Swiss sport combines whips, paddles and pucks


Hornussen is a traditional Swiss sport that had been played in countryside of Switzerland for over 300 years. The sport requires both incredible aim and the ability to see a small black puck as it whizzes through the air at speeds over 125 miles per hour.

The word ‘Hornussen’ is often translated to mean ‘farmer’s golf.’ The sport got this name because it was primarily played by Swiss farmers as a pastime, according to ESPN. Do not let the name fool you, though. Hornussen and golf are nothing alike. Hornussen is not really like any other sport, even though, to the untrained eye, it seems to have a grab-bag mixture of sport-like components.

Explanations of Hornussen liken it to everything from golf to baseball to tennis and even cricket. The reality is, though, that Hornussen is nothing like any of those sports. It is something completely different and in a world totally its own.

Hornussen is played with a small black puck called the hornet, which sits on a tee at the end of a curved metal track called the bock. The batter must swing a long flexible club — which looks like a blend of a whip and a golf club — along the bock and hit the hornet as hard and far as possible. The number of points the hitter scores is determined by how far the hornet travels. 

That is just the offensive side of Hornussen. 

On the playing field, the players of the opposing team must try to hit the small black hornet out of the air with paddles called schindeln. If they manage to knock the hornet out of the air, this keeps the hitter from scoring. If the hornet hits the grown unimpeded, the hitter is awarded the appropriate number of points.

An average game of Hornussen lasts between three and four hours. The game lasts until every player has hit the hornet four times. 

The game is broken into two innings. Unlike baseball, the home team hits first and the visiting team hits after them, according to The Telegraph. Each player gets to hit the hornet twice per inning. Imagine 32 to 38 players hitting the hornet four times each. If you do the math, that comes out to anywhere from 128 to 144 hits per game. No wonder it takes so long to play a game.

According to a local Swiss Hornusser in an interview with ESPN, Hornussen is a sport that needs to be watched in person to really be appreciated, which means that it is highly unlikely that you will see a Hornussen match on any of the 20 different ESPN channels. However, there are plenty of videos of this wacky looking sport on the Internet if you have the urge to check it out.

There may yet be a chance of seeing a game in person. Since the game made it big in Europe, over 20 teams have popped up all over the United States.