Cornhole Rules of Play – According to The American Cornhole Organization (ACO), The Governing Body for the Sport of Cornhole
Brief Overview of Singles and Doubles Play (See field diagram toward end of this document for course layout.)
- Player A competes against Player B.
- Both players stay in their designated lane for the whole game.
- Players start the game at the headboard and will alternate pitching bags until each player has pitched all (4) of his/her bags toward the cornhole board that resides within the footboard.
- Players then walk to the end of their lane to the footboard, take score, and resume pitching back to the cornhole board that resides within the headboard.
- Team A competes against Team B – each team is comprised of two (2) people.
- Each team will stay in their designated lane for the whole game.
- Players at the headboard will alternate pitching bags until each player has pitched all (4) of his/her bags toward the cornhole board that resides within the footboard.
- Players at the footboard will take score and resume pitching back to the cornhole board that resides within the headboard.
Pitching Rotation, Lane Assignments, & Bag Colors:
The First Pitch, Lane Assignments, and Bag Colors: The format of the tournament will help determine who tosses the first pitch in a game.
- Seeded Tournaments
- The player/team with the higher seed pitches first. If playing best 2 out of 3 match, the higher seeded player pitches first for the 1st and 3rdgame (if necessary), and the lower seeded player pitches first in the 2nd game.
- The player/team with the higher seed plays in Lane 1 with the blue bags.
- Randomly Seeded Tournaments
- The player/team winning the coin-toss pitches first. If playing best 2 out of 3 match, the player winning the coin toss will pitch first for the 1stgame and the loser of the coin toss pitches first in the 2nd game. A coin toss will determine the player/team to pitch first in the 3rd game when necessary.
- The player/team winning the coin toss can choose their lane assignment and bag color.
Pitching Cornhole Bags:
- Players alternate pitching bags (one player at a time) until each player has pitched all (4) of his/her bags.
- A player must pitch all (4) cornhole bags from their designated cornhole pitchers box.
- One foot must be completely within the pitcher’s box at the time of releasing the bag.
- Players must not cross the foul line with their feet before the bag has landed.
Pitching the Next Frame:
- The player/team who scored in the preceding frame shall pitch first in the next frame. If neither player/team scores, the player/team who pitched first in the preceding frame shall retain first pitch in the next frame.
- Any cornhole bag that leaves a players hand once the final step (if taken) and final forward swing of the delivery process has started, shall count as a pitched bag.
- A cornhole bag that is accidentally dropped by a player before the final step (if taken) and final forward swing has started, shall not be considered a foul bag and may be picked up and pitched.
Pitching Out of Turn:
- If a player pitches out of turn at any time during a frame, their pitch will be considered a Foul Bag and swept from the playing surface.
- If the error is not discovered until after two (2) cornhole bags have been pitched, the frame shall continue and be score accordingly.
- If no agreement can be reached, a Certified Official shall be called. The Certified Official shall either determine the scoring or void the inning and order it to be re-pitched.
Time Limits – Pitching and Scoring
- Pitching – A player must pitch each cornhole bag within twelve (12) seconds of their opponent’s bag coming to rest.
- Scoring – The frame will be scored 5 seconds after the last bag has come to rest on the playing surface. Any bag that moves in position after 5 seconds will be scored based on its previous position.
Traditional 21: The game shall be played to the pre-determined number of twenty-one (21) points. The first player/team to reach (or exceed) that amount at the conclusion of a frame is the winner.
- Woody – Refers to any cornhole bag that has been pitched and remains on the cornhole board playing surface at the conclusion of the frame.
- Cornhole – Refers to any cornhole bag that has been pitched and passes through the cornhole board hole at any time within the frame.
- Foul Bags – Refers to any cornhole bag that has not been determined as a “woody” or “cornhole”, or was designated a foul bag as the result of rules violation.
- Designated Foul Bags
- Any bag pitched when the player has crossed over the foul line before the bag lands.
- Any bag pitched without at least one foot completely inside the pitcher’s box at the time of releasing the bag.
- Any bag not pitched within the 12 second time limit.
- A bag pitched from a different pitcher’s box than their designated pitcher’s box.
- Any bag that contacted the court or the ground before coming to rest on the playing surface.
- Any bag that comes to rest touching the ground and the board.
- Any bag which struck a previously defined object such as a tree limb, wire, indoor court ceiling, etc.
Methods of Scoring
Cancellation Scoring: The approved method of scoring for the sport of cornhole is “cancellation” scoring. In cancellation scoring, the points of one player cancel out the points of their opponent. Using this method, only one player/team can score in each frame.
- Woody: Each woody is worth one (1) point
- Cornhole: Each cornhole is worth three (3) points
Example: Red achieves one (1) woody and two (2) cornholes. Blue achieves two (2) woodies and zero (0) cornholes. 7 points – 2 points = Red scores 5 points for that frame.
Recording the Score
No cornhole bags shall be moved before the scoring is determined. If this decision is in doubt, a certified official shall be called and determine the scoring for the frame in question.
Recording the Score: Players are encouraged to pay close attention to the score at all times. Players are required to update their score on the score tower at the conclusion of each frame. Players may call upon the Certified Official between frames if any discrepancy occurs regarding the correct score.
Calling the Score: When a third party is being used to manage the score tower, it is the responsibility of the player/ team who scores in each frame to call out the score to the score keeper. It is the responsibility of the players/teams to ensure the score is represented correctly on the score tower at the conclusion of each frame before moving to the next frame.
Other General Rules:
Moving Cornhole Boards and Bags: A player can only straighten cornhole boards in between frames and with the approval of their opponent. A Certified Official may be called to determine re-placement if a discrepancy is in question. A player may only approach the opposite board during a frame under three (3) circumstances::
- A timeout has been called
- To Rake bags piled inside the cornhole board hole
- To Sweep bags (that are considered foul bags) from the playing surface
- Each player is allowed one thirty (30) second time out per game.
- A player may only call a time out when it is his/her turn to pitch.
- Both players may walk to the other boards to examine bag position during the time out.
- Players may not touch the cornhole bags or boards during a timeout.
Important Note: Official time-outs may be granted in the case of a busted cornhole bag, equipment malfunctions, or other circumstances at the discretion of the Certified Official. A player will not be charged for a time out in this instance.
Raking Cornhole Bags: If bags become piled inside the cornhole board hole and may interfere or obstruct with the next pitch or if there is question whether a cornhole bag would have naturally fallen through the hole, a player may request to “rake” the cornhole bags that have fallen inside the hole.
- One or both players may walk to the other board and rake the bags from under the board (one player raking and one player watching.)
- A spectator may be called to rake the bags if both players agree.
- A certified official may be called to rake the bags if a discrepancy is in question.
- Anytime 4 cornhole bags have entered the hole or piled bags are visible in the hole a player may request a “rake” and will not be charged a time-out.
Important note: During raking, all efforts should be made to leave bags on the playing surface undisrupted, in their natural state, and to leave bags that may hang on the rim of the hole from falling inside the hole unnaturally. If a bag is resting on a piled bag, and unavoidably falls into the hole as a result of raking, then it shall be counted as a “cornhole.”
Sweeping Cornhole Bags: If a foul bag lands on the playing surface or comes to rest touching the ground and the board, it must be removed immediately.
If a player pitches a foul bag which affects any bags in play, their opponent has the option of returning all cornhole bags to their original position on the playing surface or leaving all bags as they are.