A guide to properly playing dodgeball.

February 6, 2010
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Okay, so, you want to learn to play dodgeball?

You probably know the basic rules, but I'll go over them, as well as different strategies to playing for each different type of player, plus a description of the different types of players.

Basic Rules:

The group is split into two teams. The larger the group, the better, as it's more fun. A number of balls (always soft foam ones, because things like soccer balls or basketballs will really hurt) will be set in the middle, and at the whistle (or someone screaming "GO") players dash for the balls. Each team can't cross the line in the middle to the other team's side. It has to be played indoors, since a wall provides a backboard. Without a wall to stop the flying balls, some would fly so far it'd be impossible to keep track of them all. It also provides boundaries and stops players from just running so far away from each other that the game would be pointless.

The main objective is to get the other team out by throwing balls at opposing players. If you get hit, you're out. Now, it depends on what type of dodgeball you're playing to determine what happens if you're out. Regular dodgeball, you just go sit on the sidelines. Poisonball (dodgeball with bowling pins on your side that the other team tries to knock over) will make you go on the sidelines and do some activity, 10 pushups, 15 sit-ups, etc, until someone from your team catches a ball. There are TONS of different types of dodgeball, I'm not going to go over all of them today.

There's another way to get someone out. If you catch the ball that an opposing team member threw, they're out. Headshots, in most dodgeball games, don't count as a shot to get you out.


There are a few types. There's no real name for them, so I'll make some up. These apply to pretty much any game of dodgeball.

Scary Players:

These are usually the jocks. Typically guys. They throw the balls really really hard, to the point they're just plain scary and hard to dodge (and also fun, for dodgers.) Also potentially dangerous. They're always to the front, which also opens them to vulerability from the random ball they can't dodge, either from a normal player or another scary one. They're okay at dodging, depending on the person. They make up probably only a small percentage of your team, only one to three on a team. They still, however, bring about the main source of outs on your opposing team.

Normal Players:

They're just you're average player. Fairly okay at dodging, they don't throw as hard as the scary players do. They make up probably half of the team, and typically aim for the useless players or other normal ones, knowing the scary players (since they're typically the jocks) have the ability to easily catch their slower balls. Usually both male and female.


This is what I am. We can't throw worth crap, but are awesome at dodging. Most stand towards the front, hoping someone will throw a ball or two at them simply so they can make the thrower look like a fool. It goes without saying they're probably the most flexible. Some provoke the other team players, in hopes they'll get thrown a ball. Also can't catch at all, and the combination of sucking at throwing and catching but aptness at dodging will typically leave them some of the last ones to get out. Which usually leads to losing for the team, since, again, they can't catch or throw. They make up maybe a bit less than a quarter of the team. Usually female, there are a few males capable of dodging like this too. Useless, but at least they aren't as frustrating as the actual useless players.

Useless Players:

Every team has a handful of these. They're almost always girls, and they stay pressed up against the wall, squealing when a ball even rolls towards them. They're always in crowds and groups. They make up probably a quarter or more of the team. Nobody bothers even trying to get them out, with bigger fish to fry. They can't throw, catch, and don't even try to dodge, usually praying to get out. Because no one bothers with them, they, along with the dodgers, are always the last ones out. I tend to feel like they need to be slapped in the face.

Useless Players 2:

Not necessarily useless, they always hang out at the back, away from everyone else. Just standing there. Nobody throws at them, and they don't throw anything, though they could very well be okay at catching/throwing/dodging. Also usually some of the last players out. They tend to go grab the stray balls that no one's picked up yet, throwing them at another, more capable player on their team. They aren't as squealy, annoying and chicken as the other useless players, but they don't do much. Both male and female, usually, and I've noticed they tend to be the social rejects, though that isn't always the case.


First rule?




No. Stop. Trying to dodge a ball?


This is the dumbest thing you can do. You only move to the side a small amount, and usually makes your surface area bigger, therefore, it's easier to hit you. Plus, if you're a guy, a ball aimed at your chest could quickly become a ball unintentionally aimed at your nuts.

Instead, step to the side.

Seriously, just step out of the way.

If a ball is really coming straight for you, just step aside. It will keep going and hit the back wall.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen players get out because they try and jump to the side.


Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, like how it would be easier to just jump over a low-flying ball, or stepping to the side might make you run into something, but really. Do not jump.

Use your flexibility. A ball is coming for your head? Try and do a backbend, or squat down (think of the 'drop it' move in Pop Lock & Drop It). It decreases recovery time to just bend out of the way, instead of stepping aside, as you can dodge more than one ball at once using this. You can easily be ready for another ball being thrown your way, this way. Admittedly, this will probably only work for some players, but it's a good skill to try and use.

Find the right sort of targets to throw at. You're a scary player? You probably go for opposing scary players. It's sort of an unwritten rule that players go for players like them. Except for useless ones, obviously. Instead, use some sense. Sure, you can still go for like players, but look for one that isn't paying attention or has a ball in their hands, which might restrict their dodging or catching ability. It's even probably recommended you go for like players, because if you're a dodger and throw a really weak ball, a normal player could catch it easily, but a useless player might not be able to.

Don't ignore Useless Players. Put them out of their misery and get them out, fast. It also makes your task seem less daunting, since the other team isn't nearly as big as it actually looks. They shouldn't be your first priority, definitely, but try not to totally ignore them. They're also easiest to get out, though sometimes they're protected by a wall of better players.

Aim. I've noticed some players just throw balls at crowds and hopes it hits someone. Bad idea. It most likely won't hit someone, and even it does that means it probably is just a useless player, since they crowd. While hitting a useless player isn't necessarily a bad thing, you probably have better targets to hit. Aim for them, instead.

Don't flinch out of the way at a ball. Seriously, even when thrown by a scary player, they don't typically hurt when you're hit with them. Except if you're hit in the face. Flinching could cause you to miss the ball you were trying to catch, or cause you to dodge unsuccessfully, and both will get you out.

If it's allowed, deflect balls. Depending on the version you're playing, you might be allowed to deflect balls coming at you with a ball that you're already holding. First rule, don't go out of the way to deflect one. If it's not coming at you, or you can dodge it, don't bother, because you'll more likely to get hit if you put yourself in the line of fire. Also, don't throw your ball at an approaching ball. I've seen people do this, and I'm clueless as to why they try it. It's INSANELY unlikely that it will hit, and you just lost your ball.

Play distraction. A strategy for useless players. Run around in the front, make funny faces, skip across the middle, etc. This will both distract opposing team members, making it easier for your team to get them out, and it will get you out soon.

Throw at someone while they're throwing. Not while they're throwing at you, definitely, but at someone else. It's the best way to get scary players out.

Most importantly, dodge. This is one of the most important aspects of the game. If you aren't a scary player, you can probably get away with just dodging and occasionally throwing. At all costs, do not get out. It is 'dodgeball' for a reason.

And there you have it. I hope this guide helped you to not suck at dodgeball.

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