Rule Proposal – Revisit Roster Size

Reducing Roster Sizes

For the 5th year in a row, I am proposing reducing the active player count on the court from 15v15 to 12v12. Before you blow this off, and have the mentality of “change isn’t good”, I urge you to just take a few minutes to read my rationale below:

Currently, we play a VERY large scale game with roster sizes ranging from 10-20 players with 10-15 active players on the court at the beginning of each point.

I would like to change this to roster sizes ranging from 8-16 with 8-12 active players on the court at the beginning of each point (though I am willing to negotiate the minimum anywhere between 8 and 10). This will keep the same ratio that we currently have (see chart below).

Roster Current Ratio Proposed
Minimum 10 0.5 8
Maximum 20 1.0 16
On-Court Max 15 0.75 12



  • Easier for new teams to enter the league.
    • Telling new teams they need to have at least 10, but preferably 15, players for their first game is tough. That’s at least three cars and 9-14 friends/classmates/annoying-people-who-live-in-your-dorm that you have to find to travel to a tournament in which you’re probably going to lose every game.
    • With a minimum of 8 players, that’s only two cars and 7 others you need to find to start your dodgeball career.
  • More competitive games.
    • As I see it now, MOST teams have the following team makeup:
      • 3 difference-makers
      • 3 great players
      • 4 good players
      • 3 bad, but sheepish players
      • 7 liabilities/warm bodies/numbers
    • By reducing the number of bad players on the court, your team will logically perform better.
  • More realistic scrimmages can occur at practice.
    • I know most schools have a hard time getting 30 people to practice, so this will help those teams be able to have legitimate scrimmages during practice.
  • Easier to retain active JV teams.
    • If teams are able to retain the same/similar number of club members as they currently do. It will give more people the opportunity to create JV teams. These JV teams can then travel and get real game experience against other JV teams, which will develop their skill, keep their interest alive, and allow for more competition for spots on the varsity rosters.
  • More points scored, which means more dodgeball played per player. When games now end in 2-0, the poor player who is eliminated third or fourth will only get a few minutes of play, while they watch their team from the sideline.
  • Reducing the overall cost. With less people on a roster, that is less tshirts to buy at Nationals/events, less hotel rooms to buy when traveling, less jerseys, less food, everything is less.



Colin O’Brien:

For years I have been against this idea. But I have now had a change of heart and support the reduction in roster size for several reasons.

To start, I think the league needs an improvement in the number of JV matches played. As Felix mentioned, reducing the roster size would mean a club with 28 members could field an entire varsity roster with subs and full starting JV team. Throw in the subs off of varsity and that number decreases to 24. JV teams would be sooo much easier to maintain under this reduction. People get better by playing, not by sitting or watching others play. How many points do the subs of a team realistically get to play at a tournament, especially points that matter? Not very many. No one wants to go to a tournament and not play, something that unfortunately happens often due to teams balancing winning with making sure players get on the court. Having JV games would give the back half of teams the experience they need to get better. More importantly, it gives them experience against players closer to their caliber, so they are more likely to not spend all of their game experience in the out line anyway. The presence of more JV teams and JV games is a big step to improving the full team quality of the league.

Speaking of team quality, it’s no secret teams rely on the top half of their roster to make the majority, if not near entirety, of the plays on the court. I would agree with the rough distribution of talent Felix outlined above. Removing the bottom three players from each team from the court would do little, if at all, to reduce the quality of play on the court. I would argue it would only improve the quality. By taking those three players off, that’s three less “easy targets” to hit. That’s three less players that could potentially be brought in on a catch just to get hit and go right back out. With so few teams in the league that can actually count on their 13-15th best players to make a play during a game, I think taking them off the court would help make games more competitive and increase the competitive balance of the league.

It’s incredibly difficult for a school to maintain 15 players that are good. Under the assumption that players play for 4 years (lol in this league I know) the move from 15 to 12 means each school has to recruit 1 less good player every year in order to field a complete and balanced roster. That change may seem small but would prove huge, as I know many schools experience hardship recruiting and developing players. And as Felix stated above, practices are more likely to represent real games for many schools who struggle to have high practice numbers.

And frankly, 15 players on the court is a bit crowded. Once it gets down to 12 players is when it feels more normal to me anyway. That’s just my opinion.

Finally, I agree 100% with Felix on league expansion. The reduction in roster size would make it far easier for new teams to join. I think we all want the league to continue to grow and expand. This would be a simple change that would not have a significant detrimental effect on the league, in my opinion, but would open the NCDA to be much easier to expand to new schools. One of my biggest drawbacks in the past was fear of teams potentially folding after a bad year or two of recruiting if we were to reduce roster sizes. I think going from 15 (10-20) to 12 (8-16) rosters would be a happy medium that presents the league with easier expansion opportunities without the same fear of teams unexpectedly folding.

I think a future NCDA where there are 12 players on the court along with a 27 foot throw line would be the best for the health and growth of the league as a whole.

Author: Felix Perrone

NCDA President

6 thoughts on “Rule Proposal – Revisit Roster Size”

  1. I’m also of a mind as Colin, that in past years I have been very against reducing roster size, however reducing it to 12 on 12 has way too many benefits to continue to ignore.

  2. In the past I was also in the same boat as Wes / Colin. But this proposal has my endorsement now (with one condition: the minimum should be 10 players, not 8). Just my opinion there. Overall it will help the league grow, and Colin’s last two paragraphs summarize my thoughts exactly. The drawback of teams being at-risk of folding will not be too severe if the roster size is between 10-16 (with 12 v 12 being the preferred format).

  3. I don’t think we should decrease roster size, we have a lot of people who want to make our Varsity team but end up playing for the JV waiting for a chance to get their shot. Now minimizing the roster would give them even less hope, resulting in them giving up and making our club a lot smaller. This is truly just helping the small teams that are building and hindering the growth of the teams firmly planted

  4. I know for Whitewater, it was very difficult to assemble 15 dedicated teams member to try and field a respectable team. If we were to lower the number of players on the court it would be much easier for more teams to join and make it easier for current teams to travel and participate in more events, in my opinion.

  5. Its an interesting proposal, even if the minimum number of players needed to play was 10, could the total number of active players on the roster be 18 lets say instead of 16. Therefore not having to worry as much about picking only specific players to come each tournament it would give the freedom to not discriminate.

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