Dodgeball Rules

10 Easy Dodgeball Rules


Last Updated; October 18th, 2023

The Official Dodgeball Rules listed below have been constantly refined over the past years to produce a style of dodgeball that is fast-paced, exciting, and fun. Feel free to use these dodgeball rules in your dodgeball activities. The Dodgeball Rules have a Creative Commons license, thus, please attribute the work properly. For the purpose of simplifying the language of the rules, all players, both male and female, will be represented with masculine pronouns.

1. Basics:

  1. Games start with all players against the wall on their respective sides, up to a maximum of 6 players. A minimum of 2 must be female, or identify as female.
  2. The game starts when the referees call “3-2-1 Dodgeball”. Players may only retrieve the 3 balls to their right-hand side of the center line and may cross the center line on the opening rush. Players are not permitted to intentionally interfere with the opponents during the opening rush.
  3. Every ball must be activated (by touching the back wall) before being eligible for play (becoming “live”).
    1. If all 3 balls on your side of the court are activated, then you may take the balls on the opponents’ side if they are still on the center line. (The balls still need to be activated after taking them from the opposing side)
    2. When the first ball is activated, a 10-count will apply on all balls. The other 5 balls still need to be activated before being played.
  4. The game is over when all the players on one team are eliminated.
  5. Honour System Officiating: it is ultimately up to the players to enforce and uphold the rules of dodgeball when playing or refereeing. Dodgeball relies on the honour system, in which officiating is determined more between players and less from the referees. However, if there is a controversial play, the referees will make the final call. They have the right to stop a game and discuss the incident before proceeding. In respect for the spirit of the game and for fellow players, there is absolutely no protesting or arguing allowed. However we encourage players to discuss and clarify any plays in a respectful manner with referees and execs after the game is over.

2. Hit (out):

  1. A live ball hits a player, and then touches another surface, object, or player.
  2. A player fails to completely block a live ball, or blocks with a dead ball. (See 4.2)
  3. Once out, players must raise their hand to signal that they are out and then line up next to the referee. If a catch is made, they return to the game on a “First Out, First In” basis.
    1. Players in possession of a ball when hit may pass the ball to a teammate before walking off the court.

3. Catch:

  1. A catch is called when a player has full control (full control is deemed as being able to play the ball) of a live ball released by an opponent. The player must be inbounds when control has been established.
    1. Players falling out of bounds while attempting a catch must have at least one point of contact inbounds, and has established control before going out for the catch to count.
  2. A live player may block a ball and subsequently catch the same ball as long as the ball has not hit another surface, player, or object. The player must retain possession of the blocking ball and remain a live player while completing the catch, otherwise it is considered a failed catch.
  3. A player may not catch with a dead ball in possession. The catching player will be called out, and no catch is awarded.
  4. A player may not use any surfaces or persons to assist in making a catch. Such action is considered a “Trap” and will be ruled out.
  5. When a catch is completed the player who released the ball is out, and the first eliminated player from the catching team standing next to the referee can return to the game.
    1. The returning player must touch the back wall to “activate” themselves:
      1. The player must reactivate themselves without delay. (Players may take a second to protect themselves from balls mid-flight before activation)
      2. If the player touches any balls before reactivation, the balls touched become dead.
  6. A double catch (and the odd triple catch) is legal if the balls have not clearly made contact with each other before they are caught; otherwise the balls would become dead.
  7. If a player makes a catch, a teammate is eligible to return to the game only if they are lined up beside the referee.

4. Block:

  1. A block is when a player uses live ball(s) in possession to redirect any live balls thrown at themselves or a teammate.
  2. A failed block occurs when:
    1. A player blocks with a dead ball.
    2. A player blocks a ball into themselves or their clothing before it touches another surface or player.
    3. While blocking, a player drops the ball they use to block with.
    4. If the ball skims a player’s hands or fingers while blocking

5. Dead Balls:

  1. If a player throws a live ball and it touches another ball or any other surface, it becomes dead and is ineligible to hit a player out or be caught out.
  2. A ball picked up by a player that has been counted down from 10 and declared “dead” by a referee is considered dead.
    1. A 10-seconds count starts when:
      1. A player picks up a ball.
      2. A player holds down or has a hand hovering over a ball that is on the ground for longer than 3 seconds.
      3. A player intentionally maneuvers a ball forward on the ground in order to move to a different position on the court.
      4. If all 6 balls are on one side of the court and none are being picked up by players on that court, the 10-count will start on the ball closest to the center line. When a player picks up a ball, the count transfers from the one closest to the center line to the one picked up.
    2. A 10-second count does not start when:
      1. The ball does not leave the ground when a player rolls/passes it to another teammate .
      2. When a player rolls a ball back from the center line.
      3. When a player stops a moving ball.
    3. The 10-second count is counted from ”10” through “1”, and then “Dead ball” afterwards. There should be equal intervals between each second of the count, including the interval between the count “One” and “Dead ball”. The ball is dead upon the utterance of the word “Dead” even if the ref does not finish the word.
    4. The 10-second count continues on the ball if a live player drops it for any reason, even if the ball goes out of bounds.
  3. A ball thrown or reaches above the 6 foot line is considered dead. Balls thrown outside of a player’s wingspan (refs discretion on playability) are deemed a “Reset”, and will be called dead.
  4. A dead ball thrown by an opposing team is not eligible to hit a player out, but eligible to be caught out.
  5. If a ball hits a player or is blocked, the ball is still alive until it is caught by the same player or hits another player or surface.
  6. When forfeiting a dead ball, the ball must be rolled over to reach the opposing back wall. If a forfeited dead ball rolls out of bounds before it touches the back wall, the game is stopped and the offending team must turn over a second ball. This only applies if the dead ball is not playable by the receiving team.
  7. Dead balls must be played by the receiving team before the offending team may use it again.
  8. If a dead ball is thrown with a live ball or group of live balls that hits a player, the player is safe and a ball must be surrendered by the offending team.
  9. If a thrown ball hits an opponent or the wall and rebounds squished, or unlike its original shape, this will be deemed scrunching and the ball will be called dead.

6. Showdown:

  1. As soon as there is only one player left from each team, the referees will count down from 10, and at the first utterance of “Showdown” the game will move to a Showdown. However, any play mid-sequence after the utterance of “Showdown” will be played out.
  2. Each player is given 2 balls, and one ball is placed on either side of the center line. The center line is no longer a boundary. The referees will call “3-2-1-Showdown” to begin, and the showdown ends when one player is eliminated.
  3. There is no 10-seconds ball count.
  4. You may not tag an opponent with the ball. The ball must be released to give the opposition a chance to catch it.
  5. If no winner can be determined, then a rematch will occur.

7. Miscellaneous:

  1. Referees may pause a game to make or discuss a call. Once A referee steps onto the court, the play is dead and all balls are to return to where they were. Players must return to the wall until play resumes. Referees will resume the game with “3-2-1-Dodgeball” and all players who currently have a ball in possession will have a new 10 count.
  2. Any physical contact with an opposing player will result in the player initiating the contact to be called out.
  3. A player’s clothing and hair are part of the player. If a ball hits their hat, shorts, shirt or hair, the player is considered out. Clothing that falls off (i.e. a hat) is not considered live. The clothing is not required to be retained while making a catch and cannot be hit out. If a shoe falls off, the play is stopped for player safety.
  4. Players must wear proper athletic clothing and shoes. Players may not play with gloves, baggy clothing or anything that may give an unfair advantage. Players may not play shirtless.
  5. Substitutions are not allowed mid-game unless there is an injury. A rostered player not actively part of the current game may come in as a substitute for an injured player.
  6. Kicking a ball at an opponent during a game or showdown will result in the kicker being called out.
  7. Kamikaze plays are not allowed; players will be automatically called out. A player who jumps across the line to throw may still be caught out, and a player who crosses the line to interfere with a catch will result in the opponent’s catch being considered successful, regardless of the actual outcome.
  8. If the last remaining player is hit out by headshot, it will be ruled a 1 in 1 out.
  9. Balls must be returned to where they became out of bounds, or stopped on the sidelines before they go out of bounds. If the initial out of bounds location can’t be determined, then the balls should be placed on the sidelines anywhere between the middle line and the back wall.
  10. If no players on either team picks up a ball after a reasonable amount, the referee will begin a 10 second count. If that 10 second count expires and nobody picks up a ball, the referee will pause the game and issue a warning to both teams of a stalemate. The referee will then continue the game and count down from 10 again to allow either side to pick up a ball, which will immediately end the stalemate 10 second count and constitute a fresh 10 second ball count. If at any time during the game after the warning was issued, both teams are observed to be in a stalemate and nobody picks up a ball, BOTH teams will forfeit all games against each other. If a stalemate is observed in the Playoffs, both teams will forfeit the match and the respective teams they would have faced in the following match will receive a bye.