We’ve all come across the classic bean bag toss game, cornhole. It is present at almost every graduation party, barbecue, July 4th party, and tailgate - and for a good reason. Few games can balance simplicity and fun as brilliantly as cornhole.
But cornhole gets a little overplayed and feels tiring. To reinvigorate the game, you can change the rules for a different twist on the game. But creating rules that are fun involves some trial and error.
This is why we put together a few different sets of rules for you to consider the next time you play bags.
6 Different Ways to Play Cornhole
Here are six different ways to play cornhole!
- Classic rules
- Non-canceling scoring
- Distance competition
- 7/21 Rules
- Tournament Style Bracket
1. Classic Rules
First and foremost, we felt it was important to start with the classic rules in case anyone has forgotten the rules and is too embarrassed to ask. The rules are simple, and you're going to love it! According to the American Cornhole Association (yes, that is a real thing), the rules are as follows:
- Boards should be set up between 40 and 45 feet apart, front to front (this can be adjusted for children and skill levels, this is just what the ACA says).
- Players will stand next to their side of the board with their bags.
- Players take turns tossing their bags one by one towards the other board until they have both tossed all four of their bags.
- Players then walk to the other board to score the inning. One point is scored for every bag that remains on the board at the end of the inning, and three points are awarded for every bag that goes through the center hole. No points are awarded for bags that miss the board, hit the board and bounce off, or land on the board and are pushed off during the inning by another bag. The player with the larger score subtracts the other player's score from theirs, and many points are awarded to the winner of the inning.
- Players continue playing this way through the innings until one player has scored 21 points or more.
It is simple, straightforward, and crazy fun. It's the basic game version, but it can be good to revisit the rules every now and again.
2. Non-Canceling Scoring
This alternative way to play is a very simple change, but it makes for a much faster-paced game. If you are looking to rotate through many players on a limited number of boards, this method of play can be a great solution.
There is only one minor change to the game, and it comes in the scoring. Rather than subtracting players' or teams' scores each inning to determine the points awarded, both teams or players can earn points each inning. Simply count the score as the total score without subtracting.
You'll find that playing traditional rules can give you games that last dozens of innings; with this alternative, you'll find games are finishing less than six or seven innings or even less. In theory, a player can win in as little as two innings.
3. Distance Competition
If you have the available playing space to do so, you'll find it can be really fun to have a distance competition with your Cornhole set. You'll only need one board for this.
All you have to do is choose a distance for everyone competing to throw from and take turns seeing who can score at the farthest distance. You can give players a certain number of attempts to score the bag through the hole before elimination until the person who can throw the farthest is finally crowned champion.
This is a super fun way to play, but once again, only if you have a safe playing space that is large enough to accommodate it. If you're throwing your bags hard enough, they can cause damage or injury.
4. 7/21 Rules
If you are interested in even shorter bursts of competition for your Cornhole set, then you'll love playing the 7/21 rules. There is only one inning in this set of rules.
Players stand a set distance from the board, and each team or player gets seven bags. The team or player that can score closest to 21 (a perfect inning) wins.
Suppose you and your friends or family are particularly skilled at cornhole and don't find the original rules challenging enough anymore. In that case, 7/21 can help you hone your accuracy and consistency for better play anytime.
5. Tournament Style Bracket
If you have a group of people who want to play, then you can spice up the competition by making a tournament-style bracket and crowning an overall champion! Plenty of free websites will help you create your own brackets, and you can include multiple games in a round and loser's brackets to keep the fun going for everyone.
Last but to least is one of our absolute favorite ways to play, H-O-R-S-E! Adding in the element of trick shots leaves room for unlimited creativity and imagination. Plus, incorporating elements of the play environment in your trick shots makes each game unique to the play space.
The rules are:
- Decide on one player who will start. This player then "calls the shot." This means they determine the location of the playing area from which the shot has to be thrown, special elements of the throw, and the number of attempts.
- If the player who calls the shot cannot make the shot in their number of attempts, the next player gets to call a shot. If the player who calls the shot makes the shot, then each other player is also required to make the shot, or they are penalized with an additional letter.
- Players will first earn an H, followed by an H-O until they have failed five shots, have spelled H-O-R-S-E, and are eliminated.
- The last player standing is the winner.
It is a super simple set of rules that makes it great to teach children but is so customizable that every game you play is unique to the next. It also lets you show off the crazy and silly trick shots you have been working on!
How to Play Bean Bag Toss Game Six Different Ways: Takeaways
Cornhole is one of the classic backyard games because it has stood the test of time as a fun and exciting option. But when you're sick of the original rules, there are some simple things you can do to put a new twist on it.
With the original rules and five other alternative rulesets, you now have six different ways to have a fun game. If you don't already own your own cornhole set, it is a staple to add to your backyard game collection.
Our Caliber Games Cornhole Boards Bundle is a high-quality, durable, and well-made cornhole set with everything you need to play the game any way you wish! You can check out more about our Caliber Cornhole set here!
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