Dodgeball is a wild sport – and Canada is very good

World championships set to begin on Friday outside of Toronto

Forget about the playground game that children play at recess.

If Monday’s national team practice was any indication, the dodgeball played at this week’s world championships at the Pan Am Centre in Markham, Ont., will be a wild, eye-darting experience.

The sport is a mix of power and deception combined with agility, defence and co-ordination.

“If you really pay attention to it, it’s a lot of intensity, it’s a lot of athleticism and it’s a lot of strategy,” said Canadian head coach Victor Gravili.

And mention the 2004 movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” at your peril.

“The Dodgeball movie is like Caddyshack to golf,” said Dodgeball Canada vice-president Alex Svetlovsky. “It’s like asking Tiger Woods about the gophers on the golf course.”

For the uninitiated, live dodgeball is like the sporting equivalent of a multi-ball pinball game.

Balls fly around at breakneck speed. Players who aren’t whipping balls are faking throws or doing their damnedest to get out of the way.

The ball itself weighs 140 grams, is seven inches in diameter, easy to grip and is soft and cushiony. The sound upon contact is much worse than the pain, which is minimal —although the occasional ”face shot” can sting.

Canada is a world powerhouse in the sport in both men’s and women’s play. The national men’s team won gold at last year’s world playdowns in Melbourne, Australia while the women’s side took silver.

Big things are expected again at this year’s championship starting Wednesday. The men’s team is virtually identical to last year with all eight players from Toronto or surrounding area.

The women’s side has four Toronto players with others from Elmvale, Ont., Charlottetown, Ottawa and Winnipeg. A second Canadian entry — dubbed Team Maple Leaf — has been added to both eight-team fields as a replacement for Pakistan, a late pullout due to visa issues.

The basics are fairly simple. In a broad stroke: get hit and you’re out. Catch a ball and the thrower is out and one of your teammates returns to the floor.

Six players per team and six balls on the floor. When a team’s players are all out, the opposing team gets a point. The team with the most points after 40 minutes wins.

“I think the biggest misconception is people think that it’s a bully sport that is really easy to be good at as long as you’re strong, and that’s not true,” said Canadian middle player Halen Sky. “There’s plenty of people that have great arms but they can’t dodge at all and they can’t catch.”

The sport requires more than just a “grip it and rip it” approach. The faking, ball-pumping and hesitation are all critical to a team’s success.

“It’s constant action, constant thinking, moving on your feet, lots of throwing,” said Svetlovsky. “It’s a great fun time.”

Many players started in local leagues and worked their way up to the elite level. Malaysia, the host of the first world championship in 2012, is also expected to contend.

The playoffs begin Friday and the finals are set for Saturday.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Local soccer player Sydney Kelly receives prestigious Premier’s Award

The 18-year-old trained with UNBC’s soccer team while in high school

2018 marks 100 years since the end of World War I

Quesnel legion’s historian Doug Carey documents some of the atrocities of WWI

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

North Coast figure skater to star in Dancing On Ice

Carlotta Edwards learned to skate in Prince Rupert, before becoming a star with millions of viewers

Union pulls back on job action at Interior and northern mills

Legal strikes will discontinue for now as union is optimistic, vice president says

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

Feds dropped ball with WWI anniversary tributes: historians

Wrote one historian: ‘Other than the Vimy Ridge celebration … I think they have done a very bad job’

Sides ‘far apart’ in Canada Post talks despite mediation, says union

The lack of a breakthrough means rotating strikes will resume Tuesday

Feds’ appeal of solitary confinement decision in B.C. to be heard

Judge ruled in January that indefinite such confinement is unconstitutional, causes permanent harm

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Nunavut urges new plan to deal with too many polar bears

Territory recommends a proposal that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking

Shelter struggles: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Renter’s story highlights how hard it is to find accommodation in Revelstoke

Lack of public response threatens B.C. referendum credibility

Of the few who have voted, poll finds most rejected proportional representation

Tentative deal reached in NHL concussion lawsuit

More than 100 former players accused the league of failing to better prevent head trauma

Most Read