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Traditional Games in Austria

Instructor: Brittney Clere

Brittney, a National Board Certified Teacher, has taught social studies at the middle school level for 15 years.

No matter where you are from, most everyone has played freeze tag, dodgeball, or keep-away as a child. However, they are not always played the same way. In this lesson, you will learn how the Austrians play each of these games, as well as a few others.

Austria

The mountainous and snowy Alps region with wooded slopes, rolling hills, and glacier-created lakes make for some magnificent views in Austria. With a terrain such as this, you might assume the people are avid fans of popular winter sports such as snow skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. And, you would be right. However, they also enjoy soccer, tennis, ballet, and many other activities that are not quite so snow-related. Sports are not the only Austrian pastime, though. Many of the more traditional games of Austria are still very popular.

Third Player Chase

Everyone knows children love to chase one another, so it makes sense that most cultures have a version of tag that is traditionally played. For Austria, that game is Third Player Chase. Since this game needs ten or more players, it needs to be played in a wide open area.

One player will be the hunter, and the other player is the game. The rest of the players sit in pairs in a wide circle. In each pair, one player sits in the front and one behind. The hunter chases the game around and through the circle. If the game chooses to, he can sit down with one of the pairs, but this forfeits his turn, and one of the players from the pair becomes the game. When the hunter catches the game, they become the hunter.

Statue Tag

Another tag game Austrians play is Statue Tag, which is like freeze tag with a twist. It is also played in large groups. The tagger chases the other players, and when he tags someone, they must stop in place and freeze like a statue. They cannot move until another team member climbs through their legs. The tagger wins only if he can get all the players frozen at the same time.

Two-Country Ball

Two-Country Ball should sound familiar if you have ever played dodge ball. Like those already mentioned, this game also requires a lot of players.

The two teams are divided up evenly. Using a rubber ball, each team tries to eliminate the other by hitting players below the waist. When a player is hit, or someone catches a ball they threw, then they are out. Any player that is out must go to an area on the other team's side designated as the prison. While he is in prison, however, he can still try to get a ball and throw it at his opponents. If he can hit someone with the ball, he is free to return to his team.

Two-Country Ball is a version of Dodgeball.
Dodge ball image.

Snap Ball

It seems the people of Austria believe the old saying, 'The more, the merrier,' when it comes to playing games because Snap Ball is yet another child's game that requires many players. In fact, there is no limit to the number that can play. In this game, two teams try to keep a ball away from each other by passing it to one of their teammates. There is no running, however, and the other players cannot steal the ball. The players can try to prevent each other from catching the ball, however. The teams earn a point for every catch that they successfully make.

Eisstockschießen

German curling, ice stock shooting, and Eisstockschießen are all names by which this next game goes by. It has been played for centuries in the Alps region, originally on frozen lakes and rivers. Today, however, it is usually played on an ice skating rink or smooth concrete area in the summer. Each player throws a round stock with a rubber base towards a target, or jack, which is in the center of a designated target area. The objective is to get closer to the jack than the opposing team.

A stock used in the EisstockschieBen game.
A stock game piece.

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