My Favorite 18 Dodgeball Variations

I LOVE Dodgeball and so do most campers. While traditional Dodgeball is my favorite campers sometimes need variations to keep it interesting. Here are my favorite 18 variations. You may have different rules depending on the variations or may have heard them called something else, but this is how I play and the names I know them by.

Don’t see your favorite here? Let us know about it in the comments area below.

  1. Barrier Dodgeball – In this variation barriers are set out for players to be able to hide behind. I have used things like gym mats propped up on their sides, large cones, tables laid on their sides, chairs and refrigerator boxes. If you find that players are just hanging out behind a barrier then let them know they have to change barriers on the sound of the whistle. This gets them up and moving. Using large cones is good too since campers are still a bit exposed when they try to hide behind them.
  2. Island Dodgeball – Teams must stand on a large mat or tarp as they play. Only one player at a time may step off to collect balls but they cannot throw them unless they are on the “island”.
  3. Powerball – The referee holds the powerball, a larger or different colored ball. Occasionally during the game the referee will roll the ball along the center line. Players have 10-15 seconds to retrieve the ball and get it to the referee without getting hit. If they are successful one of their teammates who has been in jail the longest gets to return to the game. You may impose rules like, once the powerball is picked up that player cannot be hit, or once the powerball is returned to the referee the player gets a free walk to the back line.
  4. Hoop Shoot Dodgeball – If you are playing on a basketball court players can opt to shoot their dodgeball at the opposing team’s basket. They must shoot it from their own side of the court.  If they make the basket (a rarity) all of their team’s players in jail get to return to the game. It’s like a “jail-break” for that one team.
  5. Opposite Hand Dodgeball – All players must throw with their non-dominant hand. This is hilarious to watch.
  6. Crackabout – This is an “every person for themselves” type of game. There must be specific boundaries (we play in a small community room). Players can run anywhere they want in the room, or within the boundaries. Play starts with the referee throwing the ball in the air. The player that gets it can throw it at someone or take up to three steps, no more, before they throw it. The player that retrieves it must do the same, take up to three steps (or hops) before throwing it. Meanwhile the other players can run around and dodge the ball. If a player is hit they must sit down where they are (essentially they are frozen). If the player that got them out gets hit they are back in the game (unfrozen). Also, players can catch the ball to save themselves and get the thrower to sit down. So game play goes on for a while. This is our teens favorite version of “Dodgeball”.
  7. Four Quadrants – This is where the large square playing area is divided into four smaller squares. Each area is home to a team (four teams are playing, obviously). Play is just like normal Dodgeball except that players must be watching three other teams instead of just one. This variation makes it hard to “hide”.
  8. Jedi – One player from each team is chosen to be the Jedi. Jedis start the game inside of a Hula-Hoop which is their “circle of force”. When a player is hit the must sit down. Jedis can heal them by tagging them. If the Jedi has to come out of their “circle of force” to heal someone and they get hit by a ball they are out. Each player that gets hit after the Jedi is out goes out as well. Once a player, or Jedi, is out they cannot return even if someone catches a ball. You may give the Jedi a lightsaber (foam noodle) to carry. They can use the saber to tag their fallen teammates. This gives them a bit more reach from their “circle of force”. I don’t use the lightsabers personally, but have seen other activity directors use them.
  9. Medic – This is similar to Jedi except their is no “circle of force” for the Medic to “hide” in.
  10. Protect the King– One player is chosen to be the King (or Queen). The other players are Knights and must not only battle the other team (by playing Dodgeball, of course) but they must protect their King (or Queen). Once the King or Queen gets hit the game is over.
  11. Cosmic Dogeball – This variation is regular Dodgeball but with the lights off. We use white dodgeballs. We also replace the lights with blacklights so people can still be seen (especially if they are wearing white). This , of course, has to be played inside. you can also have players wear glow necklaces for fun. For added effect throw in some DJ lighting and music.
  12. Poisonball – This is the way we played Dodgeball as a kids. There are no teams. The last person standing is the winner. All players, except for one, start inside the playing area (a large circle the size of a GaGa pit, half of a basketball court, or some other coned off area). One player is outside of the area and begins by trying to hit the players inside the playing area. Once a player is hit they join the player(s) on the outside. The players on the inside do not get to throw balls, they only get to dodge. The last person inside the area is the winner and starts the next game on the outside.
  13. Traitor Ball – Normal Dodgeball rules apply except when a player gets hit they must go to the other side (become a traitor). The game ends when all players are on one side or the time is up.
  14. Pinball – Three pins (plastic bowling pins, 2-liter bottles, or whatever else you can think of) are placed at the back line of each side. They are placed equal distance from each other on the line. The goal of the teams are to either get all the players out on the other team or to knock down all three of the opposing teams “pins”. Once a pin is knocked down it must stay down, even if it was knocked over by a players foot accidentally.
  15. Protect the President – Players are on the outside of one playing are while two of the players are inside. One of the inside players is the President and the other is the bodyguard. As players on the outside throw balls at the President the bodyguard must protect the President with their body. The bodyguard can block the balls with his/her hands, legs, chest, etc. Once the President is hit the bodyguard becomes the President and the President becomes the bodyguard. Once the “new” President gets hit the two are out and the next duo gets a turn. i like to time the pairs to see who lasts the longest.
  16. Rapid Fire – Three Hula Hoops are placed in the middle of the playing area. Each Hula Hoop has one player (thrower) and three dodgeballs in it. The object is for everyone else to get from one side of the playing area to the other without getting hit. It’s sort of like Sharks and Minnows except that the “sharks” must stay in the Hula Hoop and when the minnows get hit they are out. Once the survivors get across, the throwers may retrieve their balls before the next round starts. Throwers can only throw dodgeballs while they are in their Hula Hoop but they can leave their hoop to retrieve balls at any time. The last three survivors get to be the throwers in the next game.
  17. Nine-Lives Dodgeball – Actually we play Three-Lives Dodgeball. Each player is given three strip of fabric to tie around their arm. Each time they are hit they must take off a strip. when a player runs out of strips they are out of the game.
  18. Fitness Dodgeball – We play this one with the younger campers because they don’t like to sit out. When a player gets hit they must stop where they are and do 20 jumping jacks or three push-ups before they continue playing.


  1. Kara says

    My students LOVE playing the Jedi version. Every time we play it I have a gaggle of students begging me to be the first Jedi knights. Thanks for the other dodgeball ideas.

  2. Curt "Moose" Jackson says

    There’s something about being a Jedi that kids, especially boys, love. I think you can add Jedis to any game and make it more appealing in the process.

  3. Langston says

    Hey Curt,

    These are awesome ideas that I am going to remember as a P.E teacher! Quick question: where can you find black lights?

  4. Curt "Moose" Jackson says

    Thanks, Langston. You can get blacklights online at Amazon, companies that carry Halloween products and companies that carry DJ equipment.

  5. Shane Lovering says

    We did a version we called “Snack Break” where we lined up snacks on the center line. If you could grab the snack and make it to the back line without getting hit by a ball, you got to keep it. We had several rounds, and used Pez, cans of Pringles, Snack Pies, liters of soda, gum, Goldfish. We even had a t-shirt round. The kids went CRAZY for the prizes!

  6. Dana says

    We used to play a version called “Vanguard” that I can’t find the rules to anywhere! Similar to the Jedi version but the Vanguard had a box on the opposing team’s side. Vanguard could eliminate members of the other team, or if their own team members threw them a ball and it was caught everyone on the Vanguard’s team was back in. If the Vanguard tried to get an opposing team member out and the ball was caught, VG was out and so were any other team members subsequently hit. Has anyone ever heard of this?

  7. Amy says

    I haven’t seen this version of Pinball we used to play. Each team has a pin (empty gallon jug) and a guard holding a ball and on his knees in front of the pin to fend off the incoming balls. Each team is playing traditional dodge ball, trying to hit others from the other team and getting them out, but also trying to hit the guard to get him out. If you get the guard out, it leaves the pin wide open to be knocked over= game over. Team members can take over as guard, but eventually it comes down to one guard protecting the pin and the other side taking aim until he’s out and the pin is theirs to knock over. It was a lot of fun!

  8. Alex says

    Fitness dodgeball! I use resistance bands ( flat not handles) sometimes

    Thanks for ideas! Day of games ahead

  9. gabby says

    i think a really good one was definitely the traitor dodgeball, its nice to see a twist where you have to be in the majority but still fight for your team and make a come back!!!

Leave a Reply