How To Play Dodgeball

The Rules of the Game

With the popularity of the movie "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story", more people have taken in an interest in what was once thought of as a purely playground-based sport. Dodgeball is indeed a legitimate sport with set rules and an official adult league, the NADA (National Amateur Dodgeball Association). If you're looking for a laid back, local adult sports league that features dodgeball once a week, or you're hoping to become the next World Champion Dodgeball hurler, you need to know the rules of engagement.

If you're playing with friends, feel free to alter the rules as you see fit. But if you're playing in a league, don't be caught off-guard. Learn the rules and use them to your advantage!

  1. Field a team. Your team can consist of anywhere from 6-10 players, but only 6 will be on the court at any one time. The remaining players will be substitutes who can enter the game during a timeout or to replace another player in case of injury.
  2. Find a court. Dodgeball can be played outdoors or indoors. A regulation court is at least 50' long and 30' wide (preferably 60' x 30'). The court should be divided in half by a center-line (similar to a volleyball court), and should have an "attack-line" on each side of the center-line, just under 10' from, and parallel to the center-line.
  3. Choose 6 starters. Your six starters will line up on the baseline, facing the center-line. 6 red rubber dodgeballs (8" rubber-coated foam balls) should be evenly spaced along the center-line.
  4. Run for the balls. At the start of the game, each team will choose three players to run to the center-line and grab a ball. Each team is allotted the three balls to their right, so each team should begin with 3 balls. Most teams discuss which player will take which ball before the start of the game to minimize confusion at the center-line.
  5. Return the balls to the attack-line. Before a ball becomes live, it must be returned to the attack-line. Some players opt to run the ball back themselves, while others will throw the ball from the center-line to a teammate who is standing at the attack-line. Either way, as soon as a dodgeball returns to the attack-line, it is live and in-play.
  6. Throw and dodge balls until you're hit or you've eliminated the other team. Now it's time to play! Your objective is to hit players on the other team with the dodgeball. But be careful, if a player on the other team catches a ball you've thrown, you're out. Here are important rules to remember:
    • A live ball is a ball that has been thrown and has not yet hit the ground, the referee, another player, or any other item or surface outside of the playing field.
    • If you throw a live ball that hits another player, that player is out.
    • If your ball hits anything (the floor, the referee, the ceiling, etc.) before it hits an opposing player, that ball is no longer live and that player is still in.
    • If you catch a live ball in the air, the player who threw that ball is out.
    • If you catch a live ball in the air and any of the six original players on your team have been eliminated, one player gets to return to the game. Players should return to the game in the same order in which they were eliminated (first person to be eliminated should be the first person to return if a player on your team catches a live ball).
    • You can deflect a live ball coming towards you if you are holding another ball in your hands. However, if the live ball hits any part of your body, you're out. And if the live ball causes you to drop the ball you are holding, then you're out.
    • You may not eliminate a player by hitting him above the shoulders.
    • You may not purposefully move your head into the ball to avoid being hit on another part of your body.
    • You must stay within the boundaries of the court unless you are retrieving a stray ball.
    • To retrieve a ball outside of the boundaries of the court, you must leave and return through the baseline (not the sidelines).
    • If you leave the boundaries of the court to avoid being hit or to catch a ball, you're out.
    • Play continues until one team's players have been totally eliminated or time is up.
  7. Honor system. Although there is usually a referee on the court, the majority of the game should be played using the honor system. As 6 dodgeballs may be flying around at any one time, it's important to remember that the referee won't be able to see every hit. If you are hit you should raise your hand to indicate that you're out and leave the court immediately. If the referee does call you out, however, his decision is final.

    Other Official Rules :

    • Each game lasts 5 minutes, or until all a team's players are eliminated. If the two teams both have players left after 5 minutes, the team with the most players remaining will win. If there are an even number of players left at the end of the game, there will be a one-minute, sudden-death overtime.
    • Each team gets one, 30-second time-out per game. This is where players can be substituted, etc.
    • If the team in the lead controls all 6 balls on their side of the court for more than 5 seconds, a violation will be called.


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