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Dodgeball History

What is the history of Dodgeball? What are its origins? Where did Dodgeball come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Dodgeball.

Dodgeball History

Table of Contents


What are the basic rules of Dodgeball?

During a typical dodgeball game it pins one team, usually around four people, against another team. The game starts when both teams standing behind the back lines of their side of the court and the referee yells "3, 2, 1 Dodgeball!" There are six balls placed at the center line and when the game begins, players run to the center to try to grab one of the balls. A player can get out if he is hit by a live ball that somebody else throws or you throw a ball and it is caught on a fly by somebody on the opposing team. Balls are considered dead if they are thrown and they hit a surrounding wall, the floor, or other balls. A dead ball is ineligible to get somebody out until it is rethrown by one of the athletes participating. A player may block a thrown ball with another ball they are holding if they make a clean block, which is when they maintain control of the ball they were originally holding. Balls can only be thrown from behind the attack line that is present on the floor or else the thrower is ruled out. Players can return to the game after being out once one of their teammates catches a ball on the fly. Players can return to the game in the same order that they got out. Each player can only hold each ball for ten seconds at a time or else it is considered dead and must be rolled across the floor to the other team.


Which Country Started Dodgeball?

Evidence has been found that suggests that the game of dodgeball was played and started in Africa. It originally was not played with any type of ball but instead with rocks in order to develop the strength of warriors during the time that they played. The original goal of the game was to throw rocks in order to incapacitate the players on the opposing team. Other historians believe that dodgeball was played even earlier than the games in Africa, in Asia, Greece, and Mesoamerica as early as 500 BC.


Who Invented Dodgeball?

It is unknown of the true inventor of the game in Africa that was used to train warriors. However, after seeing people playing the game, a man named Dr James H. Carlisle. He was originally interested in agility and ruthlessness that was being shown by the warriors as well as the heart they were showing. Carlisle originally took the game back to England to show some of his pupils however they soon realized that they did not have the natural ability and accuracy that the warriors back in Africa had. He was able to transform the game into one that everyone could play once he returned to teaching at St. Mary's college in Norfolk.


When was Dodgeball Established?

Many have concluded that the original game of dodgeball was played around 200 years ago in order to train African warriors. However, some people also believe that it was played around 500 BC in Asia, Greece, or Mesoamerica. The official rules of the game of dodgeball were created Philip Ferguson who witnessed some games at St. Mary's using the rules that that Carlisle created. Furgeson would change the game to include two teams playing on opposite sides of the field and he created his new rules for the game in 1905. From here the sport took off.


After the new set of rules were created, the game became very popular throughout the 1910s and 1920s. It was adapted as a sport at Princeton and Yale and later the National Deathbrick League was created. Many schools systems introduced the sport to be played during gym class with their students. However, after many years of playing the sport in gym class, it was taken out after it was cited for many instances of bullying. Currently, they have taken out the sport from gym class and it is rare to find it played in schools.


Dodgeball was an extremely popular sport that spread throughout the world to many countries. These other countries have their own leagues and in some cases they even developed their own rules. Some of these places include:

  • United Kingdom: They operate as one large dodgeball association and is played 6v6. They play two minute games and usually play on a smaller court than played on in the United States.
  • Canada: They hold world championship events for dodgeball that can reach upwards of $20,000 in prize money.
  • Sweden, Ireland, Italy, and France: all have their own leagues with different divisions for men and women that also includes a European Championship.

Dodgeball History Key Facts and Timeline

  • When the new game was created by Dr. Carlisle the balls that were used were made of leather rather than rubber that is used today.
  • Every four years, students from St. Mary's holds a dodgeball match to honor the founding fathers of the sport as well as the African warriors.
  • The record for most players participating in a dodgeball game was set by University of California, Irvine in 2012 with 6,084 players.
  • The sport was repopularized by the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.
  • It is very easy to get hurt during dodgeball, which was another reason it was taken out of schools in America.



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