There’s something wonderfully absurd about watching people wearing plastic inflatable bubbles trying to kick a soccer ball into a net. Especially when the consequence for bumping into each other is both players flying across the field, sometimes rolling away with their legs flailing in the air.
But that’s the fun of bubble soccer, a relatively new trend in recreational sports and party play that is making its way onto Long Island. Bubble soccer combines elements of competition with a heavy dose of silliness, for the perfect mixture of recreation. The game takes the basic elements of soccer and elevates them by having players don an inflatable plastic bubble suit which serves as the vehicle for both protection and absurdity.
LI Bubble Soccer operates out of two locations in Nassau County—Nxt Gen Fitness in Port Washington and East Coast Sports Academy in Oceanside. My coworkers and I recently took a trip to the Port Washington location to see what the hype was surrounding this growing recreational trend.
The first challenge was getting into the actual bubble, a process that involves a coordinated slide/shimmy. The 20-pound bubble slips on similarly to a backpack, with your elbows tucked close to your side and hands holding onto handles by your chest. The clear bubble covers everything but your legs, allowing you free rein to run, kick the ball or stand on the sidelines watching the mayhem unfold.
We played on half the field, which proved to be more than sufficient. Soccer is hard enough, but once you’re carrying 20 pounds of extra weight and your vision is partially obscured, it’s a lot more challenging. Plus, there’s always the chance that the game will turn into human bumper cars, which is surprisingly easy since all your teammates are five feet wider than usual. Fighting for a ball usually ends with at least one player getting knocked down and rolling away. It doesn’t count towards your score, but there is a sense of extra satisfaction if you can roll your opponent out of bounds.
Like any sport, there is a risk of injury, but overall, the game is relatively safe. However, it is intense. Games are usually three eight-minute periods for leagues, with parties and play sessions going for 10 minute intervals.
There’s a certain level of boldness that comes when you’re wrapped in the safety of a plastic bubble. And while the soccer part is fun, to be honest, I found more enjoyment in running around bumping into my coworkers (which they did not appreciate).
All that to say, if you have no sense of humor, bubble soccer is not for you. If you hate being knocked down, you might also want to stick to a strictly vertical activity such as bowling or golf. But, if you like laughing your way through a workout, bubble soccer is worth a try.
LI Bubble Soccer will host an open session on March 19 at 2 p.m. Athletes of all experience levels ages 18 and over are invited to try out bubble soccer at East Coast Sports Academy in Oceanside.
Find out more by visiting www.li-bubblesoccer.com.