A ball is a round object with various uses. It is usually spherical but can be ovoid. It is used in ball games, where the play of the game follows the state of the ball as it is hit, kicked or thrown by players. Balls can also be used for simpler activities, such as catch, marbles and juggling. Balls made from hard-wearing metal are used in engineering applications to provide very low friction bearings, known as ball bearings.
Although many types of balls are today made from rubber, this form was unknown outside the Americas until after the voyages of Columbus. The Spanish were the first Europeans to see bouncing rubber balls (albeit solid and not inflated) which were employed most notably in the Mesoamerican ballgame. Balls used in various sports in other parts of the world prior to Columbus were made from other materials such as animal bladders or skins, stuffed with various materials.
Some form of game with a ball is found portrayed on Egyptian monuments, and is played among aboriginal tribes at the present day. In Homer, Nausicaa was playing at ball with her maidens when Odysseus first saw her in the land of the Phaeacians . And Halios and Laodamas performed before Alcinous and Odysseus with ball play, accompanied with dancing.