One is to race to the front, risk elimination, and challenge the other team. By doing so, the player learns more about his or her own abilities and make the necessary adjustments next game. This player learns.
The other is to hide in the back, make yourself as invisible as possible, and last as long as possible. Since little effort is made, this player rarely learns how to play better.
The problem with the first is that unless the game allows you to return when a teammate catches the ball, you will probably not play very long. For games with no "returns" the kids who really don't want to play will use this strategy to get out, but the ones who are more likely to help their team win will be more cautious.
The problem with the second strategy is that, if successful, eventually you are the only one left and cannot hide. Thus, a very obvious and public failure is inevitable.
Dodgeball hint from my coaching days: the best strategy I have seen is to rally your team in to a charging horde that overwhelms the other side from the start. If everyone charges ahead, none get eliminated quickly.
For schools, if you want your students to take the more active, first strategy approach to learning, you need to allow for "returns" and/or be willing to "play" again. Coach students to learn from mistakes and provide opportunities for them to try again.
Of course, you can allow your students to "hide in the back" but eventually they will not be the only ones staring helplessly at overwhelming numbers on the other team.
Thank you for reading this post. As with all my posts this month, I ask you to consider joining me to help support a worthy cause - St. Jude's Research Hospital. Between now and the end of January, 2012, I will donate $1 US for every copy of either of my two eBooks purchased. You can find additional information about this offer by clicking here or you can simply click on either book cover above to purchase that title.