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HAYNEEDLE YARD GAMES

Cornhole Rules and Scoring

Cornhole, Bags, Bean Bag Toss … whatever you choose to call it, there's little chance you haven't seen this game at a tailgate, in the park, or on a tavern patio. It's taken the leisure sports world by storm, or at least as enthusiastically as a game played with a beer in hand can. We love it, and we love to provide the best in boards, bags, and accessories for your game. Here's a quick look at setup, rules, and tips to help get your first game going.

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Cornhole Rules and Scoring Infographic
Infographic: Phyl Thomas / Copywriter: Jessica Stensrud

A game requires two identical targets. There are smaller sets designed for portability, but the standard dimensions are 2 x 3 foot and 2 x 4 foot.

You'll find boards for every budget, in a variety of materials and designs. A basic set will feature boards for the surface and simple fold-out legs. More durable, heavy-duty sets feature well-crafted wooden frames, support braces, and other build features that increase stability and reduce bounce.


Each team will have 4 handheld bean bags of matching color. Most commonly you'll see red and blue, but there are near-infinite colors available. These are the standards:

  • 6 by 6 inches square
  • Between 14 and 16 inches
  • Made of durable duck cloth canvas
  • Filled with corn feed or river rock



Game Setup

Cornhole can be played on just about any flat surface, including grass and pavement. In a regulation setup, the holes are set 33 feet apart. That's 27 feet between the fronts of the boards, for easy measuring.

Gameplay

There are 2 players per team, and 2 players standing by each box. But you won't be standing next to your teammate - stand across from your teammate, next to your opponent. The game is broken down into innings in which 2 players from opposing teams throw their 4 bags. When it's your turn, you'll alternate throws with the opponent next to you. When all 8 bags have been thrown, it's time to count the score.

  • When throwing, your foot cannot cross the invisible line made by the front of the board. A violation negates your throw.
  • Who throws first? The team that last scored a point. For the first round, flip a coin or rock-paper-scissors to determine first throw

Bag Toss Technique

A hotly, debated topic. On the pavement before a football game, you're likely to see overhand, underhand, granny-style, behind the back, and just about anything else. A standard throw is underhand, and there are a couple prevailing theories on how best to throw:

  • A high arc toss increases accuracy and reduces bounce-off. By maximizing the downward force of the toss, the cornhole bag tends to stay on the board.
  • A low arc toss has too much forward momentum. The toss is more likely to bounce off the back of the cornhole board.
  • A roll or skip toss uses a shorter shot with lots of forward momentum to bounce the bag onto the board. Success of this type of throw will depend on your playing surface.

Scoring

There are two ways to score - land a bag on the board or get a bag through the hole. A bag resting on the board is worth 1 point and a bag in the hole is worth 3. Points scored by your opponent during each turn cancel yours out, and that's where competition comes in. If you get 1 in the hole and 2 on the board, you have 5 points. But if, in the same turn, your opponent throws 2 bags through the hole and 1 on the board, they've scored 7 points. The score for that inning? Them = 2; You = 0. Only one team gets any points in an inning.

Innings go back and forth between players until one team reaches a total of 21 points.

As with any yard game, the rules are pretty flexible. These approximate those laid out by the sport's governing body, the American Cornhole Association, but the details of your game are ultimately up to you.