fails, they receive an out. Note that the balls do not have to be put together, and that normal play could stop, as the balls are put together, and then begin anew if a player makes the catch and opts to separate them again.

Other Rules

These rules are not as widely accepted world-wide as most rules above, but they are popular in the mid-western United States.

The Ten-foot Rule: During normal play, balls may not be thrown more than ten feet in the air. If they are, but are caught, play continues. If they are, but are not caught, it becomes a do-over and the thrower is chastised by the other players. When the balls are "put together" or when there are just two players left, a twenty-foot rule replaces the ten-foot rule.

The Three Strikes and You're Out Rule: Since there are no outs on the serve, there can be several serves before regular play begins. This rule stipulates that a who player makes an out-worthy mistake on the serve is charged with a strike but not an out. If a player gets three strikes before successfully serving, they receive an out. Strikes do not carry over to different frames.



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