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How to play tetherball

Two people playing tetherball and learning the rules

One of the classic all time great backyard games! We’re talking about Tetherball, how to play, what you need, how to win and basically everything you need to know. Let’s jump right into it.

History of Tetherball

It seems like Tetherball has been around for generations, and that’s actually true. The sport was first played in the 1800’s in Britain and then eventually made its way to the United States. The precise history of the sport and how it originated is hazy but what we know for sure is that the simplicity of the game is the main reason that it spread so fast around the world.

Equipment and setting the game up

Another big plus is that’s its super easy to set up and start playing. All you need is to get a 10-foot pole and fix it into the ground. Afterward, just attach the rope and ball. The ball itself should be hanging about two feet off the ground before the game starts. 

Shopping online or locally you’ll notice most sellers sell the pole and the attached cord/ball together. Alternatively you can try making your own.

The Tetherball court itself will usually look the same regardless of where you are — the famous pole with a line through its middle and a circle around the whole thing. Its such a versatile game and can be played almost anywhere. And before we forget, its a game for two players and is appropriate for all ages.

Game Basics

 The player serving first gets to choose which direction they will hit the ball in. After they have served the other player attempts to hit the ball back n the opposite direction.  

The aim of the game is to wrap the ball around the center pole toward the direction that you hit the ball in the first place. This slowly happens when a player misses hitting the ball after the other player hit it in their direction.

The rope needs to be wound completely around and the ball hit the pole for you to win.

Rules of the Game

Most people probably know the basic rules of Tether ball but there can different variations from one backyard to the next. That being the case and to prevent you guys from fighting over the game, we’re going to go over the official rules of the sport. 

The middle line marks the division between the two players. If one of the players crosses the line over to the side of their opponent then that’s a foul.   

If you commit a foul that means the game pauses and the number of wraps around the pole, if any, that you got with your foul move will be undone. The other player will then restart the game.

Holding the ball is also a foul. Another foul is hitting the ball more than once. This is referred to as “double-hitting” by many Tetherball players. 

The only body part that you can touch the ball with is your hands. If you use other body parts to hit the ball then you’ll also foul. And finally you can’t touch the pole while the game is on. 

 If you find yourself really enjoying playing Tetherball then you can get more serious by searching online for local clubs and competitions to join. 

Written by Shane O'Connor

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