Intramural Dodgeball Rules and Glossary

**All credit goes to the Vancouver Dodgeball League**

Section 1

Intramural Policies and Procedures

Eligibility, protests, forfeits and concedes, conduct, appeal, and attire are covered in detail in the Intramural Policies and Procedures Manual.

Section 2


The League Manager has the maximum authority to ensure that the given game runs in an appropriate and “proper” manner. This implies that they may deal with any form of unsportsmanlike conduct in any manner that they may deem necessary. This includes, but is not limited to: ejecting players, forfeiting a team, and forfeiting a contest.

Section 3


  • Dead ball: A ball that hits an object/surface/teammate before the player, or a ball declared as a dead ball by the referee.
  • Live ball: A ball that has been activated (see under "General Rules" > #6).
  • Match: A match is a series of games played against a team. During the regular season, these matches are split up into 2 sets per night.
  • Trap: When a player makes a catch using another surface/object including the ground, wall, or teammate (see under "Rules of Play" > "Catch" > #6).
  • In: Being eligible to participate in the game on court.
  • Out: Ineligible to play in the game as a result of being hit, caught, or touching/going past the court’s boundaries.
  • Opening rush: When players approach the center line to retrieve the balls at the signal of the referee (see under "General Rules" > #4).
  • Full control: A player is in full control of a ball if he/she is able to release the ball in an obvious and deliberate action.
  • Reset: An attempt to stop the ball counts in order to prolong possession (see under "Rules of Play" > "Dead Ball" > #7). Any thrown balls towards the other team, below 6FT, are considered as fair play.

Section 4

Number of Players

Each team may register any number of players unless otherwise deemed by the Recreation Coordinator. A team may play a game with as few as 5 players without defaulting. Players cannot be added to the roster after the conclusion of the regular season. Special consideration may be obtained from the Recreation Coordinator.

Section 5

General Rules

  1. In general, play will be governed by the Vancouver Dodgeball League Rules, a copy of which is kept in the Intramural Office. Adaptions and changes will be necessary in regard to facilities, equipment, uniforms, etc. The League Managers or Recreation Coordinator will decide on questionable cases.
  2. Coed Rule: A team must have at least 5 people on the floor at all times, 3 of one gender and 2 of another. A maximum of 6 players with a minimum of 2 of one gender may be on the court at one time. If a team is reduced to less than 5 players due to injury(ies), ejection(s), or absence(s), the team forfeits the contest.
  3. Six standard foam balls (elephant or rhino skin) are placed on the center line in two groups of three. Each group of three is placed at opposite ends of the center line, in front of the referees.
  4. Opening Rush: Players must touch the back wall at the start of the game. After the starting countdown of “3, 2, 1 Dodgeball!” teams approach the center line to retrieve the balls (see under "Rules of Play" > "Other Details" > #8).
  5. Teams can only take the 3 balls to their right initially (see under "Rules of Play" > "Technical" > #2).
  6. Balls must touch the back wall before they are live off the opening rush. The ball is dead otherwise.
  7. Players attempt to eliminate opponents by hitting them with balls or catching their throws. If a player is hit with a live ball, that player is out.
  8. Eliminated players line up against the designated wall, which is to be announced at the start of the games, next to the referees according to the order of elimination.
  9. Substitutions may occur after each individual game. Depending on the number of teams, usually best of out three games.
  10. Players are to play by the honour system. If in doubt, players should call themselves out.
  11. Play continues until one team is eliminated.

Section 6

Co-ed Rules

A team cannot play with less than 4 players on the court at one time. A team must have at least 1 person of each gender on the floor at all times. If a team is playing with 6 participants, 3 people of each gender must be on the floor. If a team has less than 6 players due to injury(ies), ejection(s) or absence(s), 1 person of each gender must remain on the floor at all times. If a team does not have 1 person of each gender on the floor, they will forfeit the game. Only a maximum of 3 players of one gender may be on the floor at all times.

Section 7

Rules of Play


  1. Center line: Players are not allowed to step on or over the center line; if they do, they are out. The only exception is during the opening rush or showdown.
  2. Sidelines: Players are not allowed to step on or over the sideline at any time; if they do, they are out.


  1. A player is considered hit only if there is direct contact with a released ball by the opposing team (except for "Failed Block" – see under "Blocking" > #2).
  2. Clothing: Uniforms and accessories are considered part of a player’s body.
  3. Hit etiquette: If a player is hit, they should drop all held balls, raise his/her arm to signal that they are out, and leave the court immediately to minimize game play disruption. Once on the sidelines, knocked-out players are NOT allowed to kick or pass balls to their teammates. This is illegal and will result in the ball being turned over to the opposing team.
  4. Headshots: To simplify the game, all headshots count. However, we do not condone intentional headshots. We reserve the right to discipline players if there are repeated violations or if the single violation is severe (see under "Code of Conduct").
  5. If in doubt, players should call themselves out. If in doubt, you are out.


  1. A catch is when a player retains full control (see under "Glossary") of a ball released by an opponent. While possession does not require both feet on the ground, the player must land with both feet on the ground (see under "Technical" > #4).
  2. If a player catches a ball thrown by an opponent, the thrower is out and one player returns to the catcher’s side in the order of first out, first in.
  3. In order to be eligible to return to the game, the player who is out must be at the wall or sideline next to the designated referee before a teammate makes a catch to bring a player back in. The intention of this rule is to ensure that the player being brought back in was clearly hit out prior to the catch (see under "Technical" > #11 and #12).
  4. Returning players after a catch: After a catch, returning players must run straight back to the wall to be re-activated. If the player purposely plays a ball while returning back to the wall before touching it, they are out. The player cannot be hit out until they have been re-activated.
  5. When a dead ball thrown is caught, it is considered a legal catch.
  6. Attempted catches: If a player attempts to catch a live ball thrown by the opposing team, but drops it or allows it to touch any surface/object (other than themselves) before gaining full control ("Trap", "Full Control" – see under "Glossary"), the player is out. If the player gets out first, either by another hit, or crossing center/sideline, the player is also out.
  7. Catches after blocks: It is considered a catch if an opponent’s ball hits a blocking ball and is then caught by the blocker. The blocker, however, must have the blocking ball in possession when making the catch; otherwise they are out (see under "Technical" > #6 and #7).
  8. If a ball deflects off a player’s body, only that player can make a legal catch afterwards. The ball is dead if another player touches it, or if it hits a surface or object before it is caught (see under "Block" > #2).
  9. In order to make a successful catch, a player must retain possession of all their balls at the time of initial contact.
  10. Catching balls going out of bounds: Player must be in full control (see under "Glossary") of the ball before going out of bounds, with both feet in bounds for a catch to be valid.
  11. A double catch (and the odd triple catch) is legal if the balls have not clearly contacted each other before they are caught. Otherwise, the balls would become dead.
  12. In the case where a catch is made and no player walks off (i.e. the player did not see their ball get caught):
    1. If the catch is observed by referees but the thrower cannot be determined, the referees should pause the game and request for one of the throwers to come off of the court. Referees can assist by indicating the side that the ball might have come from.
    2. If the catch is missed by all referees entirely and no one leaves the court, there is no dispute and play continues.


  1. A block is when a player uses a ball or balls in possession to keep themselves from being hit.
  2. Failed Block (Deflection Exception): If an opponent’s ball hits a player’s blocking ball and then hits the blocker’s body/clothing afterwards, the blocker is out. If a player drops their blocking ball(s) as a result of trying to block an opponent’s ball, they are out. If a ball hits the blocker’s fingers or hand first while trying to block, the blocker is out.
  3. Catches after blocks (see under "Catch" > #7).
  4. Dead balls cannot be used for blocking. A player is out as soon as they block with a dead ball.

Dead Ball

  1. Dead ball: A ball that hits an object/surface/teammate before the player, or a ball declared as a dead ball by the referee (see both "Catch" and "Hit" sections).
  2. 10-second holding rule: The intention of the 10-second holding rule is to prevent stalling and encourage continuous play. Players can only hold the ball for 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is dead and must be turned over.
    1. The 10 second count starts in these situations: (a) when a player picks up a ball, (b) when a player holds down a ball that is on the ground for longer than 3 seconds, (c) when a player maneuvers a ball alongside themselves on the ground to move to a different position on the court, and (d) when the first ball is activated at the opening rush (see under "Technical" > #1).
    2. The 10 second rule DOES NOT start in these situations: (a) when a player rolls a ball to another teammate (ball must not leave the ground), (b) when a player rolls a ball back from the center line, and (c) when a player stops a moving ball.
  3. The 10-second count is announced: “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, dead ball”. The interval between the first utterance of each number or word must be at least one second. The count should be announced loudly enough for the player to hear, yet the onus remains on the players to keep count themselves and to be aware of the Refs count. If the player has not released the ball at the first utterance of the word ‘dead ball’, the player must turn over the dead ball.
  4. How to turn over a dead ball: A dead ball, after a 10-second count, must be rolled over with the intention to touch the opposing team’s wall (i.e. not just placed over the center line). If a dead ball stops midway from the center line and the opposing team’s wall, the referee can intervene to assist the turnover.
  5. Dead balls must be played by the receiving team before the other team can use it again.
  6. What happens to the countdown on balls go out of bounds: Countdown on balls is stopped once they go out of bounds and does not resume when the balls return to the court (see udner "Catch" > #7).
  7. Players cannot intentionally put balls out of bounds, or just over the center line to reset (see under "Glossary") the ball count. Those balls will be deemed as dead by the referee and must be turned over to the other team.
  8. What happens to the ball count when a player is out: When a player is out for any reason, all balls under their possession are to be dropped. Any countdowns on those balls are reset, unless any of those balls have already been deemed as dead balls by the referees.
  9. Dropped balls: Intentionally dropping or passing balls will not stop the 10-second count. A player may drop a held ball in order to catch a thrown ball, but the dropped ball is still counted down.
  10. High throws (also known as the 6FT Rule): All balls thrown above 6FT that hit the wall are dead and must be turned over. In cases where a 6FT line is not indicated, a line or wall fixture will be established by the coordinators at the gym prior to game time. If a player jumps, and is hit above the 6FT line, that player is still out because the high ball hit the player and not the wall.
  11. If a team has all 6 balls on their court and are not being used (i.e. all 6 balls are left on the ground), referees will begin a 10-second holding rule on the ball closest to the center line until it is played or turned over to the other team. If a player plays a ball, the countdown is transferred to that ball.

Other Plays

  1. Showdown: If there is only 1 player left from each team, showdown goes into effect after 10 seconds. The procedure for showdown is: Referees count down 10 seconds, ending with “showdown” to pause the game. The center line boundary is dissolved, while the sidelines remain active boundaries. Players begin with 2 balls in their hands at their respective walls. The other 2 balls go at the ends of the center line. When ready, showdown begins with a “3, 2, 1, showdown” from the referees. Tagging the opponent in a showdown will not count; balls must be released in order to hit someone out (see under "Technical" > #8 and #9).
  2. Kamikaze plays: Players are not allowed to deliberately cross the center line to make a play (i.e. jumping across to make a closer throw). They will automatically be called out and the ball(s) they have thrown will not count. However, if the thrown ball is caught, it is considered a legal catch.
  3. The use of the apparatus or the alcoves in the gyms during the games is illegal.


  1. The ball countdown at the "Opening Rush" starts when the first of the 6 balls is activated. Once the countdown starts, the countdown applies to all 6 balls.
  2. An opposing team’s balls at the center line can be taken once ALL of your own team’s balls are activated, and they must also be activated before it becomes live.
  3. If you throw a ball at the opposing team while over the center line during the "Opening Rush", you will be considered out.
  4. When catching, a player must be in full control of the ball without using any out of bounds area or floor as leverage.
  5. A player is not to use any part of their clothing, or assistive accessories to make a catch.
  6. When attempting to catch a blocked ball, a player must hold onto ALL the balls that they had in possession of at the time of the block, otherwise the player is out.
  7. Countdown on balls that go out of bounds: Countdown on balls is stopped once they go out of bounds and does not resume when the balls return to the court. Balls purposely placed out of bounds are exempt from the resetting of the count.
  8. Any physical contact with an opposing player will deem the player that initiated contact "out".
  9. If a ball is thrown before the first utterance of "showdown", or "dead ball", the throw is considered as legal.
  10. A ball must be picked up in order for the release to be legal. Smacking, spiking or scooping of a ball is not allowed and the hit will not count; however, if caught by the opponent, the catch is legal.
  11. Players must line up next to the referees in the order they were knocked out. Players return to the game in the order they were knocked out. (i.e. Player A was hit out first and Player B was hit out second. Player B lines up next to the referees before Player A. A catch was made by their teammates but Player A has not lined up next to the referees, therefore the catch does not bring anyone back in).
  12. Crushed Balls: If a thrown ball hits an opponent or their wall and rebounds squished, or unlike its original shape at the start of the game, it will be deemed a crushed ball (see under "Other Details" > #4). Throwing a crushed ball will result in the thrower being 'out'. Repeat offenders will be charged for the replacement of a damaged ball.

Other Details

  1. Substitutions and timeouts: Substitutions and timeouts are not allowed during a game unless there is an injury. The same 6 players who start a game must end the game. Substitutions may occur after each individual game (i.e. when you switch sides). Teams switch sides after each game. The number of games played will depend on the number of people registered to play on that court.
    1. Replacement of an injured player: Only substitutes (players who did not start the game) are eligible to replace an injured player. The substitute can only substitute in for a player of the same gender. In the case where no substitutes are available, the team will play short, or forfeit the game if the injured is the last live player.
  2. Honour System Officiating: It is ultimately up to the players to enforce and uphold the rules of dodgeball when playing or refereeing. Dodgeball relies on the honour system, in which officiating is determined more between players and less from the referees. However, if there is a controversial play, the referees will make the final call. They have the right to stop a game and discuss the incident before proceeding.
  3. Balls that go out of bounds are to be returned to where they became out of bounds, or stopped on the sidelines before they go out of bounds. If the initial out of bounds location cannot be determined, then the balls should be placed on the center line.
  4. Ball treatment: No kicking, crushing, dunking, or playing basketball with the dodgeballs. A ball is considered crushed/oversqueezed if the ball thrown does not resemble the original ball after hitting an opponent or wall.
  5. Kicking a ball at an opponent during a game or in a showdown will result in the kicker being called out.
  6. Players are not allowed to intentionally interfere with the opponents at the opening rush.

Attire and Safety

  1. Players must wear proper gym attire. Shirtless play is not allowed. Clothing must not endanger the safety of other players.
  2. Players may not use clothing or accessories to provide unfair advantage, or unfairly inhibit or assist the movement of the ball to make a catch or throw.
  3. Clothing (including uniforms and accessories) is considered part of a player’s body.
  4. Players are not allowed to play with gloves, bare hands only. Wraps for supporting recovering injuries are acceptable.
  5. Proper exercise footwear is required at all times. Sandals, flip flops, marking shoes, dress shoes, and going barefoot are not allowed.

Code of Conduct

  1. Headshots and regular high throws.
    1. Regular hits above the shoulders (headhunting)
    2. Contested vs. uncontested head shots
      Contested headshots do occur, and are considered accidental (to a degree) or reasonable due to the play:
      - The player is kneeling or crouching low;
      - The ball bounces off of something (ball/wall/ground/player) and hits a player in the head;
      - A person is throwing at another player and the recipient walks in front of the throw;
      - The person lowers their head into the ball
      Uncontested headshots are unacceptable and unsafe:
      - They occur in full standing position or similar (a slight crouch);
      - Are uncalled for;
      - Directly contact the recipient without hitting anything else;
      - May also occur after a thrower has been consistently throwing high (despite being told otherwise by referees)
      At any time if a head shot is thrown, the thrower should immediately apologize and ensure that the apology is received by the head shot recipient.
  2. Foul language, racial slurs, verbal abuse and slander.
  3. Unnecessary roughness and physical abuse.
  4. Slamming down or kicking balls in anger when hit.
  5. Arguing with referees, staff, participants, or fans.
  6. Excessive or unruly complaining and negativity to other players, referees or League Managers.
  7. Biased refereeing to favour or disfavour other teams.