Aztec Ball Game


The Court

Main Concept

Ullamaliztli is known as the Aztec ball game. The object of the game was to get the ball into the hoop. This may have seemed like an easy task, but the ball was 9 pounds of hard rubber! Ullamaliztili was a very difficult game because you couldn't use your feet or hands. The main body parts used were elbows, knees, head and hips. To make the game even harder the ball couldn't hit the ground. It was so hard to get the ball in the hoop that when it happened the game ended. All penalties resulted in a point loss. The video below will help with your understanding of the main goal of the game.

The Court

The court was about 100-200 feet long and the walls around it were 8-11 feet in height. There was also a centre line and six markers surrounding the court up on the sloped walls. There were two stone carved hoops and each end both about 35 inches in diameter. There were also skull racks; large bars around the court with poles sticking up from them with a skull on each one of them displaying all of the past sacrifices.

Additional factors

Since it was so hard to get the ball into the hoop there was other objects to the game as well. Players could hit one of the six markers along the sides of the court. Or, they would be given points for other skillful plays. Fouls were also given if the players couldn't get the ball across the centre line, or if they touched the ball with the wrong part of the body, such as the hand or calf. You have to pass as soon as you get it to the other team. The only time you can pass it to your own team is if you pass to them and they score. If you pass it to your own team and they don't try to get a goal then your team loses a point. If you attempt to score and miss you lose a point. If you pass it to a player on your team and they don't score you lose two points.


Gambling was a very important part of the Aztec culture. People would go as far as gambling their children on the outcome of the game! People would sell themselves into slavery to pay gambling bills.


City-states and tribes would play against each other so the game had a political significance. Winning or losing a game would be taken to heart. Sometimes the games would be an excuse for an assaination or attack. The game was sometimes used to settle differences between two parties.


The Aztec ball game had a lot of ritual significance. The game represented the battle between day and night, and so was also related to the human blood sacrifices that were intended to keep the sun moving in the sky. It is said that the ball represented the head of a sacrificed victim. In Tenochtitlan, the ball court was at the foot of the blood stained stairs of the temple, and the ball game itself would often be a scene of sacrifice. It is believed that the losing coach, or even the whole team, might be sacrificed. This has been disputed by many- because it was an honour to be sacrificed, it may have been the winning team that ended up getting sacrificed.

Accuracy of Rules

It is very hard to figure out the exact rules of the game because it hasn't been played in hundreds of years. Many variations of the game have been made of the years so some rules have been mixed up. We hope that this website will give you a good idea of how the Aztec ball game was played.

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