The Death Of Dodgeball

The Death Of Dodgeball

What Is Dodgeball?


Dodgeball is a team sport in which players on two teams try to throw balls and hit opponents while avoiding being hit themselves. The objective of each team is to eliminate all members of the opposing team by hitting them with thrown balls, catching a ball thrown by an opponent, or making an opponent commit a violation, such as stepping outside the court.

Dodgeball is most often played in schools of all grade levels. However there used to be various different international governing entities like the World Dodgeball Federation, the World Dodgeball Association, and USA Dodgeball. These entities hosted many different local leagues as well as international championships.

The balls used for dodgeball vary, with the most common ball being an eight and a half inch rubber ball.

Why Did Dodgeball Die?

Some expert researchers suggest that dodgeball is “legalized bullying”. They argue the game creates a culture that allows some students to target others. In the unpublished research co-authored by Joy Butler at the University of British Columbia and David Burns at Kwantlen Polytechnic University also in B.C., researchers found in some cases, marginalized students were being picked last or were targets during the game.

Dodgeball is the only sport where the human body is the target. What experts want to make clear is that they are not recommending the game be banned; nor are they anti-competition. Rather they want to question why dodgeball continues to be played in an educational context. They argue some students won’t speak up even if they are being picked on or bullied.

Many schools in the US have already banned Dodgeball being played on school grounds, but internationally that is not the case.

Dodgeball Alternatives

For those that do live in the US and cannot play dodgeball or just prefer to play games that are less combative but still have a fun competition there are many options. Some of my favorite games are four square, nine square, kingpin, and gaga ball. Down below I’ll tell you a bit about each game.

Four Square

Four square is a team sport played among two teams with two players each on a square court divided into four quadrants. The quadrants can be numbered, lettered, or distinguished in any way that the players prefer. For example, you can use your top four books of the bible, top Taylor Swift songs, or even colors, but I like to use Jack, Queen, King, and Ace. The objective of four square is to eliminate players on the opposing team to achieve the highest rank on the court, and this is done by bouncing the ball back and forth between quadrants. A player on one team may bounce the ball to an opponent team's player's square, and tries to bounce the ball in a state that the player on the opposing team can not hit it to another square. The winning team will move up in the ranks, and the team that reaches the highest rank first wins, with all the losing team's players being eliminated. A player is eliminated when a ball is bounced in a player's quadrant and the player is unable to bounce the ball into another player's quadrant. It is a popular game at elementary schools with little required equipment, almost no setup, and short rounds of play that can be ended at any time.

9 Square


9 square is a fun game for all ages. It is a twist on the classic school-grounds game "four square." In 9 square though players can step out of their square, though it puts the person at a disadvantage to leave their area. They can touch the ball with any part of their body (head, foot, hip, hand). The goal of the game is to advance to the King or Queen center square. If the ball hits a square and the person inside that square can't hit the ball into another person's square, that person is out of the game. Once a player is "out," they must either leave to stand in the waiting line or move to the lowest square.  9 square is similar to four square, but the court is lifted off the ground, making it a portable game rather than a stationary game. The rules of the game are similar to the four square rules, except the ball isn't allowed to touch the ground. If the ball touches the ground, the person in that square is out. The ball is hit inside a person's square over their head. The person in that square must hit it back up through their square and into another square. If the ball touches the ground or the ball is hit out of the court, that person is out. The goal of the game is to make it to the king or queen's center square. 


Kingpin is basically dodgeball with a little pizazz and a switch in target. Like dodgeball, kingpin has the same set up. There are two teams on opposite sides of the court with a line of balls in the center. Each player will stand at the back of the court on their prospective sides and when the whistle blows they run to the center to try to grab a ball. Just like dodgeball if you get hit with a ball you are out, except in kingpin you are only out until someone saves you. There is a “jail” at the back side of each team's court, and to escape jail someone from your team will need to make it to the jail without being hit with a ball. You will then hold hands and run back to your side of the court. While holding hands and once on your side of the court you are safe. You can only be hit with a ball when on the opposing team's side. If you are safe on your side then why leave you might ask? Well the goal of kingpin is to capture the bowling pins from the opposing team and bring them back to your side to put them in your safe, which is most commonly a hula hoop.. Once a team has all of the opposing teams pins they win. Be careful though because the opposing team can steal them back. 

Gaga Ball


Gaga Ball is a fast paced, high energy sport played in an octagonal pit. The more players the better! Dubbed a kinder gentler version of dodgeball, the game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. Players need to keep moving to avoid getting hit by the ball. The rules of gaga ball are very simple. All players will get in the pit with one ball to start, you can add more balls if you want to increase the energy and shorten the round time. Every player is on their own and if the ball touches you below the knee, you're out. The last one in the pit wins. Then, everyone hops back in for the next round.

Options Are Endless

Although I listed my top four dodgeball alternatives, the options are truly endless. What are some of your favorite dodgeball alternatives or are you using your energy to keep dodgeball alive?

The Death Of Dodgeball

Nicholas Lowe

About the Author

A consistent contributor to PE health and game ideas. Nic has been writing for Castle Sports for 2 years.

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