Category: DBO Tips

This section will focus on dodgeball strategy tips, stretches, drills, and instructional’s all focused on dodgeball!

Dodgeball Ottawa Common Hand Signals

One of the ways people often communicate and call plays on the dodgeball court is through hand signals. Hand signals allow you to communicate quickly with your teammates while keeping the play secret from your opponents. Hand signals can vary across communities or teams, but over the years a few hand signals have become common and generally used by most people here at DBO.

Fist: Hold
When a teammate signals you with a fist, they are telling you to hold the ball. This means you can expect one of your teammates to throw, and therefore you should hold the ball to protect them. Note: If you use this signal to ask all your teammates to hold, that means you are throwing!


Thumb Out: Throw Alone
When a teammate looks at you with their thumb pointed out, they are signalling you to throw alone. This means that you can throw the ball at any target you chose.


Upright Fingers: The Target
The following signals indicate which target you should throw at. If you are being shown a target number, this generally means that you and a teammate will throw together at the same player.

Looking at your opponents, targets are numbered 1 through 6 starting from the left and counting right.

Throw at target #1

 Throw at target #2

Throw at target #3

Throw at target #4

Throw at target #5


Thumb and Pinky: Split
This signal is used when there is only one opponent left on the court. It means the two players in the corner positions should throw the ball.


Using Hand Signals in Game
Hand signals allow teams to communicate clearly, effectively and secretly in the loud gym. However there are risks involved, taking your eye off an opponent to see a hand signal can leave you exposed. Try to look quickly. It is courteous to say “yep!” to let the play caller know that you saw their signal. When calling the play, try to signal your teammates where it is safer, a bit back from the centre line.

Generally teams at DBO choose to have players in the middle call the plays (as opposed to from the corners), so you can expect to see one of these hand signals from a teammate holding a ball in the middle.

The next time you find yourself in the middle and your teammates look to you to make a play call, feel free to confidently use these hand signals. Good luck!





Character: Does Sport Reveal it or Build it?

“Sport doesn’t build character. Sport reveals character” – Heywood Broun (paraphrased)

Dodgeball is different than most sports. Most sports have 1 ball which is the focal point of the game. Dodgeball has 6! This means 6 focal points. 6 balls to track and 6 potential situations occurring all at once. Due to this, dodgeball can be a very difficult game to ref. As such, the game relies very heavily on honesty and integrity.

Dodgeball is definitely a sport that can reveal character in people, however unlike Heywood Broun, I believe that character is something that can be fostered and developed as well. But building character takes work. It is a conscious effort, not something that happens all on its own. It must be an intentional effort to strive towards honesty, sportsmanship and integrity. This is true when we are winning and especially when we are losing. Being able to lose with grace and win with humility are traits that we should all be striving towards. This is true within all sports but especially true in a game like dodgeball that has so many centres of action and relies on “self-calls”.

In any game situation each player can always ask themselves, “How do I want to win”? Do I want to win above all costs? Do I want to win because I was strategic and outplayed the other team or do I want to win because I did not go out when I knew the ball hit me.

Every player has been in a situation where they were unsure if the ball hit them and if they are still in or not. Questions like, did it bounce? Did it hit the wall first? Or simply that you didn’t feel the hit. Although all these situations can arise, how people handle the situation is what truly matters! Being honest as a teammate and opponent makes the game of dodgeball run much smoother. Looking towards your team or the refs when you are unsure and going out if you are pretty sure it hit you, shows that you value fair play over simply winning. Whereas knowing the ball hit you and not going off because the ref didn’t see it fosters animosity.

Personally I think this is one of the biggest potential hurdles that dodgeball as a sport will face as it gains more popularity and moves towards a more competitive sport. Even with referees watching the game, it will still come down to players needing to be honest and call themselves out. The idea of staying on the court unless the ref calls you out is a flawed concept for the sport of dodgeball. This counterproductive attitude will only add hostility, anger and create an environment where reciprocal cheating will occur. Which can lead the sport towards its demise.

In the end we all have to look into ourselves and decide if we are going to use dodgeball as a way to build integrity and sportsmanship for the sake of ourselves and the sport, or if we are going to exploit the potential loopholes available in the sport for our own short-sighted gain.

I personally believe that being proud of how you played, both in terms of your physical performance as well as how you played the game is what defines success, not simply winning. Especially at the cost of integrity. I think that dodgeball can have tremendous value in fostering an honest competitive environment developing a large community of people with integrity.

“The truth of your character is expressed through the choice of your actions” Dr. Steve Maraboli

Body Catching 101

Written by Lynn Kirkpatrick
Lynn is one of the founders of Dodgeball Ottawa. She has been playing dodgeball for 10 years, and is about to represent Canada at the World Dodgeball Championships for her 4th consecutive year.

The way I see it, there are two general styles of catching: Hand catching and body catching. Hand catching is when you see those people that seem to be able to pluck the ball out of the air. It is all about hand-eye-coordination and is not what I will be discussing today. Body catching is all about body positioning. It is easier to learn, and most people start to see results very quickly.

To become a body catcher, I recommend working to implement the following:

  1. Body positioning: The stance I advocate is similar to the tennis ready stance. Chest and head up, body square to the incoming ball, weight on the balls of your feet, knees and hips bent.  Ideally you want your knees forward and slightly pinched together, and your hips low, sitting back. Elbows in, hands out. This creates a “funnel” position that allows your body to absorb a ball.

Body Catching

  1. Let the ball come to you (i.e. don’t reach): Let the ball come into the funnel you have created, and trap it there. A lot of people start trying to catch by leading with their hands. Some people can pull it off but for the most part it leads to fumbles (and finger jams), and it can be harder to recover from the fumble. It’s easier to let the ball come into your funnel, and then trap the ball against your body. Take advantage of the body positioning you’ve set up – most of my catches result in the ball getting wedged somewhere. Probably 50% of my catches, the ball gets stuck between my elbows – my hands aren’t a part of it at all. Also, by using my hands at the end of the catch, rather than the beginning, they are better able to recover a ball that’s been fumbled/popped-up.
  1. Muscle memory: Warm up. I do what I call a “catcher’s warm-up” before every game, which also happens to be very good throwing warm-up. I start maybe 3 meters away from my partner and throw very lightly, catching with my hands. This warms the fingers up (helps prevent jams) and triggers good hand-eye coordination. Although I advocate a trapping style catch, you still need your hands in case a ball sneaks out and you need to pull it back (i.e. recovering from a fumble or pop-up). So you do these short throws basically until you stop fumbling, then slowly increase the distance, still throwing lightly, maybe 50% power, targeting your partner’s center mass (i.e. “the funnel”). Then you slowly start adding in power. If your partner fumbles one, your next throw should be easier to catch. This builds confidence (it’s like warming up a goalie) and more importantly, the more you do this, the more you build muscle memory and hand-eye coordination, which leads to your body reacting quickly in game.