Japanese Dodgeball


Japanese Dodgeball

Years ago, after graduating from university, I went to Japan for 3 years on an exchange program to teach English. I taught primarily in junior high school, but twice a month I toured various elementary schools in the area.


While teaching elementary school, I became very familiar with dodgeball. I grew up playing dodgeball in a big circle, but here, they play an elaborate game with two teams.

I have to admit, I hate dodgeball. I hate it with a passion. I am not athletic. I am not competitive, and I don’t move very quickly. I spent most of my time dodging having to play the game!


But, regardless, I did pick up the rules. I’ve heard other countries play it this way, too, but this is how I know that they play it in Japan.

I will now attempt to explain how the Japanese children play dodgeball.

Divide the group into two teams.

This game works best with at least 20 people. In the playing field (ideally this should be played outdoors) draw a distinct line down the middle as well as a rectangle to outline the playing area.

Have each team stand in their own half of the field. Janken (rock, paper, scissors) to see who will get the ball first.

The team with the ball must throw it at the opposite team, attempting to hit someone below the shoulders. (Let’s call the team with the ball, Team A).

If team A misses a player on Team B, Team B then gets a chance to hit someone on team A. It is legal to catch the ball and throw it back, however, you must not drop the ball.

If the ball is dropped, or a player is hit by the opposite team, they then go and stand on the sidelines of the opposite team’s half of the field. (for example, if a player from team A is hit, or drops the ball while attempting to catch it, he or she must stand anywhere on the sidelines of Team B’s half).

In order for this player to be freed, players on the same team (example A) can throw the ball to the person on the sidelines. This player on the sidelines can then throw the ball at the opposite team trying to hit one of them. If successful, the player on the sidelines can go back and join his or her team, while the player who was hit, must go to the sidelines.

Keep playing until one team has no players left in the field. The other team is then declared the winner.

I hope this makes sense! It’s a lot of fun, and is fast paced. The kids love it and play it by the hour!



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