Dodgeball involves players tossing balls in an attempt to hit another player to eliminate him. Players simultaneously try to eliminate other players and avoid getting hit. Several variations on the basic dodgeball game keep kids interested and allow more variety in gym class. Check with the school or gym facility to make sure dodgeball is allowed. Enforce rules about only hitting players from the waist down to reduce the risk of injury.
Prison ball follows the same basic concept as regular dodgeball, but when a player is out, she gets a chance to reenter the game. Instead of sitting down on the sidelines, she goes to prison, a defined area behind the opposing team. Players from her team can throw balls to her and if she catches one she is back in the game; however, if the ball is caught by an opposing team member, the player who threw it also goes to prison. This version of dodgeball keeps all of the players active throughout the game.
For a less aggressive version of dodgeball, have the kids focus on the foot area. Beanbags work well in place of actual balls for this version. The kids slide the beanbags across the floor, attempting to hit the foot of an opposing team member. For more variation, allow the kids to use gentle underhand tosses to hit the feet of the other team.
This variation of dodgeball departs from the usual two-team play. The four corners of the gym represent safe zones. Mark the corners with gym mats or tape on the floor. Choose five players as tossers who try to get the other players out of the game. The five tossers stand within a designated area in the middle of the gym, each with a ball. The remaining players spread out evenly among the four corners. When the whistle blows, the players run to the next corner. The tossers try to hit the runners with a ball as they run to the next corner. The tossers may only throw a ball from their designated tossing area. If they must retrieve a ball, they must wait until they get back to the tossing area before trying to hit another student.
A dodgeball game typically ends when all players from one team are eliminated, but this version offers another way to win. Each team has three bowling pins or similar objects set up in a row on its side of the playing area. Players are eliminated like regular dodgeball, but they also try to knock down the pins of the opposing team. If one team knocks down all three of the other team's pins, it wins the game.