How to play Cornhole: Rules, Scoring and Tips to Win

Cornhole, sack in the hole, doghouse, call it what you want; but the game of throwing corn bags into holes from several feet apart will always be a game you would want to go back to.

Cornhole is particularly popular in North America and Europe which is standardized by the American Cornhole Association and the American Cornhole League.

Through this article, we will explore all the cornhole rules and walk you through the ins and outs of how to play.

What Is Cornhole?

Cornhole is an outdoor pitching/throwing game played in a cornhole court with specialized boards and bags. Players compete to score higher points by either making good pitches, blocking opponent pitches, or knocking off an opponent’s bag as a part of the strategy.

Number Of Players: 2 and 4

Ages: 8 and above.

Difficulty: Medium.

Length Of Play: 30-60 mins.

Main Objective: Pitching the cornhole bag into the corn board hole or on the board.

Why We Love It: Cornhole requires utmost patience and consistency. We can go on playing the game for hours and hours or finish off a game by an intense attack. The game can get highly competitive and can be played in a completely casual setting. This flexibility and adaptability of the game are its main charms. It’s a big crowd pleaser at special events such as weddings.

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Looking Back At The History Of Cornhole

Cornhole finds its roots way back in the ancient game of Parlour Quoits, a slightly similar game with the variation of a square opening instead of a round hole. The 1880s game of Quoits (See Quoits rules) transcended into the 1900s game of Faba Gaba with two holes instead of one.

Towards the end of the century, a game closest to the present version was popularized by the Popular Mechanics magazine as ‘bean bags bull’s eye’. The exact year or even decade when present-day cornhole gained international popularity is, however, unknown. But, this outdoor game is super fun and exciting to play on weekends with a group of people.

What You Need To Play Cornhole

You will need a sufficiently large enough ground or play area to play cornhole – preferably a designated cornhole court. Your backyard might be the perfect area to play this wonderful game with your friends and family. A legitimate and standardized cornhole court has the following characteristics:

Dimensions: 40-45 feet long and 8-10 feet wide.

2 Cornhole boards (headboard and footboard) placed on both ends of the court in the horizontal center.

Pitcher Boxes on either side of the boards: 4 feet long and 3 feet wide.

– An imaginary foul line is assumed to pass parallel and close to the top of each board, across the width.

Cornhole Board

– The cornhole board is an elevated board with a hole towards the top-center. It is designed in a way that enables corn bags to freely slide and make the game more challenging.

– It is generally available in different dimensions. The Tailgate board that you will use should be about 2ftx3ft.

– Standard Dimensions are about 48 inches in length and 24 inches in width.

– 9 inches from the top there is a hole in the center, 6 inches in diameter.

– The board is made of wood and to eliminate the roughness and friction created by wood, it is sanded to get a smooth texture.

Related: How Far Apart Should Cornhole Boards Be

Corn Bags

– These are only called corn bags/ cornhole bags but are actually sold as resin bags or bean bags these days.

– 2 different-colored sets of 4 bags are used in the gameplay.

– The resins/beans/corns are packed in duck cloth. Each bag is made of a different cloth or finished using a different technique so that it can make for a unique pitch.

– A good cornhole bag should be ideally made all-weather durable because the throwing and pitching can lead to enormous wear and tear.

This cornhole set by GoSports with all-weather regulation bean bags and premium crafted cornhole boards makes a good deal.

Editor's Choice
Cornhole Set - GoSports Solid Wood Premium Set
$127.67
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
01/31/2023 07:28 am GMT

Related: How To Wash Cornhole Bags

Cornhole Rules And Game Guide

Cornhole is played in innings, where one inning consists of players pitching bags of the assigned set and tallying scores once every player has pitched their bags. Here are the set of rules and a complete guide to help you out.

Pitching

According to official cornhole rules, the game can be played as singles or doubles. In the former case, one player takes the position adjacent to one board each, and pitches with four cornhole bags in an inning. In the latter case, competing players take positions adjacent to the same board and pitch 2 cornhole bags each. Players take turns in an alternating manner.

For example, players A and C are team red, and players B and D are team blue. A and B will compete against each other and take positions adjacent to the headboard while C and D stand near the footboard.

In one inning, the players at the headboard go first. So player A will pitch the red bag towards the footboard on the opposite end. The player will try to make it at least on the board, if not inside the hole. Player B will pitch the blue bag next.

Attack and defense strategies are allowed in cornhole. This means that player B’s blue bag can slide player A’s bag off the board and to the ground so that A loses points. In the next turn, A can do the same to B’s bag. Pitching continues in this way with the objective that maximum bags of one team are on the board or inside the hole.

Once players on the headboard are done pitching, their scores from the footboard are taken note of, and the players on the footboard then resume the game in the same fashion.

Scoring and Winning

how to play cornhole the game image

The approach used in cornhole is cancellation scoring, this means after every inning one team’s scores will be canceled out by the winning team’s score. The remaining points will be considered as the real score of the winning team.

The position of the teams’ bags on the board after they finish their pitching contribute to the scores. The pattern of scoring is as follows:

– The bag inside the hole in any way (sliding across the board, direct pitch, pushed by the opponent) awards 3 points.

– Bag anywhere on the board (even dangling at the edge of the hole) awards 1 point.

– Bag fallen down on the ground in any way (sliding across the board, direct pitch, pushed by an opponent) awards nil.

For example , let’s say player A manages to pitch 1 bag inside the hole and 1 on the board. Player B manages to pitch both bags on the board. None of the bags knock each other off. The tally for the footboard would be

Team Red: 4 points

Team Blue: 2 points

The players C and D will go next. Suppose player C pitches a bag on the board in the first turn. D does the same but in the process, pushes C’s red bag into the hole. Thus, player D scored 3 points for team red. Player C’s bag in the next round lands on the ground while player D’s pitch pockets the bag. The tally for the headboard would be:

Team Red: 3 points

Team Blue: 4 points

The innings is complete and the total team scores are:

Team Red: 7 points

Team Blue: 6 points

According to cancellation scoring, Team Red, the winner of the first innings will cancel out the scores of Team Blue. This will leave 1 point with team red (7-6=1) and team blue will remain at 0.

In this way, the team that first crosses the 21 points mark wins the game.

Cornhole Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Ways To Tackle A Blocker in Cornhole?

Professional players have mastered tricky techniques to overcome the obstacle of a blocker. Sliding along is an option if that’s something your scorecard can afford. You can also place another blocker to level the field. Another option is to pitch a swish or airmail.

What Is A Backdoor In Cornhole?

A backdoor pitch in cornhole is when a cornhole bag bounces on the board/ blocker and goes over to enter the hole. It is one of the most technique-driven and complicated pitches of the game.

Who Can Play A Swish In Cornhole?

In cornhole terminology, a swish is a shot where the pitching player manages to land a bag inside the hole without even slightly hitting the cornhole board. The shot is clearly complicated, requires lots of technique and experience, and is awarded bonus points in some local variations.

However, the official rules have recognized that this shot can also be played with sheer luck and no strategy, and therefore has no extra point is given. In this regard, even a rookie can pitch a swish with luck.

Similar Games You Might Like

Holed up in your house and bored out of your mind? Time to spend some quality time outdoors. For when you feel like a change from cornhole, Spikeball is a must-try. It will be easier for the kids and thrilling enough for adults.

You should also try ladder ball for a complete tailgate feel or Kan Jam to enjoy a good game of frisbee. Along with that, you could also try out Bocce Ball, Ramp Shot, and Horseshoe, where you can play in your backyard with your friends and family.

Still stuck? Why not check some of our other outdoor games?

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