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Professional Dodgeball Is Not A Sport For Amateurs

Updated on August 12, 2015
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Readmikenow likes sports, professional and amateur. He especially likes sports stories of courage and overcoming adversity.

Player Throwing Dodgeball During Game
Player Throwing Dodgeball During Game

Many people remember playing dodgeball during gym class in high school. People either loved playing it or tried to avoid participation in the dodgeball game. It is a sport that has gone beyond school gym classes. Dodgeball is now a professional sport played by athletes all around the world.


The sport of dodgeball was originally played at different places in Africa a few hundred years ago. It wasn't designed to be a fun sport. The first games of dodgeball were a deadly competition. During the game, players from African tribes would have large rocks. They would throw them at their opponents to seriously injure or knock them out. Once a player was hit, players from the other team would continue to hit him with rocks to eliminate him. It was the job of the player's team members to defend him. They would throw rocks at the other team to make them back off. This was believed to be a great way to train warriors. It was intended to teach the men how to work together during a battle. Dr. James H. Carlisle was a missionary in Africa. He watched tribal men play this sport. It fascinated him how it required intense agility and teamwork to survive. It was something the tribal people did daily. Upon returning to England. He described the game to his students. They tried to play a form of the game with a leather ball. Carlisle realized his students lacked the agility and teamwork of the tribal people.

Avoiding Dodgeball During Game
Avoiding Dodgeball During Game

Creation Of The Dodgeball Game

When Carlisle spoke about the game, it did not receive much interest. While at St. Mary's College in Norfolk, England he changed the game. Instead of rocks, he decided it should be played with a leather ball. It would be played on an open field with no movement restrictions. When a player was knocked down , they were out. It soon became popular. St. Mary's College hosted a number of dodgeball players from other schools in 1884.

Philip Ferguson

This is the person credited with introducing dodgeball to the United States. He had an idea to play it in a set area. Ferguson had designated teams on either side of a specified area with a line separating them.

Throwing Dodgeball During Game
Throwing Dodgeball During Game


The first official rules for dodgeball were created in 1905. The rules covered such things as when a player could do after catching the ball, being hit and more. The rules made the sport very popular with colleges all over the United States. The sports popularity became known in England and became the standard for all games of dodgeball. Professional dodgeball has a rules created by the National Dodgeball League.

Professional Dodgeball Court

The court used by professional dodgeball players is an area of 60 feet divided into two 30 foot areas. In the center of the court is a neutral zone. It measures 4 feet by 30 feet and separates the two teams. An attack like is placed 10 feet from the court's center and is parallel with the center line. The total length of a professional dodgeball court is 60 feet in length and 30 feet in width. There is also an out of bounds area that needs to be up to three feet. Enough space must be available on the court for officials to move easily along the sidelines.

The Rush
The Rush

The Rush Move

This move happens at the start or reset of each professional dodgeball game. An official will give a signal. Members of both teams will rush to the court's center and try to get as many dodgeballs as possible. Each team determines the number of players it wants to participate in the rush. The teams are required to have at least one player participate in the rush. There are no limits to the number of dodgeball a single player can obtain. During the rush, a player is not permitted to dive head first or slide into the neutral zone. If a player does this, they will be called out. Should a player cross the neutral zone during the rush, they will also be called out. Players are not permitted to physically force another player over the neutral zone. Players are not allowed to prevent opposing players from going back to their team's side of the court.

Playing Professional Dodgeball

Placing Dodgeballs In Play

Before a player can throw a dodgeball, they must be completely behind the attack line. Dodgeballs obtained in the court's neutral zone during the rush must be taken behind the attack line before they can legally be thrown at an opponent. Any dodgeball that isn't taken behind the attack like prior to being thrown at an opponent is considered a dead ball. If a dead ball hits an opposing player or is caught by an opposing player, the play does not count. A professional dodgeball player can put the ball in play by carrying it across the attack line. They can pass the ball to a teammate who is behind the attack line and then carries it over the attack line. With a closed court, a player can catch the ball off the back wall and put it in play.

Getting Out

A professional dodgeball player is determined to be out when a live ball touches any part of their clothing, uniform or body. A player is out if they are hit by a live ball that comes off another player or hits a ball laying on the floor of the court. If a defending player catches a live ball, the person who threw it is out.

Movies and More

The movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” came out in 2004. Many people believe this movie is responsible for increasing the popularity of the sport. The sport of dodgeball has been featured in movies such as “Bad Teacher” and “Jackass: Number Two” as well as television shows such as “The Simpsons” and “South Park” and even in the Nintendo Wii video game “Mario Sports Mix.”

National Dodgeball League
National Dodgeball League

National Dodgeball League

There is currently only one professional dodgeball organization in the United States. It's the National Dodgeball League (NDL). The NDL was started in 2004. It currently has 24 professional teams. These teams are divided into the American and National Dodgeball Conferences. Every year the NDL hosts the Dodgeball World Championship (DWC). It takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Players from around the world participate in this tournament. It's designed to decided what country has the best dodgeball team. Participants come from Australia, Japan, Denmark and more.

Becoming A Professional Dodgeball Player

Practice playing the sport with equipment and on a court that meets NDL regulations. When skills are developed, contact the NDL and see if a nearby team is holding tryouts. After playing in the amateur circuit for a period of time, scouts will notice. A tryout may then be offered to play for a professional team from the NDL.




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