Dodgeball is one of the staple games of a lot of youth ministries. ¬†It is a great game for burning off energy, creating some shared memories and having some fun. One of the issues with the game is that sometimes it can quickly turn into a spectator sport if you get tagged out early. ¬†Here are a couple variations that can keep a game of dodgeball more inclusive and longer lasting, helping it to be interesting to all the participants.
The Medic or Jedi Variation:
This team game is played much like regular dodgeball. ¬†However, when you are tagged out, you sit down wherever you are and wait. ¬†Because at the beginning of the game, each team selects a player who can restore the ‚Äúout‚ÄĚ players by touching them. ¬†(Some groups call it a “medic” while I have seen others call it a “Jedi.”) ¬†The referees need to know who the medic person is and teams can be obvious about it or create all kinds of ways to hide or protect that person. ¬†When the medic is hit and is out though, the clock starts ticking for that team as people start to get out permanently. ¬†Because of the nature of this variation, we eliminate the rule where someone comes back in if a ball is caught; balls can still be caught and the thrower of said ball is eliminated.
The Trench Variation:
This team game works well in a closed room or space. ¬†It can be a problem in a large field. ¬†The way the game works is that when a player is tagged out or has their throw caught, the go to the outside boundary of the other team where they wait. If they can catch a ball thrown by one of their teammates across the opponent’s area, then they are back in the game, getting a pass to walk back into their side. ¬†As soon as they cross the line separating teams, they are fair game again. ¬†This version is great for long, extended games and it lets kids always be involved. ¬†You do sometimes have to watch as teams tend to want to guard their trench, so I usually set a line they have to be in front of. ¬†(This variation works extremely well in a gym!)
The Everyone for Themselves Variation:
The same rules apply in terms of how players are out of the game: if you get tagged or hit, you are out and have to sit down. ¬†However ‚Äúout‚ÄĚ players can still pick up and throw balls from their sitting position to get other players out. ¬†As there are no teams and everyone is playing for themselves, this variation can go really fast and is an easy game to get multiple rounds in. ¬†If you are playing outdoors, you need a clearly defined field of play or else players tend to drift really far away from each other.
Some general rules that apply to all of the above:
1. ‚ÄúIf you get hit in the head, you are not dead.‚ÄĚ ¬†We created this rule a few years ago in response to a couple high school guys who seemed to make it their mission to hit people in the head. ¬†It really does help prevent head shots that are intentional.
2. Keep it moving. ¬†Nothing is worse than a high energy game that dies out because of a lack of interest or one team keeps getting eliminated quickly.
3. Leave them wanting more. ¬†The last youth group I worked with loved to have dodgeball every week if they could. ¬†What happens with that is that your game time becomes limited to being fun to a certain kind of athletic kid. What we choose to do is to have one week a month that was consistently dodgeball or a variation and we did other kinds of games the rest of the month. ¬†We want our play to celebrate all the many different kids and gifts that we have in our youth ministries.