Rhys Baker teaches science at Arthur Mellows Village College in Peterborough, UK.
How to Win in Dodgeball
Dodgeball is the same as any other sport: If you want to be successful, you need teamwork, communication, fitness, and strategy. You can possibly win just by going all out as a group of individuals, but over time, this will prove to be a highly suicidal strategy.
To win over a sustained period of time in dodgeball, you need to practice and play both individually and as a team. The more you play together, the more in-sync you will be, and the harder you will be to hit. The tips below will help polish your game from novice to expert. Remember, no matter how good you are at these strategies, they are no substitute for practice, teamwork, and communication.
The easiest way to eliminate an opponent is to hit them with a ball. But it is not that simple. Here are some strategies to maximise your throwing effectiveness.
- If in doubt, don’t throw at an opponent. If you are being counted out and you still have no viable target (e.g., you have several balls, but one is at the back of the court, or you are off-balance) throw hard at the wall, well away from any players. Having a ball caught is the worst thing that can happen in dodgeball.
- Aim at a single target. Players are usually numbered 1–6 from left to right as you look at them—the player on your team that stands on the far left calls out the target. Then countdown from 3 in your head before releasing.
- Throw together. The telltale sign of an inexperienced team is teammates throwing in isolation. Three balls thrown at once are much harder to dodge or catch than single shots which can be spotted from range. The best teams are the most coordinated.
- Spread out. If all the balls are coming from the same part of the court, they are easier to dodge because all throwers are in your eye line. By spreading out on the court and throwing at the same person from different angles, the target may be blindsided and unable to dodge.
- Get close. Throw as close to the dead zone as possible. This makes your throw much harder to catch or dodge.
- Aim low. It is not the hardest throw that takes someone out, but the smartest. Aim at the chest at your peril. Get your shots in low and together. Aim your hits between the thigh and shin. If you miss, at least you won’t get caught. Remember—catches win matches.
- Throw at the strongest players first. This may seem counter-intuitive, but when the court is more crowded, players have less room to dodge. They also haven’t had time to get their eye in. Whilst it may be tempting to take out weaker players, this will hurt you in the long run; the longer a decent player stays in, the more time they have to hit you with a good throw or catch.
- Use the court. Hitting a player is just one way to get an elimination. Several balls thrown together at the inside shoulder of a player on the edges of the court can cause them to step out of bounds and out of the game.
Catches win matches, but a missed catch is usually an elimination. Here are some tips to improve your catching, as well as your decision making.
- Catches win matches! But don’t be stupid. Four seconds into your first game is not the time to make a tricky catch. Don’t bother if you are 6-1 up with 30 seconds left; focus on your throws not getting caught. Pick the time for a catch, and don’t celebrate!
- Catch with your hands. Do not use your fingertips.
- Don’t reach for it. Reaching out and plucking a ball from the air may look spectacular, but it is much more likely to result in a glancing blow and your elimination. If the ball isn’t coming down your throat, leave it.
- Into the breadbasket. The best way to make a catch is to absorb it into your mid-section. Remove as much of the pace as possible by folding yourself around the ball. Don’t take too long, though; more balls may be arriving shortly.
- Deflect up. This may work one-on-one. Deflect the ball into the air to catch it a second time. Remember, if the ball hits the wall, another player, or another ball before you catch it, you are eliminated.
- Drop-Catch. Holding onto a ball when the opposition has several usually makes you a target. After all, you don’t have your hands free, and if they dislodge your ball, you are eliminated. Use this to your advantage. Hold the ball in front of you, inviting incoming balls. Then drop your ball and catch the incoming one. If the incoming balls don’t look catchable, keep hold of your ball and deflect them safely.
Dodging is the name of the game—but this is easier said than done in a sport where several balls are launched at your face from different angles at upwards of 60mph!
- Spread out, stay back. Under no circumstances should you stand behind a teammate. If they dodge a ball, you won’t see it coming and will be eliminated. If you see two opponents standing one behind the other, whip a ball at them. You must also maximise your distance from your opponents. Don’t stand back to the wall, or failed catches will end up eliminating you when they hit the wall—aim for a few feet of space behind you.
- Jump! Split jumps or jumps with high legs are your best bet. Most players are aiming between thighs and shins, so a high jump will clear this safely. Only as a last resort should you hit the deck—this leaves you a sitting duck and should only be attempted in countering one-on-one situations.
- Watch the court. Don’t stray too close to the boundaries. Make sure you have room to dodge on both sides, and behind you.
- Spread out. As the numbers on your team dwindle, keep equally spaced out. Don’t clump together; your team will just be a larger, easier, less mobile target.
Dodgeball is played at a quick pace, with countering being one of the most exciting and thrilling aspects of the game, both to watch and to play. These tips will improve your countering.
- One ball. Only counter if you have only a single ball on your side. In almost all other scenarios, it is better to throw multiple balls together at a single target.
- Speed. You must be quick. The element of surprise is your friend.
- Surprise! An underarm throw is not to be underestimated. Your opponent won't be expecting it, and it doesn't leave you exposed to a hit whilst you are winding up your throw.
- Counters work great just after an elimination. This goes for either side. If you just had a teammate eliminated, the other team may be celebrating—a perfect target. If you have just eliminated an opponent, others may be watching them leave and not watching the ball speeding towards their face.
- Try faking a throw. This will put doubt into the minds of your opposition. This can be used to get them to leap (nail them in midair when they can't jump), to recover formation in your team, or to run down the clock. Fakes can give you loads of information about your opponents.
- If you aren't the target, gather up the balls. You can't counter without any balls. If all the balls have been fired at your team, but not at you, try to recover some of the balls. With all the balls thrown, you won't be a target and may secure all the balls for your team.
All-on-One (You as the One)
If you play dodgeball for any length of time, you will find yourself on the wrong end of an all-on-one. All is not lost; however, check out these tips to give you the best chance of transforming yourself into an all-on-one legend.
- Don’t panic. Five of your teammates were eliminated first. You have done well to last this long. The only thing you have ahead of you is hero-dom. No one can blame you if you get eliminated. Treat a 6v1 as 6 1v1s and stay cool.
- Pick your catch. Don’t try the spectacular; the trick is to guarantee the catch, rather than your elimination. Pick out an easier ball (chest high/slower/ single shot incoming/shot from the back of the court) to catch and then get your body behind it. Once caught, get low with your caught ball as a shield until your teammate rejoins you
- Return extra balls…but not all of them! Under UKDBA rules, leading teams must throw their ball within 5 seconds if they have 2 or 3 balls. By returning balls, you are forcing your opposition to give you catching opportunities (they are not allowed just to roll them back!) But don’t give them all the balls. Two balls are easier to dodge/catch than three balls!
- Get low! This makes you a much smaller target and a more stable target. This makes it easier to catch balls, but harder to dodge. To compensate, you can use a ball as a shield to deflect harder shots.
- Stay back. Unless countering, stay in the back third of the court. Don’t make yourself an easy target by standing in point-blank range!
- Pick your target, shorten the distance, get in front of them. If you have all the balls on your side (not recommended but still possible), you can shorten the distance right down with no fear of a counter ball coming in. Whip as hard as possible to minimise the chances of a catch.
- Use the court. As mentioned above, but just as useful here. You don’t need a hit for an elimination.
All-on-One (You as the All)
Hopefully, the longer you play dodgeball, the more often you find yourself on the right side of an all-on-one. There are still things to keep in mind.
- Don't get cocky. The game isn't won yet. So many teams relax at this point only to be beaten in the final few seconds.
- Don't forget the countdown. You have five seconds to throw if you have multiple balls and are in the lead. Don't forget this.
- If in doubt, don't let them catch. You can't just roll balls back (in UKDBA rules) if you are in the lead, but this doesn't mean you give them catching attempts. If you are up against a solid catcher and time is ticking away, throw balls hard, fast, and low away from your opponent. Two catches and suddenly, the whole dynamic of the game has changed… for the worse!
- Throw together. Just because you are winning doesn't mean basic principles go out the door. Throw low, throw together, throw from the centre line.
- Don't "suicide." Yes, it looks impressive, but only when it comes off. When it doesn't, you look like a fool. You are more valuable to your team on the court, not flying across it.
Dodgeball Strategy Quiz
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- What is the most important thing to remember when throwing?
- Throw hard
- Throw low
- Throw together
- Throw quickly
- When should you go for a catch?
- When a slow, solo or chest-height shot is coming in
- In the first few seconds of a match to get on top
- When 6-1 up to finish off a match
- In the last few seconds to win the game
- When do counters work best?
- Just after a teammate elimination
- Just after an opponent elimination
- When all the balls have been thrown
- All of the above
- Which of these should you NOT do when facing an all-on-you scenario?
- Pick your catch
- Return extra balls
- Shorten the distance to your target
- When facing a single opponent, if in doubt:
- Throw it hard out of reach to the side
- Roll it back
- Throw it 6 feet over their head
- Hold onto all balls until time runs out
- Throw together
- When a slow, solo or chest-height shot is coming in
- All of the above
- Throw it hard out of reach to the side
© 2012 Rhys Baker
Ikhsan on August 10, 2020:
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Maya on August 05, 2020:
I am a really good player and everyone is very alert when i am around. my aim sucks to i am trying to improve that.
tabij on May 05, 2020:
one time i was in a dodgeball game ( im in 7th grade this was last year) it was boys v.s. girls and imma girl btw so everyone of my teammates got out and i was alone agaunst like 6 boys who throw HARD and i am absoultely awful at throwing so i dodged the balls for like 15 mins until they ran out of balls, and i had to throw them, i threw one and this went on for like a good 10 min when my coach says ok and let everybody back in. i was like " thank god"
Dont Worry on March 02, 2020:
idek this is 4 my homework
Germanboy on February 18, 2020:
I said that deflecting strat to my team and they said it was silly now i will show them this website.
its me on February 18, 2020:
I have a dodgeball tournament in a few days and this is really going to help me and my team
thx a lot
Shane Lynne on February 04, 2020:
Reply me back at
Dane on December 20, 2019:
I do all of this already and it did not really help me because my dad taught me this all at a young age and I have a tournament today so wish me luck
Anna on December 19, 2019:
We have a dodgeball tournament every year at our school and this really helped!
Thomas on December 16, 2019:
This is a good thing to Rember for school you all should run to your mom and say not to go to school ahahahah
alexa on December 12, 2019:
I am going to try this!
Ok on November 22, 2019:
This is a good example to play!
Reggie on November 19, 2019:
I have a school dodge ball tournament coming up on Tuesday! I'm nervous but excited at the same time. This site made me less worried. Thanks for the tips! I'll tell my team this.
Andres on October 23, 2019:
Thanks those are good tips!
Bob on October 07, 2019:
Works not very well
ScreamQueen on September 18, 2019:
This is very useful! Thanks! Going to use it for my coaching material next week.
Reed West on September 12, 2019:
I just had a tournament and it turns out I needed the help with being by your self vs the whole other team and it worked and we won.
hg on July 03, 2019:
I need this for sports day just need to tell my team
jake on April 26, 2019:
this will get us the dub go ringerz
Jeff on April 10, 2019:
Thx i have tournament and really needed this
Orangemen1106 on March 26, 2019:
Thanks I will use those tips for my dodgeball tournament .
big b on March 06, 2019:
Bymax on January 29, 2019:
Thanks a bunch know I have a plan for my class.
jakewhelling on January 14, 2019:
dom tandy on November 30, 2018:
thanks for letting me use this hub, it was fantastic
doDGEY on November 22, 2018:
dodgeball finals in a 4 days thanks very much!
Nice tips I really liked them.. They helped me with my dodgeball team in school. on November 19, 2018:
Thanks for the extra space. I don't need it though..
Person on November 19, 2018:
Isabella on October 19, 2018:
I am having my first game as playing in a team at school next week and this really helped me and gave me more confidece because now i know what i’m doing!
Rebbecca on March 21, 2018:
I really liked these tips. They helped my team out a lot! Thx
Natalie on January 08, 2018:
We have a school dodgeball tournament and this helped! I wish there was more questions
averyy on September 28, 2017:
thank you so much i needed this yasss i could not find somthing likr this anywhere
Sum ting wonk on September 21, 2017:
Ni hao shi shi ni wo hen shi huan- translation- hi thank you i love dodgeball
Josh on August 31, 2017:
I am going into a tournament tomorrow so I need tips on how to play good
Jose on May 23, 2017:
i love dodgeball
Brock on May 12, 2017:
Thanks for the tips i have a dodgeball tournament tomorrow
Sungho on May 03, 2017:
What about defense?
Omg on April 24, 2017:
That was awesome
ameen on April 04, 2017:
i love dodgeball
Tomasa on March 22, 2017:
Thank u 4 the tips and I hope the tips help me win the tournament
challenger on March 08, 2017:
this gave me a lot of ideas
tourney on February 27, 2017:
i have a tourney coming out and i am practicing thanks for the tips
code7 on February 27, 2017:
you guys suck i won my ship
Dodger on February 14, 2017:
All great advice with the exception of throwing far out of reach of players; that's an invalid warning, do it on multiple occasions and you're out by default.
John Yoysf on February 06, 2017:
i found this much better than some other sites
y on August 24, 2015:
great tips. love it and keep it up
DodgerPro on June 24, 2014:
My team wasn't the greatest at first, mainly because no one worked together. but i tried looking up decent strats, and this was the most efficient. that 1000$ prize money for our provincial tournament is ours now. THANK YOU!
kenton on May 22, 2014:
i suck at dodgeball I am entering a tournament do I have a chance ???????
Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on October 27, 2012:
What a thorough piece on dodgeball strategies. I have to be honest and say I'd heard of dodgeball, but never realised it was taken seriously as a sport. Looks like I was wrong!
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on October 25, 2012:
I've never known what the rules of this game are, so this has been a learning tool for me! We played dodgeball as kids, but I think we just sort of bounced around the court doing whatever we could get away with before being yelled at by the teacher. The sport actually looks fun, though - thank you!