Matkot has been played on the beaches of Mandatory Palestine since the 1920s. Early documentation of the game includes a 1932 Tel Aviv beach scene by Israeli artist Nahum Gutman showing two young men holding rounded paddles and hitting a ball back and forth on the beach.
The goal of the game is to hit a small rubber ball with a wooden racket as many times as possible without dropping it. Two or more players hit the ball back and forth using paddles. The sport is named after the racquet, the matka; the origin of this word is unclear.
The racquets are traditionally made of wood, although sometimes the handles are reinforced with a plastic covering. Carbon fiber is also used. The head of a racquet may vary somewhat in size and shape. The heads are circular and about 30 centimetres (12 in) in diameter. The racquet handles are short, and with very little trunk between the handle and the racquet head.
The standard ball used is the same ball as is used in squash. However, novice and intermediate players sometimes use a ball that is similar in size to a squash ball, but lighter and/or bouncier.
The game has developed a moderate level of popularity outside of Israel as a participatory sport, particularly where there is either a strong beach culture (e.g. Brazil, where it is also highly popular, but more commonly known as frescoball), or a significant number of Israelis living abroad (e.g. Thailand).
The first Israeli matkot competition was held in 2000, capped by a national championship in Tel Aviv.
- Fogelman, Shay (2009-07-12). "Beach Paddle Battle". Haaretz.
- Knell, Yolande (16 June 2013). "Matkot madness: Israel's extreme bat and ball beach craze". BBC News Online, Magazine. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- In Israel, sounds of spring include thwack of paddleballs
- Meshugas for matkot
- Looking to Play Some Matkot? Tel Aviv’s the Place
- Tel Aviv beaches
- Rosenthal, Ruvik (2005). Dictionary of Israeli Slang. Jerusalem: Keter. ISBN 965-07-1401-4.
- In Israel, sounds of spring include thwack of paddle balls