Bruce Lee Style – Dodgeball in Hong Kong

Posted on May 02, 2013 at 11:16 pm |

Greetings from your unofficial overseas dodgeball correspondent! Ever wondered what dodgeball in other countries is like and how their leagues are run? I had the fortunate opportunity to attend a few drop-ins while visiting Hong Kong, and boy, did I feel disoriented!



First off, these dodgeball “drop-ins” are hosted by the local HK league, and they’re actually labelled “tryouts”. It’s open to anyone who’s interested in playing, but captains are in fact on the lookout during these sessions to scout out new players to recruit! So it doesn’t hurt your chances to play your finest, which is exactly what yours truly DIDN’T do.

The first thing that threw me off, literally, are the dodgeballs themselves. They’re much smaller than our regulation-sized balls in VDL, so that my first attempt to throw went straight to the ground in the most embarrassing fashion, landing about five feet in front of the guy I was trying to hit. The angle becomes smaller with the lighter weight of the ball, so that when I threw using the same power I throw a VDL ball with, it falls short. Sad.

Because the balls are smaller, it also makes catching more difficult. Those of you who have seen me play know that the only thing I can do half-decent on the courts is catching (goodness knows I’m lousy at blocking and I only throw if the planets align), so not being able to catch a smaller ball that bounces off my front before my hands can close around it is very, very discouraging. In that sense, the game becomes quicker, though you could potentially count on your teammates to catch the ball for you if it doesn’t hit anything else after hitting you, and you’d stay safe (one of the many rules different from ours).

Other than that, because of the layouts of the gyms these games are held in, there is no back wall whatsoever. You have to count on ball-shaggers to pick up and bring back balls for you (which you will recognize is the same system as in Victoria, if any of you have participated in the dodgeball tournament there). So it becomes essential for the existence of a cheerleading/support team – as the captain for a girls team I play part-time for wrote in the weekly email: “Looks like we need some ball pickers for this game…GIRLS…PLS bring all the BFssssssss, SECRET LOVERS, FDS WITH BENEFITS to help out!” Word for word, no lie.

There are a lot more variations, like how girls can go past the middle line up to 2/3 of the court (think of some of the stronger ladies in VDL…if they’re throwing at you from less than ten feet away, wouldn’t that be terrifying?), having no countdown but instead a referee blowing a whistle at you when to throw, or having balls lined up for you from the throwing line as your shaggers run them up to you so you can constantly be on the offensive. The game dynamics and strategies as we know it in VDL gets utterly defenestrated (i.e. thrown out the window)! Though disorienting, the differences to the game as we know it could be thrilling, and there’s no denying that your correspondent felt fantastic being back on the court throwing dodgeballs around again!

Michelle Sz is not really an anybody in the dodgeball realm. She’s played all five or six of her VDL seasons in tier 1, and no tier 1 medal to show for any of them (but she’s still working hard on it!). The only thing you can credit her with is being the VDL Grammar Nazi, i.e. the ghostly Communications Manager/Lead Editor of the Marcom department who handles the copy, editing and writing a chunk of what you read that’s VDL-related. The other thing that is also true about Michelle is that she’s taken a gazillion dodgeball shots to the head/face, which may account for some of the eccentricity and randomness that appears between the lines on the VDL website.

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