how to play shuffleboard

How To Play Shuffleboard: Basic Rules For Beginners

There are records of people playing a game similar to Shuffleboard from as early as the 15th century. Of course, at the time, the game was known as “Shoffe-Groat,” and instead of pucks, the players used large currency coins.

Over the years, Shuffleboard has evolved in different ways. A game once primarily played in taverns has now made its way into people’s homes, becoming a competitive sport and a favorite pastime among many people around the world.

In this article, you will be able to learn how to play shuffleboard as quickly as possible. In fact, reading this guide alone will set you ready to play the beautiful game in no time.

What Are the Rules to Shuffleboard?

In as short as possible, below are the basic rules to play shuffleboard right away. There are of course more nuances that need to be explained and which will discuss later in this guide.

1. Before the players start playing, all pucks should be counted and placed visibly in the trough. When it’s a player’s turn to shuffle, they should only be holding one puck in hand. No puck should be in the non-shooting hand.

2. The players should be mindful of their feet placement. At least one foot needs to be behind the table. A player may lean forward, and they may even support their weight on the cradle. However, one foot must always remain planted on the ground behind the shuffleboard table at all times.

3. Players can lean against the table for support using their non-shooting hand, but no player should shake or move the table in any way. Doing so will attract a 1-point penalty, and the violating player has to shoot first in the next round. As you will come to see, later on, shooting first in Shuffleboard is actually disadvantageous.

4. As far as supporting yourself goes, players shouldn’t touch the table surface when shuffling. One can lean against the cradle but do not place a hand on the playing surface.

5. So, what happens when one sees a dry spot on the playing surface? Well, a player is allowed to add powder onto the dry patch but a player can only do this when it’s their turn to shoot.

6. Much like golf, players aren’t allowed to distract their opponents or obstruct their line of view. In fact, when a player is done shooting their pluck, they are supposed to stand behind their opponent while they are shuffling.

Additionally, a player isn’t supposed to touch the table when it’s their opponent’s turn to shuffle. Likewise, do not take a puck from the trough while the opponent is shooting. Players only pick up a puck when it is their turn to shoot.

How Do You Score in Shuffleboard?

The players stand at the same end of the table, and they get to shoot the pucks alternatively (i.e., red shoots then blue shoots or vice versa) until all eight pucks have been played. This then concludes one round of play and points are then awarded.

When playing, not all pucks will be eligible for points. If a puck fails to make it clear past the foul line in the middle of the table, then it is not eligible for points and consequently, should be removed from the table.

The only pucks eligible for points are those which land farther than the opponent’s highest-scoring pucks. This is to mean, therefore, that only one player can score per round.

In an instance where the shuffleboard table uses the 1-2-3 scoring system, then a puck is awarded points depending on the scoring zone in which it has landed. For a puck to score specific points, then it must completely clear the line preceding that particular scoring zone (1,2 or 3). A puck which fails to do so will only be worth the lower points on the preceding section of the line.

Any puck hanging over the edge of the table is referred to as a hanger. Such shots are worth 4 points, and by agreement of the players, the puck can be pushed back towards the table a little, to be “made safe.”

Can You Go Over in Shuffleboard?

In Shuffleboard, there is much discussion regarding what score should finish the game. Typically, most games end when a player gets to 15 or 21 points, but in recreational play, the winning score is basically whatever the players agree to play to.

Players cannot go over the decided scoring value, and so the win will go to the first team or player that gets to exactly 15 or 21 points. If there happens to be a tie in a play, then neither team collects points.

Who Goes First in Shuffleboard?

All Shuffleboard table games start with the players shaking hands. This is seen as a show of good sportsmanship.

The decision of who goes first can be made in a couple of ways as the players deem fit. However, the most popular method used is the good old toss of a coin. The winner of the coin toss gets to choose whether they want to go first and this player also chooses the puck color they wish to use.

In Shuffleboard, it is considered advantageous to play second i.e., not win the coin toss. This is because the player who draws seconds gets to shoot the last shot in a frame.

This last shot is known as “the hammer,” and most players consider it an advantage to have the hammer. As a result, coin toss winners will often prefer to go second.

The player who scores the highest points in one round gets to go first in the next round.

What Is The 10 Off Area in Shuffleboard?

Outdoor Shuffleboard is played on a table that is 52ft long, and on either end of the court, there are scoring triangles. Each triangle is divided into scoring zones with ten at the tip, then eight, then seven, and lastly, there is the “10 off” area at the base of the triangle.

10 off is used to mean minus 10 points, and this is a penalty zone. A player whose puck goes into this zone receives a penalty of minus 10 points. If instead, the puck touches the 10 off line, then this attracts a 5-point penalty.

How Do You Play Triangle Shuffleboard?

Different shuffleboard tables employ different scoring systems, but the outdoor Shuffleboard courts popularly use the triangle scoring system.

Basically, from each end of the 52ft long court, there is a line set off 6.5ft from the edge. This line is known as the baseline, and the zone between the baseline and the end of the court is called the shooting area.

Beyond the baseline is where the triangular scoring system starts. The scoring area is 9ft long to the tip, and the triangle has five areas: a 10-point zone, two 8-point zones, and two 7-point zones. Lastly, there is the afore-mentioned 10 off zone at the bottom of the triangle.

In the middle of the outdoor shuffleboard court, there are two lines known as the “dead lines.” For pucks to be eligible for earning points, then they must shoot past the dead line farthest from the shooter. Any disk that fails to do so will be removed from the playing field.

Do Points Cancel Out in Shuffleboard?

Points do not cancel out in Shuffleboard. Points are earned when a puck lands in one of the numbered scoring areas, and points are only awarded to the pucks that have been shot the farthest. Therefore, in this game, a player either earns points or gets zero points; It all depends on the play.

Points do not cancel out, but players are allowed to aim their shots at an opponent’s puck. This is done with the purpose of either removing the opponent’s puck from the scoring zone or pushing them into the 10 off area so that the opponent gets penalized minus 10 points.

Do You Have to Score Exactly 21 In Shuffleboard?

If the players have decided to use 21 as the pre-determined points to attain to win the game, then yes, a player has to score exactly 21 points.

Besides 21, some players may choose to aim for 11 or 15 points. Whichever the case, the players will keep playing rounds until a player gets to the exact figure agreed on (11, 15 or 21).

The first player to get to the winning score is declared the winner, and that marks the end of the game.

Can Two People Play Shuffleboard?

Shuffleboard can be played by either two players of by four players. When playing with two players, then both stand on the same end of the table and slide their pucks towards the other end of the table.

When four people are playing Shuffleboard, then they have to team up in teams of two. Teammates stand on opposite ends of the table such that each player is standing next to an opposing player.

Each player has to stay on their end of the table throughout the game, seeing as alternating sides is not allowed.

How Much Space Do You Need for Shuffleboard?

The amount of space needed for Shuffleboard will largely depend on the size of the shuffleboard table. Small tables measure 9-12ft long, mid-sized tables measure 14-16ft long and large tournament-size tables measure 18-22ft long.

Regardless of the size of the shuffleboard table, there needs to be room on either end of the table for players to stand and shoot from. Additionally, there also needs to be room on either side of the table so that it isn’t touching the wall.

Industry experts advise that there should be a clearance of least 2ft all around the shuffleboard table to allow for movement and ease of shooting.

Conclusion: Now What?

Shuffleboard Tables is pretty much a game of skill rather than one of chance and a court ruling in 1848 arrived at the same verdict.

Once a player is familiar with the rules and basics of playing Shuffleboard, then the game will work in one’s favor, regardless of whether the players are playing competitively or casually.

Looking to build your own shuffleboard? check out our DIY shuffleboard plans article