Etiquette & Spirit of the Game

  • All players participating in ESSC leagues are expected to play with respect for everyone at the gym and with a “fun first” attitude. Dodgeball can be an intense and physical sport however, all ESSC leagues must remain a fun, non-threatening environment.
  • Players are required to call their own Violations and Fouls and promote fun and safety throughout the game.
  • All players are expected to act in a respectful manner and attempt to fix behaviour as indicated by the GC. Only the team captains should communicate issues with the GC.
  • Teams are expected to cheer for their opponents at the end of a game. It is also encouraged to give an additional cheer for the GC and thank them for GCing the game.

Format & Scoring


  • Before the first game, the captains will meet with the GC to introduce themselves, discuss facility-specific restrictions and rules or sportsmanship issues that need to be emphasized.
  • Each match is 60 minutes long including a 5 minute warm-up and a 5 minute half time.
  • A match consists of as many games that can be completed in the 50 minutes of playing time. No single game can exceed 5 minutes. No game will start with less than 5 minutes remaining in the match.
  • To start a game, each team will stand at their respective back line. The GC will place 3 dodgeballs 5 feet back from the centre line on each half court (6 balls in total).
  • The GC will start the match by shouting “ready, set, dodgeball” at which time players can rush to the balls.
  • The purpose of dodgeball is to eliminate the opposing players from the game by hitting them with the ball below the shoulders or catching balls that have been thrown.
  • There are no substitutions during a game, unless it is necessary due to injury.
  • At halftime, the team captains meet with one another and the GC to discuss any issues that arose in the first half. It is the responsibility of each captain to communicate these issues to their teammates before resuming play.


  • The team with the most games won wins the match.
  • A game is won when one team eliminates all of the opposing players on the court. Each game is worth one point.
    • If the 5 minute time limit is reached, the team with the most players remaining wins the game.
    • If the 5 minute time limit is reached and both teams have the same number of players on the court, the “sudden death” rule will be in effect.
      • Sudden Death: All eliminated players return to the court, the game is restarted, and the first team to have a player eliminated loses the game. In a sudden death game, balls must be ‘activated’ before they can be used to eliminate the opposing team. A ball is activated once it has touched the back wall on the half where it is lined up. All other rules still apply when activating balls (e.g. if a player throws a failed pass to their teammate, they would be out).
  • For regular season games, if the match ends and both teams have the same amount of games won, the match will be recorded as a tie.

General Playing Guidelines

General Court Rules

  • Players cannot remain static in areas that conceal or partially conceal their body (e.g. doorways or equipment that may be in the facility).
  • Players cannot wear gloves while playing dodgeball unless they have a medical reason and have asked the ESSC for permission.
  • Some facilities will have court size restrictions. For facilities that have an out-of-bounds line, the following ball retrieval rules will apply.
    • When a ball rolls out of bounds, it must return to the court immediately.
    • If there are sub players available: they can retrieve the ball and place it back inside the court boundaries on the side that it exited (the ball must be placed on the floor by the out-of-bounds line, it cannot be thrown to a teammate).
    • If there are no sub players available: a player on the team (who is on the court) nearest the exited ball must raise their hand to indicate that they are leaving the playing court to retrieve the ball. This player must proceed directly to the ball and return it to the court. They must return to the court from the end line (not the sidelines). While the hand is raised for ball retrieval this player is not in play, offensively or defensively and cannot be hit or hit anyone. Once they have re-entered the playing court, they can lower their hand. 

Live and Dead Balls Live Balls

  • A ball is live once a player gains possession and until the ball touches anything other than an active player (floor, wall, spectators, benches etc) with the exception of when it touches a ball held by an active player, in which case the ball is still live.
  • Possession is gained when a player picks up a ball or catches a ball.

Dead Balls

  • A ball is dead once it hits anything other than an active player (floor, wall, spectators, benches etc) with the exception of when it touches another ball being held by an active player, in which case the ball is still live.
  • If two balls collide in mid-air, they are both considered dead.
  • A ball that is thrown and deflected back across the center line in the air while still live (either by hitting a player or a ball a player is holding) is considered dead for the purposes of the team who made the initial throw. However, the ball is still considered live for the purposes of the team who was thrown at, meaning that they may still attempt to make a play on the ball (such as reaching or jumping across the center line to make a catch).

Throwing and Passing

Throwing the ball is the most common way of eliminating opponents.

  • A throw is defined as a ball that touches or crosses the center line upon first contact.
  • All players must release the ball within 10 seconds.
  • Failed Pass Rule: Players may pass the ball to a teammate by kicking it along the ground, throwing it or handing it off. If the receiving player touches the ball, but does not catch it, they are eliminated (even if the ball crosses the center line). If the receiving player does not touch the ball, they are not out. Whether or not the receiving player touches the ball, if it does not cross the center line in the air, the thrower is eliminated.
  • If a player hits their own teammate with a ball on a throw, the Failed Pass Rule applies. The player that was hit is eliminated and the thrower is only out if their ball does not cross the center line in the air.
  • A player can direct a dead ball with their hands, feet or with a ball in their possession.
  • Kamikaze throws are allowed. This is when the thrower jumps over the center line and throws the ball at an opponent. They land on the opponent’s side of the court and are therefore eliminated. This is also called a suicide play.
  • Hits that occur from illegal throws do not count, but catches from illegal throws do count. The following throws are illegal:
    • Kicking, spiking, slapping, or otherwise hitting the ball in the air toward the opponent.
    • Pinching the ball: players cannot misshape the ball during play. Pinching the ball means gripping it to the point where the player's hand is closed around a small portion of the ball where two edges of the ball may meet. If a GC deems that a ball has been misshapen to gain an advantage prior to being thrown, the throw will not be deemed legal, but may be caught for an out by the opponent.
    • A 360 degree spinning throw.
    • In Foam Dodgeball, players cannot squeeze the air out of the balls at any point in the game. A ball with all the air squeezed out is referred to as a “raisin”. Throwing a raisin is similar to “pinching”, and thus is illegal.

Catching and Blocking

  • If a player catches a ‘live’ ball that is thrown at him/her – the thrower is eliminated. In addition, the team who caught the ball may return a previously eliminated player back onto the court. Players who re-enter the game are admitted based on the order they were eliminated (the first person eliminated would be the first to return to the game).
  • If a ball strikes a player(s) and is caught by a teammate while it is still live, the player(s) that the ball originally struck is safe. The opposing player that threw the ball is out.
  • If the ball strikes a player(s) and is not caught by them or their teammate while it is still live, all players that touched the ball are out.
  • A player already in possession of a ball cannot catch another ball.
  • Players may use a ball in their possession to block/deflect another ball thrown at them. If that player dropped the ball or it was knocked out of their possession – they are eliminated from the game.
  • A ball deflected with another ball held by an active player is still considered live.
  • If a player deflects a ball with their body and their teammate catches it, the player who deflected it is “saved”.
  • A ball that is caught and hits the ground or wall at the same time (often called a ‘trap’) is considered a dead ball, and no one is eliminated or comes back on.

Eliminating Players

When a player is eliminated they must immediately raise their hand and leave the court. They must join the queue as quickly and efficiently as possible without interfering with the play. Eliminated or substitute players must not interfere with the play while standing on the sidelines.

A player is eliminated if they:

  • Are hit by a dodgeball (coming from the opposition or their own team) below the shoulders and the ball is not caught by any member of their team.
  • Are contacted on any part of their clothing below the shoulders.
  • Throw a ball and it is caught by an opponent.
  • Accidentally or intentionally touch the court on their opponent’s half. Players may lean over the center line to retrieve a ball but may not touch any part of the opponent’s court. Note: The center line includes the side walls.
  • Throw a Dangerous High Throw (see ‘Dangerous High Throws’ section below for more details). This rule does not apply in Foam Dodgeball leagues.
  • Throw a Head Shot (see ‘Head Shots’ section below for more details).
  • Are in possession of more than one ball at a time.
  • Hold onto a ball for longer than 10 seconds. Passing the ball to a teammate does not reset the 10-second count.
  • Dribble the ball.
  • Attempt to reset the 10-second count on a ball (via dribbling or placing the ball over the center line, lightly throwing the ball over half with backspin, throwing the ball high off the back wall, etc) Any attempt to circumvent this rule for a player or their teammate will result in elimination.
  • Throw a ball and it does not reach or cross the center line in the air. The only exception to this rule is if the ball makes contact with a ball thrown by the opposition; in this case, the ball is not required to cross the center line.
  • Fumble the ball in any situation, including a pass from a teammate.
  • Pass a ball to a teammate and that teammate fails to receive the pass and the ball subsequently does not cross the center line in the air.
  • Allow the ball to be knocked out of their hands and it hits the wall or the floor.
  • Allow the ball to be knocked out of their hands and it hits a teammate (if the teammate catches it, they are still in).
  • Place the ball onto the floor.

Re-entering the game

A player will re-enter the game if a teammate catches a ball thrown by the opponent.

  • Players are required to re-enter the game in the order that they were eliminated.
  • Players re-entering the court are encouraged to do so at the back of the court without disrupting the play.
  • Players re-entering the game are considered live once they have taken one step onto the court.
  • Players can only re-enter the game from the queue; if a player is eliminated and a catch is made that would bring them back in before they have reached the queue, they may still re-enter the game, but only after they have touched the side wall where the queue is located.

Violations & Penalties

Warnings and Penalties

Violations, Dangerous High Throws and Head Shots in ESSC Dodgeball are plays that may or may not be intentional, but are dangerous and/or unsportsmanlike and are considered to be serious offenses.

  • Minor Warning – The player should apologize and play continues.
  • Major Warning – The player will sit out for the remainder of the game. The team will play short-handed for the remainder of the game.
  • Penalty – The player will sit out for the remainder of the current game and the following game. The team will play short-handed for the game in which the player commits the penalty. The team is allowed to field six players for the next game.
  • Ejection – The GC may choose to eject a player from a game or match. Once a player has been ejected they must leave the facility immediately. The team can field six players for the remainder of the match.

As these consequences can be a result of minor incidents, further action will not necessarily be taken by the ESSC. The ESSC does reserve the right to review each situation on a case-by-case basis and if further action is warranted, it will be taken.

Violations - Gamesmanship

The following actions may cause a team to lose sportsmanship points from their opponent or the GC. The GC may issue a minor or major warning depending on the severity or frequency.

  • Players cannot keep possession of the balls in order to stockpile the balls on their side of the court.
  • Teams can not use delay tactics by hoarding balls on their side of the court.
    • If one team has more balls on their side of the court than players, they are encouraged to pass the balls to the opposing team’s court. Any player can do this. This includes eliminated players, substitutes and “live” players.
    • It is unsportsmanlike to hit a player that is attempting to pass a ball to their opponent.
  • Attempts should be made to keep the game moving, teams should not let the clock run out.
  • Players or teammates should call themselves out, see 'Eliminations' section above. GCs may call players out if they do not call themselves out. In addition, the GC may issue a major warning or a penalty.

Violations - Sportsmanship

The following actions may cause a team to lose sportsmanship points from their opponent or the GC. The GC may issue anything from a minor warning to an ejection.

  • Yelling at an opponent or the GC.
  • Arguing calls with an opponent or the GC.
  • Calling anything against an opponent.
  • Displaying unsportsmanlike behaviour (e.g. throwing a ball against a wall in anger or frustration).

Dangerous High Throws 

These occur when the majority of a thrown ball is above the shoulders of a player when they are standing upright or jumping, but does not make contact with that player’s head. Dangerous High Throws are not a penalty in Foam Dodgeball.

  • On a player’s first high throw, there are three possible outcomes:
    • In any instance where the GC sees a player make a high throw that is not quite high enough to be deemed a Dangerous High Throw, the GC will issue a Minor Warning.
    • If a player or their teammate clearly identifies that they have made a Dangerous High Throw, the player is eliminated. That player can wait in the queue and return to the game as per normal game re-entry rules.
    • If the GC identifies that a player has made a Dangerous High Throw and the player/team does not call it themselves, the GC will issue a Major Warning.
  • A second Dangerous High Throw, whether identified by the player, a teammate or the GC will result in at least a Major Warning. The GC has the sole discretion to issue a Penalty or Ejection to a player on a second Dangerous High Throw if they deem that player’s actions to be reckless and/or overly aggressive.
  • If a player is hit by a Dangerous High Throw (with the exception of a Head Shot), both that player and the thrower are out. Examples of this would be a hit on the top of the shoulder, or a failed attempt to catch a Dangerous High Throw.
  • If a player is jumping up, Dangerous High Throws are still in effect, and are still judged based on whether the throw was above the shoulders at the time that it reached the player (see diagram below).
  • A “lob” is not considered a Dangerous High Throw.

Head Shots 

This occurs when a thrown ball contacts a player in the head when they are standing upright or jumping. Balls thrown (accidental or intentional) that strike an opponent in the head will not be tolerated.

  • On a player’s first Head Shot, they will be issued at least a Major Warning. A second Head Shot will result in Ejection from the match.
  • A player that is hit in the head is not eliminated, even if they were hit by a legal throw in conjunction with the Head Shot. The person who threw the Head Shot is eliminated.
  • If a player uses a ball or their hand(s) to block a ball coming toward their face, that player is not out, even if they are hit by a legal throw at the same time. This is considered a Head Shot, and the thrower will receive at least a Major Warning.
  • The first point of contact determines if a player is eliminated. For example, if the ball hits a player’s arm and then hits their head, that player is eliminated.
  • If a player is ducking, crouching or diving and they get hit in the head with a ball, it is not considered a Head Shot. The player that was hit is out and the player that threw the ball remains in the game, but should apologize. Diving does not refer to when a player jumps up in the air. If a player’s feet are off the ground because they jumped up, Head Shots are still in effect, and are judged relative to the height of that player when the throw reaches them (see diagram below).
  • The GC has the discretion to disqualify players that are intentionally ‘ducking’ into the ball with their head.

Rubber Dodgeball Dangerous High Throws & Headshots Diagram

Foam Dodgeball Dangerous High Throws & Headshots Diagram

Multiple Offense Rule 

The GC may eliminate any player from a game, match or competition that they feel is continually abusing the rules and the spirit of the game. This rule will be enforced strictly at the discretion of the GC. The GC may issue any of the above warnings or penalties if a player has multiple offenses in one match.

Multi-Format Rules

Below are the rules for the various non-Standard formats offered in Multi-Format Dodgeball. All Standard rules still apply, except in the circumstances specifically outlined under each format.


  1. Teams choose a President before the start of each game.
  2. Teams disclose their President’s identity to the GC, but not the opposing team.
  3. When a team’s President is eliminated in any way, that team loses the game.
  4. Teams have the option of changing their President from game to game.


  1. When a player is eliminated, all members of the opposing team who were eliminated by that player in that game return to play.
  2. A catch eliminates the thrower, but does not bring a player back on for the catching team (unless rule 1 above applies).
  3. In the event that a player was eliminated, but not by a player from the opposing team, they may not return to play in that game. (E.g. Stepping over the center line, throw does not cross center, throw is a Dangerous High Throw or Head Shot, failed pass/hit by a teammate, etc)
  4. If two players eliminate one another at the same time, the eliminations cancel each other out and they both remain in the game.


  1. The first time a player would normally be eliminated, they instead place one arm behind their back (which must remain there at all times) and continue playing with only one arm. If a one-armed player removes the arm from behind their back excessively, they will be called out by the GC.
  2. When a player is eliminated while they have only one arm, they are out and must go to the queue.
  3. Players in the queue can be caught back, but will return to play with only one arm.
  4. Exceptions:
    • Dangerous High Throws and Head Shots will be enforced as per standard rules. For example, if you have both arms, but throw your first DHT, you are automatically out and go to the queue. A second DHT, or a Head Shot at any time, results in elimination and the player cannot return to the queue.
    • One-armed players may use their second arm to protect themselves from potential headshots.
    • If a player with two arms gets eliminated in multiple ways at once (e.g. being hit by multiple balls), they are out and go to the queue.
    • If a player with two arms crosses the center line (either incidentally or via a Kamikaze) they can still return to play with one arm, but are considered 'live' the moment they return to their own side of the court.

Prison Break

  1. When a player is eliminated, instead of going to the queue, they become a ‘Prisoner’ and go to Jail, located at the back of the opposing team’s court.
  2. If a Prisoner catches a ball thrown by one of their teammates, they are ‘released from Jail’ and can re-enter the game by going back to their team’s side and touching the back wall. They can hold onto the ball they caught, and bring it back with them to the other side. If a teammate throws a ball and it deflects off of an opponent or another live ball, catching it will still release the Prisoner from Jail. E.g. A throw hits an opponent and is caught in the air by a Prisoner; that opponent is not eliminated, but the Prisoner is released from Jail.
  3. Normal opponent-on-opponent catches in the game still eliminate the thrower, but do not release any Prisoners from Jail.
  4. Prisoners cannot leave Jail unless they have made a catch in Jail. Leaving Jail and interfering with play will result in ejection from that game.
  5. Interaction between players and Prisoners may occur, however body contact is not allowed. For example a Prisoner can attempt to interfere with a catch as long as their feet are still in Jail. Jail boundaries will be determined based on facility. If no standard boundary is in place, the general rule of an arm’s length from the back wall applies. Any catches made outside of Jail boundaries do not count. Players entering and leaving Jail should do so as quickly and efficiently as possible without interfering with play.