How to Play Cornhole

How to Play Cornhole

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. 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

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. A distance of 21 feet is recommended for children and juniors. 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.

Cornhole Scoring

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

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

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 pitchers 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 pitchers 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 high 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.