What it is: A fun variation on normal dodgeball.

Best for: A big group of players in a gym, or a big room without breakables inside

What you need: Dodgeballs! We have been playing with these Rhino Skin balls, which are great because they have enough heft to travel well, but they’re made of foam and don’t hurt at all. You can play with other balls, too.

How to play: The name of this game pretty much says it all. It’s dodgeball, but instead of playing on teams, all players are playing for themselves.

To start, put all the dodgeballs on the floor in the center of the room. It’s good to have more balls than players. Have all players start the same distance away from the balls on the floor. Someone yells “Go!” and everyone rushes for the dodgeballs (make sure you don’t run into each other).

All players are free to grab as many balls as they want, then they usually back away from everyone pretty quickly.

Let’s follow one player, Nina, on her journey through the game. At “go,” Nina rushes forward and grabs two balls. Then she quickly backs away from the other players. According to the rules, before she’s allowed to throw a dodgeball at anyone, she has to touch one of the walls.

She does so, backing up until she feels the wall behind her. Then she is on the offensive, ready to strike. And on the defensive, too, because there’s a room full of players who could strike her at any moment.

Say Nina gets a good throw in and pegs Ralph. Ralph immediately sits down in place and tosses away any balls he was holding in his hands. Nina pauses for two seconds to smile and give an excited little hop, but it was two seconds too many. Another player named Duncan throws a ball that hits Nina in the arm. She is out.

Nina sits down right where she is, rolling away the ball she was still holding. At the same time, Ralph, whom Nina pegged a few seconds ago, gets to stand up and rejoin the game. That’s the main rule of the game: if the person who pegged you gets pegged and sits down, you can pop up and play again.

So Nina, who was pegged by Duncan, watches him closely. A few minutes later when a player named Kelly pegs Duncan and he has to sit down, Nina jumps up, grabs the nearest ball, and starts playing again.

Play continues like this. When you get pegged, you sit down. When the person who pegged you sits down, you get to stand up and keep playing.

When does it end? When there’s only one man standing. Essentially this means that the last player has personally pegged every single other player in the game. That player wins, and you can start a new round! Heads up, the rounds can get pretty long.

All the normal dodgeball rules apply. If you catch a ball, the person who threw it at you is out. Throwing balls above the shoulders is not allowed.

If you want to see a sample game, here you go! We played at our parents’ place, which includes a giant warehouse room perfect for playing dodgeball in. (Queen music is optional.)

Another name for the game that I just made up is Hunger Games dodgeball (pretty good though, right?). I like this game better than normal dodgeball because there’s a little less pressure; you’re not going to let any teammates down if you mess up because you don’t have any! Have fun playing!

Variations: For another spin off the classic game of dodgeball, try glow in the dark dodgeball! Or for little kids, try playing on a playground for fun.


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