Ostfrieslands Volkssport: Boßeln

The Boss ball is made of rubber today

Sunday morning in Ostfriesland: A whole migration seems to be on the roads between Ihlow and Burhafe. The main season of popular sports Boßeln has begun.

1. Volkssport Boßeln

"You should drive your car away. It is dangerous there. "A man in safety vest steers purposefully from a group of people towards me. I had parked at the edge of the beach because I saw this large crowd coming towards me. People in yellow safety vests, who went straight on the street. Calmly. What looks like a demonstration is normal in November Friesland on November Sunday: people are running in the middle of the street and doing their favorite sport: Boßeln. Cars do not bother them, because who drives on Sunday morning on the side roads? Nobody really, because everyone is walking around the street at this time.

Typical picture on Sundays in Moormerland

2. Sunday mornings high season

So I thought, I better go to the right than hit the ball. But that was just wrong. My car was exactly in throwing direction. I was able to get in and park again. The man who had spoken to me was just the vanguard of a whole crew turning the corner behind him. As soon as I drove my car away, they also started and threw the ball. I waited until they were over, just wanted to get back in, when I saw the next crew turn the corner. And after them the next one again. So you need a lot of time, if you use Sundays the branch lines in the interior of East Frisia. In fact, there are many signs warning about the Boßeln in traffic.

If you look closely, you will find marks on the street

3. Real, North German sport

With the kale time the Boßelzeit begins in East Frisia. What many people outside of the East Frisian borders are doing for fun and see the Boßelkugel as an alibi to taste schnapps on the road, is the East Frisians really serious. Actually almost sacred. Boßeln is in this corner of Germany, a real sport that attracts more people in clubs than football. The Boßeln is a close affinity with schnapps awarded. However, serious Boßelers refuse this indignantly: they would never resort to alcohol during the game, they are far too serious about the Friesensport.

warning sign

4. That's how it works

It is a strange sequence of movements that the Boßler lie down on the street: Take a short run, aim for a goal, get faster and then somehow throw the red rubber ball into the street from below. Mostly, there is still some guttural screaming, then at the target of the litter a small group of humans starts to move, fishes the ball out of the ditch and records the distance. The aim of the bouldering is to bridge a fixed track with as few throws as possible.

Typical: Boßler in traffic.

What is the most normal thing in the world in Northwest Germany seems strange to the visitor: a group of people who seem to be bowling but without a cone. They hit a rubber ball, run in droves in the middle of the road and do not care about cars. There are always two teams in the game, overcoming a distance of up to 6 kilometers in the competition. The rubber ball must be thrown. The team that spans the track with the fewest throws has won. Almost like bowling. And yet unique.

  • It should be between 4 and 9 km long
  • Team search, ideal are two teams with about 4-6 players
  • One team starts the throw, then the other throws.
  • The team whose ball is behind, throws until it is the same with the other team again. It is thrown until the team has caught up with the opponent's track. Then it's the opposing team's turn again.
  • The players throw in turns, always in the same order of the throwers.
  • If the bullet comes off the road, a perpendicular to the road is drawn from the locality, such as in the ditch, as a marker, where it landed

The rules of the game and a writing plan for the Boßeln can be found here .

5. Why does it only happen in winter?

Well, the frieze is just handy, because in winter you do not sweat so when throwing the ball. So get out, no matter if it storms or is snowing. In groups, often wearing luminous vest, they move along the streets, which are rarely used at this time of year anyway.

Sometimes Boßeln also takes place in summer.

6. Where does Boßeln come from?

The Boßeln tradition dates back at least to the 17th century. Exact origins are in the dark, historians assume that people once threw their enemies with stones and clay balls and later made a sport. Today, the Ostfriesen entertain more Boßel than football clubs, run competitions and tournaments. While the pros are disciplined waiting until after the game, the good drink of schnapps is at least as important as the throwing itself. And one thing is as much a part of bouldering as the round rubber ball: the good portion of kale, which is then eaten. Only then, it seems, is the body really warmed up again.

By the way, there is also a Bosselapp with route suggestions, more about the sport can be experienced here . Beginner Courses can also be booked at Joke from the Wattwanderzentrum.


  1. Never heard of it but it looks like "bocce" of course not play on the distance (length). It's certainly fun and healthy that you have to cover the distance! LG Manni

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