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Dodgeball Rules

Dodgeball Rules are Here

Winter 2020

the Glossary section for quick definitions of the key terms.

Sportsmanship and player safety will continue to be our number one priority. When in doubt, just go out! Remember to always hold your teammates accountable and continue to create a space that is welcoming for all our players. Let's have some fun!

Updates & Changes

  • Key terms first mentioned in the subsequent sections of this rulebook referenced in the Glossary can now be recognized by their underlined text.
  • For the Winter 2020 season, we will be replacing the attack line with a new buffer line. The buffer line acts similarly to the attack line, but it is only applicable during the initial rush. Players who run to the center line to retrieve a ball(s) during the initial rush must bring the ball(s) back beyond the buffer line. Once a ball from the center line has crossed over the buffer line, the ball may be thrown from anywhere within the court. Throwing a ball across the center line before a player brings the ball back over the buffer line results in an invalid throw and the throwing player immediately being out.

As a disclaimer for these changes and those to come, these updates may or may not carry over from season to season as we try new things. Our league will constantly evolve from feedback provided by our community. If you have any suggestions that could make our league even better, we want to hear from you!


What to Wear?

All players must be wearing the current season's official shirt with a number unique (within their team) to play.

Gloves, knee pads, protective goggles, and taped fingers are allowed.

STONEWALL DODGEBALL OFFICIAL RULESLast updated Tuesday, November 26, 2019



Game Basics


  • Matches are 40 minutes long, composed of a number of games, and teams switch sides approximately halfway through (~20 minutes).
  • After 40 minutes of play (i.e. when the match clock expires to zero minutes), the current game will enter sudden death until one team wins that game, then the match is complete. During sudden death, blocking will not be allowed. The blocking player is immediately out and blocking a ball immediately makes it dead.
    • Before the first game, captains will rock, paper, scissors to determine initial ball control.
  • Officials may NOT start a game with two minutes or less remaining. They will announce when only five minutes remain in the match and will call last game when a game begins after the five minute warning but before two minutes remaining in the match.
    • The team that wins the most games in the match WINS!

Mercy Rule

  • When a team achieves a 10-point game differential, the match is over and that team wins.
  • Officials will then mix up teams and start open gym play for the remainder of the allotted match time.

Tie Breakers

Ties are allowed during regular season/round-robin matches. For playoff/tournament style matches, ties are broken by playing 1 final game to completion using the rules of sudden death.

Court Setup

The figure below represents the dodgeball court setup including placement of the center linebuffer line and a high-level overview of ball control. Details regarding terminology are in the sections that follow.

STONEWALL DODGEBALL OFFICIAL RULESLast updated Tuesday, January 7, 2020



  • A minimum of eight players is required to play. A team has five minutes to find a rostered player from when the game is scheduled to start. Any less than eight after five minutes results in a forfeit.
  • No more than 10 active players may play per game. No more than 14 players per team.
  • Remaining players are benched and do NOT come in on catches.
  • Rotation: Each player must play at least every other game. No player is allowed to sit out twice in a row.
  • Captains/Co-Captains
  • 1 captain and 1 co-captain will be recognized by the league.
  • Captains are responsible for ensuring that their team is aware of the game schedule and/or schedule changes.
  • Captains are also responsible for ensuring that their team is honest and adhere to the Stonewall Sports Columbus Code of Conduct and Official Rules.

Interaction with Head Officials and Line Referees

  • Only captains and co-captains may interact with the head official.

  • Time Outs
    • Time outs can only be called by captains or co-captains.
    • Only one time out is allowed per team per match.
    • The time out is not to exceed 30 seconds and does not pause the match clock.
    • Timeouts cannot be called after an official has issued the five-minute end-of-match warning or during a game that has been announced as the last game.
    • All live balls are immediately dead when the official begins the timeout, and all players should not touch any balls.


Injured players may remove themselves from play for up to two minutes and then return to play if the same game is in session.


All players are expected to maintain an honor code while playing!

Officials may issue penalties if a player is:

  • Not abiding by the rules
  • Not adhering to calls made by officials
  • Arguing with or yelling at officials
  • Blatantly cheating
  • Any reason otherwise listed in the official rules as a justifiable offense.


The Court

Back Line

At the start of all games, all active players must be completely behind the back line.

The Center Line

Players can, within reason of the official's discretion, step over the center line only during the initial rush, but doing so any time thereafter means they are out. Any balls unclaimed from the initial rush (after a reasonable time has passed) are allowed to be claimed by either team during the game.

The Buffer Line

  • Runs parallel to the center line and all balls taken from the center line during the initial rush must first be brought back behind this line before they can be thrown. Once a ball has crossed back across the buffer line it can be thrown from anywhere on the court.
  • Throws made with a ball that has not yet crossed back across the buffer line are considered an invalid throw: the throwing player is out, the ball can't get anyone on the other team out, but catches will count. We don't yellow-card for this.


Invalid Throws

  • Invalid throws cannot get players out, but can be caught and count as a valid catch.
  • Invalid throws include:
  • Throws made in front of the buffer line before the ball has initially crossed the buffer line.
  • Throws made from out-of-bounds.
  • Kicking or spiking the ball.
  • Pinching the ball.

Boundaries & Exiting the Court

  • Players are out if their body/clothes touch the floor beyond the center line 
  • A player may not exit to dodge a ball.
    • Dodging over the sidelines results in an out.
  • Players may step out-of-bounds only to get a ball that is out-of-bounds. They must exit and re-enter at the back of the court 

  • Once both feet are out-of-bounds for a valid reason, they're safe until they return (one foot back in).
  • The last active player left may not exit the court. Teammates are encouraged to help the last player retrieve balls outside of the court. If at any time there are no active players on the court due to shagging, all active players are immediately out.
  • Returning to the court:
  • Players cannot step in or out of the court just anywhere: it must be at the very back by the back line; imagine a doorway 4 feet wide extending off the back wall that players need to exit and enter through. This is for safety.
    • Returning players are active upon having 1 foot in bounds.
    • Plays are only valid if the player has 2 feet in bounds when the play occurs (catches, throws, etc.)
  • If a player makes a catch then falls out-of-bounds due to momentum, they're not out and their catch counts. The player must immediately re-enter the court and not stop to shag.
    • Violating any of these sideline/boundary rules results in an out.

The Out-Line

  • When a player is out, they should line up on the side of the court in the order in which they are out, known as the out-line.
  • Players come in on catches in the same order they arrived to the line (players on their way to the out-line cannot come in on catches, and the line order is determined by when players arrives at the line rather than the order in which they got out).
    • Any team purposefully violating the out-line order will be subject to penalties by the officials.

STONEWALL DODGEBALL OFFICIAL RULESLast updated Tuesday, November 26, 2019



Ball Control

When a team has majority control of the balls on the court.

Ball Control Explained

    • Games are played with 7 balls.
    • A team has ball control when they have 4 or more of these balls.
    • A team has 15 seconds to give up ball control.
  • Officials will silently count down from 15 to 10. At 10 seconds, the officials will loudly call "Ball Control!" to the offending team and countdown from 10 to 0.
    • Balls outside the realm of the court are not used for determining ball control.
  • A team with more than 4 balls on their side still has ball control even if another ball is outside the realm of the court.
  • Rolling or placing balls over the center line does not count as relinquishing ball control. Players must make valid throws to relinquish ball control.
    • Failure to give up ball control:
    • Officials will stop the game and the team will give ALL the balls to the opposing team.
    • If during the ball control countdown:
  • Additional balls come onto the side with ball control, they do not count for the timer; they're new balls so they aren't a part of the original timer.
  • Players bring a ball with them outside the realm of the court to shag another ball, the ball(s) that they left the court with continue to count toward their teams ball control timer.
    • Ball Control for singles (Last man standing):
  • When a team is down to 1 player and that player has ball control, the timer resets to 10 seconds each time the player throws until they lose ball control.
  • If officials deem the player is deliberately stalling, they may announce "Stalling! Last countdown!" and the timer will no longer reset with each throw until the player loses ball control.

STONEWALL DODGEBALL OFFICIAL RULESLast updated Tuesday, November 26, 2019





    • Placing balls just over the center line doesn't count as giving up control of them
  • Deliberately throwing balls so they return without giving the other team a chance to take control of them is stalling
  • Officials will issue a warning for stalling and award all the balls to the other after a 10 second timer


  • The act of marking an active player with a ball (known as tagged or tagging) to be out once that ball becomes dead is known as tagging.
  • A ball must touch any part of a players body/clothes for a tag to be applied (see also, dropped ball).
  • An active player can have multiple tags applied to them from multiple balls.
  • A single ball can only tag the first player it interacted with.

Live Ball/Dead Ball

  • A ball becomes a live ball when it is thrown from anywhere within the court after it is brought back beyond the buffer line during the initial rush. Live balls can tag players or be caught, resulting in outs.
    • A ball becomes a dead ball when it does any of the following:
  • Touches the floor, wall, ceiling, net, or any other part of the building
    • Touches another ball not being held by an active player
    • Touches a player not on the court
    • Is caught
    • Comes back across the center line
    • A dead ball cannot tag players and catching a dead ball is not a valid catch.
  • Note:A player isn't technically out the moment they are hit; they are out the moment when the ball that tagged them becomes dead./var/folders/7_/q7bfbxk546q_x6by3196m89m0000gn/T/


  • Active players, out players, and/or non-players may return balls from out-of-bounds to the court as long as the players stay on their side of the court relative to the center line. The balls must be promptly returned to play.
  • Out players or non-players may not reach into the court or the other team's out-line area for any reason.
  • When a ball exits the realm of the court (i.e., it's in the rafters or on another court), players from either side may shag the ball regardless of their position relative to the center line.
    • Disrupting a game in play to shag a ball will result in a yellow card.
    • If a player gets out, while exiting the court they should not touch any balls that are in play.
  • Any ball that is shagged violating these rules will be awarded to the opposing team and the official may issue a yellow card.


  • Players may use distraction techniques such as stomping, fake throws, noise, etc. as a means of distracting the opposing team's players, within reason.
  • If distractions are considered aggressive or overly disruptive, the officials may issue a warning and/or a yellow card, if not stopped.




Basic Rule

Hit an opponent with a ball to tag them. If that ball becomes dead, they're out. But if they catch it, the player that threw the ball is out and they get a player back in. Simple!


A catch is valid as long as the player had both feet in the court when they caught the ball and the ball had not touched any part of the building (net, wall, floor, light fixtures, ceiling, etc).

    • Traps are not catches.
  • A player must show adequate ball control in order for the catch to be valid. A player cannot fumble a catch. In other words, the player must show voluntary and intentional control of the ball they caught.

Deflections Explained

  • A player deflecting a ball into themselves results in a tag to themselves (including a deflection into their own head).
  • Deflecting a ball into someone else does not tag them. deflected ball can only tag the person who deflected it.
  • A ball that is deflected can be caught until it becomes dead (touches any part of the building, the net, a player not on the court, another ball that is not being held by a player, crosses back across the center line, or is caught.)
  • Deflecting a ball that is then caught is treated as a regular catch: anyone hit/tagged by the ball prior to the catch is safe, the thrower is out, and the catching team gets a player back in.

STONEWALL DODGEBALL OFFICIAL RULESLast updated Tuesday, November 26, 2019



Maintaining Ball Control during Deflections and Catches

If a player loses control of any ball(s) in their possession while deflecting, they are tagged with the ball(s) they dropped. If any active player catches the deflected ball this is a valid catch, but the player that lost control of the ball is out once it becomes dead. A player must maintain or show intentional, voluntary control of all balls they are holding during all catches and deflections.


Shots directly to the head do not result in a tag.

Exceptions to this rule include:

  • If a player is on the ground (defined as 3 points of contact with the floor):
    • Any part of their body counts as a point of contact.
    • If a ball is in contact with them and the floor, it counts as a point of contact.
  • If a player's head is at or below waist level (including as a result of squatting or crouching).
    • A player is considered to have assumed the risk by reducing their surface area.
  • A player may not deliberately block with their head.
  • If they deflect a ball into their own head.

Note:If they are hit directly in the head and then they or a teammate catches the ball, the catch counts.

STONEWALL DODGEBALL OFFICIAL RULESLast updated Tuesday, November 26, 2019



Calculating Weekly Rankings and Playoff Bracket

Weekly Standings

During the regular season, Teams will be ranked within their assigned division. The League's protocol used for calculating weekly rankings is as follows:

  • Standing Point Differential: sum of points awarded after each Match based on Matches outcome
        • (Win = 1.0; Tie = 0.5; Loss or Game Forfeit = 0.0)
  • If two or more teams are tied (same Standing Point Differential), then tie is broken in this order:
  • 1. Team with more wins. 2. If not resolved, then by head-to-head play. 3. If not resolved, then by team with less games scored against (games lost). 4. If not resolved, then by team with great game differential (games won minus games lost = game differential). 5. If still not resolved, then by Leadership coin toss.

Playoff Bracket

For playoffs, Teams will be ranked on the playoff bracket within the League as a while with no preference given towards a division. The League's protocol used for calculating the playoff bracket ranking is as follows:

1.Win Percentage (%): Standings Point Differential  Total Games Played

2.If two or more teams are tied (same Win Percentage), then tie is broken in this order:

a.Team with more wins.

b.If not resolved, then by head-to-head play.

c.If not resolved, then by team with less games scored against (games lost).

d.If not resolved, then by team with great game differential (games won minus games lost = game differential).

e.If still not resolved, then by Leadership coin toss.

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