Review: Tailball

5 April 2010

tailballMy boys, aged 3 and 5, are tennis mad, having recently discovered the joys of being allowed to smack a ball with a racquet. They spend so much of their little lives being told to stop hitting that it must come as a relief to be introduced to a game that actually requires you to hit something.

So when our Tailball set arrived from Mookie, they were beside themselves with excitement about getting it set up. A cross between tennis and badminton, tailball is a game for children aged 3 years and above. You basically erect the net using the poles and various bits and pieces enclosed in the sturdy plastic carrying case, and then use the 2 racquets to hit the the snazzy tailball back and forth across the net.

Our first challenge was getting the net set up, and this wasn't easy. I was glad Daddy was on hand to help us get sorted. It's definitely not something my children could have set up by themselves and that made for a fairly frustrating 20 minutes while they were desperate to get playing, and we were squabbling over the instructions.

tailball2Once the net is in place, the base needs to be filled with sand or water in order to make it steady. I can see the sense in this design and think it would be a great feature for taking to the beach, but in the garden it was something of a pain. My kids couldn't resist walking into the next and making it fall over, so it was prett unusable without filling the base, but we didn't have any sand to hand and when we started running the outside tap they got massively distracted and tried to drown each other instead. Sigh. I love the premise of this game - I love the fact that you can put everything you need in the plastic carrying pack and strap it to your back - in fact that is my son's favourite feature of the Tailball set and he is currently pretending he's going to the airport, wearing the whole thing on his back. But the logistics of getting set up are not easy: be warned. Maybe if you set it all up in your garden and left it there it would be less stressful than setting it up from scratch each time you want to play with it.

My lads were desperate to see the famous tailball itself but the packaging that the ball came in was broken, so another ten minutes of frenzied whining ensued while I tried to wrestle the ball free without anyone nipping their fingers on the sharp edges of broken plastic. Even without the breakage, the ball is hard to get in to and that is frustrating for little ones. My advice would be to open this up and get it all set up before introducing children into the equation!

My kids found it hard to hit the ball over the net with the racquets - but they batsadored the foam Tailball. According to the manufacturer, the unique flight allows you to hit the soft ball as hard as you can without losing control. It can fly high up in the air and will always land the right way up, ideal for developing hand-eye co-ordination. The Tailball streamers slow and stabilise the ball making throwing, striking and catching easier. Brilliant.
I only wish the set came with a spare ball because my boys love the ball so much they quickly abandoned the racquets and invited their own game of lobbing the ball back and forth across the net, and it's probably only a matter of time before the ball gets lost, rending the whole thing much less fun.
Overall I think this would be a brilliant buy for taking on holiday or just making the school holidays more fun at home. It's probably suited to children who are a little older than mine but with a bit more practice I think this will become a firm family favourite. I think it probably comes into its own on the beach, where filling the base with sand will be a fun and simple way of making it sturdy, and we can't wait to try it out on our next visit to the beach. You can nab your own set from your nearest Toys R Us.

What do you think?

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