The (Serious) Mental Health Benefits of Playing Dodgeball

Two things about treadmill workouts: they’re easy to bail on after a long day of work, and they can be sort of lonely. Recreational sports leagues, on the other hand, come complete with a sense of community that holds you accountable to your exercise commitments and bolsters your mental well-being. “That feeling of not wanting to cancel on your team keeps you from growing isolated as you get busy,” explains sports psychologist Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood.

Of course, not everyone can slam dunk or bend it like Lionel Messi. Thankfully, now that organizations like the Toronto Sport and Social Club are embracing the sports of our youth — namely, floor hockey, dodgeball, and kickball — the Vince Vaughns of the world are finally able to become team players, too.

TSSC co-founder Rolston Miller thinks these lower-stakes, gym class–style sports have an especially positive impact on our psyches because of their ties to memories made during elementary school. “It’s like hearing a song you used to party to,” he says. And even if you were an all-star varsity athlete, there’s still reason to sign up. “It’s good to move on to something new,” notes Dr. Leslie-Toogood. “It keeps you from comparing your performance to what it was in your prime and lets you actually immerse yourself in the activity.” In this case: dodging, ducking, dipping, diving, and dodging.



Aim your shots low

Directing throws at opponents’ shins will make the ball trickier to catch.


Throw curve balls

Grip your ball on the side and throw in a half-circle to surprise your opponents.


Use a ball as a shield to deflect shots

Or better yet, drop it at the last minute to catch the ball they just shot at you.


We sign our kids up for team sports, but really they offer valuable lessons all throughout life

Improve your social skills

“By collaborating toward a shared goal, you learn to have meaningful conversations,” says Dr. Leslie-Toogood. And if some of your post-game debriefs happen over nachos, even better.

Accept vulnerability

“You can’t hide your weaknesses,” notes Miller. “Sweat shows the real you.” No wonder he’s seen so many relationships forged through sports teams.

Develop higher resilience

“No matter how the day at the office was, those frustrations can’t carry into a game,” Dr. Leslie-Toogood says. “And by sometimes failing during the sport, you reflect and grow.”

Bolster physical fitness

Allow Rolston Miller to sum up the aerobic benefits of dodgeball best: “As humans,” he says, “we should all be able to throw stuff, hit stuff, run, and jump. It’s important.”