Breaking Bad with Dodgeballs

Kent State’s Old Dodgeballs

DePaul Dodgeball recently received a shipment of Champion PG8.5’s, a generous 72 dodgeballs in multicolor. The team applied for funding from its Student Activity Funding Board, and was granted an allocation for the purchase of any dodgeball club’s most vital equipment.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll conduct a observational experiment into the breaking in of these new PG8.5s, the new preferred dodgeball of the NCDA. I don’t pretend that this is properly scientific, as those necessary rigors involve more patience than the DePaul Dodgeball Society can muster at dodgeball nights.

The process is fairly simple: twelve dodgeballs (multicolored balls are usually packs of six) will be inflated to standard NCDA pressure. This is enough that they have some give and can be gripped, but not underinflated to the point where they don’t bounce. Balls gotta bounce right?

These twelve balls will be introduced into general play as is, straight out of the box after inflated to a common Match ready pressure. None of the other shortcuts or bubble baths that other teams have used. DePaul plays Monday and Thursday nights, so we’ll lump a weeks worth observation into one post.


Based on past casual observation and my admittedly long experience, I believe it takes about two weeks (4 practices or about 8 hours of play) to break most types of dodgeballs in. The Mikasa dodgeball took a few months. The infamous Culver’s balls, or the PG8.5 Heavy Duty, are kickballs and much thicker and resistant. It took one full year to break the Culver’s ball in, and it still isn’t very grippable.

Three years ago as Treasurer for DePaul, I rubbed olive oil and/or corn oil to help break in certain balls. I didn’t use any other methods, I was mainly trying to imitate the hand oil that helps break in dodgeballs if they are introduced vanilla. While there’s been many different processes presented by others, they are out of the scope of this particular series of articles. We’ll focus on the least work intensive process possible, allowing the players to break in the balls using regular and average dodgeball play.

Environmental Criteria

Existing, broken in balls include a handful of non-champions. DePaul, as well as many other clubs, have a strong history of playing with fun playground balls. Because dodgeball is fun. DePaul has a baseball and soccer pattern, two Culvers balls, a candy ball, a blue/green 9 incher (the Jakari ball), and a generic blue ball at the start of the test, seven balls.

There are two purple PG’s, one broken in fairly well from last year, and another that was thrown in at the start of the school year, after Labor Day.

Of note, DePaul plays on an average basketball court, similar to most teams in the League. Some dodgeballs are broken in faster on concrete, for instance, which we assume can be a result of abrasion.

Experimental Constraints

This brings Twelve new PG balls and Nine existing, 21 dodgeballs in play. Some players may even refuse to use the new balls in favor of the old, but hopefully the greater amount of new balls will help the new balls get more use.

Let’s also keep in mind that DePaul loves to play with balls, and the more balls the better. They also routinely have 40+ people playing at dodgeball nights, and for the duration of the test we’ll include the official attendance count as well as the condition and progress.

Some Member Teams of the NCDA even have “practices”. This isn’t really true with DePaul; they just play dodgeball. We can assume the 1.5 to 2 hours of dodgeball night will be constant, regular play on the new dodgeballs.

Starting on Thursday, we’ll introduce this miniseries. Keep checking the site on Fridays! We’ll even get some quotes from DePaul Dodgeballers along the way.

Author: Zigmister

DePaul Dodgeball #68 & NCDA Director of Officiating

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