Cornhole is a popular game played during tailgating parties. You may have seen people throwing beanbags into holes before baseball games or even in their front yard during a barbeque. Cornhole can be a fun and laugh-inducing game to play, especially when it comes to cornhole slang, but what are the rules and regulations of cornhole? How are points tallied?
Cornhole is fairly simple and easily learned. Keep reading to learn the rules and regulations of this tailgating party favorite.
Cornhole is a game that only requires a few items to play it. The only equipment needed is 2 cornhole boards and 2 sets of cornhole bags (8 bags in total). Each set contains 4 bags. The sets of bags should look different from each other, whether that is a different color, different design, etc.
Cornhole boards are 23.5-24 inches wide and 47.5–48 inches long. They contain a hole that is 6 inches in diameter. The hole is 9 inches from the top of the board and 12 inches from each side of the board.
Sometimes also referred to as beanbags, cornhole bags are 6 inches wide and 6 inches long. They are 1 inch thick and weigh approximately 14-16.25 ounces. They are usually filled with corn or resin pellets.
Cornhole should be set up on the flat ground. The ground may be sand, dirt, gravel, pavement, etc.
Cornhole is played with two cornhole boards placed opposite from each other. They should be 27 feet apart and lean at an almost 90-degree angle. The head of the board, furthest from the other board, should be 12 inches above the ground. The foot of the board, closest to the opposing board, should be 4 inches above the ground.
Each team should have its own set of 4 cornhole bags that is of a different color from the other team’s bags. For example, the most common colors are for one team to have red bags and one team to have blue bags.
Teams should stand exactly opposite of their teammate, with one player from each team at each board.
The rules of cornhole can be learned in just a few quick minutes as there are not many rules in the game. Basically, you’re tossing your bean bag into the opposite board, trying to get as many as possible into the corn hole during each round.
The rules are as follows:
- Players should be directly opposite of each other with one player at each board
- Bags should be thrown one at a time
- A player must throw one of their bags within 20 seconds
- If a bag is not thrown within the time limit, it is a foul
- No part of a player’s foot should step past the front of their board when throwing
- A player should not throw a bag from the back of the board
- A player should not throw a bag from the other team’s side of the board
- A player can throw the bag in any style they see fit (overhanded, underhanded, etc.)
- If a player’s bag hits the ground and then bounces onto the board, that bag is “out”
- If a player’s bag lands on the board but touches the ground, then that bag is “out”
- If a player’s bag lands on the board and dangles off, but does not touch the ground, it is “in”
- If a player’s bag bounces from the ground and lands in the hole, then that bag is “out”
- Bags that have been thrown cannot be thrown again during that round
- Bags that are pushed off the board by any other bag are “out”
- Bags that any other bag has pushed into the hole are “in”
- Bags that land partially into the hole, but do not go fully in are considered on the board
- If a player drops a bag before throwing it, it can be retrieved and thrown
- If a team reaches 11 points while the other team remains at 0 points, the game is over
A cornhole bag is a foul if it breaks one of a few rules. There are no point penalties for fouls, but the bag thrown during the foul does not count towards any points and may not be re-thrown. If a bag that is considered a foul hit another bag that was “in”, then the bag that was “in” must be returned to its original position.
The following rules result in fouls:
- Any part of a player’s foot stepping past their board when throwing to the opposing board
- A bag landing on the ground
- A bag landing on the board but touching the ground
- A bag not thrown within 20 seconds of the round beginning or not thrown within 20 seconds of the opposing player’s last throw
- A bag thrown by another player
- A bag thrown on the wrong side of the cornhole board
- Any player touching any bags before the end of the round forfeits all their bags from that round
- An exception is if a bag that was “in” needs to be moved back to its original position after being moved by a “foul” bag
At the beginning of a game, teams must decide who will throw first. The manner in which this is decided is not important. Players may toss a coin, play rock-paper-scissors, etc. When a decision is reached, the team must then decide which of its two players will throw first. Again, this can be decided in any fashion the team sees fit.
The player who will throw first will throw one of their bags to the opposite cornhole board. A player may throw the bag however they like, as long as their foot does not pass their cornhole board. Afterward, the opposing player next to them will throw one of their bags. This is repeated back and forth until all eight bags have been thrown.
After, and only after, all bags have been thrown should a player touch the bags. When the round is over, the points can be tallied. Whichever team has the most points at the end of the round will be the team who throws first at the beginning of the next round.
In the next round, the two players at the other cornhole board will now throw. Players should always stay at their assigned boards and on their assigned side of the board.
In a normal game of cornhole, the first team to 21 points wins; however, if one team reaches 11 points when the other team remains at 0 points, then the game is over.
In cornhole, points should only be calculated after the end of a round. This is because there is a possibility of bags moving, whether they are hit and fall off the board or they are hit and fall into the hole.
Any bags on the board at the end of a round that are considered “in” are 1 point each. If a bag is on the board, but any part of it is touching the ground, this bag is “out.” If a bag is dangling off the board, but no part of it is touching the ground, then this bag is considered “in”. A referee or third-party audience member should make the final call for close calls that teams cannot agree on.
Any bags that fall into the hole are 3 points each; however, if a bag is only leaning into a hole, then it is considered on the board and 1 point will be awarded. Bags must fall completely into the hole for them to count as 3 points.
After points have been tallied, the points from each team should be subtracted from each other. For example, if Team A receives 5 points and Team B receives 2 points, then the points are subtracted from each other. Team A receives 3 points for that round and Team B receives 0 points.
The first team to 21 points, with a 2-point difference, wins.
Keep in mind that while the rules of cornhole are always the same, the method of counting points can vary slightly.
In some games, you must get exactly 21 points. In these games, should a team go over 21, then their points are reduced to 11 and the game continues.
Another version of the game has both teams keeping all their earned points at the end of each round, rather than subtracting them. The team with the most points after 13 rounds wins the game.
No matter how you wish to play, you must decide which method of tallying points you will follow before a game starts. Once a game begins, the method of tallying points cannot be changed.
Different Terminology for Cornhole
If you play a game or watch a game with a referee, you may hear the referee say words that are unfamiliar to you. You may also hear some of these words used by players who have played the game for quite a long time. Many different terms can be used, with some repeating themselves or their meanings, but we will focus on the most important ones here:
Ace: one point earned
Airmail: when a bag lands in the board’s hole without touching the board. Also known as a “glory hole”
Backstop: when a bag lands on the board, but behind the hole
Blocker: when a bag lands on the board and in front of the hole
Cornhole: a bag that lands in the hole. Also known as a “drain-o”
Corn patty: a bag that lands on the ground before reaching the cornhole board. Also known as “candy corn” or “sally”
Dirty bag: when a bag hits the ground before bouncing onto the board
Double deuce: when a player hits four bags into the hole at the same time. Also known as a “gusher”
Fault: when a player’s foot steps past their board while throwing
Frisbee: a type of throw that causes the bag to spin in the air, like a frisbee
Hammer: the last bag tossed in a round
Jump shot: a type of throw where the player throws the bag like they would a basketball
Lipper: a bag that is half in the hole, half on the board. Also known as a “hanger”
Shucker: a bag that hits another bag off the board
Sky bag: when a bag is thrown too far and lands behind the cornhole board
Whitewash: when one team reaches 11 points and the other team remains at 0 points
Woody: a bag that lands on the board. Also known as a “cow pie”
Aside from official cornhole terminology, there is also beloved cornhole slang. This is unofficial terminology of the game that you may hear when playing with cornhole veterans. They are meant to bring some humour into the game and maintain positive sportsmanship. While some of these words or phrases do sound silly, the words have long been a part of cornhole, and each has its own unique meaning.
Corn on the cob: when a player puts all of their bags on the board
Cornhole: also known as “holer” or “corn in the hole“, refers to a bag that lands inside of the board’s hole
Dos cornholes: when two bags go into the board’s hole at the same time
Nothin’ but corn: when a bag goes straight in the board’s hole without touching the board
Boarder: these are bags that land and stay on the cornhole board
Get that corn out of my face: a light-hearted phrase said after a team puts a bag into the hole immediately after the other team does, or when knocking a bag off the board from the opposing team
Holy moly triple corny: when three bags fall into the board’s hole at the same time
The great cornholio: when four bags fall into the board’s hole at the same time
Whether playing in a tournament, before a baseball game, or simply in your backyard, cornhole is fun and often hilarious, especially when using its silly slang. While the abundance of terminology can feel like a bit much, the game’s rules are very simple and easily learned. So the next time your family plays cornhole, and someone lands three bags into the hole, you can yell, “holy moly triply corny” with all the confidence in the world, knowing that you now know the rules and regulations of the game.