Officiating Guidelines

The Vancouver Dodgeball League embraces the honour system, and an additional part of this approach is to use peer referees. Each team is required to provide two officials to oversee a game, making four per game in total. This policy encourages players to learn and understand the rules and provides some insight into the game. Always keep in mind that a referee’s main purpose is to facilitate the game. The official’s job is not to make every single call, as such is the case with other sports. It is the player’s responsibility to play honestly and fairly and to abide by the honour system.


1.    The two teams that play shall referee the next match, and set up the balls on the court.

2.    Calling the opening rush (3-2-1-Dodgeball!) and making sure balls touch the wall.

3.    Counting players down when they are holding the ball for too long, and announcing when counted-down balls are ‘dead’.

4.    Counting down ten seconds when only one player is remaining from each team to initiate a showdown.

5.    Making sure eliminated players are lined up in the correct order and that players returning to the game come back in the order of first out, first in.

6.    Calling players out when they have been hit and do not leave the court/Keeping players in the game when they mistakenly think they have been hit.

8.    Ensuring players do not cross over the boundaries or step on or over the centre line.

9.    Pausing the game to settle on-court altercations and disagreements.

10.  Assist in moving dead balls to the appropriate sides.

11.  Refs are allowed to and should seek rule confirmation from league Execs when unclear.


In order to ensure officiating consistency during games, below are some protocols that all peer refs should understand and apply while reffing:

1.    Please be audible, clear, and alert.

2.    Have the courage to make the right call. Be assertive.

3.    Take your time in making the right call if it’s controversial. Stop the game if necessary to regroup with other refs and decide. If there are unsportsmanlike plays or spirit breaches, pause the game and address the issue.

4.    Due to the subtleties involved with the game of dodgeball, referees are encouraged to use all senses, ideally simultaneously, when refereeing.(ie. visual and auditory)

5.    The signal to start a game is “3,2,1, Dodgeball!”

6.    The signal to start a Showdown is “3,2,1, Showdown!”

7.    Start the 10 second count as soon as one ball touches a wall during the Opening Rush (see “Technical” #1)

8.    Since VDL plays by the honour system, referees are not to deny a player from calling themselves out, UNLESS the referee is absolutely certain that the player is “safe”.  In that case referees should inform the player to continue playing verbally and/or signaling the “safe” hand signal.

9.    Referees are not to consult with any other parties (audiences/other players) on a call, however they are encouraged to consult with each other.  They can also consult any league ops execs for rules clarification.

10.  Referees have the right to restart a play if a call cannot be determined.  Referees are not to restart a game from the start, with the exception of an interruption during the opening rush.

11.   Asking high throwers to keep it low.

12.  Although the 4 refs start in the center, we encourage refs to move laterally along the walls/sidelines to get a better view of the game.

13.  Please try to stay off the court whenever possible (unless reffing on the wall side of the court – however refs should stay as close to the wall as possible).

14.  Ideally, you and your teammate (each team needs to provide two refs) would face each other while reffing (one on the wall, one on the sideline) rather than ref side by side. Chances are you will know each other better than the other two refs, so it should be easier for you to communicate with each other as you ref.

15.  Focus on one side of the game while occasionally looking to the other side to follow throws.

16.  As players move closer to boundaries, move towards these boundaries and watch for any body parts crossing/touching boundaries.

17.  How to count balls picked up at different times: As one ref counts down a ball, another player could pick up another ball during the initial count. At this point, another ref should pick up the new count instead of having all refs count down one ball.

18.  If referees miss a play, or if a definitive ruling can not be made, it will go by the honour system.  If the player is uncertain, then it defaults to “when in doubt, you are out”.


1.    4 corner refs are used only at the playoffs for the final matches between 1st and 2nd place, and 2nd and 3rd place in the finals.

2.    Each corner ref is to stand at their respective corner of the court. Lateral movements along the sidelines is encouraged for a better view.

3.    Responsibility of corner refs include:

  1. watching for players that cross or touch the sideline
  2. observing the game the same way as center refs, as they may be asked for confirmation on a call
  3. calling players out (if necessary ie. center refs missed the play or to echo the center refs call)

Corner referees are NOT responsible for:

  1. the 10 second ball count

4.  The final definitive ruling is to be made by the centre referees and their decision may override the corner referees.