The 7 Best Dodgeballs
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Although the game has been traditionally played by 6- to 12-year-olds, dodgeball has matured into something enjoyed by kids and adults of all ages around the world. If you're one of them, try out one of these in your next game. We've included soft and painless options for younger kids through to regulation-sized models for competitive adults. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best dodgeball on Amazon.
A Brief History Of Dodgeball
These new rules made the game extremely popular, and colleges began playing each other regularly.
If you've ever been forced to play dodgeball against your will, then it will likely come as no surprise that the game was originally based on a tradition that was designed to kill people.
Certain African tribes played a sport in which the two sides would throw large rocks at each other, with the intent to injure or incapacitate the other team. Once a player fell, the opposing tribe would try to finish him off by continuing to pelt him with stones. Meanwhile, his compatriots would be his only hope for survival, as they would fend the attackers off with rocks of their own.
The idea behind it was that learning to dodge projectiles would be beneficial in war, and having to protect fallen teammates was essential for building teamwork and camaraderie. It's not known how often competitors actually died, if ever, but serious injuries were common — just like gym class, really.
A British missionary named James H. Carlisle witnessed one of these competitions in the mid-19th century C.E., and he was instantly taken with it. He couldn't help but marvel at the agility of the competitors, and he was amazed at how they were able to work so fluidly as a team.
When he got back to England, Carlisle wanted to introduce the game to people in his homeland. Of course, with public stonings being out of style at this time, Carlisle knew he'd need to find a substitute for deadly stones, so he fashioned a leather ball that players could use.
The original rules allowed for players to move anywhere they liked, and players spent most of the game trying to trap opponents. A player was only ruled out when they were literally knocked to the ground from a blow.
Carlisle convinced students at St. Mary's College in Norfolk to play the game, and in 1884 they competed against a squad from Yale. One of the Yale students was a man named Phillip Ferguson, who took the game back to America and made some key modifications.
He realized that the game would be more fast-paced if players were limited to a set area, and he redefined the rules for both entering into and being eliminated from the contest. These new rules made the game extremely popular, and colleges began playing each other regularly.
From there, it became a mainstay in gym classes around the world, and today it's easier to find a league than ever.
That's good news for anyone who wakes up one day and decides they want to find the most efficient way to break their nose.
A Quick Refresher On The Rules
It may not be clear from watching a game, but there are actually rules to dodgeball. Of course, some of these can vary from league to league, so be sure to check with officials before you make any assumptions. Below are the basic rules, however.
The game is usually played on a basketball or racquetball court, with each team being given a side — meaning, they can't venture into the other team's side or else they'll be disqualified.
Of course, some of these can vary from league to league, so be sure to check with officials before you make any assumptions.
To start the game, a set number of balls are lined up in the middle of the court, with each team starting off with one of their own. Players have to start with one hand on their wall, and on the referee's mark, they race to claim the balls in the middle.
That's when the carnage starts. A player is eliminated when they get hit by a ball, or when a ball they throw is caught by the other team. If the ball bounces before it's caught or hits someone, the player is still live. You can also use the ball to block the other team's throws — or you can use your face, but that's not recommended.
In most leagues, catching the ball allows one of your eliminated players to re-enter the game. This is especially useful in leagues where the game ends due to one team being completely eliminated, although some organizations use timed rounds instead.
While your rules may vary slightly, the above will likely form the basis of the regulations in any league you compete in. Of course, the most important rule is always this: make sure the ringers are on your team.
Tips For Dominating Your Next Match
Dodgeball gets a bad rap, as it's generally considered a brutal sport. However, it turns out that it's one of the safest games you can play, so usually the only thing you risk hurting is your pride.
With these tips, however, your pride will be completely safe — because you'll be the one dominating.
Be aware of the boundaries before you leap out of the way, as well.
While throwing the ball is sexier, catching is where you can truly set yourself apart. This is because if you catch the ball, not only do you eliminate the thrower, but you also free up one of your players to return to the game.
Don't try to catch a ball that's not a threat to you — trying to make a miraculous catch is more likely to make you spectacularly out. Try to catch with your hands, or absorb it into your midsection and trap it with your arms.
When throwing the ball, be reasonably sure you can get an out (or at least avoid a catch) before you throw. Try to synchronize your throw with a teammate's, as it's much harder to dodge multiple balls. Also, aim for the legs. Most people don't, and balls up high are easier to catch.
Dodging is another skill people tend to ignore, choosing instead to rely on instinct. Jumping is a good strategy for low balls, so work on your vertical. Be aware of the boundaries before you leap out of the way, as well.
With a little practice and some sound strategy, you can become an absolute menace in your dodgeball league. And don't believe anyone who lectures you about education or hard work — superior dodgeball skills are what truly enable you to get ahead in life.
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