Last week, our colleagues at UrbanDaddy SF turned us on to a curious summer sport from 1940s Brazil called “Frescobol” and a group of gents trying to introduce it to America by way of handsome reclaimed wood paddles and selvage denim park blankets—under the label Merriment Hardware.

And, naturally, when news of any relatively unknown summer pastime comes along, we’re intrigued—especially when the sun-flecked beaches of the Southern Hemisphere are involved. So we had the guys give us a few pointers on how the game is played—all you need is a sunny patch of land (park, beach, vineyard, et cetera), a willing partner (who may or may not be wearing a bikini) and these paddles.

How to play the surprisingly simple, challenging yet rewarding game of Frescobol.

The first thing you should know is that Frescobol is a collaborative effort. You’re not trying to best your partner—it’s all about an exciting rally. (In competitive play, scores are given to the team of two who’s kept the ball afloat the longest and done so with the most degree of difficulty and stylishness.

Okay, you and your partner each grab a paddle and start knocking a racquetball-like rubber ball back and forth. You’ll want to stand about 20 feet from one another, but just go with whatever distance feels right. Then start a rally. The idea is to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible. It’s trickier than it sounds—sometimes just letting the ball bounce off your paddle is enough to return a hard shot—once you find a rhythm, feel free to throw some flourishes in there.

Really, that’s all there is to it. Have a blast. And hopefully one day you’ll be able to knock it around like João e Kity here.



  • Najib Benouar