How to Play Cornhole – Official Cornhole Rules & Regulations

Learn how to play cornhole

Cornhole is the most popular bag toss game in the United States.

Although it’s often played in backyards and tailgating parties, you can also compete on nationwide tournaments. Championships are organized each year.

Before buying your first kit of cornhole boards and bags, it’s important to learn cornhole rules and how to play it properly. At the bottom of this page you can download print-ready PDF checklist with list of the most important cornhole rules.

So let’s start…

First, let’s divide the rules into 4 smaller parts.

1 Part – Cornhole equipment

2 Part – Cornhole game play

3 Part – Scoring rules

4 Part – Cornhole court layout and place

1 – Cornhole rules for equipment

In order to play cornhole, you’ll need:

  • 8 cornhole bags (4 bags for each team – each team must have different bag colors)
  • 2 cornhole boards

There are many manufacturers of cornhole equipment, so first we must get familiar with standard size and dimensions of boards and bags.

This way you will know exactly which equipment is good. Especially if you want to attend official tournaments. You want to practice on standardized equipment that is going to be used on championships.

Off course, if you play only with your friends at tailgating parties then you can choose step away from these standards.

For example famous manufacturer of cornhole boards Baggo has a feet shorter boards. Although the quality and practicality of their boards is fantastic, that minor flaw makes their boards inappropriate for championships. So you don’t want to practice on Baggo boards if you attend cornhole tournaments.


Bean bags – Dimension of each bag is about 6 x 6 inches and it weights about 15-16 ounces (~450 grams). If you are creating a bag by yourself using some DIY tutorial, you can get corn feed at any tractor supply or local feed shop. Insert 1 pound of whole kernel corn into each bag – which is about 2 cups. However if you want it to be water resistant then put recycled plastic resin pellets, this will also extend lifetime of the bags.

Bean bag dimensions

Cornhole bag dimensions – 6″ x 6″

Bags need to be made out of durable materials such as synthetic suede, twill or canvas.

Each team must have different bag colors. So make sure that 4 bags are made out of one color and other 4 out of different color. You can use any color that is easy to spot. We suggest that bag colors are opposite of board color. That way it will be much easier to see the exact spot of bag on the board.

Also make sure that double stitched seams is used to connect front and back fabric of a bag.

This is how cornhole bags look like

Different color variations of cornhole bags

Boards – the standard board measurement is 24 x 48 inches with rectangle shape.

Bord height and width

Cornhole board dimensions

For tournament purposes wood type of the board should be 0.5 inch plywood. If you practice for championships and want to play by traditional rules, then ONLY use wooden boards. There is a significant performance difference between wooden boards and boards that are made out of other materials such as plastic.

The position of the hole should be width centered 9 inches from the top and 12 inches away from each side edge. Hole size should be 6 inches in diameter.

exact position of cornhole hole

Front side of the board should be 4 inches high from the ground while the back side should be 12 inches high. The board should be placed on a flat surface. Angle of the board surface and back leg should be 90 degrees.Height on both sidesIt’s suggested, but not mandatory, that boards have closed each side of the board. So the only opening should be the hole on the surface. This is important especially at night, when it’s hard to determine if a bag was thrown into the hole from the air or it came from left or right side when jumped from the ground.

The surface of the board needs to be smooth without any defects or faults. Once thrown on the board, bag needs to glide perfectly without any obstacles.painting cornhole boards

Painting cornhole boards is crucial part! If you are creating a board by yourself make sure that you are using latex paint with high gloss effect. The reason is because you want bags to slide up the board very easily, but you don’t want the surface to be too slippery for bags to slide down if the bag was not pitched in the hole.

As for the color combination, you can use any color or artwork you want. But for tournament purposes make sure that the board is painted in white or any easy-to-see color combination.

2 – How to play cornhole instructions

Like in many sports, cornhole can be played in singles or doubles.

Singles – one player competes against another player. Both players pitch bags from the same platform, but each player stands on a different side of the cornhole board. In next round players walk to the opposite platform, maintaining the same lane in which they started the first round. Each player should have 4 bags – each opponent needs to have different bag color.

Doubles – team competes against other team where each team has two players, also known as team partners. So in doubles there are 4 players in total – 2 versus 2. Each player of a team pitches bags from opposite platform, but on the same side. So at one cornhole platform, on each side, there is a player from different team. Like in singles, each cornhole team should have 4 bags in one color.

Take a look at how cornhole is played on tournaments:

Each team must stay in the same lane in which they started the first round. They can not change lanes during the whole game.

You are allowed to throw a beanbag underhand in cornhole. Every overhand, above the head or two hand release is consider to be a foul.

If there are too many bags already inside the hole making it impossible for another bag to fall into the hole, player may ask for bags to be raked out of the board, so that other bags can fall into the hole as well. It’s important that during a rake neither of the bags that are currently on board surface are moved. Even those that are hanging in the hole edge can not be moved. If bag accidentally falls into the hole during a rake, it’s calculated as a 3 point strike.

Who throws first in the first round? Well, coin flip will decide. For each next round the winner of the previous round has an honor to throw first.

Bag is thrown alternately until players have thrown all 8 bags (4 per each player).


In doubles, first the players at one platform alternately throw bags while players on the opposite platform keep the score. In the next round they switch sides. Now the ones that were keeping the score throw bags, and the others that were throwing the bags now keep the score.

Every other rule is the same for single or double plays!

Game is divided into rounds. Each round ends once all available bags are thrown. After each round, scoring is calculated and added to the overall scoring board.

Player must throw using the same arm during whole game, unless it’s a medical injury so he/she needs to switch hands.

Each contestant has maximum of 20 seconds to throw a bag. The time starts once a player has entered the pitching box.

Each player must remain in their pitcher box when pitching a bag. If a players steps out of the pitching box while throwing a bag it’s considered as a foul. In that case team of the player who caused the foul gets 0 points for that bag pitch and if the bag landed on a board it should be immediately removed.

If you are playing on a cornhole tournament, a common sense rule is that you can not vocally disturb opponents or distract them in any way. If it happens, you will receive a warning from the tournament judge. If you continue to distract opponents, you will be disqualified.

Cornhole violation of rules

This is the list of rule violations that should result in bag being removed from the court. Off course any bag that is removed doesn’t carry any points. Tournament judge or contestant can report any of the following rule violations:

  • Player stepped on or crossed the foul line before tossing a bag
  • Corn bag was thrown 20 seconds after stepping into the pitching box or when it was players turn. It results in player being out of turn
  • Player changed pitching box in the same round
  • Bag on the board surface that is touching the ground is a foul bag and carries 0 points
  • If a corn bag ends anywhere but on the cornhole board (example: tree, lawn or on other objects) it’s considered to be a foul bag and also carries 0 points
  • If a corn bag accidentally falls out of player’s hand when a bag wasn’t being tossed then it’s not considered to be a foul. However if a bag was dropped after the swing then it’s a foul bag. Again, foul bag carries zero points and should be removed immediately
  • If a bag hits the ground first and then jumps onto the cornhole board it’s considered to be a foul bag

Essential cornhole terminology

Ace / Woody – Bag that landed on the board surface. This is wort 1 point.

Cornholer  – cornhole player.

Cornhole – bag that went into the hole. This is worth 3 points.

Cornholio / 12 pack – player who score all four bags in a single round. This is worth 12 points, hence the name 12 pack.

Nothing but hole – bag that went straight into the hole without touching the hole rim.

Penny – synonym for bag that is worth 1 point.

Faultin – when a player crosses the foul line while tossing a bag. This is considered to be foul bag and doesn’t carry any points.

You can find more conrhole terms here.

3 – Scoring rules

According to traditional rules the game is played until one team reaches or exceeds 21 points. Team who first reaches 21 points wins.

Scoring rule in cornhole game

Scoring is calculated at the end of each round.

Round (or frame) is considered to be completed once all conrhole bags are thrown.

Scoring breakdown:

  • Bag goes directly in the hole = 3 points
  • Bag was on the surface and ended in the hole after being hit by another bag = 3 points
  • Bag stays on cornhole board surface  = 1 point
  • Bag is almost in the hole (hanging a bit in) = 1 point
  • Bag hanging on the edge of a cornhole board but not touching the ground = 1 point
  • Bag is on the board but is touching the ground (this bag needs to be removed before continuing the game) = 0 points
  • Also if a bag is on the board but is touching a bag that is already off the surface = 0 points
    But there is one exception to this. If a bag that is off the surface can be removed with another bag then the bag that was previously touching the bag that was on the sourface is not touching it anymore. So 1 point goes to the hanging bag.

Foul bags – cancellation of scoring when a player breaks a rule. Foul bags simply don’t carry any points. Basically if a bag is not in the hole or on the board (while not touching the ground) it is considered to be foul bag and gets 0 points. If a bag is touching the ground but still on the surface board, if it’s not on the board at all and if the players has stepped on a foul line the bag is considered to be foul! If a foul bag moved non-foul bag into foul zone (for example off the board), the bag that was previously non-foul should be returned to original position and the foul bag needs to be removed.

Once all the bags are thrown, the round ends.

Round score = Score of the highest scoring team – Score of the lowest scoring team

Example: Team A scores 7 – Team B scores 5 = Team A adds 2 points to the overall score.

Team with the highest score adds the point difference to the total game score.

Round winner has an honor to throw first in the next round.

If the round score is equal, then the team who was previously throwing first continues to do so in the next round.

Let’s look at an example: 

Example of cornhole scoring calculation

Team A scores 2 bags directly in the hole, 1 bags stays on the surface and 1 is off the surface board = 7 points

Team B scores 1 bag directly in the hole, 2 bags stay on the surface and 1 is off the surface board = 5 points

Team A won this round and got 2 points (difference between 7 and 5), which is added to total game scoring. Team B doesn’t get any points since it’s the lowest scoring contestant in this round.

Now Team A has an honor to throw first in the next round.

This type of scoring method is called cancellation scoring. Which means that in each round only one player/team can get points added to the overall game score. Points of one team cancel the points of opponents score. So only the difference is added to the overall game score.

It’s suggested that scoring board is always visible to both teams and that score is updated after each throw and round. You should keep an eye on the score board, especially on tournaments.

If a player spots irregularities during a tournament, the player can approach the scorer to resolve an issue. Otherwise if the scoring issue can’t be resolved so that both teams are satisfied, a tournament judge must be called to give the final decision.

4 – Cornhole court regulations

You can play it anywhere as long as the distance between cornhole boards is 27 feet (front to front of a board) and it can be placed on a flat surface. For kids (juniors), distance between boards can be lowered to 15 feet.

However, if you intend to play conrhole indoor make sure that the distance between roof and board is at least 12 feet. Indoor cornhole rules and regulations are the same as when played outside.

If there are two or more cornhole games played at the same area or yard, make sure that each cornhole court is separated from others by at least 10 feet. This is to ensure safety and that bags don’t go into other courts.

Cornhole rules for playing field, team sides and pitching boxes

Also you need to clearly mark pitch boxes for each of the 4 players. Front end of a pitch box is called foul line.

Players can not cross the foul line when tossing a bag.

Foul lines

Foul lines of each pitching box

So make sure that the place where you are playing cornhole has enough width so that two players can stand on left and right side of a board. That area is called pitcher box. It has same dimension as cornhole board (4 x 3 feet) and it’s located on left and right side next to the board. Pitcher box is the place in which player should stand when tossing a bag. Take a look at the image below:

Cornhole pitching boxes scheme for each player

Pitching boxes for doubles

Players should not make changes to cornhole court during a match without permission of the opponents team. This is to ensure distraction-free playing.

Every other accessories, such as scoreboard or drink holders, should be placed behind players and boards outside the court in order to ensure maximum concentration of the players without any distractions.

Finally, make sure to take a look at the most frequent cornhole terminology.

 

We have prepared printable version of cornhole rules. It will come handy when you are out playing and don’t have access to computer or internet.

Download the PDF rules checklist

Remember, the whole purpose of conrhole is to have a blast with your friends! 🙂

Do you have any comments, suggestions or strategy on how to play cornhole? Please feel free to share them in the comment section below…

How to Play Cornhole – Official Cornhole Rules & Regulations
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