Dodgeball skills? All you need to know how to do is dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge of course!
I’m sorry, that was the easiest joke I had ready for this article. If you haven’t watched Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story…that’s okay. It was fun when it first came out but it doesn’t hold up. Skip it.
But don’t skip REAL dodgeball. It’s not just a kid’s game anymore. I know of at least two adult dodgeball leagues in my city, and I’d be shocked if you couldn’t find at least one near you (if you live at least close to a mid-to-large city).
Honestly, this is true of most games that we all played as kids. I’ve also found leagues for board games in general, or specific board games (you can find Monopoly leagues, if you can handle that much Monopoly). But how many of us feel the need to make up for our childhood Candy Land losses? Probably not most of us. But think about getting to absolve yourself of bad memories from dodgeball!
Yes, even as an adult you can get vengeance on your childhood bullies, at least in your mind. But if you need to make up for your many, many dodgeball defeats in your past, you’re going to need to practice your skills.
It’s not as simple as getting out there and throwing a ball at people. Winning, or at worst not losing, is going to take practice and effort. But really, what are the most important skills that you need to practice in order to be successful at playing dodgeball? Keep reading.
Why I Love Dodgeball
I love any chance to play a physical game without worrying about there being any person-to-person contact. I have tried to play flag football as an adult – it’s not tackle, so what could possibly happen? Well, even in a no-contact game like that, there’s still contact. That’s just the way games like that go. I’m not a young man anymore, and I didn’t come out of that without a few scars.
But dodgeball keeps you separate from your opponents while still allowing you to be physical. All the running, throwing, rolling, and dodging that you can handle without worrying to hard about getting hurt. Adult dodgeball has everything you could ever want.
But if you’re going to play, you want to play well, right? No sense in signing up for a league and then being the first player eliminated in every match. You want the satisfaction of taking out a few of your opponents I’m sure. So if you’re going to play you really should work on improving all of your dodgeball skills.
Let’s get to that list of skills, shall we? Read on.
Basic Dodgeball Skills to Improve
We’re not talking about team tactics here. There are plenty of those to work on as well, once you find yourself on a team. No, what I want to talk to you about are basic individual skills that you should work on improving if you’re trying to be a player that people will want on your team. If you can master these skills you’ll be an in-demand player in your league.
Was this one too obvious? It is in the name of the game, after all. If you want to be good at dodgeball, you have to be able to dodge the balls that are thrown at you.
One key to being able to dodge is being able to see all (or at least most) of the balls that may be coming your way. Position yourself in places on the court where the ball won’t be coming from behind you. Getting yourself away from the very front of your side of the court is key. Additionally, moving to the sides of your side of the court will help. Being in these positions minimizes the number of different angles from which the ball could be coming.
But even if you’re positioned well, eventually you’re going to have a ball thrown your way. You have to be prepared for what to do when that happens. The most important skill for dodging is being able to predict where your opponent is going to throw the ball. To do this, take a look at their eyes. Almost everyone looks where they’re going to throw. If they’re looking at your feet, be ready to jump. If you’re looking you in the eye, you should be ready to duck, or at least move laterally.
Lastly, you should be able to move quickly. If you can’t hit the ground quickly, or dodge to the side when a ball is headed your way, practicing doing those things will help your quickness. Especially being able to hit the ground. Most dodgeball throws go for the body (or head, if that’s allowed in your league). Practice being able to hit the ground at a moment’s notice.
In order for you to need to dodge, someone has to throw it, right? Throwing is the dodgeball skill that most people think they’re already good at, when really they’re not. There are a few keys to a good dodgeball throw.
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The one most people think of first is accuracy. You want the ball to go where you intend it, right? Well, not necessarily. An accurate throw isn’t as important in dodgeball as it is in baseball or football. In those sports you have a very small area that you’re trying to get the ball to. In dodgeball, if you’re aiming for your opponent’s body but you hit him in the leg, it counts all the same. Or if your throws are really inaccurate, the ball could still hit another of that person’s teammates. Accuracy isn’t as important here as you’d initially think.
What’s more important is ball speed. If you lob the ball slow and high, your opponent will have all day to dodge or catch the ball. But if you can throw with speed you’re more likely to catch your opponent by surprise and score an elimination.
There are going to be times you just cannot dodge a ball thrown your way. You weren’t ready and suddenly you see a ball headed your way. It’s too late to dodge. The next best thing is to catch the ball. In some leagues, depending on the rules, this may actually be better than dodging as it would result in eliminating the person who threw the ball.
The most important aspect of catching a dodgeball is not trying to do it one-handed. The ball isn’t small, so there are too many chances for a finger of yours to get in the way of the catch. Sometimes the ball might be overinflated as well. This makes it very hard to catch with one hand because you won’t be able to squeeze your hand around it. You’ll see a lot of gym bros trying to do this as a way to show off, and often they’ll find themselves eliminated.
You don’t need to show off. The only way to be impressive is to be the last one standing. And using both hands to catch the ball is the best way to do that.
Practice catching the ball coming at you at different spins and trajectories. Not every throw from your opponent is going to be a straight fastball to your chest. Some will be headed towards the ground, some may have spin. Practicing catching all of these will make sure that you’re not the next person eliminated.
This seems to be a surprisingly underrated tactic in the games I’ve played. Being able to block or deflect a throw can carry you a long way towards victory in most games.
This simply involves using a ball that you’re holding to block a throw before it can hit you or a teammate. The key is making sure that you hold on to your ball when the other ball hits it. In many leagues, if you drop the ball when the thrown ball hits it, it will result in your elimination.
Blocking is important for a few reasons. First, it’s one of the few ways that you may be able to protect not only yourself, but a teammate as well. You can stick the ball out in the way of a teammate who may not be looking. Second, any ball that you’re holding is a ball that isn’t in the hands of your opponents. It gives you a chance to plan your throw without too many balls coming your way. And third, it’s very frustrating to your opponent. If you’ve read any of my board game guides you’ll know that I’m a big fan of making moves for the sake of putting your opponent on edge. This leads to them making more mistakes.
The first four dodgeball skills I listed are what to do. Countering is all about when to do the things you’re practicing.
Is it worth throwing a ball right at your opponent if he’s halfway across the court and looking right at you? Possibly, if you know that person is slow and can’t catch, but usually this isn’t a move you want to make. It would be much smarter to make your throws when your opponent has his back turned. He can’t dodge or catch what he can’t see.
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Yet another great time to make a throw is right after someone on the other team makes their throw. It takes a few moments to regain your concentration mentally after making a throw. A person also usually isn’t in position physically to make a catch immediately after making a throw. Hitting someone who has just thrown is a great counter.
If the rules in your league allow players to reenter the game in the middle of a round, attacking an entering player is another great counter. The first move they typically make is to run on to the court and find a ball to grab. They often aren’t mentally prepared for a ball coming their way right away. This is a counter that most players aren’t expecting.
Dodgeball Skills Summary
So let’s summarize all of the dodgeball skills that you need to work on.
First, you should be able to dodge. This is all about knowing where your opponent plans to throw, and you can do this by watching their eyes. They’ll almost always be looking where they plan to throw.
Second, you need to be able to throw. Don’t bother too much with accuracy. If you’re accurate, all the better. But don’t spend a bunch of practice time worrying about accuracy. Make sure that you can throw with velocity. If they don’t have as much time to react, you’ll be eliminating more people than not.
Third, you should practice catching. Catching throws means that you won’t be eliminated. And in many leagues catching a thrown ball eliminates the person who threw it. Just make sure that you catch the ball with both hands. Using one hand is just an opportunity for things to go wrong.
Fourth, blocking is a skill that will help you stay on the court. You should practice using a strong grip to make sure that you hold on to the ball when the thrown ball hits yours. You can use this skill to protect your teammates in case they’re distracted. It also frustrates your opponents in to making further mistakes.
Lastly, work on your countering strategy. An opponent who isn’t ready to make a defensive play is the one that you should be attacking. The best people to attack are people who have just thrown a ball, or who are just reentering play (if your league allows that). These players are the most distracted and least ready to dodge or catch your throw. That leads to an easy elimination.
If you can improve these basic skills you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better dodgeball player. Are you ready to be the first pick in your league’s draft? I hope so. Good luck!
Hunter is a stay-at-home dad to two fantastic young boys. He is a proud nerd of all kinds – he is still the only person in the history of his high school to be on the varsity football team and computer programming team at the same time. He loves to talk to anyone who will listen about sports (mainly baseball and football – go Astros, Saints, and Longhorns!), video games (ask him about his Legend of Zelda Triforce tattoo), board games, and cross-stitching. He lives in Austin, Texas but is a proud Cajun originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.