This fast and demanding handball game originating in the 17th Century gets some of its unusual features from its unusual point of origin—the buttressed side wall of Eton College Chapel. It is played between pairs, with padded gloves and a ball made of cork (the size of a snooker ball) and halfway in hardness between a golf ball and a squash ball.
The school makes use of professional coaches in the six courts that are available and there are House competitions in Fives—for the Seniors in the Autumn Term, and at Shell, Remove and Junior levels in the Spring Term. The School Fives teams have structured weekly practices in Autumn and Spring term for boys from Removes to Sixths and play about 10 matches a season (October—March).
In addition, there are many opportunities to play in tournaments and ladder competitions including the Northern Championships and the Midland. The season culminates in the Schools Championships held at Eton College every March, where KES has won the Open section four times and been runners-up twice.
Fives is played in some thirty schools throughout the country as well as being played internationally and at university level (predominantly Oxford and Cambridge). At adult level and for senior school players there are over 40 Fives clubs spread across the country including the Edgbaston Eton Fives Club which meets weekly on the KES courts. There is also a well-established Warwickshire County team, and a strong national league presence in the form of the Old Edwardians.