Very Best Games

Athletic Games Thinking Games

Prison Ball

Name of GamePrison Ball a.k.a. Prison Dodgeball
Age Range7-adult
Number of Players6-80
Playing Environmentsgrass field, pavement, indoor gym
Shared Equipmentat least 6 safe throwing balls
Individual Equipmentnone
SummaryThe main playing area is a rectangle 70-100 feet long (depending on the size of the players), and wide enough to give each player room to throw and dodge. Behind each end line is a "prison" of the same width and a depth of at least 12 feet, preferably 20. A center line spans the width, halfway between the end lines.

Each team is confined to its own half. Players throw balls at members of the opposite team. If one is hit by a ball on the fly and he does not catch it, he goes to prison, which is the area beyond the other team's back line. If he catches the ball on the fly, he is safe, and the thrower goes to prison.

At first, a team can retrieve all balls beyond its back line, but once a prison has occupants, all balls that enter the prison are for the prisoners to throw back to their teammates who are still free. If a free teammate throws a ball, and one of the prisoners catches it on the fly, she is freed, and she gets safe passage back to her own side.

The game is won when one team puts all of the other team in prison.
RulesA player who is hit in the head is not out: instead the thrower is out. This rule does not apply if the player has lowered his head by ducking.

No player may touch a ball that is on the other team's half.

A player may use a ball she is holding to block balls thrown at her.

No player may keep possession of a ball for longer than 15 seconds.

A player can save a teammate by catching a ball that has hit him before it touches the ground. This also puts the thrower in prison.

Once a prison is occupied, no one but prisoners may enter.

One variation allows prisoners to throw at opponents to get them out, but this raises a problem, because they have no penalty for having their throws caught, and it also adds an advantage to being in prison.
CommentsIt's very important to use balls that have enough density to be comfortable to throw, but that will not hurt if they hit someone in the face. Nerf-type soccer balls are about right.

Encourage players to free their prisoners. It's more fun for the prisoners, and it's also good strategy.

If smaller kids are stuck in prison for too long, allow them to be freed if they catch a teammate's throw after one bounce.