Picigin: the most traditional Dalmatian water game played thoughout the whole year

As we said goodbye to summer and autumn is taking over the beautiful Croatian coast, we thought that the best reminder of those happy days spent on the beach would be talking about the game that always stands out the most to all the visitors. Tourists who are just now visiting Croatia and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere while exploring the cultural wonders of the Adriatic might still notice lively groups engaged in a unique game enthusiastically played in the shallow, now colder, waters of the Adriatic Sea.


Picigin is a traditional Dalmatian game that always survives the change of seasons and remains a favorite activity even in winter. The fans of this game won’t simply let the calendar dictate the end. So, in order to keep the excitement alive until the most important match, in this article, we delve into the history, and significance of this game and explore why this simple yet captivating game has become an integral part of the region’s identity, transcending the boundaries of colder days.



Picigin, Photo: Adria.fun


History behind picigin

Although now widely spread across the whole Dalmatian coast, the origin of picigin is actually from Split,  Bačvice Beach to be exact. Everything started around 115 years ago when a group of Croatian students wanted to play water polo but couldn’t find a way to do so in shallow waters. So in order to beat the obstacle they created a completely new game which today is an integral part of the Dalmatian way of living.


Picigin, Photo: Adria.fun


How to play picigin?

The rules of picigin are simple! Form a circle or a pentagon with a group of your friends, get a picigin ball ( called balun), and give your best to keep it in the air while not grabbing it with your hand but only bouncing it back with your palm to another player.

As the game itself has no scorekeeping, your biggest task is to give all yourself and not let the ball touch the water, even if you have to take a sip of saltiness yourself.

Here is all the science behind it 👇



Interesting facts about picigin

One of the most interesting facts about picigin is definitely the fact that it is played all year round. One specific tradition related to this game is playing the first match of the year on Bačvice Beach exactly on New Year’s Day. No matter the weather conditions or water temperature. It might be cold but picigin is far more important!

Another interesting fact is that, although this is certainly not a competitive type of sport, a Picigin World Championship had to be organized. The first one happened in 2005 and until 2008, the winner of the competition was the group that fulfilled the jumping task. After 2008, the rules were changed and the winner is the one that impresses judges the most with its energy and passion towards the game.

In addition to all this, the government of the Republic of Croatia, due to the importance of the game and tradition, listed picigin as intangible cultural heritage. 


So what do you say? Will you join us in the match the next time you visit Dalmatia?




The publication was created as a result of the joint work of the editorial staff.

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