The game of dodgeball has been a popular childhood activity on the school playground as well as in physical education classes for years. Originally, the game was played primarily by elementary school children, but in recent years it has become a popular game for older children and adults in the form of dodgeball leagues and tournaments.1

The only required piece of equipment for the game of dodgeball is the dodgeball itself. Dodgeballs range in size from 6 inches to 10 inches, and standard playground balls, which are 8.25” rubber coated foam balls, are often used.2 Usually six dodgeballs are used in the game. Although the size of the playing area can vary, the standard playing field is 60 feet long and 30 feet wide with a center line dividing the field into two equal parts. An attack line is drawn approximately 10 feet from the center line on each side, and the teams stand on opposite sides between their attack line and end line.3

The object of the game is to avoid being hit by balls thrown by the other team while attempting to eliminate the other team’s players by hitting them with balls. The game is started by team members standing at their end lines until the signal to start is given. Then the players from each team rush for the six balls that are placed on the center line at equal distances from each other grabbing three balls for each team. The balls can only be thrown from between the attack line and the end line, and players cannot cross the center line or go out of bounds. The balls are then thrown at the opponents with the intent to hit them, avoiding hitting them in the head.4

When a player is hit by the ball, he is out of the game. The ball must not touch the floor or be deflected from another player to qualify as a “live” ball. However, if he manages to catch a “live” ball, the opponent who threw the ball is out. This gives the players two choices: to dodge the ball or to catch it.5 The game of dodgeball tests the player’s coordination and agility in dodging balls and his eye-hand coordination and motor skills in throwing and catching the balls.

Because eliminated players are sidelined, which stops their physical activity, there are many variations to the basic rules of the game to keep players in the game. Prisonball has eliminated players put “in prison” behind the lines of the opposing team. They can be brought back into the game if they can catch a ball thrown to them by a teammate. Doctor Dodgeball has one team member assigned as the “doctor” who can tag eliminated players to bring them back into the game. Once he is eliminated, however, the team no longer has a way to save players.6

Because of the aggressive nature of the game, some schools have chosen to not allow dodgeball on the playground or in the physical education programs. Flying balls pose a risk for injury, and some children may be targeted by others, making the game an unpleasant experience. Less athletic children get a shortened amount of play time, when eliminated early in the game, diminishing their exercise.7

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) has issued a position statement that “dodgeball is not an appropriate activity for K-12 school physical education programs.” Because children are eliminated from play, NASPE argues that dodgeball provides limited opportunities for everyone to play, especially for less agile children who need the activity the most. “Many times these students are also the ones with the least amount of confidence in their physical abilities. Being targeted because they are ‘weaker’ players, and being hit by a hard-thrown ball, does not help kids to develop confidence.”8

  • 1. “How to play DodgeBall.” Cool Games Live. < > 23 June 2011.
  • 2. “Champion Sports Rhino Skin Dodgeball Set.” Play Equipment for Children. < > 23 June 2011.
  • 3. Kulkarni, Arjun. “Dodgeball Rules.” < > 23 June 2011.
  • 4. “Dodgeball Game.” Fun Games Kids Play. 23 June 2011.
  • 5. Op. cit., Kulkarni, Arjun.
  • 6. Mandora, Sheetal. “List of Dodgeball Variations.” < > 23 June 2011.
  • 7. Frost, Shelley. “Dodgeball Games for Gym Class.” Livestrong. < > 23 June 2011.
  • 8. National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (2006). Position on dodgeball in physical education [Position statement]. Reston, VA: Author. < > 23 June 2011.