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How To Play Tetherball: Rules And Beginners Guide

Tetherball might be most popular among kids, but being the fun-filled game it’s, it’s slowly gaining interest from adults as well.

The game is a true definition of flexibility as you can play it anywhere you want.

From school grounds, summer getaways to home backyards, there’s no limitation to how and where you can enjoy it.

The game is characterized by a player hitting a ball hanging from a stand/pole through a thread/rope.

The objective is to wrap the thread around the pole until it can’t wrap anymore and the ball comes to a stop.

How To Play Tetherball (rules, scoring, penalties, winning the game)

As mentioned above, Tetherball is undoubtedly a classic sport.

But for you to play it rightfully, you have to understand its official playing rules. And they include;

Tetherball Basic Rules

  • Players should identify their side and stick to it during playing. Remember if you intentionally or unintentionally find yourself on the off-side, your opponent benefits from a penalty.
  • You can only hit the ball using your hands. Any touch to any part of your body gives your opponent a penalty.
  • When a player touches either the pole, rope or both, they automatically lose the game and their opponent becomes the winner, irrespective of their current scores.

Tetherball Scoring

Before working on scoring, the players have to decide the team/player that will serve first. This also includes the number of games they will play in a round, before declaring a winner.

It’s a common rule and requirement for the overall winner to win at least two games, due to the disadvantage faced by the server.

However, players can take turns serving, hence both can emerge winners at one point.

Winning by at least two games allows for the recognition of the most deserving player as per skills and tactics.

Next the serving player serves the ball and allows their opponent to hit it. All this while maintaining their position within the half area of their pitch.

A player should avoid touching the pole and concentrate on making wraps around the pole.

In the Tetherball game, once the ball bounces off the hand in one instant move, it can only keep wrapping around the stand and not be caught or tossed.

If a player commits any form of offense, the game has to stop and the number of wraps reduced to the correct number (before the violation.).

And then, the game continues with a throw by both players or in some instances, the inoffensive player.

Scores calculation is based on the ability of the player to maintain ball balancing and the increasing number of wraps.

Tetherball Penalties

As a player, you’re served with a penalty when you intentionally or unintentionally hit the ball more than once, hold the ball to prevent it from wrapping or to keep it out of reach from your opponent, or if you accidentally cross on the offside.

Also, if a player decides to use any part of their body for ball hitting, then they are eligible for a penalty.

Once a penalty if issued to either of the game participants, the game has to stop immediately, together with the ball movements.

Then, the string/rope is unwrapped depending on the number of wraps made during foul play. This is in an attempt to achieve fairness in game playing.

If both players are at fault, then they both have to move backwards to maintain a 3ft, distance from the pole.

Afterward, they place their hands on the ball, hold it, take a position on the field central line and then swiftly drop the ball at the same time, to hit the pole.

In this case, the game can only commence after one of the players hits the ball.

Also, in case you still have not bought your set, you can see our top favorite tetherball sets in the market today.

Winning the Game

Like any other game, Tetherball sporting contains a winning aspect. And as mentioned earlier on, players have to work on wrapping their ball ropes around the poles, until they can’t anymore.

The playing is quite competitive as players have to work on unwrapping their opponent’s ropes, while at the same time hitting the ball.

But sometimes, some game variations demand players to maintain their wrapping above a set mark for a specific set of time to stand a winning chance.

Setting up the Game

When setting the pole, ensure that it’s at least 10ft. high and the string/rope used to hang the ball should leave a distance of at least 1-3 ft. from the ground surface.

But this depends on the height of the participants, for instance, you cannot set the pole at the same height for both kids and adults.

It should be a bit lower for kids (around 6-7.9 ft.) should be fine).

Also, custom-made ready-to-use portable poles usually come in different dimensions, ensure you cross-check that before purchasing.

The playing pitch is usually circular (it’s usually 20 ft. in diameter) Begin by marking it out using a permanent/temporary marker.

You should also mark the boundaries such that each player knows their side to avoid unnecessary wrangles when playing.

Divide the playing court into half. And players should play from the opposite side of the stand/pole.

Alternatively, you can use the official rule and divide the playing area into two playing zones and two neutral areas.

FAQ About Tetherball Rules

Can you catch the ball in tetherball?

Yes, you can. Unlike soccer, tetherball only allows players to use their hands while playing.

Touching the ball using other parts of the body is considered an offense punishable by a penalty.

How long is a tetherball rope?

The recommended size of a tetherball rope is approximately 6 ft. long and should hang about 2 ft. off the ground.

Is tetherball an Olympic sport?

Although tetherball is a fun-filled easy to play outdoor sport, sadly, it’s yet to be recognized as an Olympic sport.

Who invented tetherball?

The rich history of tetherballs goes way back to around1895 when it’s believed to have been invented in Britain.

It was during this time that volleyball was also invented.

Wrapping Things Up

While playing tetherball is fun, winning it requires a lot of strategizing.

You have to know how to balance the ball and the rest of your body, so as the increase wrapping.

We hope that you have learned a few skills from the above guidelines to help you step into the field with the confidence of a winner.

Don’t forget to keep practicing.

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