Paleta Fronton: What to Know About Peru's Homegrown Sport

| © mendolus shank / Flickr
Brandon Dupre

Think tennis, and then move both players to one side of the court. Eliminate the net and add a handball wall, and then replace a tennis ball for a small rubbery one and you have paleta fronton. It has the boundaries of tennis, the wall of handball, the ball of racquetball and the intensity of soccer in Latin America. Here’s our guide to understanding Peru‘s unique game of paleta fronton.

Background

The crowd is going wild around what looks like the handball court you’d play on in grade school. The shouting grows louder with every whaaaaaack, and the crowd gives way – not to 11-year-olds playing handball behind an overly encouraging crowd, but to two adult men hitting a rubber ball against a handball wall in a court where the line markings resemble those of a tennis game. The two men, dancing around each other in this shared court, lunge and heave as they try to return their opponent’s hits back against the wall. This is one of Peru’s most popular sports – in Lima, anyways – and it’s called paleta fronton.

The court

The court is usually around 10-12 meters (33-39 feet) long and 8 meters (26 feet) wide, with a wall serving as the focal point. The floor is split into two halves, with one serving from one section to the opponent who stands in the other section. The players face the wall as if their destiny depends on its givings.

How to play

A player serves from his rectangle into his opponent’s. If it doesn’t make it in, they switch servers. After the player serves the ball into the opponent’s rectangle, the opponent can then hit the ball where ever he wants – similar to racquetball. The players then continue until someone doesn’t return it to the wall. The ball is allowed to bounce once before the player hits it – anything more than that is a point for the opponent. Once the server loses a point he switches rectangles and the opponent serves.

History

The sport began in Lima and has since seen a rise in popularity around the country, with people playing the sport in nearly every region. While it isn’t as popular as soccer, volleyball or surfing, the sport is played recreationally in all big cities in Peru. It isn’t as accessible to play as soccer, as you won’t find public courts to play on in Peru – most courts are within private facilities which require memberships, which ultimately excludes many potential players and prevents future growth. It’s been suggested that the sport should take a lesson from soccer, which has cement and grass fields all over Peru, both private and public.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
Edit article