How To Play Cornhole: Complete Guide For Beginners

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Playing cornhole is a perfect excuse for day-drinking, but even when it’s all fun and games, a match can get quite competitive because who likes losing anyway?

This guide here was made for beginners that are looking to learn how to play cornhole and want just to know the basic rules of cornhole as well as some tips on how to play this game.

Whether you are looking to participate in an upcoming cornhole tournament of if you simply want to show off your throwing skills at a barbeque party, this article will provide some valuable information ranging from rules and regulation, down to valuable throwing tips you can use during your next match in cornhole.

Cornhole Rules and Regulations: Guide For Beginners

1. Cornhole Court Layout Rules

As illustrated below, always adhere to the proper court layout when setting up the platforms. This involves paying attention to:

  • The court surface must be level and even.
  • The length and width of the court (45ft x 10ft)
  • Indoor Cornhole courts need at least 12ft of vertical clearance.
  • The designated pitcher’s boxes (the 4ft x 3ft spaces on either side of each board/platform)
  • For adult play, the foul line must be 27ft from the front edge of one cornhole to the front edge of the board on its opposite side. For junior matches, this distance must be 21ft.
  • The foul lines

cornhole rules for court

 

A north-south court setting is recommended so that you can reduce the effects of the sun when playing in an outdoor court.

When playing in an indoor court, make sure there is a minimum 12ft vertical clearance to the lowest obstruction.

2. Cornhole Gameplay Rules

  • No foreign substances (e.g., talc powder, silicone sprays, baby powder), should be applied to the cornhole board or the bags before or during play.
  • Upon stepping onto the pitcher’s box, a player has to toss the bag within 15 seconds.
  • Cornhole Players must toss the bag with an under-hand release.
  • A player must toss the bag using the same hand for the entire duration of the match or tournament.
  • In doubles play whereby you have teams of two, the player who is not tossing must stand no less than 2 feet behind the competitor.
  • Each team/player is allowed two 1-minute timeouts in each game, and only a pitching player can call a timeout.
  • There are three circumstances where a player may be allowed to cross the foul line and approach the opposite cornhole board during a frame:
    1. When a timeout has been called.
    2. To rake bags piled inside the cornhole board hole.
    3. To sweep foul bags from the playing surface.

3. Scoring In Cornhole

  • In cornhole, only one team/player can score in each inning and this is achieved using cancellation scoring. Cancellation scoring is whereby the points of one player/team cancel out the points of their opponent so that in the end, only the non-canceled bags are counted in the final score for that inning.
  • A bag that goes into the hole is known as a cornhole and this is worth 3 points whereas a bag that lands on the board are called a woody and this is 1 point. A Cornhole bag that is hanging into the hole is worth 1 point, and the same score is given to bags which are hanging off the edge of the board, but not touching the ground.
  • Points are awarded 5 seconds after the last bag is pitched and comes to a rest, and also, after all the bags on the board have stopped moving. If a bag happens to move after 5 seconds, then its points shall be awarded based on its previous position.

4. Fouls in Cornhole

When a foul occurs in cornhole, the play is stopped so that the tossed bag can be removed from the court before play resumes. Actions that are considered fouls include:

  • Pitching while part of your foot or appendage is not completely inside the pitcher’s box at the time when you release the bag.
  • Failing to toss the bag within the 15-second time limit.
  • Switching the pitcher’s boxes while playing the same inning.
  • If the player pitches out of turn.
  • If a tossed bag hits the ground and bounces up on the playing surface.
  • If the tossed bag lands hanging off the cornhole board and are touching the ground.
  • The tossed bag strikes a previously defined obstacle such as a ceiling (when playing indoors), wire, tree limb, etc.
  • Stepping outside the pitcher’s box after entering it the aim of tossing the bag.
  • The pitcher drops the bag after their final forward swing has started.

5. Court Maintenance

To ensure fair and accurate play for all contestants, always keep the court in perfect playing condition by ensuring it is free of any debris, distractions, and obstructions.

Note however that during a match, no contestant is allowed to alter the court in any manner whatsoever unless they obtain the consent of all other players.

6. Playing Equipment of Cornhole

There are many Cornhole boards in the market but a standard ACA sanctioned board ought to measure 48” x 24”, be made out of plywood and be at least ½” thick.

As illustrated below, there are also strict regulations concerning the location of the hole on the Cornhole board as well as how tall the platform should be, once it has been set up for play.

cornhole board dimensions rules

The deck face of the platform should have a smooth texture and be free of any blemishes that might distort play. Additionally, it is recommended that the surface paint be an easy-to-see color such as white.

Cornhole bags should measure 6” x 6”, weighing anywhere between 14-16 ounces and be made from duck canvas in an easy-to-see color. The filling could be feed corn or plastic resin pellets, but the latter is preferred for all-weather play.

7. Pitching Distances

First off, every contestant must remain in the designated pitcher’s box while pitching a bag.

There are separate distances for open adult play and junior play, and these are stipulated by the 27ft and 21ft foul lines respectively.

For senior adults or impaired players, however, they could be allowed to observe the 21ft foul line as long as it has been agreed upon by all contestants.

How To Play Cornhole: Step by Step Guide

You can play Cornhole either as doubles or as singles. Singles play is whereby a contestant gets to compete against another contestant.

Doubles play on the other hand involves having two contestants on one team and another two on the opposing team.

1. Cornhole Singles Play Rules

Step 1: Set out the correct court layout.

Step 2: Place four beanbags of one color on one board, and place another four bags of another color on the board that’s on the opposite side.

Step 3: The players get to decide who goes first and this can be done via a coin toss or any other process.

Step 4: Standing in the pitcher’s box, the player selected to go first will toss one of their four bean bags aiming to pass it through the hole on the opposite board.

Step 5: The opposing player gets to reciprocate by tossing one of their four bags at the board opposite them.

Step 6: The players keep playing while taking turns and this goes on until all eight bags have been tossed, which then marks the end of a round.

Step 7: Scores are tallied, and the player with the most points tosses first in the next round.

2. Cornhole Doubles Play Rules

Step 1: Set out the correct court layout.

Step 2: Place all eight bean bags on one board.

Step 3: Decide which team gets to toss first.

Let’s say the two teams are “Team A” and “Team B,” and each has two players: player 1 and player 2.

Step 4: Players 1 from both Team A and Team B stand on the pitcher’s boxes on either side on the platform where the 8 Cornhole bags have been placed. Likewise, players 2 from either team stand in their respective pitcher’s box at the board on the opposite side.

Step 5: The two players standing at the headboard (players 1) take alternating turns tossing one bag at a go until all eight bags have been tossed (each player throws four bags).

The big difference between doubles play and singles play is that in doubles play, one team could knock another team’s bags off the board.

Step 6: After tossing all eight bags, a round is deemed complete, and the scores are then tallied.

Step 7: The players at the footboard (players 2) now get to toss the bags back to the other Cornhole platform (headboard), alternating turns in the process.

Step 8: After tossing all eight bags, scores for round 2 are tallied once again and added to the points obtained in the first round.

3. Cornhole Bag Terms and Rules

Woody: a bean bag that lands on the Cornhole board. It is also called a Boarder.

Cornhole: a bean bag that passes through the Cornhole board hole. It is also called a Holer or Corn in the Hole.

Foul bags: a bean bag that’s neither a woody nor a Cornhole, as a result of some rules violation. Foul bags include:

  • A bag tossed when the player wasn’t fully inside the pitcher’s box at the time of release.
  • A bag that wasn’t pitched within the 15-second time limit.
  • A bag pitched from another pitcher’s box other than the player’s designated box.
  • A bag that touched/bounced off the ground before landing on the playing surface.
  • A bag that comes to rest while touching both the board and the ground.
  • A bag that strikes an object such as a wire, tree, indoor court ceiling, etc.

4. Length of a Game in Cornhole 

Teams and contestants keep playing Cornhole rounds until one team/contestant becomes the first to reach or exceed 21 points.

Using cancellation scoring, points earned in each round are added up as players play more rounds and this goes on until the first player reaches 21 points.

5. Scoring In Cornhole

Cornhole relies on cancellation scoring whereby one player’s points cancel out the opponent’s points. This way, only one player scores in each frame.

  • A woody is worth 1 point.
  • A Cornhole is worth 3 points.
  • A foul bag is worth 0 points.

6. Cornhole Throwing Tips

Before making your pitch, take time to find a comfortable stance which feels natural and relaxed. Whether you choose to step forward or stand still while tossing, different positions and postures work for different people, so there is no particular formula to figuring this out, other than making sure your throw is fluid.

Learn to spin the bean bag while throwing it. This will stabilize the bag, therefore, allowing for a more accurate toss.

While tossing, try to make sure the bag arcs 5-10ft above the ground. This lessens the impact once the bag lands on the platform and ensures it sticks in place rather than sliding off.

This lawn game involves a lot of strategies and lucky for you; it is deemed acceptable to ask for advice from teammates or spectators, on where to throw your next pitch.

There are four essential shooting techniques you should try to employ:

  1. The Slider: land the bag on the front of the playing surface (about 6 inches from the hole) and let it slide through.
  2. The Blocker: land the bag strategically in front of the hole so that your opponent can’s use the slider technique.
  3. The Push: use your bag to knock an opponent’s bag off the playing surface or to nudge one of your previous tosses through the hole.
  4. The Cornhole: this is when you toss your bean bag right through the hole.

Cornhole Lingo and Terminology

Dos Cornhole: when you throw two bags in the hole.

Holy Moly Triple Cornholy: when you throw three bags in the hole.

Corn on the Cob: when all your bags end up on the board.

The Great Cornholio: a person that manages to throw all four bags in the hole.

Nothin’ but Corn: when a bag goes right through the hole without touching the board.

Get that Corn Outta my Face!: an expression used when you manage to successfully counteract an opponent’s attempts to score. For instance, after knocking their bag off the board or when you throw a cornhole immediately after they put a bag in the hole.

Conclusion: What Next?

Whether you are playing Cornhole competitively in a tournament or recreationally while sipping beers in your backyard, it never hurts to learn a few new tricks to better your game.

Who knows, you just might end up winning a couple of bets in the process and who doesn’t like that?

Let me know in the comments section below if you have any questions about how to play cornhole.

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