How to Play Cornhole: Distance, Rules and Regulations

Cornhole is a very popular lawn game where players take turns throwing bags filled with corn or beans at an elevated platform with a hole in it.

How to Play Cornhole

Throwing a bag through the hole on the platform gets 3 points and a bag that lands on the platform gets 1 point. The first player or team to get to 21 points wins the round. You can play one round or best 2 out of 3. Cornhole is similar to the game of Horseshoes, except it is much safer and easier to set up. Horseshoes requires sand pits, metal stakes, and heavy horseshoes. Cornhole uses soft bags filled with corn and portable wooden platforms making it a much safer and more popular choice for outdoor recreation.

The game has grown from humble beings into a very well known game with its own lingo and official leagues and associations all over the world. Cornhole can be played just about anywhere and by people of all ages. The only skill needed is the ability to accurately toss a bag 24-30 feet at a platform with a hole in it. You can move the platform in closer if kids are playing. This way you can involve the entire family.

Cornhole Rules and Regulations

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The game of Cornhole is easy to set up and the rules are very simple to follow. There is some variation to the rules depending on who you ask. We will cover the basics and give a general overview.

The only equipment required is two elevated platforms, two sets of bags, a scorecard, and two or four players. The bags come in sets of four and it is recommended that they are different colors for easy identification. Each bag is filled with dried corn or beans, measuring 6 x 6 inches and should weigh 14-16 ounces. It is recommended to use a heavy duty material like double stitched nylon or canvas.

The size of the wooden or plastic platform is 2 feet wide x 4 feet long and has a 6 inch wide hole centered 9 inches from the top of the platform. It should have a smooth painted surface. The platform is angled with the back edge of the board 12 inches above the ground and 3-4 inches from the ground at the front. This forms roughly a 90 degree angle. It is also recommended that sides are enclosed. This makes it easier to tell if the bag actually goes through the hole instead of going through an open side of the platform.

Now that you have all the items needed for playing let’s take a look at the rules more in depth.

Distance Between Cornhole Platforms

The playing area should be a minimum of 8 feet wide by 45 feet long. Facing the court in a North to South direction if possible is a good idea because it helps reduce the effects of the sun. Remember to keep the playing area clean and free from obstructions and distractions. A normal regulation court places the platforms anywhere from 24-30 feet apart from the front of one platform to the other.

Cornhole Distance for Children

The recommended cornhole distance for children and juniors is 21 feet. The imaginary line parallel to the front of the platforms is also the foul line that you cannot step over when tossing the bags. The bags may be tossed from either side of the platform in a 3 x 4 foot rectangle. You must stay inside of this area while tossing the bag. You can choose to toss from either side but must stay on that side for the entire round. If you are playing doubles (check out our 67 cornhole team names) matches the players stand on both sides of the platform and alternate turns tossing the corn bags in the regulamentary cornhole distance.

Cornhole Scoring

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

The first person or team to score 21 points or more wins the round! You do not need to win by 2 points or more as in some other games. All players or teams must be allowed to finish pitching their 4 bags per inning. For example, if the player or team that pitches first reaches 21 points the other team must be allowed to finish the inning as well.

In the event of a tie, the players keep pitching 4 bags per inning until someone ends up with a higher score.

The player scores points by tossing the corn filled bag at the platform. Tossing a bag through the circular hole on the platform is called a “Cornhole” or “Corn Bag In The Hole” and is worth 3 points. A corn bag that comes to rest on the platform and is knocked through by another toss or an act of god also counts as “Corn Bag In The Hole” and is worth 3 points. A corn bag that does not go through the hole but lands on the platform and remains in place throughout the inning is called an “Ace” or “Corn Bag In The Count” and is worth 1 point.

The bag must not touch the ground before landing on the platform or it is a foul and removed from play. If a corn bag is tossed and determined to be a foul while knocking off a bag that is resting on the platform that bag must be returned to its original position. If the bag lands anywhere else not touching the platform it is called a foul or “Corn Bag Out Of The Count” and is not worth any points. Another form of a foul is stepping over the line or out of the pitchers box. This is also called a “Corn Bag Out Of The Count” and is worth zero points. Corn bags that do not land on the platform or go through the hole must be removed from the field of play and count for zero points. 

All corn bags except fouls must be left where they are thrown until the inning is over. Other versions of the rules allow a round to be won when one team scores anywhere from 7-11 points and the other team scores zero. This is known as a “Skunk” or “Shutout.”

Cancellation Scoring

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Typically, a method of counting scores per inning called cancellation scoring is used. There are a couple different versions we will go over.

In the first version of cancellation scoring, bags that are tossed through the hole or land on the platform are either cancelled out or added depending on what the opposing side tosses.

For example, if the first player or team tosses 1 bag through the hole and 2 on the platform totaling 5 points, and the second player or team only tosses 2 bags on the platform for two points, the 2 bags on the platform are cancelled out for both teams and the first team gets to keep 3 points for the bag in the hole.

Another example would be if the first player or team only tosses 1 bag through the hole and the second player or team tosses 2 bags on the platform, no points would be cancelled out and the first side would receive 3 points for the bag in the hole and the second side would receive 2 points for the bags on the platform.

The other version of cancellation scoring works by adding up the scores for both sides and awarding the difference in points the side with the highest point total. An example of this version of cancellation scoring would be the first side scoring 7 points total and the second side scoring 5 points total. The winning side would be awarded the 2 point difference.

Playing the Game

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Cornhole can be played as either singles or doubles matches. When playing a doubles match the four players split up into two teams. One member from each team pitches from one cornhole platform and the other members pitch from the other. In singles play the contestants stand at the same platform and each one player may choose a specific side to toss from for the inning. You must only toss from one side per inning. The players on opposing teams always alternate tossing. A cornhole match can broke down into multiple rounds of play where you toss 4 bags per inning. 

As mentioned before the round is won when one side scores 21 points or more. You have 20 seconds from the time you step into the pitcher's box to toss the bag. It is considered a foul if the toss is not delivered within 20 seconds of stepping into the box and you lose a turn. If you step over the foul line or out of the pitcher's box it is also a foul worth zero points and counts as a turn. If the bag accidentally leaves the players hand during a toss it counts as a turn.

The player with the highest score in the previous inning pitches first in the next inning. If no one scored in the previous inning, the team who previously pitched last will pitch first in the next inning. Each player or team is also allowed two timeouts per match. They may use this time out to walk up to the platform and examine the position of the bags on the platform.

Cornhole Tips

  • It is recommended to use a highly visible scoreboard. This allows players to keep an eye on the scoring and make sure everything is correct at the end of the inning.
  • Any discrepancies in scoring or rules should be brought to the attention of the judge or person keeping score immediately.
  • Do not make distracting movements or noises during your opponents turn.
  • Perfecting the corn toss is crucial to becoming a great cornhole player. Learning to spin the corn bag while throwing will stabilize it and allow for a more accurate toss. It is also important to try and throw the bag so it arcs 5-10 feet above the ground. You want the bag to land on the platform at an angle to lessen the impact and stick in place when it lands.
  • Make sure the surface of your platforms is sanded smooth and painted.
  • It is typically deemed acceptable to ask a teammate or spectator for advice on where to throw the next pitch. This is a good idea because there is a lot of strategy involved in the game of Cornhole.
  • The distance between boards dictates how hard it is. If you are having trouble scoring it may be a good idea to move the boards closer together.
  • During hot, dry weather the bags and surface may become very slick. You can either spray the bags with water to help them stick or bring the platforms closer together.
  • Find a comfortable stance for throwing that works well for you. Most people like to step forward with their opposite foot and then throw with their dominant hand. Others stand still and toss, while some step and throw with their dominant side. There is no right or wrong, just make sure it feels natural and relaxed.
  • When beginning don’t focus on trying to focus on throwing the bag through the hole every time. Instead focus on just tossing the bags on the platform and letting it slide through the hole or scoring points from a “Corn In The Count.”
  • Learn to master the 4 essential shots. The “Slider” is when you land the bag on the front of the board about six inches from the hole and let it slide through. The “Blocker” is when you land the bag in front of the hole to prevent your opponent from using the “Slider.” The “Push” is using your bag to either knock your opponents bag out of the way or to nudge a previous toss on the platform through the hole. The final and hardest shot to master is the “Cornhole.” This is when you toss your bag straight through the hole.

Origins of Cornhole

There are many theories on the origin of Cornhole. Some people say the game originated way back in the 14th century in Germany. Others say the game was created when the Blackhawk Indian Tribe of Illinois filled up animals skins with dried corn and tossed them around. Some theories even point to a Kentucky farmer making a game out of throwing dried corn cobs into a trash can in the 1800’s. No matter who invented it, the game today is one of the most popular and exciting outdoor activities for people of all ages!

You should now be equipped with all the information you need to know how to play cornhole. Make sure you check out our list of best cornhole board wraps.

Best Cornhole Boards

5 of the Best Cornhole Boards

Cornhole is a fun, simple game that can be played by two to four players of any ages. The game consists of throwing corn-filled bags at special boards with a hole in it to score points by landing bags on the board or through the hole. The great thing about this game is that it can be played almost anywhere. If you have two people, a board (although two are recommended), bags, and a flat surface you’re ready to go.

Maybe you want to get your own board to play while tailgating or for entertainment while having a BBQ in your backyard. The good news is that acquiring the equipment you need is easy. There are many manufacturers of boards and bags, and you can choose from a ton of designs. This article will go over the best cornhole boards out there to help you decide which one is right for you. Let’s go!

Viva Sola Bean Bag Toss GameGoSports Corn Hole Bean Bag Toss Driveway Games All Weather Bean Bag GameGoSports Corn Hole Pro-Regulation LED Bean Bag TossCustom Corn Hole Boards American Flag
4′ x 23′ x 2′4′ x 2′4′ x 2′4′ x 2′
Walnut surfaceMDF surfacePlastic surfaceMDF surfaceBirch surface
Portable with folding legsPortable folding boardPortable carry handlesPortable folding boardPortable folding legs
8 all weather bean bags with case8 duck cloth bags with all-weather fill8 all-weather bean bags8 official bean bags8 premium bean bags
Check PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
  • Viva Sola Bean Bag Toss Game
  • 4′ x 2
  • Walnut surface
  • Portable with folding legs
  • 8 all weather bean bags with case
  • Check Price
  • GoSports Corn Hole Bean Bag Toss
  • 3′ x 2′
  • MDF surface
  • Portable folding board
  • 8 duck cloth bags with all-weather fill
  • Check Price
  • Driveway Games All Weather Bean Bag Game
  • 4′ x 2′
  • Plastic surface
  • Portable carry handles
  • 8 all-weather bean bags
  • Check Price
  • GoSports Corn Hole Pro-Regulation LED Bean Bag Toss
  • 4′ x 2′
  • MDF surface
  • Portable folding board
  • 8 official bean bags
  • Check Price
  • Custom Corn Hole Boards American Flag
  • 4′ x 2′
  • Birch surface
  • Portable folding legs
  • 8 premium bean bags
  • Check Price

Viva Sol Bean Bag Toss Game

The first board on our list is one that is composed of high-quality materials and an aesthetic that is sure to be loved. This offering comes with two boards, both of which are all-wood and regulation size. You also get eight bean bags, along with a carrying bag to transport them in. The boards themselves are pretty attractive with a light walnut wood used throughout.

As far as portability goes, these boards do what they need to do. The legs of the boards detach and can be stored underneath, then the boards themselves nest together to be carried by a rope handle. So, essentially, you have everything stored in between the two boards while you take them wherever you need to go. However, being all wood, they may be a bit heavy so keep that in mind if you choose to purchase this particular set.

These boards are made for outdoor use but are not entirely waterproof. It’s suggested that you store them indoors to keep them from getting weathered. It seems that with the wooden boards these will be durable and able to stand up to abuse. In addition, if you prefer a board that isn’t covered in decals, this is a beautiful choice that is likely to be loved.

Pros:

  • Two-tone all wood design is high-quality and aesthetically pleasing
  • Underside of board features a pouch to store bean bags
  • Portable by virtue of rope handle, folding legs, and nesting board design
  • Regulation size board which is preferred by many players

Cons:

  • This board is not waterproof, so it will need to be stored somewhere safe

GoSports Cornhole Bean Bag Toss

GoSports is the second brand we recognize with a set that includes two boards, eight bean bags, and a carrying case. These boards are made with high strength aluminum frames, along with a water-resistant MDF (medium density fiberboard) surface. These boards come in a variety of styles, but the one we’re focused on resembles a football field. It’s green and white, with an end zone that allows for decals. That means you can get a sticker that represents your favorite team in order to customize your board. However, other designs include red and blue, original, American flag, and even a light-up edition.

These boards fold up flat and come with a carrying case with handles. In addition, these are rather lightweight and easy to carry. That said, they are a bit smaller than regulation. However, if you’re playing at home casually or bringing you board to a tailgating event, the size is actually an asset. You can easily use them in the bed of a truck and moving them from house to new location isn’t likely to be stressful.

The bags that come with the boards are made from premium duck cloth fabric with an all-weather fill. This is a type of fabric made to block the wind and avoid snagging and tearing. These bags are likely to last a long time, no matter how often you use your new corn hole boards.

Pros:

  • Water resistant surface leads to higher durability
  • Customizable end zones so you can represent your favorite team
  • Includes a carrying case for easy portability
  • Fully customizable with team decals

Cons:

  • Smaller than regulation for more comfortable tailgating, but some prefer regulation

Driveway Games All Weather Bean Bag Game

Driveway Games brings all-weather cornhole boards in a variety of colors. The boards are the official size and come with carrying handles for easy transport. The boards also include a built-in locking bag storage area. You can get them in white, bright pink, and vibrant orange. These are likely to be popular for those who play at night or for people who have less than perfect vision.

In addition to the two boards that you get with this set, you also get eight bags which comes in two colors. The game set also comes with instructions for setup and instruction for playing the game. Just as with the boards, the bags are all-weather, making it a great game for playing no matter the weather outside.

This game is made to be friendly for all ages, and the boards are eye catching for young eyes. You will likely have no problem getting the children to join in on a game once you pull out the boards and explain the simple instructions for play. Your entire family can get in on the action and have a fun, new hobby for family night.

Pros:

  • Comes in various colors, including orange or pink for eye-catching play
  • All weather design and construction makes caring for boards easy
  • Carry handles and bag storage make for easy transport
  • #1 selling all weather bean bags come with boards

Cons:

  • Those used to wood boards may need to get used to new board material

GoSports Cornhole Pro-Regulation LED Bean Bag Toss

If you’re looking for something a bit different than the traditional corn hole board, GoSports brings the LED light-up edition. This game set comes with two boards, each of which is regulation size. It also comes with LED rings, eight bean bags, as well as instructions for playing corn hole.

This system is rather lightweight and has features to make it portable. The boards fold in half to transport them quickly, as well as offering two legs that fold out for play or under for storage. The bags are also lightweight but durable and made from all-weather duck cloth. You won’t need to upgrade in order to play. Just set up the boards, pull out the bags, and enjoy a game.

With the LED lights, you’ll find something new and unique in this set of boards. The lights are rings that go around the holes in the board, with 38 LEDs on each board. If you end up in a late night game and don’t want to stop, you can just stick on the lights and keep going as long as you want. It will make it easier to play when it’s dark if you don’t have other lights available.

Pros:

  • Built in LED rings allow easy and fun night play
  • Comes with eight high quality, official bean bags
  • Regulation size board that can be folded for portability
  • Water resistant surface for durability and use in any weather

Cons:

  • Does not include a carrying case, so one may need to be purchased

Custom Cornhole Boards American Flag

Custom Cornhole Boards brings a unique type of board to the market with hand build boards made in the United States. The set comes with two boards, a set of eight bars and an instructional card. These boards are delivered fully assembled and are ready to play right out of the box. No worrying about assembling here, you can get a game going as soon as you get your package.

These boards do come in regulation size and have been ACA certified. They are constructed from white spruce/SPF wood with a half inch birch plywood top. The holes are drilled by laser template and have a pocket hole design that hides screw holes on the back of the boards. These boards are meant to be durable and are likely to last you a very long time. The materials used are high quality, and the company makes them specifically for long term use.

The design on this particular board is that of an American flag, allowing for a bit of patriotism to show through in every game. It’s a rustic design that mainly features red, white, and blue with stars on the top half and stripes on the bottom half. Those who want to show off their USA spirit will likely enjoy the combination of American style and USA artistry that these boards bring.

Pros:

  • Hand built wooden boards made in the United States
  • Boards are made from elite grade wood and materials
  • Regulation size boards that have been ACA certified
  • Folding legs for easier transportation
  • Laser cut holes with high-quality birch wood

Cons:

  • Quite substantial, may not be easy to transport

Thanks for checking out the best cornhole boards. Make sure you check out our other fun games.