Dodgeball is a traditional team sport played in physical education classes in the U.S. and Canada. It is typically played in elementary school, but has emerged as a popular middle school, high school, college and professional sport as well. It is also popular in informal settings and is often played by schoolchildren on a playground or in a gym, or in organized recreational leagues. There are many variations of the game, but each involves players trying to avoid being hit by a ball thrown by players on the other team.
After a player is eliminated, he may re-enter the match if another player on his team catches an opponent's thrown ball (provided his team does not already have the maximum amount of players on the court). Players must re-enter the game in the order in which they were eliminated.
Some leagues allow players that have been eliminated to assist their team by directing thrown balls back to the players on the court, while other leagues confine eliminated players to a designated area off the court and prohibit them from participating in the game until they are allowed back on the court.
There is no standard measurement or material for a dodgeball. It can vary in size from that of a softball to that of a soccer ball, and made out of anything from cloth to hard rubber. However, most dodgeballs are roughly the size of a volleyball and comprised of a foam with a thin plastic shell. Some leagues allow the use of multiple sizes of dodgeballs in a single match (often with restrictions on whether men or women can throw certain sizes), while others use one standard size for all balls.
During play, all players must remain inside the lines of their half of the court. Players are allowed to leave the confines of the court to gather balls, but cannot throw the ball until they are back inside the court. A ball thrown from outside the court does not automatically eliminate the thrower, however, the thrown ball does not eliminate an opponent who is hit, but can eliminate the thrower if it is caught. Crossing the centerline is strictly forbidden, even to gather balls that are off the court.
Any player who leaves the court while dodging a ball or crosses the centerline for any reason is eliminated. Some leagues consider even touching the line or breaking the vertical plane of the line to be a violation, while others consider a player to be in bounds as long as some part of his body is touching part of his team's half of the court.
All players on each side must have one foot in contact with the endline before the opening whistle is blown. When the referee blows the opening whistle, players may rush to pick up the dodgeballs on their own attack line (or, if the balls are on the centerline, the balls to the right of center court). Some leagues allow players to pick up any ball, regardless of location. Players may only begin to throw at the opponents once a ball has been brought back over the endline.
Alternatively, a point system or timed game may be used.