ORIGIN PilotaValenciana or Valencianpilota (pilota means ball in Valencian) is a traditional handball sport played in the Valencian Community. Rules variations within the generic PilotaValenciana category are frequent from area to area but the common trait is that the ball is struck with a bare, or almost bare, hand (only some minimal protection is applied in some versions of the sport). The general rule involves two teams made from two up to five players each (the numbers depend on the particular version played). Exceptionally, individual matches are also played (mostly in Escalaicorda and Raspall) between the most renowned players. The second characteristic being that it is not played against a wall. Instead, similarly to modern tennis, two individuals or teams are placed face to face separated either by a line on the ground or a net. A distinctive trait of Valencianpilota is that the spectators are often seated or standing very close to the court which means that they may be hit by the ball and thus become an (unwilling) part of the game.
0. Pilota valenciana played in a “Trinquet”
HISTORY Valencianpilota sport was mentioned in the 16th century by the humanist Joan LluísVives, who compared this game with jeu de paume in his Dialogues and claimed them to be exactly the same despite some minor differences. Being played by low-class people and high-class nobles, Valencianpilota was very popular: On June 14, 1391 the Valencia City Council fruitlessly forbid it to be played on the streets, but this caused the expansion of trinquets (courtfields), there were as many as 13 only in that city in the 16th century. Later on, nobles abandoned the handball game in favour of “cleaner" sports and so pilota became the property of the middle and lower classes, which led to the appearance of the first professional players and the rise of gambling and challenge matches.