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Hit your mates with the ball and win – dodgeball comes to Hungary

Dodgeball involves two teams trying to hit each other and the one avoiding the most throws, wins. But of course, it’s not as simple as that. You need cunning strategies, quick reactions and acrobatic jumps. Don’t forget that you also have to watch out for five balls at the same time as players attack and defend. It’s a fun sport and Hungarian players have created a friendly community whose team spirit continues beyond the gym.

It's an evening training session in Újpest. The warm-up has already begun and we’re greeted by coach Ferenc Bohács, who first introduced us to the sport of dodgeball. He soon gets people in the mood, enthusiastically talking to us while fixing his eyes on the team. Ferenc has a sports background with many athletes in his family.

He saw dodgeball abroad and fell in love with it so much that he decided to look for partners in Hungary to start a team. You could even say that he’s the local soul of the game. As he monitors the team from the sidelines, he gives advice and talks to us at the same time, always in two places at once. No wonder his enthusiasm has infected the many people who now love the sport.

London calling

Dodgeball comes from the English-speaking world. Prominent in the UK, it continues to gain popularity worldwide. In 2010, men’s teams from six countries took part in the first European Championships in London. For the tenth tournament a decade later, there were 45 teams of 18 nationalities, competing in three categories.

Although Hungary has only been participating in international matches since 2018, results are promising. Unfortunately, the pandemic came at a very bad time for the sport, as international competitions were delayed for nearly two years, and you could only train on your own.

However, since the autumn, teams have been able to face each other more at international level. This is bad news for Hungary’s opponents, as the Pirates, the men’s team, won bronze in Prague last October, while the girl’s team defeated the sixth-ranked Czechs in Brno in November and before then, claimed silver in Paris.

Rules are rules

The good news for both spectator and player is that the basic rules of dodgeball are simple. On a volleyball court of 17x8 metres, six players compete against each other, with four to six substitutes allowed per team.

There are no specialist positions, each team has five balls made out of a special fabric that are light and soft but bounce mischievously. If you want to try the game at school, a rubber or sponge ball would do.

One of the best features of the sport is that skill and tactics are just as important as endurance, so mixed teams and players of all ages can all join in. The dodgeball community is diverse, with a wide variety of people to make friends with.

The game starts with a run to the middle, to decide which team has first use of the ball from the baseline.

One after the other, attackers use various tactics to hit their opponents with the ball and knock them out. The fun comes when a throw misses, the other team gets the advantage, immediately tactics change, and the game speeds up.

From the sidelines, it’s far more entertaining than it sounds, complex, fast and unpredictable. Throwers change from one minute to the next, the dice rolls again, and the three-minute sets become continuous during the 15 minutes of playing time. Tiring out the other team is a common tactic.

The meek student of poetry who would otherwise be agonising over his thesis suddenly becomes a one-man execution squad on the court, terrifying his opponents.

Fast-paced and full of activity, dodgeball also requires intellect for both spectators and players. Expensive equipment, however, isn’t necessary and the rules are easy to learn.

Hungary Dodgeball has now launched a school programme, which now has 25-30 teams and about 150 players. And judging by the first Hungarian Cup played in Kisújszállás last week, not only are more and more joining the sport, but many more are watching it.

How to join

Hungary Dodgeball
1041 Budapest, Erzsébet utca 69


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