Beyond the Opening Rush: Sage Words From a 40+ VDL-er

Posted on March 02, 2015 at 2:41 pm |

There was brief talk of a Masters Division for the 30+ players out there, though unfortunately it did not manifest this season. However, word on the street is there’ll be another attempt at establishing the Masters league for S20, so don’t lose hope!

Now, yours truly isn’t quite wise nor experienced enough to comment on the subject of aging, so this week we have a guest piece with great game tips, submitted by Jim Blatherwick


I was done at 25.  Tears streamed down my face as I had played an entire lacrosse Final Four on a partially torn ACL (knee) only to come up short in the semi-final.  Aging is a natural part of life and after surgery I was just happy that I could walk without pain.  However, I took up dragon boating in my 30’s and as an off season thing decided to play dodgeball.

Being a member of the 40+ club, I am the oldest player on Wednesday nights.  Sometimes I certainly feel it.  I often describe that I now understand what happens to older quarterbacks in football.  You throw five good balls and then the sixth is a duck.  Usually it is because I’ve thrown off-balance or just tried to flick the wrist.  Well guess what?  I’m not 17 anymore and I can’t fire a ball to second base from a sitting position anymore.  Such is life.

So I can’t do what I used to.  However, I still managed to play five of the last six seasons in Tier 1.  Why?  Yes I play on a team with good players, decent ball control, and fairly sound dodgeball strategy.  There are also a number of personal mantras that I try to follow.  These are sound ideas that can be used by either sex at any age group.  In fact, one of them I stole from C-Belle as a guest on a Travis Tomlin podcast (Bring these back!!!).  They are as follows:

Number 1 – Be confident

This is something that I picked up a long time ago.  I call it the touch of arrogance.  I know that there are better players than me, but I also know that there is nobody in this league that I can’t knock out in a 1-on-1 battle.  Good players pick up on indecisiveness and know how to pounce on it like a lion against a sick gazelle.  However, even looking like you know what you are doing will make any player think about what he/she is doing.  One of my ex-teammates giggles when hard throws smack the wall beside her.  You think that doesn’t make one pause?

Number 2 – Don’t hurt your team

In other words, you can be confident but don’t be stupid.  The most common thing that I’ve seen at all ages is the amount of people who are greedy and reach for the catch.  Guess what.  Good players pick up on that and intentionally throw balls so that you will reach.  Know your limitations.  You know that girl that catches everything that you throw at her?  Don’t throw at her.  Throw near her and have her make a mistake, wait for ball support, or play the catch game on her.

Number 3 – Less is more

When you’re 19 years old your body can pretty much do anything.  You can lift heavy stuff, run as much as you want, and it doesn’t matter. You can keep going forever.  When you’re older, that doesn’t apply.  You put on weight, body parts get sore, and things are generally more difficult.  You learn to do what you can.  Your arm is sore?  Play a catching game.  Can’t catch?  Be a nuisance and stay alive so the other team tires out.  Find a role and be good at it.  Also, be efficient in movement and realize that there are 14 more games after the first one.

Number 4 – Be observant

Keeping little mental notes on how the opposition plays can go a long way to making you a better

player.  How do the other teams throw?  Do the balls come fast and straight or does it have a consistent break to the right?  Take note because you can be mentally prepared for whether to dodge or catch even before the ball is thrown.  Who are the catchers on the other team?  Don’t throw at them by yourself.  Wait until you have support.

Mind blowing stuff huh?  No, I didn’t think so either.  At any rate, even though my body sometimes feels like it is going to have an all-out rebellion against me I’m still having a blast.  I mean, in what other sport can you watch a girl in a Gumby outfit take out an entire Tier 1 championship team on her own?  See you on the courts.

~ Jim

Thanks Jim! Give him a high five if he’s playing at your gym on Wednesday night!

If, like Jim, you’ve got a story you want to share with the dodgeball community, I most definitely welcome unsolicited submissions. Just email them to msz[at] Is Michelle getting lazy? Maybe. Actually, I think I’m pretty lazy to start with, so it’s hard to get any lazier. Still, it’s super refreshing to read something from another perspective, so don’t be shy, tell us your story today! Happy Week 5/mid-season!

Comments are closed.