- Games will start with six balls on the court with one off-color ball being the designated burden ball.
- Opening rush: Players must start completely behind the back line at the beginning of the game. A ball may not be thrown until both feet have cleared the attack line.
- Play continues until one team is eliminated, the refs call a pause in game play, or until the round timer sounds.
- Balls are live until they touch the floor, ceiling, walls, a dead ball or an opponent’s live ball.
- Multiple outs: Each live ball can get more than one player out.
- Deflected catches: If a ball hits you or your ball and a teammate catches it before it becomes dead, it is considered a catch. You are safe, the person who threw the ball is out, and a player from your team may come back in.
- Hard lines: It is okay for players to step on boundary lines, but if a player steps any further over a sideline or beyond the neutral zone, that player is out.
- Ball count: The team with the majority of balls (or burden if count is equal) has ten seconds to relinquish that burden. If ball majority is not released, the burdened team must give up all balls.
- The Queue: The first player eliminated is the first to come back into a game if there is a catch and they are completely out of bounds.
- Headshots are legal but not encouraged.
- Attack Line: The attack line will be approximately 20 feet away from the back line.
- Going out: If a player has possession of a ball when they are out, they may roll that ball to their teammates. An out player cannot be caught back in until they are completely out of bounds.
- Players are to play by the honour system. If in doubt, a player should call themselves out.
- If a rule is not clarified please consult with the organizers rather than falling back to another league’s ruleset.
- Get to know your teammates and your opponents and have fun!
- Court Dimensions: Each court will be taped off to 50 feet long by 28 feet wide.
- Attack line: The attack line is 20 feet from the back line.
- Sidelines: Players are not allowed to step over the sideline at any time. If part of their foot (or any other appendage) is over a sideline, that player is out.
- All balls are placed on the center line of the court. Which side has the burden ball should stay consistent because teams will switch sides after each game.
- The ref will start play generally by checking in with both sides and saying “This side ready? This side ready? Dodgeball!”
- On the initial rush, you may only touch the balls on the right side of the court.
- Balls must be checked behind the attack line with both feet touching the ground before they are considered live.
- After all of your own balls have been checked you may grab the remaining balls on the center line if the other team did not get theirs.
The ten second count is how we keep the game moving. When a team possesses a majority of the balls (or the burden ball in case of a tie), the burden is on them to throw enough balls to drop below that majority within ten seconds. Once that occurs, the count resets.
The team need only throw enough balls to drop below the majority as achieved when the count started. Additional balls collected during the count do not increase the number of required throws during this count. The burden ball decides which team is “burdened” to throw in case of a tie (3 balls on each side).
If the required number of balls or burden ball are not thrown within ten seconds, the ref will stop play and award all of the balls to the other side.
Intentionally throwing a ball out of bounds not towards an opposing player (bouncing off of high ceiling/basketball rims as well) is considered a delay of game. The ref will stop play and award the non-throwing team the ball.
Reffing the 10 second count is hard. We recommend one ref be dedicated to this. Use your arms to denote which side currently has the burden and start the count by declaring how many balls they need to throw. A silent count is fine but when the count gets down to five seconds make sure you’re loud enough for both teams to hear. On a count down, if you are able to begin the word “zero” without the requisite balls being thrown, stop play immediately, redistribute balls, and restart both teams from behind the back line.
- If you get hit, you’re out. Easy right? Well, there are tricky some grey areas.
- A player is considered out if they are contacted by a live ball thrown by the opposite team and it becomes dead.
- Clothing: Uniforms and accessories are considered part of a player’s body.
- Hit etiquette: If a player is hit, they may pass balls under their control to their teammates, raise their arm to signal that they are out, and leave the court immediately without disrupting play.
- Once a player is out, if they make contact with a ball not under their possession to pass to teammates that ball will be considered dead and given to the opposing team.
- “If in doubt, you’re out!” If you are not sure if you were hit or safe, go out.
- A player is out only once the live ball has hit a dead surface. This means that the player may throw or catch other balls until the original ball is dead and they are officially out.
- Trap: When a live ball hits between a players foot and the ground at the same time. This is considered an out.
- If a player catches a ball thrown by an opponent, the thrower is out and one player returns to the catcher’s side from the queue. in the order of first out, first in.
- A catch is when a player retains control of a ball thrown by an opponent and must land with both feet in bounds.
- When a player is caught back into the game, that player must enter from the back of the court or up to halfway to the center from the sidelines.
- Returning players are live as soon as both feet are inbounds.
- If a teammate catches a ball that is deflected off another teammate’s body it is considered a catch. The teammate is saved, the thrower is out, and an out player on that team may come back into the game.
- Catches from blocks: It is considered a catch if an opponent’s ball hits a blocking ball and is caught by the blocker’s teammate.
- Catching balls going out of bounds (NFL rule): Player must be in control (see Glossary) of the ball before going out of bounds, with both feet touching in bounds for a catch to be valid. The catch counts and the player may step back inbounds during this time.
- A catch is only completed if both feet are touch the ground inbounds. A ball that hits a player who is making a catch midair and dies before that player reaches the ground results in no catch and that player is out.
- If there is a catch and neither team knows who was caught the referee will pause the game and choose one player from the throwing side to come off the court.
- Too close to call: If a player is hit out but makes a catch within the same volley, the player is out, but the catch counts. See the definition of volley.
- A block is when a player uses a ball to keep from being hit.
- Failed Block: If a live ball, thrown by the opponent, hits a player’s blocking ball and then hits the blocker’s body, the player is out.
- If a player drops their blocking ball because of contact from an incoming throw, the player is immediately out.
- Only the fingers are considered part of the ball when holding a ball, the hand, wrist and forearm are not.
- Only players (and on exception center refs) may grab balls in the neutral zone.
- Center refs do their absolute best to not interact with stray dodgeballs. The ONLY exception a center ref can touch a ball is if it ends up in the neutral zone and on the side of a team that does NOT yet have a player out. In this case they put the ball at the closest point to the neutral zone.
- Line refs try their best to help the side they’re on. They do not touch dodgeballs in the neutral zone.
- A ball that has gone past the center bleachers is FAIR GAME. Ideally it would go in on the side it went out, but you are play the ball where it lies/lands. It doesn’t matter how it got there.
Eagles are when a player jumps from the neutral zone into the opponent’s side of the court to make a throw. If their throw was successful in getting someone out, the thrower is still alive but must return to their side immediately. That player is vulnerable until they return to their side of the court, and can be hit by opponents. The eagler is allowed to dodge, but cannot go out of bounds or touch balls until returning to their side of the court. A player that is hit mid-eagle is out as soon as they are hit. A ball thrown by the eagler is only valid if thrown before they were hit.
Headshots are defined as throws that hit players directly in the head while that player is standing upright or in an athletic stance. In the competitive league, headshots are considered legal and results in the thrower being safe and the hit player going out. While headshots are considered fair game, think twice before aiming for someone’s head, you may not be a fan-favorite after the game.
There should be a minimum of four referees and a maximum amount of six. One center ref should handle ball count while the other does countdown and is watching for outs, catches, line violations, etc. Both line refs are watching the back/sidelines and are helping that team retrieve rogue balls.
A game may NOT start until there are four refs on the court! Captains MUST ref.
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.
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. All players (including captains) must grab balls in their possession and step behind the back line of the court while the referees discuss a decision. A referee may ask both captains to join the discussion to make clarifications. The refs will continue play after a decision has been made and players/refs are back in position. However, we encourage players to discuss and clarify any plays in a respectful manner with referees after the game is finished.
Referees reserve the rights to deem that a player is displaying serious unsportsmanlike conduct. In this case, the referee is able to eject a player from the game and that player will have to sit out the following game (even if it’s a different match). The other option is for the referee to inform an organizer of the behavior after the game has concluded and the appropriate action will be taken. Any further violation punishments will be determined by the organizers themselves.
- When catching, a player must be in full control of the ball without using any out of bounds area or floor as leverage.
- Any physical contact with an opposing player will deem the player that initiated contact “out”.
- A ball must be picked up in order for the throw to be legal. Kicking, smacking, or spiking a ball is not allowed and any hits resulting from them hit will not count. However, if one of these balls is caught by the opponent, the catch is legal.
- Players must come in on a catch in the order they were eliminated.
- If match time ends during a game, then the team with the fewest players out wins. If there is a tie, it is a draw.
- A new match may not begin if the one-minute buzzer has gone off before the referee has commenced play.
- If two players come on the court for a single catch, both players are out.
- If a player comes onto the court out of order that player is immediately out and placed at the back of the queue. If that player has made any action on the court that has resulted in an out that player’s team forfeits the current game.
- Dead ball
- A dead ball is any ball that has:
- Not been checked on the rush.
- Contacted an eliminated player.
- Contacted another dead ball.
- Contacted the floor / ceiling / or walls of the gym.
- Been kicked or spiked.
- All balls on the rush are dead until they are checked.
- If a player throws a dead ball without checking it first, that player is out.
- When a player is out for any reason, all balls under his/her possession are dead.
- Dying ball
- A ball that has hit a player, but has not yet become dead.
- Live ball
- A ball that has been activated by checking it past the neutral zone.
- A collection of games between two teams.
- Being eligible to participate in the game on court.
- Ineligible to play in the game as a result of being hit, caught, or touching/going past the court’s boundaries.
- Opening Rush
- When players approach the center line to retrieve the balls at the signal of the referee.
- A player has control of a ball when they have it secured in their hands.
- Burden to Throw
- If a team has three balls with the burden ball or has ball majority (four or more balls) it is their responsibility to make an attack and relinquish the original ball majority or burden ball within 10 seconds.
- A volley is a group throw of multiple balls. All balls arriving at a defending player at the same time are part of the same volley. Any balls that arrive unambiguously early or late to the defender are not a part of the same volley.