Ball in a cup

Ball in a cup

Infobox Game
title = Ball in a cup
subtitle = Balero
image_link =
image_caption = Typical ball in a cup toy
players = 1
ages = 3+
setup_time = None
playing_time = About 30 seconds to a few minutes per round
random_chance = Low
skills = Hand-eye coordination
footnotes = Often played by young children.
:"Not to be confused with the dance Bolero."

A Ball in a cup is a traditional children's toy, consisting of a wooden cup with a handle, and a ball which is attached to a string, which is in turn attached to the cup. It is popular in Latin American countries, where it is called "balero". In Ireland it is known as "arty".Fact|date=September 2008

The ball in a cup is a common toy in Latin America. The name varies across many countries — in Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico it is called "balero"; in Spain it is "boliche"; in Brazil it is called "bilboquê"; in Chile it is "boliche" or "emboque" and in Venezuela the game has many names such as "boliche", "perinola" and "juego de la coca".cite web |author=Civila|title=El balero|publisher=Open Publishing|language=Spanish|url=|accessdate=2008-09-03]


The ball in a cup is a ball of roughly seven centimeters, usually made of wood. It is connected to the handle of the cup by a string of 35 to 40 centimeters. The cup is shaped to fit the ball. [cite web|title=Balero|publisher=Open Publishing|language=Spanish|url=|accessdate=2008-09-03]


The ball in a cup has its origins in France in the sixteenth century. The game was loved by King Henry III of France. This frivolous monarch was often seen playing in public. After his death, the game went out of fashion. For 100 years the game was only remembered by a small number of enthusiasts such as the Marquis de Biévre.Fact|date=September 2008

The game had its golden age during the reign of Louis XV — among the upper classes people owned baleros made of ivory. Actors also sometimes appeared with them in scenes. Following this period, the game went out of fashion again, at least in Europe.

Inside Brazil’s rain forest, the indigenous people sometimes utilized the turtle skulls as balls for the balero.Fact|date=September 2008

The game was reborn around 1910 in France. The game became more modern as the shape and materials were changed to add more variety. Some of the new forms were “the cup”, “the cube”, “the bottle”, “the hat’s mold”, “the bicycle’s guide” and “feather duster”.Fact|date=September 2008 The names of the shapes made reference to the object used as the ball.

The sizes was also varied, ranging from the “horror”, which had a ball as big as a watermelon and a weight of five kilograms, to the “bibí”, with a ball as small as a cherry, and the “costaud”, made from a pearl with a handle smaller than a match. [cite web|title=Bilboquet o Balero - Juegos Tradicionales|publisher=Open Publishing|language=Spanish|url=|accessdate=2008-09-03 ]

Game play

The main goal of the game is to get the ball in the cup. While the concept is very easy, mastering the game sometimes requires many hours of practice. To play, the player holds the cup by the handle and lets the ball hang freely. The player then tosses the ball upward by jerking the arm holding the toy, attempting to catch the ball in the cup.

There are several styles of gameplay such as “la simple”, “la doble”, “la vertical”, "la mariquita”, “la puñalada” and “la porteña”. Some tricks that can be done are “capirucho”, “por atrás” and “media vuelta”.


*The player must not use any body part other than their handle-holding arm to catch the ball.
*The player must not purposefully bounce the ball off their body to change its trajectory.

Popular culture

* The Chavo del ocho usually plays with one, in the homonimous tv show.
* The toy was parodied in the episode Marge Be Not Proud from The Simpsons.
* The episode The Fat Guy Strangler from the American animated television series Family Guy included a humorous TV commercial featuring the toy, saying it has been Mexico's favorite toy for 340 years. The gag was referred to in a later episode, Padre de Familia.
* In the "Sign Language!" episode of Oobi, a deaf girl named Amy impresses Oobi and Kako with her technique, to the point of being dubbed "Cup-Ball Queen". She takes a deep breath, then gets the ball into the cup with a brusque flick of her wrist.

ee also

*Kendama — a Japanese version of the game.


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