Dodgeball Basics

Objective: Completely eliminate the opposing team

1) Teams are comprised of six players: four males and two females. A team may not exceed four males but can utilize as many female players as needed so long as the maximum number of players does not exceed six.

2) Each team must have a minimum of three of their registered players (any three) present in order for their win/loss record to be recorded on a given night. Substitute players will count towards that team’s three players so long as they are not already registered to another team on the same night

3) Each team will play six games against each team in their bracket (two sets of three games).

4) When not playing, each team must supply two players to serve as referees for the games in progress.

5) Players can only be eliminated by hits, catches, or boundary violations.

6) A valid throw is defined as the following: Propelling or casting a ball held in the hand of the thrower, toward an opponent. (Note: kicking or spiking the ball is not considered a valid throw, but will count if caught by an opponent).

7)   A hit will not count if the ball was called a ‘deadball’ before it was thrown.

8) A ball may be held for a maximum of ten seconds (see Ball Possession).

9) The countdown on a ball stops when it is thrown, or the player holding the ball is eliminated. If a new player picks up that same ball after the player holding it was eliminated, the count starts over.


Game Sequence

1) All players must be touching their respective walls at the start of the game.

2) The game begins when a referee counts down from three and says “dodgeball!”

3) Each team is allowed to retrieve the three balls to their right when the game starts and may send any number of players to do so.

4) Each ball must touch the back wall to become active.

5) The first ball to touch any back wall starts the ten-second count for all six balls off the opening rush. This means that all four referees should be counting down from ten in unison at the start of the game.

6) Any balls that do not touch a wall at the beginning of the game are not considered live and must be touched to a wall in order to be activated. If, after the first ten-second count, a ball has not yet been activated, it must be forfeited to the opposing team.

7) Eliminated players must line up against the sidewall closest to them and in the order that they were eliminated.

8) Eliminated players must not manipulate play in any way. This includes shielding teammates, passing/kicking balls back to teammates, interfering with balls, sideline refereeing, etc.

  • Any ball that is intentionally manipulated by a dead player is to be forfeited to the opposing team.

9) Players return to the game (via a teammate’s catch) in the order that they were eliminated (the first player to be eliminated is the first player to rejoin play) See Returning to the Game.

10) Play continues until all players from one team are eliminated.

11) In the event that only one player from each team is left on the court, a ten-second countdown begins to designate a ‘showdown.’ At the end of the count, the referee will yell “showdown.” Play is stopped and the two remaining players must move to their respective walls much like the beginning of the game. Each player is given two balls and the fifth and sixth balls are placed at each end of the centre line.

Things to note regarding showdowns:

  • All play will cease at the moment the referee starts to utter the word ‘showdown.’ This means that any play occurring on the court will cease immediately, even if a live ball is in the air.
  • Play is initiated using the same count as a normal game: “three, two, one, showdown”).
  • Balls have no count.
  • The centreline is no longer considered a boundary, however, the sidelines remain in effect.
  • Concludes when one of the players is eliminated.


Ball Possession:

1) Ball possession is controlled by a ten second countdown. When a player picks up a ball they have ten seconds to decide on an action. The referees will count aloud: “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Deadball.” The ball becomes dead at the first utterance of the word ‘deadball’ (if the ball is thrown before the referee calls ‘deadball,’ then it will be considered a valid throw).

  • All deadballs must be immediately forfeited to the other team and must be rolled with enough force to reach the opposite wall.
  • The ten second count starts as soon a player assumes reasonable possession of that ball.
  • Reasonable possession can be any of the following: 1) The player’s palm is in full contact with the ball for more than one second or 2) The player is gripping the ball, or 3) the player is exerting pressure on the ball.
  • Slapping a ball over to a teammate (with the fingertips or the palm or foot) in one quick motion should not start the countdown.
  • Touching a ball on the ground with your fingertips will not start the countdown.
  • A ball’s count can only be reset as a result of one of the following:
    • change of possession (one team to the other);
    • elimination of the player holding it;
    • throwing and hitting the opposite wall.

Important Note: While resetting is considered a valid strategic play during the course of a game, doing so repeatedly to obtain additional ball(s) on the rebound is unsportsmanlike. Therefore, deliberately missing with the same ball 3 times in a row will be called a ‘delay of game’ and result in the ball being forfeited to the other team.

Referees may also start counting a ball if one of the following occurs:

  • A player has all six balls on their side and chooses not to pick up any of the balls.
  • Any intentional forward movement of a ball towards the centreline.


Ways to be Eliminated

  1. Hit out
  2. Caught out
  3. Violate Court Boundaries


Being Hit

1) A valid hit is when a ball thrown by an opponent makes contact with your body – any part of your body – from the tips of your toes to the hair on your legs, arms and head. This also includes, but is not limited to any clothing, footwear, headwear, costume, uniform, accessory, etc worn by the person being hit.

2) A ball is considered a ‘live ball’ when it is activated off of the opening rush.

3) For a hit to be valid, the ball must not make contact with any other object in its path prior to hitting the intended target.

4) Only one player can be eliminated by a single thrown ball (only the first player hit by the ball is out – deflections/ricochets do not count).

5) Slapping, scooping, or spiking a ball towards an opposing player and successfully hitting them will not count as a hit as it is not considered a valid throw.

6) Any ball thrown by a player after they have been eliminated will not count as a valid throw and therefore cannot result in a hit or a catch.

Important Note: Once a player has been hit, they are not considered ‘out’ until the ball that hit them has touched another object (this includes, but is not limited to, the floor, wall, ceiling, bench, other players, etc.).


Being Caught

1) When a player catches a ball, the person that threw the ball is out and a player from the catcher’s team returns to the game.

2) A catch is considered valid as long as the player maintains control of the ball thrown at them without the interference or assistance of any other player or object and the player is within the bounds of the court.

3) A player attempting a catch may juggle the ball in the air and still complete the catch so long as the ball does not touch any other player or object prior to the ‘completion of the catch’.

  • Completion of the catch’ is defined as having obtained full possession and control of a ball in the act of catching.
  • Only the player initially hit by a ball can make a valid catch on that ball while it is still live in the air (i.e. deflections are not catchable by teammates)

4) Catching a ball by ‘trapping’ it against an object (i.e. person, ground, wall, bench, basketball hoop, etc) does not count as a catch and the player will be out.

  • ‘Trapping’ occurs when a player attempts to catch a ball by pinning it between themselves and another object. Any occurrence of a ‘trapped’ ball will result in the player attempting the catch being called out.

5) If a player throws a ball the referee has deemed as a deadball and the opposing team catches it, it is considered a normal catch (the player that threw the ball is out).

  • If a player scoops or kicks a ball towards the opposing team, that team may attempt to catch the ball without the danger of being hit out. If the opposing team catches the ball it will be considered a valid catch (the player that kicked or scooped the ball is out).

6) Any catch made by a player that has already been eliminated in a game will not be considered valid.

7) Catching a ball after blocking it is considered a valid catch if the player maintains full control over the ball(s) that were in their possession at the time of the block and if the blocked ball does not touch any other object prior to completion of the catch.

8) In the event that two players throw a ball at each other resulting in each of them making a catch, the player that completes their catch first will be deemed to have made a valid catch. The other player will be out. In the instance of a ‘simultaneous catch’ (both catches occur at the same time), both catches will be deemed valid – the two catchers will be out and a player will return to each side. This will be discerned and called at the discretion of the referees.


Returning to the Game

1) Players returning to the game as a result of a catch are to do so in the order in which they were eliminated and must adhere to the following conditions:

  • Returning players must be standing against the wall and within arms-reach of the referee on their side of the court. Therefore, if you were eliminated and in the process of moving to the wall, you cannot rejoin play if a teammate completes a catch before you are in the required position.
  • Returning players must be lined up on the correct side of the court and in the right order.
  • Returning players must move at a consistent pace and make contact with the wall to rejoin the game.
  • Returning players may not intentionally manipulate play in any way until they touch the wall – doing so will result in the player being called out.
  • Any ball intentionally touched by a returning player prior to reaching the wall will be called a deadball and forfeited to the other team.
  • Returning players will be considered ‘live’ the moment they touch the wall.


Court Boundaries

1) The court is bound by rear walls, sidelines, and a centreline clearly marked with red tape.

2)   Players may not step on, across, or touch any object outside of the court boundaries.

3) During the opening rush, players may cross the centreline while retrieving the balls. Crossing or touching the sideline at any time will always result in the player being out.

4) Certain actions taking place near the centreline or sidelines (such as an airborne throw or a catch made over the line) are only considered valid plays if the player retains both feet within the court boundaries.

5) When attempting to retrieve a ball that is out of bounds or across the centreline, a player must not apply any weight/pressure to the ball as doing so will result in the player being out.

6) Intentionally throwing a ball out of bounds will result in that ball being forfeited to the opposing team.


Important Note: Throws must not hit the wall above six feet high, otherwise, the ball becomes a deadball. Referees should assist – without interrupting play – in knocking these deadballs back to the appropriate team. This is applicable to both the rear wall and the side wall.



1) Players may protect themselves by ‘blocking.’ A valid block is defined as the    following: utilizing a ball held under control to stop or deflect an incoming ball   thrown by an opponent.

2) Blocks are considered successful when there is only ball on ball contact. The following conditions apply to blocking an incoming ball:

  • Any contact with a player’s hand during or after the block will result in the player being out (See Being Hit).
  • Any contact with a player’s body during or after the block will result in the player being out (See Being Hit).
  • Any instance of an incoming ball knocking a ball out of the blocker’s hand will result in the blocker being out, provided the incoming ball was a valid throw.
  • Blocking with a deadball will result in the blocking player being out.


Code of Conduct

1) While headshots are considered a valid hit, they are not condoned by the league.

2) Players may not manipulate (touch, grab, steal, etc) a ball currently in the possession of another player. Attempting to do so will result in the offending player being called out.

3) Players may not obstruct, push, or physically impede another player under any circumstance. Doing so will result in the offending player being called out and is grounds for disciplinary action.

4) Any player using the wall in an un-safe manner to perform flips, jumps, or other acrobatics will be considered out. Use of the wall for leverage or to brace themselves during play is considered reasonable.

5) In the event that a player may be injured, play should stop immediately and an SDL volunteer must be notified.

6) All calls made by a referee are final and may not be contested. Arguing with referees is not tolerated and players who do so may be subject to disciplinary action.

7) If referees are in disagreement over a call, they must meet in the middle of the court to discuss and come to a consensus.

8) Players on the sidelines may not engage in or affect gameplay in any way. This includes attempting to manipulate balls, change referee calls, etc.

9) Profanity, racism, sexism, discrimination, heckling, and insults are not condoned and will be dealt with according to the league’s disciplinary policy.

10) Players are not allowed to twist, warp, crush, or kick the balls. Players who deliberately damage balls or other league equipment will be asked to replace them at their own expense.

11) We recommend that players do not wear glasses, jewellery, or any other accessories or jewellery while playing.

12) Players may not wear gloves, hoodies, sweatshirts, or overly loose articles of clothing during gameplay as they provide an unfair advantage when catching.

13) Any player that sustains a head injury while playing in a SDL event must sit out a mandatory 15 minutes. If after the 15 minutes the injured player determines they feel able to play they can do so. We encourage any player that injures their head to seek medical attention.

14) Any player requiring an ice pack due to minor injury during the course of play must sit out their next set.

15) Players may not engage in physical altercation(s) at any of the League’s events.

16) Players who cause intentional damage to school property will have to pay for the damages and/or may be suspended/banned from the league. Every incident will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

17) Cigarette, drug, and/or alcohol consumption on school properties is not permitted before, during, or after dodgeball.

18) The League does not condone illegal activity of any kind and any players found to be participating in such activity will be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement authority.

19) All active players must sign the medical waiver in order to be insured by SDL’s insurance policy.

20) Players may not forcefully squish a ball against any object (i.e. ground, yourself, other balls etc.). Any player doing so must forfeit that ball to the other team.

21) Three strikes and you’re out. If a player hits an opposing player directly in the head during league play they will be given one strike. If a player gets three strikes in the same night, that player will have to sit out a maximum of 15 games.

For a player to get a strike they must hit the opposing player directly in the head (no deflection) and the opposing player must have been standing straight up or in a readied stance.

22) There is no tolerance for cheating at any time during the course of play. Players are expected to go off when they are hit. Any repeated occurrence of this type of behavior will result in disciplinary action in keeping with the SDL Cheating Policy.


The Surrey Dodgeball League takes any breach of the above code of conduct very seriously and will address infractions according to the SDL Discipline Policy.

The Surrey Dodgeball League reserves the right to escalate discipline procedures to the highest possible degree at the discretion of the League’s directors when deemed necessary.