Fitness trend: Dodgeball

Dodgeball isn’t just a childhood recess game anymore. The sport has picked up in popularity, and organized teams can be found across the country. Here’s why you should try dodgeball

Fitness trend: Dodgeball

Source: Best Health Magazine, March/April 2012

Two years ago, my husband, Jeff, and I decided to try dodgeball so we could do something together and be active. I was nervous because I’d never played an organized sport before, and Jeff is very athletic. But we were both hooked on dodgeball after the first night. That same week, we registered our own co-ed team with Extreme Dodgeball Hamilton and started recruiting friends, family members and co-workers to join us.

Now I’m on two teams and play two nights a week. In the women’s league, my team is Hot Shots and in the coed league, Jeff and I play on Fight Planet. Playing in the coed league has taught me to throw harder, dodge faster and push myself to compete with the men. Sure, their shots are hard, but nothing beats the satisfaction of being a woman and hitting a guy with a ball”owning him’ on the court.

With Hot Shots, the players range from age 18 to 45, and we play more fun, faster-paced games. This league allows for more personal accomplishments in terms of catching, throwing and dodging. It’s empowering to show your strength and skills. I find the women are naturally nurturing, motivating and encouraging’plus there’s lots of laughter. We have fun building relationships that we normally wouldn’t have time for due to our busy schedules.

Our Hot Shots team doesn’t schedule weekly visits to the pub after the game, because many players have babies that need feeding or children to put to bed’but we do celebrate the end of the season. The coed Fight Planet team, on the other hand, heads out to the local bar after every game. Odd how men count going out for a beer as ‘part of the game’ and women feel guilty going out afterwards!

Dodgeball also offers the best workout I’ve ever had. [It’s estimated that a 150-lb. person burns 340 calories per hour.] During a 55-minute game, you use every abdominal, leg and back muscle‘some you didn’t even know you had’all while building stamina, relieving stress and getting a great cardio workout.

Want to try dodgeball?

It’s been around for decades, but the sport’s popularity has risen since the 2004 Vince Vaughn comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

What is it? Rules can vary, but basically a player tries to hit someone on the opposing team with the ball without getting hit herself. (The ball is about the size of a volleyball, and has an inner air pocket covered in foam and fabric.) Games are 55 minutes long (including a two-minute half-time break), and are usually played in a school gym that’s divided in half, with two games slotted for the same time. Sherriff says the teams play 10 to 15 ’rounds’ in a game.

Does it hurt? If you’re hit on the body, it doesn’t hurt at all. ‘No intentional headshots are allowed,’ explains Sherriff. ‘If a hit lands square in your face, especially the nose, it does hurt. But I have never ‘had bruising.’

What to wear? The best part is there’s no special equipment necessary to start playing’just gym clothes and a pair of non-marking running shoes. Some players wear kneepads so they can dodge by hitting the floor or slide for catches.

Where to play? Go to, which lists 21 leagues in Canada. Or check in with your local community or recreation centre.

Lyra Sherriff, 38, is a project specialist for a major cable telecommunications company in Hamilton, Ont. She has two children, ages nine and four.

This article was originally titled "Dip, duck & dive!" in the March/April 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!