The court is called a "Fronton," and players can play the ball off the front, back and the left-side wall. The right wall is missing. Pelota Vasca was traditionally played in the village square facing a church, whose facade offered a perfect wall for players to hit the ball.
Now it is a professional sport played indoors with organized tournaments in northern Spain played by individuals or doubles, where many spectators bet on the winner. As a trophy, the winner of the annual championship is awarded a large green Basque beret, called the "Txapela." The champion is called the "Txapeldun."
The handmade ball was originally made from a small hard plastic core bound with strips of cat intestine and wool thread, with an outer layer made of dried sheep skin. Today the balls go through a more industrial process, with synthetic materials being used.
Other varieties can be played with a racket or a hoop, but the traditional style is just to whack the ball with the open hand. Players, called "pelotari," can spend an hour before a match preparing their hands. They coat their fingers and palms with a wax covering that they first heat up with a flame. Then they wrap each finger in layers of tape and some thin foam padding to reduce the risk of injury.
The players bend backward like tennis players taking a serve to generate power. The impact of the ball is clearly heard in the stands. It can often be painful, making players grimace when they strike the ball incorrectly.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Visit the AP Images blog: http://apimagesblog.com
Visit AP Images online: http://www.apimages.com