How to Play Cornhole (Bean Bag Toss) – Game Rules & Tips For Play

How to play Cornhole - Game Rules

Cornhole is one of those group sports that make for quality entertainment at dinner parties and barbecues. If you have a large yard, you can easily build a basic court for all your friends and family to enjoy.

The game goes from fun to ultra-competitive in the blink of an eye and is a good excuse for some quality bonding time. 

Whether you’re sitting on the sidelines drinking or you’re a part of the team, learning the basics is a good idea. These games can get fairly competitive, and you don’t want to be on the losing team. 

Looking for a list of the Best Cornhole Boards to buy? Then click on that link you just passed over to check out my epic round-up of the 22 best Boards around.

Here is an overview of the game rules and a few throwing tips to get you started.

What Are The Rules For Playing Cornhole?

Court Rules    

Before you can start the game, you need to set up the court. There are a few things you need to keep in mind when you’re preparing the platforms.

First of all, the ground surface needs to be completely level. You can’t play cornhole on an uneven surface. Also, if you’re playing outdoors, try and set up in a north to south direction, so sunlight doesn’t disrupt players during a match.

Depending on how much space you have, you can set up a court outside or even indoors as long as you’re meeting the area requirements. Step one is to find an open space that is a minimum of 45 feet in length and 10 feet in width. For an indoor cornhole court, you need a clear height of at least 12 feet. 

Once you’ve figured out where you’re going to play, you can start setting up the pitcher’s boxes. There are two boxes on each end of the court, one on either side of the playing board.

Each pitcher’s box measures 4 feet by 3 feet. The foul line, or the distance between the two team’s boards, is 27 feet in adult games and 21 feet in children’s games.

Game Rules

During the game, players must follow a series of rules to avoid disqualification. Trying to gain an unfair advantage by applying baby powder or silicone spray to the cornhole board before or during a match is in direct violation of the rules of the game. This rule applies to both the boards and the bags.

From the moment you enter the pitcher’s box, you have a total of 15 seconds to toss the bag, and you can only do so using an underhand release. Make sure you’re throwing with your dominant hand. You’ll be restricted to using one hand for the entirety of the match. During the game, each player can call two 1-minute timeouts, but only when it is their turn to pitch.

If you’re playing a doubles game, where you have two members on each team, one player steps onto the box to pitch, and the other must stand more than two feet away. Finally, there are only three situations in which you can cross the foul line. If you move towards the opposite team’s board outside of these circumstances, you risk being disqualified.

  • After the referee calls a timeout
  • To remove foul bags from the court
  • To gather bags collected in the board hole  

Scoring Points in Cornhole

How to score points in Cornhole
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When you’re adding points in a game of cornhole, you score using a cancellation method. What does this mean? 

Simply put, if both teams or players score in one inning, then no points are added to the tally. So, your points are canceled out by your opponent’s points. 

A fun fact is that only the bags that enter the hole are called cornholes. These give you 3 points each unless canceled.

Bags that land on the board or are hanging on the edge of the hole or board give you 1 point.

Your points are calculated based on the position the bags are in 5 seconds after you pitch the final bag.

Counting Fouls

Earlier, we mentioned that removing foul bags from the court was one of the situations in which you could cross the foul line. If there is a foul during cornhole, the game is paused, so you can remove the foul bag from the court.

There are multiple situations in which a throw may be considered foul:

  • Exceeding the 15-second pitching limit
  • Tossing while it is another player’s turn to pitch
  • If your hand, arm, foot, or any other body part is outside the box at the moment you let go of the bag
  • Entering another pitcher’s box during the same inning
  • Dropping a bag after starting your forward swing
  • Entering and then leaving the pitcher’s box without pitching during your turn
  • Striking an obstacle like the ceiling or trees. These need to be defined before starting the game.
  • When a bag falls onto the court and bounces upwards onto the board.

Court Maintenance

If you have a cornhole court, you need to take care of it and maintain it in between games. This includes removing debris and other distractions. If you’ve built an outdoor court, tree branches may extend onto the playing field. 

All these issues need to be fixed before the game because it is against the rules for any player to alter the court while a match is in progress. If, however, there is a major issue that needs fixing, you can consult all the players in the game, get their consent, and make the necessary changes.

Cornhole Boards And Other Equipment 

Finding the right board for your play is a key factor in how well your game goes. Whether you’re playing at home or entering a competition, you want to make sure you have the best available options in your price range.

The standard board measures 48 inches by 24 inches and is at least half an inch thick. Most boards are made out of plywood, but there are other options.

The corhole board hole is placed on one end of the board, 9 inches from the shorter side and 12 inches from the longer side. The surface of the board should be smooth and blemish-free. These boards come in a range of colors, but the ideal corhole board is painted with a light tint. 

Cornhole bags weigh around 14 to 16 ounces and are built using duck canvas with a filling of plastic and corn pellets. 

Pitching Distances

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Image via Dimensions.com

You need to clarify the rules and the pitching distance before starting the game. Generally, the appropriate distance is 27 feet for adults and 21 feet for children. If the game includes people with disabilities or elderly people, or if it’s a mixed game with children and adults, you can keep the foul line at 21 feet as long as everyone agrees.

Singles vs. Doubles Play Rules

When it comes to the ways you can play cornhole, there are options for singles and doubles play, depending on whether you have one or two contestants per team, the rules, and procedure for how you play the game change.

Cornhole Singles Game Rules And Procedures

  1. Select a court space with the appropriate dimensions.
  2. Place one board on either end of the court.
  3. Each board gets 4 bean bags to begin with, and keeping two separate colors helps differentiate the players.
  4. Decide who will throw first using a coin toss, drawing straws, or any other selection process.
  5. The player chosen will move into the pitcher’s box and toss one of the given bean bags within 15 seconds.
  6. Their aim is to land it in the hole on the other contestant’s board.
  7. Then the second player moves to their pitcher’s box and throws their bag.
  8. If both players land their bags in the cornhole, neither gets a point.
  9. If one player lands a point while the other doesn’t, that contestant gets the points.
  10. The process continues until all 8 bags are tossed, which is when the round ends.
  11. The score is calculated at the end of each round, and the player with the higher tally gets to start the next round.

Cornhole Doubles Game Rules and Procedures 

Doubles Cornhole at backyard wedding
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  1. Set up the cornhole court appropriately and decide on any boundaries and obstacles.
  2. Keep all 8 bags on one board.
  3. Toss a coin to decide which team goes first.
  4. Once that decision has been made, each team selects its first player.
  5. The first player from each team moves to the pitcher’s box next to the platform with the bags.
  6. The remaining players from each team move the pitcher’s box to the other end of the court.
  7. Player 1 from each team tosses the bag alternately.
  8. So Team A can throw a bag and have it land on the board, but then Team B gets to toss, and they can knock Team A’s bag off the board.
  9. The scores are tallied at the end of the round.
  10. If the other team knocked your bag off the board, you don’t get a point.
  11. The same process is repeated by the second players from each team.
  12. The final tally shows who the winning team is.

Cornhole Terms And Lingo

If you’re playing a game with experts or at a tournament, then you need to know what the proper terms are. Not knowing what a certain throw or position is called will make it difficult for you to follow the game. So, here are a few cornhole terms to remember.

  • A bag that lands on the board is called a “woody” or “boarder.”
  • A bag that lands in the hole and passes through is called a “cornhole.” Other terms include “holer” or “corn in the hole.” You can use whichever one you’re comfortable with, and if a similar term comes up during a game, you’ll know what it’s referring to.
  • “Foul” bags occur when the rules of the game have been violated. We’ve already discussed all the violations and mistakes that can cause fouls in a game of cornhole.
  • “Dos cornhole” refers to 2 bags in the hole while “holy moly triple cornholy” is of course, 3 bags in the hole. These are pretty self-explanatory. 
  • “Corn on the cob” means all your bean bags landed on the board, while “nothing but corn” is when your bag goes clean through the hole.

You’ll pick up more terms the longer you play. Don’t worry about memorizing these terms before you need to. 

How Long Does A Cornhole Game Last?

There isn’t a specific time limit for how long a cornhole game should last. Generally, teams and players keep going until someone reaches or crosses the 21 point mark. Depending on how the rounds go and the skill levels of each player, the game may last hours or just 30 minutes. The scoring relies on a cancellation method, where one player’s point cancels out the other’s. 

So, a woody gives you 1 point while a cornhole gives you 3 points. Foul bags, of course, give you no points. At the end of the round, you tally the points. So, if player 1 has 3 points and player 2 has 2 points, then player 1 moves to the next round with 1 point on the board. And that’s how the game continues.   

Cornhole Tricks And Tips

  • Practice makes perfect, so spend some time checking out different stances and positions before the game starts. Go with whatever feels natural.
  • If you can spoon the bag when tossing it, you’ll find it easier to aim for the hole accurately.
  • Keep the throw low. If your bag is at a distance of 5 to 10 feet from the floor, it will hit with less impact and won’t bounce or slide off the board.
  • If you can land your bag 6 inches in front of the hole, chances are it will slide directly into it.
  • Landing your bag in front of the hole means your opponent can’t get theirs in.
  • Use one bag to knock a previous one into the hole. Points are tallied at the end of the game once all bags stop moving.

Conclusion

Cornhole is a fun game for any occasion. So, whether you’re playing at home or at a tournament, try and learn new tricks to help improve your performance. Don’t forget to get a solid board to help you win too.

Cornhole FAQs

How do you score in Cornhole?

The aim of Cornhole is to score the most points by getting your bag into the holes of a cornhole board:
-Any bags that have landed in the holes receive 3 points
-Bags that have landed anywhere on the board are worth 1 point
-Bags that are not on the board get zero points
-The team that gets to 21 points first is the winner.

How do you play Cornhole?

The aim of Cornhole is to score the most points by getting your bag into the holes of a cornhole board. Place board 1 and then measure 27 ft from the lower end of that board and place board 2.  The boards should be facing each other. Now place each set of bags on the boards.
Decide which side of your board is best for you to throw from and your opponent will stand on the opposite side of that board. If you are playing with four people then your teammate will play on board 2 facing you.

How to play Cornhole - Game Rules
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