Cornhole Rules & Scoring | How to Play Cornhole

Posted by Nathan Shisler on

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never thrown a single cornhole bag or if you are a professional in the game of cornhole, the same rules apply for everyone. The official cornhole rules are extremely simple to understand and easy to follow along with. The rules of cornhole, just like the game, are very simple. All you need to do is follow a few simple steps and you will be ready to start playing.

In this blog post, we talk about the official rules and regulations for cornhole, set forth by the American Cornhole League. Follow these rules when you’re playing in your backyard, at a bar or restaurant, or any other venue to ensure that you are playing by the official cornhole rules. For the person or player that is going to be wanting to or playing in ACL tournaments, it is extremely important to understand the official rules of cornhole. 

Cornhole Rules & Scoring

Before you get started, make sure you have all the essentials for a game of cornhole.

This includes two to four players, a set of good quality cornhole boards (two boards), eight cornhole bags (two sets of four) and a tape measure.

Next, find a large flat open area to set up your cornhole boards. You can play on any surface, such as grass, concrete/blacktop, sand or carpet. Take one cornhole board and set it facing toward the opposite end of the area, where you will place the other cornhole board. If you are playing on a surface such as blacktop or concrete and want something to protect the bottom of your cornhole boards, pitch pads or launch mats make a great addition to your cornhole board set.

Before placing the other cornhole board, use a tape measure and measure out 27 feet from the end of the first cornhole board. Place the second cornhole board’s bottom edge to align with the 27 feet you measured out. You are now all set up and ready to play! 27 feet is the official distance for play according to cornhole rules.

Every game is broken down into turns, or innings, of play. During a turn each player will throw all 4 of their bags at the cornhole board opposite of them. You will either be playing Singles or Doubles play style. Singles play is Player 1 vs. Player 2. Doubles play is Team 1 vs. Team 2. In doubles play, each team consists of two players. 

Singles Play Style

  • Each player chooses a side of the cornhole board they would like to play on for the entirety of the game.
  • Players alternate throwing a single bag at the opposite cornhole board until they have each thrown all four of their bags.
  • Players now walk to the opposite cornhole board that they just threw at, record the score and pick up all four of their bags.
  • Repeat this process for the next turn.

Doubles Play Style

  • Each player on each team will choose a designated spot for the whole game. One player from each team will be at an opposite cornhole board.
  • Players at the same board will alternate throwing a single bag at the opposite cornhole board until they have each thrown all four of their bags.
  • Players at the opposite cornhole board will record the score, pick up all four bags each and repeat the same process.

Cornhole Scoring

The object of the game is to try to put the cornhole bag through the hole of the cornhole board all four times, during your turn. Let’s be honest though, it’s a lot harder than it sounds! The best method to scoring in cornhole is through canceling out the other players' throws. This means that if the other player throws a bag and makes it on the board, you want to try to at least do the same. This way, you cancel out that point that they just scored with their throw. We recommend using a cornhole scoreboard to help keep score.

How to score points in cornhole:

A cornhole bag that lands on the cornhole board is worth one point. This is called a “woody.” Note, the cornhole bag cannot touch the ground first. A cornhole bag that goes through the hole of the cornhole board is worth three points and is referred to as a “cornhole.” Note, the cornhole bag must go all the way through the hole to count for three points.

Cornhole Fouls

 There are several fouls you should avoid committing during game play.

  • Stepping over the foul line. The foul line exists at the edge of the bottom of the cornhole boards. When you throw, make sure you do not step past the cornhole board. If you are using a pitch pad or a launch mat, this makes it even easier to follow.
  • A cornhole bag that hits the ground before landing on the cornhole board.
  • A cornhole bag that strikes an object in, or near, the field of play (tree limbs, ceiling).

Length of Game

One of the main differences in regulation game play is that you can go over the score of 21. Many backyard games penalize a player for going over a score of 21. The reason for this difference is that the games go much faster in tournaments when you aren’t penalized for going over.

Cornhole is a very simple game that can be picked up by almost anyone and understanding the official cornhole rules and regulations will make your game more enjoyable.

The cornhole rules outlined in this blog serve as a basic guide for how many tournaments run. Often, the way the game of cornhole is played when it comes to backyard games and social settings can differ from official tournament rules, so keep that in mind. For example, different houses in your backyard games may have different rules.

Regardless of how you are playing, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself! If you are have any other questions or need a quick refresher on the official rules of cornhole, you can print out our official cornhole rules below.

Now that you know the rules of cornhole, browse our cornhole boards, cornhole accessories and cornhole bags and get ready to play!