Why dodgeball should be taught in school, by the Gordie Howe of Dodgeball.

My qualifications to talk about this

  • I spent a decade playing in dodgeball tournaments all over North America.
  • I was the Head Coach of Canada’s National Mens Team in 2013 and 2014. Yes, we have one. We won gold in both years, beating the U.S. in the finals in 2013 in New Zealand and 2014 in Hong Kong. I retired from coaching in 2014 with 2 gold medals in 2 attempts and an international coaching record of 11–2.
  • I design courses and curricula as part of my job at Ivey, so I have some familiarity with what the researchers are trying to accomplish.

First Thoughts: I agree with what the researchers are trying to do.

So why teach dodgeball?

  1. Unlike many sports like basketball, a broad range of physical characteristics are useful. In dodgeball, there is an advantage to being big (throw harder) but there’s also an advantage to being small and quick (harder to hit, easier to collect rebounds). If you look at high-level dodgeball, you’ll see a broader range of body types than you will in say, tennis. I used to play against a guy who was about 6 feet tall and 400 lbs, who was a great player, because he could catch anything. Glue for hands. In most other sports, he’d struggle, but there was a role for him in dodgeball. It reminds me a little of the old Nintendo Ice Hockey game, where the best teams are ones that have a range of physical characteristics.
  2. In pretty much every other sport, you spend most of your time without the ball, which can get a bit boring. In dodgeball, because there’s six balls, you spend about half of the time with a ball, and half without, so you have ample opportunity to get to learn both sides of the game. I always found hockey frustrating, because in any given game I might spend 30 seconds with the puck, so I never got to practice those skills in a game situation. Doesn’t apply in dodgeball.
  3. Dodgeball is a good introduction to “contact” sports. You learn how to take a hit, but instead of getting hit with a knee or elbow, you’re getting hit with a foam ball. It can sting a little bit if you get hit in the wrong place, but otherwise, it’s a lot lower impact than, say, soccer. Not many concussions in dodgeball.
  4. Coordination is vital. One thing you learn quickly in dodgeball is that you need to throw two balls, that arrive at the same time, at the same target. Because if you don’t, your throw will probably get caught, which is a bad thing. First you need to coordinate with a teammate, to throw at the same target at the same time while “under fire”. This is a highly transferrable skill to “the real world”. Even if you pick the same target, the coordination can be harder to do than it sounds — two players might start their throws at the same time, but if one has a longer wind-up then the other, the balls won’t arrive at the same time.
  5. Finally, it’s a great workout, and it’s fun. That should count for something.
Here’s a pic of me playing in an exhibition in New Zealand, with a player from Malaysia’s national team.
Our 2013 team. We went undefeated, with a 6–0 record. In fact, I don’t believe we were ever even behind in a match.
Our 2014 team. So proud of these guys. Had a couple tough losses in the round-robin, then played a tactically perfect semifinal match against Malaysia (which I still say is the greatest match ever played), then absolutely dominated a stacked U.S. team in the finals. I needed my boys to find an extra gear, and they pulled through. Knew nothing could top this win, so I retired soon after.

Why are you called the Gordie Howe of Dodgeball?

  • Hitting an opposing player with a ball
  • Catching a ball thrown by an opposing player
  • Knocking a ball out of an opposing player’s hand with a throw. (If an opposing player has the habit of holding a ball at their side, try throwing a fastball right at their ball. With practice, you can make this part of your regular arsenal, if you have a strong enough arm. And it really gets in your opponent’s head if you can pull it off. So much fun.)
  • Forcing an opponent to step outside the court. (My specialty — think the “foot foul” from Dodgeball: The Movie, except the sideline, not the centre line. If an opposing player is playing too close to the sideline, try throwing a ball at their leg furthest from the line. Sometimes they’ll slide over and foul themselves out. This really gets in their head. Doubly fun! In many rule sets there are no “hard” sidelines, so this is not possible.




Senior Director, Smart Prosperity. Assistant Prof, Ivey Business School. Exhausted but happy Dad of 2 wonderful kids with autism. I used to do other stuff.

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Mike Moffatt

Mike Moffatt

Senior Director, Smart Prosperity. Assistant Prof, Ivey Business School. Exhausted but happy Dad of 2 wonderful kids with autism. I used to do other stuff.

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