Abbreviated Rules

The Official Shortened Dodgeball Rulebook Of


*These shortened rules are great for newer players to come in and get a quicker feel for the most important and basic parts of dodgeball. New players quickly learn that there are a ton of rules in dodgeball, and you can read our complete rule list as well, but these should suffice, as all players will learn most rules simply through playing the game.

*Management and officials reserve the right to make decisions in the interest of fairness, even when those decisions may seem counter to any rules listed below. In rare instances, if a rule determination cannot be met within our own guidelines, then we may consult the Elite Dodgeball rulebook for clarification and rulings.

The Dodgeball Court

dodgeball court diagragm

The Match


The purpose of each team is to throw balls at, catch the throws of, and dodge the throws of the opposing players in order to eliminate all of the players on the opposing team.


ART. 1… Dodgeball is played by two (2) teams, with a predetermined number of players for each team

  1. The number of players per team can vary from league to league, so please check your league for this information.
  2. Teams must designate at least one captain but no more than two captains.

ART. 2… Team captains are:

  1. Responsible for naming the team, collecting and distributing uniforms, reading weekly emails, substitute players, replacement players, communicating with officials, and voting for the most valuable player.
  2. The only players allowed to communicate with the officials.


ART. 1… A standard match consists of one, fifty-minute regulation time period consisting of a set of multiple games.

  1. In order to start a match, both teams must have at least fifty percent (50%) of the maximum number of players allowed on the court for each team. For example, if the league allows a maximum of nine (9) players on the court for each team, then the minimum amount of players required to start a match is five (5) players. All fractions of players are to be rounded up.
  2. A game is over when one team has had all its players eliminated from play, thus losing. The winning team, with at least one player remaining, is awarded one point.
  3. At the end of each game, teams will switch sides of the court.

ART. 2… Matches are set up by doing the following:

  1. A standard match is played with a total of five, six, or seven balls - depending on type of league
  2. There is a "burden ball" when there is an even number of balls used in a game - the burden ball will be of a different color than the other balls
  3. Balls will be placed along the courts centerline with three balls on each side of the court.
  4. Captains will play one game of rock-paper-scissors. The winner will be allowed to choose burden control or court control. The option not chosen is deferred to the opposing team’s captain.
  5. Burden control is when a captain chooses which team is to start with the burden ball on their side of the court.
  6. Court control is when a captain chooses the side of the court on which they wish to start.


ART. 1… Each team is allotted a single, thirty-second timeout per match.


ART. 1… At the start of each game, all players may participate in the opening rush. (See Figure 2-1)

  1. All players will start with both feet behind the back line. In the event that there is no back line, players must have one point of physical contact with the back wall.
  2. At the signal of the official, players may only run to retrieve any balls located on the centerline to their right. These balls are considered to be under their initial control. Players may not run for the balls on their left side.
  3. Players may not slide or dive for balls on the opening rush.
dodgeball opening rush diagragm

ART. 2… After the initial rush, players must establish themselves with control of their balls behind their attack line, so as to bring the ball legally into play.

  1. A player has brought a ball into play when it is controlled in at least one hand, while both feet are on the court and behind the attack line.
  2. Balls may be tossed to a player who is established behind the attack line.


ART. 1… In a game where an even number of balls are used:

  1. The team with the most balls in their possession has ball control, and thus the burden to throw, until they no longer possess more balls than the opposing team.
  2. In any instance of both teams having the same number of balls, the team with the burden ball must throw at least one ball.

ART. 2… In a game where an odd number of balls are used:

  1. The team with the most balls in their possession has ball control, and thus the burden to throw, until they no longer possess more balls than the opposing team.
  2. There is no burden ball.

ART. 3… Once a team gains ball control, that team has until a count of ten in order to throw the required number of balls over the centerline. A count of ten may not necessarily be equivalent to ten seconds.

  1. The count will reset as soon as the team with ball control throws or rolls the required number of balls over the centerline. Balls in mid-flight that have not crossed the centerline, are still within the throwing team’s possession, and do not count as having been relinquished. The only exception to this is when striking an opposing player that has any part of their body over the centerline.
  2. Balls thrown to the opposing side that immediately come back, will not count against the ball control countdown. Therefore, if it gives a team ball control again, the countdown resets. *this is only after the team has thrown the appropriate number of balls.
  3. Eliminated players and players that are out of bounds may roll balls over to the other side of the court in order to relinquish ball control. Players may not hold onto a ball for any amount of time that is longer than necessary to throw or roll the ball over.
  4. Balls must be thrown or rolled over the centerline and reach near the opponent or the opponent’s back line. Balls may not be placed by hand over the centerline.
  5. Essentially, the object is to relinquish the appropriate number of balls to give, or that would have given, your opponent ball control. It’s possible to have given up enough balls, but still maintain control and receive a new countdown, if new balls came into a team’s zone during the old countdown. Officials may frequently yell “reset” to signal a new count in these scenarios.


ART. 1… Elimination by an opponent occurs when:

  1. An opposing player throws a ball and it makes contact with the player’s body or clothes, including costumes, without being caught by a player’s teammate. There is no limit to how many players can be eliminated with a single ball before it becomes dead.
    1. A typical baseball cap (or something very similar), as well as bandanas and sweatbands, are considered part of the head and not a costume. Any headgear that is bigger than these items, or has long protruding or flailing parts, is considered a costume, and the player will be out when struck.
  2. An opposing player catches a ball that was thrown by the player.

ART. 2… Self elimination occurs when:

  1. Touching the opposing team’s zone on the court. For example, any part of the body that touches the opponent’s side of the court is considered an out.
  2. Jumping and/or dodging out of bounds.
  3. A player uses any object in the out of bounds area to maintain balance except when that object is part of the boundaries (such as a back wall acting as the backline). Simply touching an object that is out of bounds will not necessarily be an out, unless that object is the floor, or you were using the object for some sort of advantage.
  4. The player exits the court, for any reason, when they are the last live player on their team.

ART. 3… A legal throw occurs when and results in:

  1. A throw involving the use of your hands and arms in a typical throwing fashion occurs.
  2. Balls that are kicked, spiked, punched, belly bumped, or pinched are not valid forms of offense.
dodgeball no pinching illustration

ART. 4… A ball is considered to be live when:

  1. It leaves a player’s hand during a legal throw.
  2. The ball collides with a live ball thrown by the same team in mid-air.

ART. 5… A live ball is considered to be dead when and results in:

  1. The ball touches any surface or object, such as the ground, ceiling, wall, or an eliminated player.
  2. The ball collides with an opposing player’s thrown ball in mid-air.
  3. Dead balls remain dead until  thrown by a live player.

ART. 6… A legal catch occurs when and results in:

  1. A player catches a live ball thrown by an opposing player.
  2. The opposing player who threw the ball is out.
  3. The first person standing in the outline of the catcher’s team is allowed to re-enter the game.

ART. 7… A catch save occurs when and results in:

  1. A player catches a live ball thrown by an opposing player that ricochets off of another live player on the same team, thus saving their teammate that was initially hit by the opposing player’s throw.
  2. There is no limit to the number of players that can be hit before the ball is finally caught, which will save all players with which the ball came into contact.

ART. 8… A block occurs when and results in:

  1. A player uses their ball to block incoming balls thrown at them by an opposing player.
  2. Players must maintain possession of their ball immediately after deflecting a live ball. If the player drops a ball used for deflection, that player is out once the ball touches the floor or any other object that would cause the ball to become dead.
  3. The player has the opportunity to regain possession of the ball used for blocking before it becomes dead. A teammate may save the player by catching the ball knocked away from them.
  4. A ball that is deflected is still considered live and can eliminate players or be caught.
  5. If a player blocks a ball into themselves or a teammate, the struck player is out.

ART. 9… A trap occurs when and results in:

  1. A ball is caught or hits a player while simultaneously making contact with the floor or anything else that would cause the ball to be dead.
  2. Traps do not count as a hit or catch and all players involved are considered safe.

ART. 10…  A direct headshot occurs when and results in:

  1. A live ball’s first point of contact is the opposing player’s head.
  2. The ball is considered dead and play may be stopped at the official’s discretion when a direct headshot occurs. The player is offered up to thirty seconds to compose themselves and assure the officials that they are physically able to continue.
  3. Players struck in the head are considered safe even if another ball or balls contact them simultaneously. They must clearly be hit with another ball before a direct head shot occurs to be considered out.
  4. Players may protect themselves from direct headshots using their arms. They will be considered safe unless the officials determine that the player attempted to catch the direct headshot, then they will be called out.

ART. 11… A flight play occurs when and results in: NOTE: For safety reasons, flight plays are banned in all New Orleans Dodgeball leagues with the exception of the tournament-style leagues.

  1. A player jumps across the centerline, without first stepping over it, in an attempt to hit an opposing player with a legal throw and subsequently landing on the opponent’s side of the court. A successful flight play results in at least one out.

ART. 12… A hard boundary is a line on the dodgeball court that cannot be crossed. (See Figure 2-3)

  1. Crossing a hard boundary or touching the opponent’s side of the court or out of bounds during regular play will cause a player to be considered out.
  2. The centerline is the hard boundary that runs horizontally through the middle of the court and extends beyond the sidelines in both directions. Players may cross this line only during the opening rush to retrieve the balls under their initial control.
Center dodgeball boundary diagram

ART. 13… A soft boundary is a line on the dodgeball court that can partially be crossed. (See Figure 2-4)

  1. Players may touch across soft boundaries with a partial foot (and only a partial foot) - or feet - and still be considered in bounds.
  2. Players that touch across soft boundaries with a whole foot, hand, or any part of their body are considered to be out.
  3. The backlines are soft boundaries that run parallel to the centerline in the back on each side of the court. NOTE: Backlines are considered hard boundaries in tournament-style leagues.
  4. The sidelines are soft boundaries that run perpendicularly to the centerline and backlines on each side of the court and extend beyond the backline in both directions. NOTE: Sidelines are considered hard boundaries in tournament-style leagues.
Back dodgeball boundary diagram

ART. 1… The outline is the line on the right side of each team’s court in which eliminated players must form a line as they are eliminated.

  1. Eliminated players must establish their position with both feet in line in the order in which they reach the outline. The order is not the order in which elimination occurs. Therefore, when players reach the outline, they must immediately make their way to the back of the line and not try to figure out where their spot is or which player was eliminated first.
  2. Only the first person in the outline is eligible for re-entry upon a catch and must be established in that position when a catch is made in order to re-enter the court. NOTE: If multiple catches are made near simultaneously, before the first player re-enters the court, all the catches still count and each catch gets a different player in.
  3. The first three eliminated players in the outline are considered to be locked in. They are not allowed to leave the outline area for any reason. This means they are not allowed to shag on the other side of the court, go to the bathroom, get a drink, etc.
  4. The last player in the line is always allowed to roam along the outlines up to the centerline in order to shag balls, even if they are one of the first three in the outline.
  5. The first player in line is allowed to shag along any area of the outline that extends past the backline of their court. Again, only along the outline area.

ART. 2… Once a player is eliminated, they must immediately proceed to their team’s outline, located out-of-bounds to the right side of that team’s court.

  1. An out player signifies to the court and the officials that they are out by raising their hand.
  2. An out player must drop any ball they are currently holding.
  3. An out player must immediately proceed to their outline, exiting the court to the nearest out-of-bounds area to the right side of that team’s court. It is the player’s responsibility to not interfere with gameplay while walking to the outline.

ART. 3… Once a player is caught in, they may re-enter the court.

  1. A caught-in player may only re-enter the court towards the back of their own side of the court, near or on the backline.
  2. A caught-in player will be allotted a count of five to enter the game once a catch is made. It is not the duty of the official to inform a player to come re-enter the court, and teammates are encouraged to help inform their own teammates. It is also up the players at the front of the line to pay attention to any actions on the court.


ART. 1… The act of shagging refers to any player who retrieves any ball that is out of bounds to make them available to live players.

  1. A live player may only exit the court in order to shag if a ball has gone out of bounds. The player may only exit via the backline or using the entry/exit zones towards the back of the court.
  2. A live player may not exit their court if there are no balls present on their side of the court in the out-of-bounds area, or within a reasonable reaching distance across the centerline. Players who leave the court in this situation will be considered out.
  3. A live player who is legally shagging is considered safe until they re-establish themselves on the court with both feet and cannot be eliminated by a legal throw.
  4. If a live player is the last live player on their team, they cannot exit the court to shag or for any other reason. If they exit, they will be considered out, and the opposing team will be declared the winner of the game.



ART. 1… Players must:

  1. Be at least eighteen (18) years of age to play.
  2. Be at least twenty-one (21) years of age to participate in bar events sponsored by the New Orleans Dodgeball Association.


ART. 1… Legal substitutions (rostered players)

  1. Only players on the active team roster may substitute for one another in between matches.
  2. Only players that start a game may play and re-enter during a game.
  3. Alternate players may not be caught in and must wait until the start of the next game to substitute.


ART. 1… Substitute players (non-rostered players)

  1. In the event that a player cannot attend a match, the team may replace them with a substitute player for the match.
  2. Cannot be rostered players from other teams in the same league.
  3. Must pay a five dollar fee.
  4. Must sign a waiver and are responsible for knowing the rules of the game.
  5. Are not allowed in postseason play.

ART. 2… Replacement players may be added if they are replacing...

  1. An injured player.
  2. A player that is unable to continue playing that season.
  3. A player that has not attended four or more matches and has not communicated with the team or given the team ample notice to find a substitute.
  4. Has agreed to no longer play for the team.
  5. Replacement players must be added before the last week of the regular season. Any players who are injured or forced to drop out after the cut-off date and time can not be replaced.
  6. All replacement players are subject to approval by the league manager.
  7. Replacement players are considered to be part of the active roster, thus are eligible to play in the postseason, and do not have to pay weekly fees.
  8. Replacement players must register and pay the five dollar replacement player fee.

Penalty Cards

Players that persistently refuse to abide by the rules of the game will face discipline at the official’s discretion. Discipline may begin with a verbal warning and escalate to player(s) being issued a penalty card.

PENALTY: YELLOW CARD… Yellow penalty cards

  1. A player who is issued a yellow card is automatically declared out if they are a live player and will be forced to sit out the remainder of the game in session and for the length of the following game.
  2. If a player receives a yellow card in the final game of a match, he or she will be required to sit out in the first game of the following match.
  3. Players who receive two yellow cards in one match will automatically receive a red card.

PENALTY: RED CARD… Red penalty cards

  1. A player who is issued a red card will be forced to sit-out the remainder of the match in session. If a player receives a red card, he or she may be subject to suspension and/or expulsion from the league at the discretion of the league managers.
  2. Players who are expelled from the league are not eligible for refunds of any kind.

The Postseason


ART. 1… League standings will be determined by the following:

  1. Win percentage.
  2. Head-to-head results, if applicable. NOTE: If two teams are tied, then the team with the best head-to-head result between them will receive the higher seed. If three or more teams are tied, then the seeding is ordered according to the win percentage of all matches between the tied teams. If a team did not play any of the other teams it is tied with, their win percentage for the tie breaker will be zero.
  3. Overall game differential. This is determined by taking the number of games a team has won within all of its matches, then subtracting it by the number of games that team has lost. The highest game differential will receive the higher seed.
  4. A coin flip.


ART. 1… A postseason tournament shall be played to determine the league champion.


Captain and Players Code of Ethics

The purpose of this Code is to establish guidelines for ethical standards of conduct for all captain and players of the New Orleans Dodgeball Association.

  • Captains and players shall be aware that he or she has a tremendous influence, for better or worse, on the attitudes and education of their teammates and opposing players, especially new players, and thus shall never place the value of winning above the value of instilling the highest ideals of sportsmanship. This is particularly true in the sport of dodgeball.
  • Captains and players shall uphold the honor and dignity of the sport. In all personal contact with players, officials, league managers, and any other participant of events held by the New Orleans Dodgeball Association.
  • Captains and players shall take an active role in the prevention of substance abuse while participating in events held by the New Orleans Dodgeball Association.
  • Captains and players shall master the contest rules and shall teach them to his or her teammates. They shall not seek an advantage by circumvention of the spirit or letter of the rules.
  • Captains and players shall exert his or her influence to enhance sportsmanship by spectators directly.
  • Captains and players shall respect and support contest officials. They shall not indulge in conduct which would incite players or spectators against the officials. Public criticism of officials or players is unethical.

Violations of these standards include but are not limited to the following:

  • Taunting and baiting opponents.
  • Instigating violence anywhere at anytime.
  • Using foul or abusive language.
  • Causing disturbances at dodgeball games or other events sponsored by the New Orleans Dodgeball Association.
  • Causing disturbances on social media involving the New Orleans Dodgeball Association.

Failure to maintain these standards will result in consequences as deemed necessary by the New Orleans Dodgeball Association and include but are not limited to the following:

  • Receiving a verbal or written warning.
  • Be issued a yellow or red card as deemed necessary by an official or league manager.
  • Ejection from the game, event, or league without refund.
  • Forfeiture of the right to play or participate in future Orleans Dodgeball leagues and events without refund.