5 rings – 5 questions: Interview with Alexa Peusch, roundnet vice world champion

Alexa Peusch is a World Championship runner-up, a European Champion, and a repeated German Champion – in a sport she first tried her hand at while on vacation five years ago: roundnet, which is more commonly known as spikeball. In our interview with the Giessen native, we discuss the upswing of this trendy sport, its promotion, and her dream of competing in the Olympic Games.

Roundnet-Spielerin Alexa Peusch während eines Ballwechsels
© Esaja Ekman, Corentin Bureau and Nico Stolz. 

Hello, Alexa. You are one of the most successful roundnet players in Germany and have recently been crowned German champion again. Congratulations! Since there are people who may still be unfamiliar with the sport, please tell us what it takes to be one of the most successful roundnet players in the world.

Thank you! Generally speaking, roundnet is played in a two-on-two format – similar to beach volleyball. After the ball has been served, the returning team has up to three hits between them to return the ball back onto the net, which looks like a mini-trampoline. The goal is to play the ball in such a way that the opposing team cannot pass the ball back.

A “ball sports background” is certainly an advantage if you want to be one of the best. Being able to easily handle the small, air-filled rubber ball is a basic requirement. Since the game is played in teams of two, a strong sense of teamwork is essential. Players should also have a certain degree of willingness to do a number of technical exercises on their own at home. Of course, the entire experience should also be fun.

Roundnet is a relatively young, but rapidly growing sport. How did you become aware of roundnet, and what can you tell us about the growth of the sport, both internationally as well as in Germany?

The first time I saw the sport was in 2018, when I was on a surfing trip in France, and the first time I played it was at the university sports center in Giessen. Its popularity has been on the rise ever since. The sport is the most widely played and popular in America, where it originated. However, I don’t think Germany is too far behind. The “Roundnet Germany” association is doing a great job of elevating the sport to a world-class level. Today, roundnet is competitively played on every continent, and we are all looking forward to the 2024 World Championship to see how much the other countries have progressed. The number of professional players around the world has increased, and the level of play has risen correspondingly.

Where do things currently stand with regard to the promotion of your sport? In your opinion, can the promotion of modern, trendy sports attract more young people back to sports?

The survival of the sport is currently dependent on the voluntary work of a small number of people. The sport has not really been promoted to date; there are only a few high-level teams in America and Europe that have sponsorship contracts, but remuneration in those cases is minimal.

If more effort were put into the promotion of the sport, I think more interest would be generated among young people. There are significant travel costs associated with regular participation in tournaments at the European level, which precludes some people from going to all of the major tournaments. The association is completely based on voluntary work. Nearly every board member is employed full-time and does an insane amount of work in his or her free time, which they cannot be commended for enough. Monetary support would certainly help to put more ideas into practice and to allow the sport to continue to grow professionally.

Personally speaking, would you like to compete in your sport at the Olympics? How do people in the roundnet community feel about the possibility of the sport becoming part of the Olympic Games?

For me personally, going to the Olympics one day would certainly be the highlight of my life. As far as I know, the majority of the roundnet community feels the same way. The Olympics are the measure of all things when it comes to athletic performance, and such representation would be an accolade for any sport. We also struggle with the fact that the sport is seen as a “park sport” and is not seriously regarded as a “sport”. I’m sure that Olympic recognition would be a game changer in that regard.

There are some players who are worried that further professionalization would destroy the sense of community that, for the majority, makes the sport what it is in the first place. Of course, rapid growth always comes with such risks, but I personally do not think there is much of a threat, as there are now tournaments being played at all levels that appeal to all types of players.

You’ll be a guest at the DOSB’s expert talk on the Games of the Future this Tuesday. What do you hope to gain from the discussion?

I hope to gain new insight on the Olympic Games. I’m sure that I will also learn a lot about other issues. Obviously, I hope that I am able to convey how great roundnet is as a sport – and to help more people fall under the spell of the mini-trampoline.

Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us.

The talk can be found here.