Beep Kickball — A New Sport
By Judy Byrd, founder
Do you remember playing kickball in recess? Kickball teams are all the rage now — unless you’re visually impaired. But now there’s a new game in town — Beep Kickball, an adapted sport for those who are visually impaired or blind.
Beep Kickball is played on a baseball diamond just like beep baseball using a ten inch soft foam kickball that BEEPS. Players wear blindfolds to equalize their differences in vision, and there’s no pitcher, no running around the bases and nobody throws the ball. There is no second base, just first and third. The kicker kicks the ball and runs to tag the base that’s BUZZING, either first or third. The goal is to tag the base before one of six fielders picks up the ball. If the kicker tags the base first, it’s a run. If a fielder picks up the ball first, the kicker is out. Three outs per inning, six innings, game over!
We like to introduce recreational kickball to children as young as five so they make sports a part of their lives growing up. There is a high level of obesity in the blind community because blindness tends to be a sedentary disability, so the sooner a young child becomes active, the healthier they will be.
Beep Kickball was invented in 2011 by Judy Byrd, a volunteer with the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta. After helping start the Atlanta Beep Baseball Team, she noticed that all the players were older teens and adults, and wondered what the younger kids played. Then it came to her: same sport, different ball — Beep Kickball!
In 2014, over 50 schools and summer camps for the blind across the nation play kickball — some in PE class in school, some in parks and recreation programs and some in camps for the blind. Beep Kickball is also being taught all over the nation at universities to undergraduate and graduate students studying adapted PE, Kinesiology and Therapeutic Recreation. It’s Byrd’s hope that some day, Beep Kickball will join Goalball and Beep Baseball as the third mainstream blind sport!
Atlanta and Dallas are the first cities to start beep kickball teams and hopefully, other cities will follow. Beep Kickball Play Days have become popular in Atlanta, giving children an opportunity to just come out and play.
Children who are visually impaired learn the same things from team sports as their sighted peers; self-confidence, determination, persistence, fairness, and patience. These skills are all useful in becoming a successful adult, but are hard to understand and develop without practicing them. Participating in sports is a wonderful way to practice these skills while having a great time with your family and friends.
But there are additional benefits to children who are blind. Kickball helps players increase their mobility and agility, which is especially important to young children. And later on in life, they seem to be more willing to accept the risk of applying for a job, living independently and trying new things that might seem impossible at first glance. They all say “If I can do this, I can do anything!”
There are adults who are newly blind who benefit from being active again. They enjoy the opportunity to do something they thought they would never be able to do again — play ball. A picnic or retreat is the perfect setting to play Beep Kickball for fun, where sighted players can even join in the fun by just wearing blindfold.
The equipment is affordable and guaranteed at $130 for a ball and $100 for a set of buzzing bases. Both should last for years because they have replaceable parts. To place an order, go to www.BeepKickball.com.
For more information, contact the founder and volunteer director, Judy Byrd at 770-317-2035 or Judybyrd@gmail.com. The Beep Kickball Association is a 501c3 non-profit corporation and all profits are used to promote the sport.