The Official Dodgeball Rules listed below have been constantly refined over the past 9 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.
- Dead ball: A ball that hits an object, surface, or teammate before the player, or a ball declared as a dead ball by the referee.
- Live ball: A ball that has been activated (see General Rules #5).
- Match: A match is a series of games played against a team.
- Trap : When a player makes a catch using another surface or object (ground, wall, teammate) (see Catch #6).
- In: Being eligible to participate in the game on court.
- Out: Being ineligible to play in the game as a result of being hit, caught, or being out of bounds.
- Opening Rush: When players approach the centerline to retrieve the balls at the signal of the referee (see General Rules #3).
- Full Control: A player is in full control of a ball if he is able to release the ball in an obvious and deliberate action.
- Reset: An attempt to stop the ball count in order to prolong possession (see Dead ball #7). Any ball thrown above 5FT, or clearly out of reach of every live player on an opposing team is a dead ball, and must be turned over.
- Reach: Regarding resets, one relative arm’s length from a defending player’s torso, plus any evasive motions of the player.
- Maximum of 6 players and a minimum of 2 females (one of which must be from the team’s roster) on each team at the start of the game.
- 6 standard IDA-approved balls (8.25” foam balls) are placed on the centerline in two groups of 3. Each group of 3 is placed at opposite ends of the centerline, in front of the referees.
- Opening Rush: Players must be touching the back wall at the start of the game. After the starting countdown of “3, 2, 1 Dodgeball!” teams approach the centerline to retrieve the balls (see Other Details #3).
- Teams can only take the 3 balls to their right initially (see Technical #2).
- Balls must touch the back wall before they are live. The ball is dead otherwise.
- Players attempt to eliminate opponents by hitting them with balls or catching their throws. If a player is hit with a live ball, that player is out.
- Eliminated players line up against the designated wall or on the sideline, which is to be announced at the start of the games, next to the referees, according to the order of elimination.
- Players are to play by the honour system. If in doubt, player should call themselves out. (see Officiating Guidelines – Main Responsibilities #6)
- Play continues until one team is eliminated.
- Referee can pause the game at any point by saying, “Stop.” At that point, all events after and during are void.
- The game restarts with remaining players against their respective walls with ball possession retained, but all ball counts are restarted.
- All balls on the ground remain where they lay.
- Referees restart the game by a countdown of “3, 2, 1, Dodgeball!”
Rules of Play
- Players are not allowed to make contact with any boundary or out of bounds area during game play; they will be called out.
- During the opening rush, players may cross the centerline.
- All parts of a player’s person, including all parts of his body, clothing, or balls in possession are considered when determining if contact has been made.
- Kamikaze plays: Players are not allowed to deliberately cross the centerline to make a play, they will automatically be called out.
- A player who jumps across the line to throw: the thrown ball will not count; however, if caught, will be considered a catch.
- A player who crosses the line in an attempt to disrupt an opponent’s catch: the opponent’s catch will be considered successful, regardless of outcome.
- The use of the apparatus, or the alcoves in the gyms during the games is illegal. Players in violation will be considered out.
- Balls that go out of bounds are to 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 centerline.
- A player is considered hit only if there is direct contact with a live ball released by the opposing team (except for a Failed Block, see Block #2).
- Hit etiquette: If a player is hit, he should drop all held balls, raise his arm to signal that he is out, and leave the court immediately and minimize gameplay disruption. (Once on the sidelines, knocked-out players are not allowed to kick or pass balls to their teammates. This is illegal and will result in the ball being turned over to the opposing team).
- Headshots: All headshots count as hits, but the thrower is also out when the headshot is uncontested (see Headshots for further details).
- If in doubt, players should call themselves out (AKA “If in doubt, you are out”).
- A player is not out from a hit until the thrown ball touches another object or surface.
- A headshot is defined as a player’s head, from the neck up, being struck directly by an opponent’s thrown ball.
- Indirect Throws: Thrown balls that first strike another surface, such as part of the playing area, another player, another ball, or another part of the player before striking a player’s head are not considered headshots.
- Unconstested Headshot: When a headshot is against a player in an upright or athletic stance, or against a player who has jumped upward and raised their head higher than it would be in an upright or athletic stance.
- Contested Headshots: When a headshot is against a player whose head is below where it would be in an upright or athletic stance, such as, but not limited to, when crouching, kneeling, diving, sitting, or lying prone.
- It is in the sole discretion of the referees whether a headshot is uncontested or contested.
- Referees may stop the game when a headshot has occurred for player safety or to assess a headshot penalty to the offending player.
- Uncontested Headshot Penalties:
- First Offence: The thrower is out and receives a warning. The thrower may return to the game via being caught back in.
- Second Offence: The thrower is out and may not return to that game. The thrower sits out the next three games and their team plays without their position filled by another teammate (down a player).
- During playoffs, the thrower is out and may not return to that game. The thrower sits out the next three games or the remainder of the series the offence occurred in, whichever is greater.
- Third Offence: The thrower is out and may not return to that game. The thrower sits out the the remainder of the session or playoffs without their position filled by another teammate (down a player).
- 1v1 headshots: If only one player remains on each team, such as when the countdown to a showdown is occurring or in a showdown, the team of the thrower of an uncontested headshot loses the game.
- A catch is when a player retains full control of a ball released by an opponent. While possession does not require both feet on the ground, the player must land with both feet, or any other part of his body in bounds (see Technical #4). This includes catching balls going out of bounds.
- If a player catches a ball thrown by an opponent, the thrower is out and one player returns to the catcher’s side in the order of first out, first in.
- In order to be eligible to return to the game, the player who is out must be at the wall or sideline next to the designated referee before a teammate makes a catch to bring him back in. The intention of this rule is to ensure that the player being brought back in was clearly hit out prior to the catch (see Technical #11, #12).
- This must be done without hesitation to touch the wall or to delay re-activation.
- If the player purposely touches a ball while returning to the wall before touching it, he is out. The player cannot be hit out until he has been re-activated.
- If a dead ball is thrown and then caught, it is considered a legal catch.
- Attempted catches: If a player attempts to catch a live ball thrown by the opposing team, but drops it or allows it to touch any surface or object, other than himself, before gaining full control, he is out.
- If while trying to complete the catch, the player becomes out, the catch is void.
- Catches after blocks: It is considered a catch if an opponent’s ball hits a blocking ball and is then caught by the blocker. The blocker, however, must have the blocking ball in possession when making the catch; otherwise he is out (see Technical #6, #7).
- If a ball deflects off a player’s body, only that player can make a legal catch afterwards. The ball is dead if another player touches it, or if it hits a surface or object before it is caught (see Block #2).
- In order to make a successful catch, a player must maintain possession of all balls held at the time of initial contact.
- A double catch (and the odd triple catch) is legal if the balls have not clearly contacted each other before they are caught; otherwise the balls would become dead.
- In the case where a catch is made and no player walks off (e.g. the player didn’t see his ball get caught):
- If the catch is observed by referees but the thrower cannot be determined, the referees should pause the game and request for one of the throwers to come off of the court. Referees can assist by indicating the side that the ball might have come from. If no thrower is volunteered by the throwing team, referees must come to a decision using all available on-court information.
- If a catch is missed by all referees entirely and no one leaves the court, there is no dispute and play continues.
- You cannot make a catch while holding a dead ball (see Dead Ball #12).
- A block is when a player uses ball(s) in possession to keep himself from being hit.
- Failed Block (Deflection Exception): A player is out if:
- An opponent’s ball hits a player’s blocking ball and then hits the blocker’s body or clothing afterwards.
- A player drops his blocking ball(s) as a result of trying to block an opponent’s ball.
- Catches after blocks (see Catch #7).
- Dead balls cannot be used for blocking. A player is out as soon as he blocks with a dead ball.
- Dead ball: A ball that hits an object, surface or teammate before the player, or a ball declared as a dead ball by the referee.
- 10 Second Holding Rule: The intention of the 10 Second Holding Rule is to prevent stalling and encourage continuous play. Players can only hold the ball for 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is dead and must be turned over. It is the responsibility of players to know their ball’s countdown status.
- The 10 second count starts in these situations:
- when a player picks up a ball
- when a player holds down a ball that is on the ground for longer than 3 seconds
- when a player maneuvers a ball alongside himself on the ground to move to a different position on the court
- when the first ball is activated at the opening rush (see Technical #1).
- The 10 Second Rule does not start in these situations:
- when a player rolls a ball to another teammate (ball must not leave the ground)
- when a player rolls a ball back from the centre line
- when a player stops a moving ball.
- The 10 second count starts in these situations:
- The 10 second count is announced: “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, dead ball.” The interval between the first utterance of each number or word must be at least one second. The count should be announced loudly enough for the player to hear, yet the onus remains on the players to keep count themselves and to be aware of the referee’s count. If the player has not released the ball at the first utterance of the word ‘dead ball’, the player must turn over the ball.
- How to turn over a dead ball: A dead ball, after a 10 second count, must be rolled over with the intention to touch the opposing team’s wall, not just placed over the centre line. If a dead ball stops midway from the centre line and the opposing team’s wall, the referee can intervene to assist the turnover.
- Dead balls must be played by the receiving team before the other team can use it again.
- Countdowns on balls are stopped once they go out of bounds, and do not resume when the balls return to the court (see Dead Ball #7).
- Players cannot intentionally put balls out of bounds, or just over the centre line to reset the ball count. Those balls will be deemed as dead by the referee and must be turned over to the other team.
- When a player is out for any reason, all balls under his possession are to be dropped. Any countdowns on those balls are removed, unless any of those balls have already been deemed as dead balls by the referees.
- Dropped balls: Intentionally dropping or passing balls will not stop the 10 second count. A player may drop a held ball in order to catch a thrown ball, but the dropped ball is still counted down.
- High throws (AKA 5FT Rule): All balls thrown above 5FT that hit the opponent’s back wall are dead and must be turned over. In cases where a 5FT line is not indicated, a line or wall fixture will be established by Gym Leads prior to the game. If a player jumps, and is hit above the 5FT line, that player is still out because the high ball hit the player and not the wall.
- If a team has all 6 balls on their court, and they are not being used (i.e. all 6 balls are left on the ground), referees will begin a 10 second holding rule on the ball closest to the centerline until it is played or turned over to the other team. If a player plays a ball, the countdown is transferred to that ball.
- If a player in possession of a dead ball makes a catch, that player will be considered hit and the catch void. The dead ball must still be turned over to the other team (see Technical #14)
- Balls thrown outside the reach (see Glossary) of any opponent are dead and must be turned over to the opposing team.
- If there is only 1 player left from each team, showdown goes into effect after 10 seconds. The procedure for showdown is:
- Referees count down 10 seconds, ending with “showdown” to pause the game.
- The centerline boundary is dissolved, while the sidelines remain active boundaries.
- Players begin with 2 balls in their hands at their respective walls.
- The other 2 balls go at the ends of the centerline.
- When ready, showdown begins with a “3, 2, 1, showdown” from the referees.
- Tagging the opponent in a showdown will not count; balls must be released in order to hit someone out (see Technical #8).
- There is no 10 second dead ball count.
- If a victor can’t be determined, then a showdown rematch will occur.
- The ball countdown at the Opening Rush starts when the first of the 6 balls is activated. Once the countdown starts, the countdown applies to all 6 balls (see Dead Ball #2.1.4).
- An opposing team’s balls at the centre line can be taken once all of your own team’s balls are activated, and they must also be activated before they become live.
- If a player throws a ball at the opposing team while over the centre line during the Opening Rush, he will be called out.
- When catching, a player must be in full control of the ball without using any out of bounds area or floor as leverage.
- A player is not to use any part of his clothing, or assistive accessories to make a catch.
- When attempting to catch a blocked ball, a player must hold onto all the balls that he had in possession of at the time of the block, otherwise the player is out.
- Countdown on balls is stopped once they go out of bounds and does not resume when the balls return to the court. Balls purposely placed out of bounds are exempt from the resetting of the count.
- Any physical contact with an opposing player will deem the player that initiated contact out.
- If a ball is thrown before the first utterance of “showdown”, or “dead ball”, the throw is considered legal.
- A ball must be picked up in order for the release to be legal. Smacking, spiking, kicking, or scooping a ball are not allowed, and the hit won’t count; however if caught by the opponent, the catch is legal.
- Players must line up next to the referees in the order they were knocked out.
- Players return to the game in the order they were knocked out. (e.g. Player A was hit out first. Player B was hit out second. Player B lines up next to the referees before Player A. A catch was made by their teammates but Player A has not lined up next to the referees, therefore the catch does not bring anyone back in.)
- Crushed balls: If a thrown ball hits an opponent or their wall and rebounds squished, or unlike its original shape at the start of the game, it will be deemed a crushed ball (see Other Details #4). Throwing a crushed ball will result in the thrower being out.
- Catch Rule #7 supersedes Catch Rule #13 if the blocking ball becomes dead after the initial block.
- Substitutions and timeouts:
- Not allowed during a game unless there is an injury. The same 6 players who start a game shall end the game. Substitution may occur after each individual game (i.e. when you switch sides).
- Only substitutes (players who did not start the game) are eligible to replace an injured player. A male substitute can only replace an injured male player, but a female substitute can replace either an injured male, or injured female player. In the case where no substitutes are available, the team will play short, or forfeit the game if the injured player is the last live player. Depending on the severity of the injury, Gym Leads reserves the right to ask an injured player to stop playing.
- For eligible substitute players, see League Policies
- 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 allowed. However we encourage players to discuss and clarify any plays in a respectful manner with referees and Gym Leads after the game is finished.
- Ball treatment: No kicking, crushing, dunking, or playing basketball with the dodgeballs is allowed.
- Kicking a ball at an opponent during a game or in a showdown will result in the kicker being called out.
- Players are not allowed to intentionally interfere with the opponents during the opening rush.
- Any discrepancies regarding plays and situations that are not documented in the official IDA rules will be decided by the Gym Leads.
Attire & Safety
- Players must wear proper gym strip. Shirtless play is not allowed. Clothing must not endanger the safety of other players.
- Players may not use clothing or accessories to provide unfair advantage, or unfairly inhibit or assist the movement of the ball to make a catch or throw.
- Clothing (uniforms and accessories) is considered part of a player’s body.
- Players are not allowed to play with gloves, bare hands only. Wraps for supporting recovering injuries are acceptable.
- Players without proper footwear are not permitted to play. For example, sandals, slippers, flip flops, marking shoes, dress shoes, and going barefoot are not allowed.