Bole Ball Review — Tarahumara Running Game
“You bought a wooden ball?” my wife said to me with a perplexed look on her face. I tried to hold back some of my excitement as I explained to her that this "BOLE ball," (or something like it) was what used for entertainment by the Tarahumara Indians as they traversed great distances while running through Mexico.
If you haven’t read Chris McDougall’s famous book “Born to Run” I might question your motives as a minimalist runner and tell you to go pick up a copy immediately. I say that half-jokingly, but it is a really good book and does make reference to the game that was played by the Tarahumara Indians as they went on their epic long runs.
Making a game out of anything makes it more fun, and the BOLE ball has added a whole new element of fun to my running. Read on for my review!
The first thing I did when I got the BOLE Ball (see their website) took it out of the box was smell it. It had that wood smell because it was made out of quality Maple. It was perfectly round and lighter than I expected. The size was comparable to a baseball and had a nice burned logo into the wood surface.
I took a trip down to the local park by my house. It is a big oval shaped expanse of grass surrounded by a concrete path. The grass had thick deep sections filled with clovers and tiny flowers, and there were plenty of thin light spots were the grass was losing the battle to the California drought.
I dropped the ball down in front of me and watched it sink in to the grass. I scooped with my toe and managed to send it airborne to my wife who was about 15 feet away from me. She give it an easy kick with the bottom of her shoe and it rolled about halfway back to me.
Every ball I had ever kicked in my entire life was in some way soft. I played quite a bit of soccer growing up and I had fight to my inner desire to pass it around and go with many of the soccer motions I was used to. I few accidental pass type kicks with the side of my foot quickly reminded me that kicking this ball the wrong way hurts.
After getting the hang of the different kicking motions, my wife and I tried running with it. I’d scoop it up in the air with my foot and then we’d both go chasing after it. It wasn’t quite the same thing as dribbling a soccer ball, but the activity felt very similar. Much as I had hoped it felt like we were playing a game and having fun; not going for a run in a “mandatory exercise” type fashion.
So far, I had really enjoyed this ball, and I figured I really need to put it through its paces. The wood looked durable and solid, but I wanted to know how it would fare on surfaces that weren’t quite as forgiving as soft grass. I kicked it across the concrete path and sent it out the dirt on the outer edge of the park filled with tree roots and pointed rocks.
After several runs through the places that I thought be tough on the BOLE, I picked it up and inspected it for damage. The wood had a few light scuffs in a few places, but no real damage at all. While I tested this in a manmade park, I have no doubts it would perform well out in nature too.
In conclusion, I really like this product, and it made running/exercise much more exciting. It is durable and incredibly well made. If you are at all on the fence I highly recommend you pick one up; just be sure to remember this is a wooden ball and you can’t wind up on it like you would a soccer ball.
Visit the BOLE website to pick one up (You can pick your color — red, yellow (photoed here), or green) as well as see videos on proper kicking technique. The price? $30.
If you grab one, let us know what you think!