December 27, 2019

Cornhole Rules: A Quick Start Guide

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Cornhole fever has swept the nation and you can find “cornholers” almost anywhere you go and in any backyard across the nation. I have come across many games where people just throw the bags any way they want and don’t follow any set of rules. While there are the Official ACO Rules, these are your simple, backyard cornhole rules that should apply to every game that you play with your friends or foes on the cornhole battlefield.

Cornhole is a simple game to understand but it is a much harder one to master. You can check out our other article to master your cornhole techniques and give you a leg up against the competition but make sure you practice practice practice if you want to truly get better at this super fun backyard game but you must be able to understand and follow cornhole rules in order to play fairly among friends and competitors.

Let's take a look at exactly what you need and break down the game a bit in order to be able to play according to the rules by reading on. You can take a look at this quick video for a good visualization of what we mean here in this article.

Cornhole Equipment Needed

As with any sport, and yes cornhole is a sport if they have their own special leagues, you are going to need some equipment and some space. Luckily you won’t have to buy a bunch of pads or helmets in order to enjoy this backyard game. 

Cornhole Boards 

The cornhole boards should be 24 inches wide by 48 inches long. You can buy yourself a set at Amazon or you can get the materials and build your own set at home.

Cornhole Tools for DIY

Cornhole Bags

You should have 4 beanbags of one color and 4 beanbags of a second color. This will be your 2 team colors. The beanbags should be about 6 inches squared and have 2 cups of feed, or beans, or pellets. These are not the official rules so you can use whatever you like for backyard play.

Space

No, I am not talking about outer space, I am talking about enough space in your yard to lay out your cornhole boards. 35 feet in length is the bare minimum you need in your yard, assuming you have 48 inch boards according to the standard board measurements. 35 feet will have your board backed up against your fence or your house and will cut your player box short, but again, it is the bare minimum you need.

What Are The Rules Of Cornhole?

Again, these are the simplified cornhole rules. If you want a more in depth and official league play rule set, check out the official ACO rules right here.

  1. Boards are placed 27 feet from the leading edge of one board to the leading edge of the second board (For juniors the boards can be placed 12-15 feet apart)
  2. Games are played to a score of 21 points.
  3. A Woody is any cornhole bag that has been thrown that remains on the cornhole board playing surface at the end of the current frame of play. 
  4. Each woody awards 1 point to the team that threw it.
  5. A Cornhole is any cornhole bag that has been thrown and passes through the cornhole board hole at anytime within the current frame of play. This includes being knocked in by another players bag. 
  6. Each cornhole awards 3 points to the team that threw it. 
  7. A bag that comes to rest touching the ground AND the board does not count as a point.
  8. Cancellation Scoring: The approved method of scoring for thecornhole is called “cancellation” scoring. This means that the points of one player cancel out the points of their opponent.
    For example: Player one throws 3 woody’s and player two throws a cornhole and a woody. Player one has a total of 3 points while player two has a total of 4 points. Now subtract the total of the highest score, 4,from the lowest score, 3, and you get 1. Player two has scored 1 point for his team.
    Using this method, only one player or team can score in each frame of play. Both players play one board at a time, and stay in their designated lane for the whole game and after one frame of play, the other 2 players have their chance to score (in a game of 4 players).
  9. Players start the game at board 1 and alternate pitching bags until each player has pitched all 4 of their bags. Players then walk to the end of their lane to the other board, take score, and resume pitching back to the other cornhole board (in a game of 2 players).
  10. Players must throw their bags underhanded. Overhand throws are considered illegal.
  11. Feet must stay behind the line at the leading edge of the board at the time of the throw.
  12. The player or team who scored in the previous frame throws first in the next frame.
  13. If no player or team scores, the player or team who pitched first in the previous frame will pith first until a score is made.
  14. If bags start to pile up inside the hole and may interfere or block the next pitch or if there is any question whether or not the cornhole bag would have naturally fallen through the hole, a player can have the cornhole bags that have already fallen in the hole raked out of the way.

For more info on the official rules and regulations on cornhole, please check pout the American Cornhole Organizations website.

Article written by Matt Powell
Hi, I am Matt and I have been playing outdoor games as long as I can remember. Today I have several games that I play on the regular and got together with Josh here on Outdoor Diversions so we could share our passion for the outdoors, gaming, and sports with you.