meta name="keywords" content="aztec games,aztec sports,aztec ball game,ancient aztec games">

Aztec Sports and Games

Tlachtli & Patolli

Games and sports were an important component of the Aztec culture. Beyond providing the Aztecs with a means of entertainment and activity, ancient Aztec games had a religious meaning and were often played as a part of their ritualistic ceremonies or during sacrifice.

The Aztec Ball Game

One of the most popular Aztec games was Tlachtli. In this game, two teams played on a field shaped like an H between two walls. The field was divided in half and each team had its own part. The goal of the game was to get an 8-10 pound rubber ball to the other team’s side. To add to the challenge, only the hips and the feet could be used to move the ball. A stone ring was located at each side of the field. The first team to pass the ball through the stone ring of the other team was the winner of this game. Since this was one of the roughest of the Aztec sports, players wore leather belts in order to protect themselves from being hurt.


Only the ruling class was permitted to participate in these high-energy Aztec games. Nearly everyone, however, was allowed to watch and betting was very common. Common bets included gold, fine clothing, slaves and even their own freedom or the freedom of their family.


The Aztec Board Game

Another of the popular Aztec games was Patolli. This game was played on a rock table in the shape of a cross. Each of the four extremes of the cross had cells or spaces. The first player to make it around the board was the winner. Beans with marks symbolizing numbers were used as dice for the game. Because Aztec games were so important to Aztec culture and religion, participants typically prayed beforehand.