Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Ball Control: A Guide to Dodgeball Terms

Campus Cup - Dodgeball at UAlberta

This weekend 91 teams took to Main Gym, Pavilion, Education Gym, and David Tuckey to throw, dodge, and shag in the 2013 Campus Cup dodgeball tournament. While dodgeball is already huge in the Lister community, a love of the game is beginning to spread across campus. From the Break the Record events to the Campus Cup, dodgeball has become a campus-wide pastime and this year's Campus Cup had three divisions to accommodate players of all skill-levels.

For many players, the 2013 Campus Cup was their first taste of U of A dodgeball and for others it was just one more tournament in a long dodgeball career. Despite being a relatively simple game,  there's a lot more to dodgeball than meets the eye.  For rookies and veterans alike, different strategies are used to reach the top of the tournament and a lot of strange lingo gets thrown around every step of the way. Here's a crash course on dodgeball lingo and a look at the basics for those who are looking to play in Campus Cup next year.


If you've been hearing about all the huge arms and great shagging on campus this weekend, you may be either well-versed in dodgeball basics or utterly confused at just what happens in these tournaments. For those who fall into the latter category, here are the basic roles of players on the courts:

Dodgeball Positions


Making hits is the way to win the game and a team's arms are the ones who get the kills. They stand at the back wall when their opponents have the ball to give themselves a better chance at dodging and take the line when they gain ball control. Each toss is different and it's important that a team's arms work together to throw together, hold the line, and make hits.


Shaggers stand a few feet away from the back wall and are responsible for making sure the ball doesn't roll back to the opponent's side of the court. They're the quickest and dodgiest people on the court and play an important role in gaining ball control. A good game can't be won with powerful arms alone and shagging is vital to getting balls into the hands of your best throwers.   

The Head Ref

Dodgeball Referee

The head referee's word is law on the dodgeball court and he or she keeps a watchful eye on every player. While each player is responsible for calling themselves out if they are hit, the head ref is there to make the final decision on any missed call or disputed kill. They also keep an eye on the middle line to make sure nobody steps over it and they ensure that no player holds a ball for more than 10 seconds.

Strategic Action

Ball Control

Dodgeball Grab

Ball control is crucial to any victory and it ebbs back and forth throughout a game. Ball control means getting the majority of the balls on your side and staying on the offensive for as long as possible. A sprint to the line at the start of the game determines who get's ball control at the beginning of the game but a combination of shagging, communicating, controlling tempo, and making hits determines who will gain the advantage in ball control over the course of a match.

Taking the Line

Dodgeball - Strategy

If a team has ball control or if they're looking to push their opponents back, they want to take the line and hold it. Holding the line allows a team to pick off players from the other team and it's essential that a throwers work together to pick targets, throw together, and sustain pressure by throwing balls in waves.

Kill or Be Killed

Dodgeball - Hit

For all this talk about positions and strategy, dodgeball comes down to one thing: kill or be killed. No two dodges and no two throws are ever the same and the winner will ultimately be decided by who gets kills faster or evades them longer. A "kill" is a very intense term for eliminating a player out of the game.

Sweet Shirts

Dodgeball Swag

Since the majority of a tournament weekend is spent in the same (likely smelly) shirt, you're going to want a good design on the front of it. A good shirt may not win you any games but it'll definitely help you make some friends when you're bonding with other teams between matches. And yes, making friends should be one of your strategic goals when playing dodgeball.

Other Lingo


Muffins aren't the delicious baked goods that you eat before the game. In dodgeball muffins are bad throws where the ball slowly floats through the air, leaving plenty of time for the thrower to be ridiculed before softly landing on the other side.

Face Shots

This ain't your elementary gym class. The ever-elusive face shot isn't always the most sportsmanlike kill to seek but getting one will ensure a few cheers from the crowd (assuming that nobody is hurt in the process). 

Dodgeball Community

Dodgeball - Sportsmanship

Every match ends with a handshake between teams. While the dodgeball at the U of A can get pretty competitive, everything comes down to sportsmanship as every team shows their respect for their opponent and celebrates a  love of the game.


About the Author

Hello there! I'm Trenton and I'm super excited to be a YouAlberta Student Communicator. Though I spend a staggering amount of my time thinking about a syllabus for an imaginary Batman 101 class, my major is actually Political Science. I love to read, eat, and play around in Photoshop (sometimes all at once). If you're ever looking for someone to debate about a variety of nerdy topics, I'm your man.

It is my hope to tell a wide array of stories about the sides of campus life and student life that may not be immediately apparent. In doing this, I want to showcase the diversity, passion, and community at the U of A that constantly inspires me. My time at the U of A has been truly trans-formative and, as I enter my final year here, I can't wait to listen to and tell stories about the University and its students.


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