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All About JAI ALAI

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Scoring Quiniela
Serving Officials and equipment

The jai alai court

The jai alai court (play goes from the left of the diagram)


Objective: Jai Alai can be played by two players, or two teams of two or three players per team. Players attempt to hit a ball (pelota), with a wicker basket (cesta) worn over one hand like a glove, against a front wall (frontis), so that their opponents will be unable to return it.

Points are scored when the opponents cannot or do not return the ball. A match is played for a set number of points, ranging between 7 and 35.



Points are scored when the opponent:

- returns the ball after it has bounced more than once

- misses the ball.

- does not return the ball by hitting it against the frontis.

- does not catch the ball and throw it in one movement.


The ball must be served against the frontis so that it bounces back into the serving zone. The serving zone is the area between lines 4 and 7, as shown on the diagram below.

Jai Alai court

The court is 12.2 metres (40 feet) wide, and 53.7 metres (176 feet) long. The frontis is 12.2 metres (40 feet) high, and the floor along the side is 3.05 metres (10 feet) wide.

The ball must be caught in the cesta and thrown in one smooth movement. The ball can be returned before it bounces, or after it has bounced once. The ball must be returned to the frontis and played within the orange areas on the walls. (A real jai alai court would most likely be green where the diagram is orange).


Jai Alai can be played as singles, doubles, or triples. The quiniela (betting) version of the game is played as singles or doubles with a maximum of eight players or eight pairs.

The teams will be numbered from 1 upwards. The number 1 side starts the game by serving. Play continues until one of the teams loses a point. The losing team then returns to the bench and is replaced by the next team in numerical order.

The game continues with the winning team always on court until one side wins the match by scoring the required number of points. If there is a tie, there is a play-off.

Where there are eight teams or players all playing to reach seven points, one point is scored for each win in the first round (until all players or teams have played once), and two points for each win in games after that.

Officials and equipment

There are three judges, standing opposite lines 4, 7 and 11 (where the red lines are marked).

The frontis is made of granite blocks, the floor, rebote (back wall), and lateral (side wall, with the lines marked on it), are all made of gunite, a type of pressurized cement. The court only has three walls, as the area opposite the lateral is the floor area where the officials stand, and the audience can watch.

Players usually wear white trousers, a coloured sash or belt, a coloured shirt with a number, white rubber soled shoes, and a helmet. The cesta is a wicker basket with a chestnut frame, covered with woven reed. The players hand goes into a leather glove which is sewn onto the outside of the cesta. A long tape or strap is wrapped around the glove to keep it on the hand.

The pelota (ball) has a hard rubber core and is covered in linen thread and sometimes two layers of goatskin. It is 5 centimetres (2 inches) in diameter and weighs 135 grams (4 and a half ounces).

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