Rules at a Glance

  • During opening rush, only take the 3 balls on your right. Activate the ball by touching the back wall before using.
  • The side lines must never be stepped on or crossed. The centre line cannot be stepped on or crossed except during the opening rush.
  • After picking up a ball, you have 10 seconds to use it before it becomes a “Dead ball.” Then you must surrender the ball to the other team by gently rolling it over. Passing the ball to a team mate does not reset the 10 second count.
  • Win by getting the entire team out by hitting them with a ball or catching their ball.
  • Catching a ball gets your opponent out and brings one of your team mate back in. When your team mate returns, they must touch the back wall before picking up a ball.
  • You can catch any ball that bounces off yourself as long as it doesn’t touch anything else first including: your team mates, the wall, the floor.
  • You can avoid getting hit by dodging or blocking with a ball that you are holding. A block must be clean, in other words, the ball cannot deflect onto you after the block. You cannot block with a dead ball.
  • Head shots may cause serious injury and is therefore strongly discouraged. But for clarity, they do count as a hit


  • 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 “General Rules” #5)
  • 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 (ground/wall/teammate) (See “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 “General Rules #3)
  • 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 count in order to prolong possession. (See “Dead ball” #7) Any thrown balls towards the other team, below 6FT, are considered as fair play.

General Rules

  • Maximum of 6 players and a minimum of 2 females (one of which must be from the team’s roster) on each team at the start of the game.
  • 6 standard balls 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.
  • 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 “Other Details #8)
  • Teams can only take the 3 balls to their right initially (see “Technical” #2)
  • Balls must touch the back wall before they are live. The ball is dead otherwise.
  • 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.
  • Eliminated players line up against the designated wall or on the sideline (playoffs), which is to be announced at the start of the games, next to the referees according to the order of elimination.
  • Substitutions may occur after each individual game.
  • Players are to play by the honour system. If in doubt, player should call themselves out. (See “Officiating Guidelines – Main Responsibilities #6)
  • Play continues until one team is eliminated.

Rules of Play

[vc_custom_heading text=”Boundaries”]

  1. Center line: Players are not allowed to step on or over the center line. They are out if they do. (The only exception is during the opening rush.)
  2. Sidelines: Players are not allowed to step on or over the sideline at any time. They are out if they do.
  3. It is still considered an out if a player’s foot hovers over the line while the player is grounded.
  4. While executing a throw, a player must land back within boundaries. If the player is not able to complete the throw within the boundary, the hit on the other player does not count.

[vc_custom_heading text=”Hits”]

  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 “Blocking” #2)
  2. Clothing: Uniforms and accessories are considered part of a player’s body.
  3. Hit etiquette: If a player is hit, he/she should drop all held balls, raise his/her arm to signal that he/she is out, and leave the court immediately and 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 “Code of Conduct”)
  5. If in doubt, players should call themselves out (“If in doubt, you are out”)

[vc_custom_heading text=”Catches”]

  1. A catch is when a player retains full control (See 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, in bounds. (See “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 him/her 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 “Technical” #11 & 12)
  4. Returning players after a catch: Returning players must go straight to any part of their own back wall, and touch the wall to be reactivated.
    1. This must be done without hesitation to touch the wall or to delay reactivation.
    2. If the player touches a ball while returning back to the wall before touching it, the ball becomes a deadball. The player cannot be hit out until he/she has been reactivated.
    3. If a returning player is in a ready position to play (reach back of court, can see opposing team), if hit, the player will still be considered out even if they have not “touched” the back wall. Balls cannot be activated until the player has touched the back wall, but if the player is ready to play, they cannot delay the play of the game by hesitating to be reactivated.
  5. When a dead ball thrown is caught, it is considered as 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 himself/herself) before gaining full control (“Trap”, “Full Control” see Glossary), or allows him/herself to be out first (by another hit, or crossing center/sideline the player is 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 he/she is out. (See “Technical” #6, #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 “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 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 didn’t see his/her ball get caught)
  13. 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.If the catch is missed by all referees entirely and no one leaves the court, there is no dispute and play continues.

[vc_custom_heading text=”Blocks”]

  1. A block is when a player uses a ball or balls in possession to keep himself/herself 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 his/her blocking ball(s) as a result of trying to block an opponent’s ball, he/she is 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 “Catch” #7)
  4. Dead balls cannot be used for blocking. A player is out as soon as he/she blocks with a dead ball.

[vc_custom_heading text=”Counts, Dead Balls and Interferences”]

  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 “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. (See “Player Etiquette #6) It is the responsibility of players to know their ball’s countdown status.a. 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 himself/herself 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 “Technical” #1)b. 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: “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, 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. (See “Player Etiquette” # 6)
  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 #7)
  7. Players cannot intentionally put balls out of bounds, or just over the center line to reset (see 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 his/her 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 (aka 6FT Rule): All balls thrown above 6FT that hits 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.
  12. Any interference by players for balls in play (i.e. Intentionally blocking or stopping balls while walking off courts, manipulating balls, or rolling balls to teammate while on side lines), will be deemed a deadball. This does not apply to balls that have rolled out of bounds, but those balls should be placed on the sidelines where the ball rolled out of bounds, or in the centre if possible.


  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. (See “Dead Ball” #2d)
  2. An opposing team’s balls at the centre 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 his/her 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.
  12. Players return to the game in the order they were knocked out. (ex. Player A was hit out first. 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.)
  13. 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 “Other Details” #5). Throwing a crushed ball will result in the thrower being ‘out’. Repeat offenders will be charged for the replacement of a damaged ball.


  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 “Technical” #8, 9)
  2. Kamikaze plays: Players are not allowed to deliberately cross the center line to make a play (ie. jumping across to make a closer throw). They will automatically be called out and their ball(s) 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.
  4. 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, end the game. Substitution may occur after each individual game (i.e. when you switch sides).a. Replacement of injured player: only subs (players who did not start the game) are eligible to replace an injured player. A male sub can only replace an injured male player, but a female sub can replace either an injured male or injured female player. 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. (Depending on the severity of the injury, BOSS Dodgeball reserves the right to ask an injured player to stop playing)
  5. Eligible substitute players (See “League Policies”)
  6. 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. In respect for the spirit of the game and for fellow players, there is absolutely no protesting allowed. However we encourage players to discuss and clarify any plays in a respectful manner with referees and league execs after the game is finished.
  7. 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 can’t be determined, then the balls should be placed on the center line.
  8. Ball treatment: No kicking, crushing, dunking, or playing basketball with the dodgeballs. A ball is considered crushed/over squeezed if the ball thrown does not resemble the original ball after hitting an opponent or wall.
  9. Kicking a ball at an opponent during a game or in a showdown will result in the kicker being called out.
  10. Players are not allowed to intentionally interfere with the opponents at the opening rush.
  11. Any discrepancies regarding plays/situations that are not documented in the official BOSS Dodgeball rules will be decided by the Division Director and/or the League Coordinators of that particular night.

Safety & Attire

  1. Players must wear proper gym strip. 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 (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.