History of picigin
The tradition of playing picigin started in 1908 when several Split students, coming home from their studies in Prague, brought the game of water polo at the Bacvice beach. Since the sea level on Bacvice is pretty low it was impossible for them to play the water polo. So it is presumed that picigin evolved from trying to unsuccessfully play the water polo.
The very name picigin, according to Anatolij Kudrajvcev who was a passionate picigin player, comes from the Italian word pizzicato which means plucking the strings of a string instrument.
The rules of playing picigin
First of all, the game is played with a tennis ball which undergoes certain processes before it can be used. The green layer is taken off and then the surface of the ball is abraded until it becomes thin so it can bounce better. The ball is painted so it can be abraded equally on each side making thus the ball balanced; to check the balance, the ball is put into the water and if it turns it needs more abrading on the bottom part.
This is a group game with an unlimited number of participants but the optimum would be 5 players. The gender and the age is also not important. The players stay in shallow water and hit the ball with the palm of their hand trying to keep it in the air for as long as possible. The players are not playing against each other, they are playing all together. What is also important in the game, apart from not letting the ball touch the ground, is how attractive the players' performances are, how they run and throw themselves to catch the ball.
There is even a World Championship in picigin which has been held in Split every year since 2005. What counts as points is the number of successful touches and the acrobatic skills of the players.
Picigin is also traditionally played every year on the 1st of January by some of the most enthusiastic players of picigin who also play it during the winter but only if the wind is not too strong.
Except for Split, picigin is also played in Dubrovnik, Medulin and on the island of Krk in Baska. However, to experience the authentic spirit of playing picigin you should come to Split.