Recreational Foam Rules


  • Balls: Games use an odd number of balls on the court depending on team size. We often play with seven balls. The side of the court nearest the main entrance will have one more ball than the other side. Rock, paper, scissors can be used to determine starting sides.
  • The Start: Players must start touching the back wall at the beginning of the game.
  • The End: Play continues until one team is eliminated, the refs call a pause in game play, or until the round timer sounds.
  • Single outs: Each live ball can only get one person out.
  • Saves: If a ball hits you and a teammate catches it before it becomes dead, it is considered a save. You are safe and the person who threw the ball is also safe.
  • Soft lines: It is okay for players to step on boundary lines, but if a player’s entire foot steps over a sideline or beyond the neutral zone, that player is out.
  • Ball count: The team with the majority of balls has ten seconds to relinquish that majority. (e.g. If a team has 4 balls at the start of the ball count they must throw at least one ball before the ball count runs out).
  • The Queue: The first player eliminated is the first to come back into a game if there is a catch.
  • Headshots: Direct hits to a standing player’s head are illegal and the thrower is out.
  • Attack Line: This is the farthest that an offensive player can go towards the opponent’s back wall. Most of games feature an attack line that is ~23’ feet from the opponent’s back wall.
  • Neutral Zone: The area in the middle of the court that players from either team can occupy.
  • The Honor System: Players are responsible for calling themselves out. When in doubt, call yourself out.
  • Community: Get to know your teammates, your opponents, and have fun!

The Court:

  • Neutral zone: If a player steps completely over the line the neutral zone onto the opponent’s side of the court that player is out. The size of the neutral zone may vary depending on the facility, but the attack line distance is consistent.
  • Attack line: The attack line is 23 feet from the back wall.
  • Sidelines: Players are not allowed to step over the sideline at any time. If their entire foot (or any other appendage) is over a sideline, that player is out.
  • Width: Court width can vary by format and facilities, but is generally 35 feet wide for a two court configuration or 25 feet wide for a three court configuration.
  • Out line: Teams should line up on the right side of their court when two sidelines are present. If a side wall is used as a boundary, both teams line up on the open side of the court.


  • All balls are placed on the centerline of the court. Assuming we are playing with seven balls, four balls on one side, three on the other. Which side has four balls should stay consistent because teams will switch sides after each game.
  • Team captains will play rock, paper, scissors to decide starting sides.
  • The ref will start play generally by checking in with both sides and saying “ready, ready, go!”

The Rush:

  • On the initial rush, you may only touch the balls on the right side of the court.
  • Balls must be checked all the way to the back wall before they can be thrown.
  • The ball must be checked by a person, i.e. someone holding the ball must also be touching the wall. A ball thrown at the wall is not checked.
  • After all of your own balls have been checked you may grab the remaining balls on the centerline if the other team did not get theirs.

The Count:

The ten second count is how we keep the game moving. When a team possesses a majority of the balls, the burden is on them to throw enough balls to drop below that majority within ten seconds. Once that occurs, the count resets.
The team need only throw enough balls to drop below the majority as achieved when the count started. Additional balls collected during the count do not increase the number of required throws during this count.

If the required number of balls are not thrown within ten seconds, the ref will stop play and award all but two balls to the other side.

Reffing the 10 second count is hard. We recommend one ref be dedicated to this. Use your arms to denote which side currently has the burden and start the count by declaring how many balls they need to throw. A silent count is fine but when the count gets down to five seconds make sure you’re loud enough for both teams to hear. On a count down, if you are able to begin the word “zero” without the requisite balls being thrown, stop play immediately, redistribute balls, and restart both teams from the wall. The team that failed to give up the ball majority gets to keep two balls on the restart.


  • If you get hit, you’re out. Easy right? Well, there are tricky some grey areas.
  • A player is considered out if they are contacted by a live ball thrown by the opposite team and it becomes dead.
  • Clothing: Uniforms and accessories are considered part of a player’s body.
  • Hit etiquette: If a player is hit, they may pass balls under their control to their teammates, raise their arm to signal that they are out, and leave the court immediately without disrupting play.
  • “If in doubt, you’re out!” If you are not sure if you were hit or safe, go out.
  • A player is out the moment they are hit with a ball. The only valid action they can take is to attempt to catch that ball before it dies. A save on that ball is also valid. Any thrown balls, other catches, etc are invalid.


  • If a player catches a ball thrown by an opponent, the thrower is out and one player returns to the catcher’s side from the queue. in the order of first out, first in.
  • A catch is when a player retains control of a ball thrown by an opponent and must land with both feet in bounds.
  • When a player is caught back into the game, that player must enter from the back of the court, near the wall.
  • A returning player has 5 seconds to rejoin the game. They should enter from the back of the court and tag the back wall to become active. They are not to make any dodgeball moves until they touch the back wall.
  • If a teammate catches a ball that is deflected off another teammate’s body it is considered a save. The teammate is saved but the thrower is not out.
  • Catches from blocks: It is considered a catch if an opponent’s ball hits a blocking ball and is caught by the blocker’s teammate.
  • Catching balls going out of bounds: Player must be in control (see Glossary) of the ball before going out of bounds, with both feet in bounds for a catch to be valid. The catch counts but the player falling out of bounds is out.
  • If there is a catch and neither team knows who was caught the referee will pause the game and choose one player from the throwing side to come off the court.
  • Too close to call: If a player is hit out but makes a catch within the same volley, the player is out, but the catch counts. See the definition of volley.


  • A block is when a player uses a ball to keep from being hit.
  • Failed Block: If a live ball, thrown by the opponent, hits a player’s blocking ball and then hits the blocker’s body, the player is out.
  • If a player drops their blocking ball because of contact from an incoming throw, the player is out.
  • The fingers and hand are considered part of the ball when holding a ball, the wrist and forearm are not. A player holding a blocker and hit in the hand is not out, a player hit in the forearm is.


As soon as there is a 1v1 situation, the referees will start a ten second countdown. At the end of the countdown, play will be paused to setup a ‘Joust’. During a joust, the entire court has been converted into a neutral zone that both players can move freely. Sidelines are still active, so stay in the court! During a joust, both players will start with one ball in hand and three additional balls will be placed on the middle line. A referee will start a joust by saying ‘ready, joust!’. A joust will continue until one player has been eliminated. Physical contact is not allowed during a joust. In the case of contact, a referee will decide who initiated contact and will award the win to the opposing player.


Eagles are when a player jumps from the neutral zone into the opponent’s side of the court to make a throw. If their throw was successful in getting someone out, the thrower is still alive but must return to their side immediately. That player is vulnerable until they return to their side of the court, and can be hit by opponents. The eagler is allowed to dodge, but cannot go out of bounds or touch balls until returning to their side of the court. If a player attempting an eagle steps all the way over the attack line while jumping, that player is immediately out.


Headshots are defined as throws that hit players directly in the head while that player is standing upright or in an athletic stance. If a player has significantly lowered their head by kneeling, ducking or crouching, no headshot will be called. On a close call we’re going to err on the side of the person getting hit in the head
Headshots nullify the entire volley. For instance, in a volley of two balls where one hits the defender’s face and another hits their leg, neither hit counts. The defender is safe and the thrower of the headshot is out.

High throw warning: Players who throw near head level multiple times in one match will be warned by the referees. If that players throws another head level throw, that player will be called out.


  • If a ball goes off the court, get it back to an active player ASAP.
  • A ball should be returned to the team on the side of the court that it went out on. The goal of shagging is to help the players, and to keep the game moving.
  • Shaggers may not reach on to the playing court or shag balls that are on the other team’s side of the court.
  • If you’re a spectator of the game and ball comes to you, shag it and get it to a player ASAP.


  • When catching, a player must be in full control of the ball without using any out of bounds area or floor as leverage.
  • Any physical contact with an opposing player will deem the player that initiated contact “out”.
  • If a ball is thrown before the first utterance of “joust” the throw is considered as legal.
  • A ball must be picked up in order for the throw to be legal. Kicking, smacking, or spiking a ball is not allowed and any hits resulting from them hit will not count. However, if one of these balls is caught by the opponent, the catch is legal.
  • Players must line up in the order they were eliminated.
  • Substitutions and timeouts: Substitutions and timeouts are not allowed during a game unless there is an injury. The same players who start a game, end the game. Substitution may occur after each individual game (i.e. when you switch sides).
  • Honor System Officiating: It is ultimately up to the players to enforce and uphold the rules of dodgeball when playing or refereeing. Dodgeball relies on the honor system, in which officiating is determined more between players and less from the referees. However, if there is a controversial play, the referees will make the final call. They have the right to stop a game and discuss the incident before proceeding. In respect for the spirit of the game and for fellow players, there is absolutely no protesting allowed. However we encourage players to discuss and clarify any plays in a respectful manner with referees after the game is finished.
  • Clothing (uniforms and accessories) is considered part of a player’s body.
  • A player that is hit mid-eagle is out as soon as they are hit. . A ball thrown by the eagler is only valid if thrown before they were hit.
  • If playing with a timer and the time ends during a match then the team with the least number of outs wins. If there is a tie for the least number of outs then it is a draw.


  • Dead ball
    • A dead ball is any ball that has:
      • Not been checked on the rush
      • Contacted an eliminated player
      • Contacted another dead ball
      • Contacted the floor / ceiling / or walls of the gym
      • Been kicked or spiked.
      • All balls on the rush are dead until they are checked.
      • If a player throws a dead ball without checking it first, that player is out.
      • When a player is out for any reason, all balls under his/her possession are dead.
  • Dying ball
    • A ball that has hit a player, but has not yet become dead.
  • Live ball
    • A ball that has been activated by checking it past the neutral zone.
  • Match
    • A collection of games between two teams.
  • In
    • Being eligible to participate in the game on court.
  • Out
    • Ineligible to play in the game as a result of being hit, caught, or touching/going past the court’s boundaries.
  • Opening Rush
    • When players approach the center line to retrieve the balls at the signal of the referee.
  • Control
    • A player has control of a ball when they have it secured in their hands.
  • Save
    • When a thrown ball deflects off of a live player and is caught by a teammate before hitting the ground it is considered a save. Neither the player who was hit or the thrower are out.
  • Burden to Throw
    • If a team has five or more balls it is their responsibility to make an attack and relinquish the original ball majority within 10 seconds. The team must throw N – 4 balls where N is the number of balls the team had when the 10 second count began.
  • Volley
    • A volley is a group throw of multiple balls. All balls arriving at a defending player at the same time are part of the same volley. Any balls that arrive unambiguously early or late to the defender are not a part of the same volley.