Gone Outdoors

Rules of Outdoor Shuffleboard

by Aaron Kopf

Originating in England, shuffleboard was initially played by the English elite on long wooden tables in stately houses. The game gradually spread to other countries and currently enjoys popularity among the elderly and well-to-do. Players essentially use long sticks to push round, flat objects down a board to the scoring end. The rules for indoor and outdoor shuffleboard are similar, but different in a few key respects.

Equipment

A standard outdoor shuffleboard court measures 52 feet long with two large triangles on either end. The triangles are divided into five sections via vertical and horizontal lines, with each section assigned a different point value. Two lines, known as "dead lines" cross the court in front of each triangle, and most courts feature an empty space behind each triangle in which the players stand during play. The playing discs are six inches wide, approximately one inch thick and weigh 15 ounces. There are usually four yellow discs and four black discs, which are pushed with wooden sticks called "cues." Cues feature a forked end that fits around the discs and cannot be longer than six and a half feet.

How to Play

The four yellow discs are placed on the left side of the "10-Off" section at the base of a scoring triangle, while the four black discs are placed on the right side. Players take turns shoving the discs down the court using their cues. The yellow player traditionally goes first. Players stand behind their discs and shove them down the court toward the opposite scoring triangle. The goal is to position your discs in the high-scoring spaces while simultaneously knocking your opponent's discs away.

Penalties

Certain acts lead to a subtraction of points from each round. If a disc is touching the nearby "10-Off" line before getting shoved down the court, the player loses five points. Players lose ten points if a disc touches the sideline before being played, if the player's foot touches the "10-Off" line while shooting or if a player shoots an opponent's disc. If a disc is played illegally and thereby earns a penalty, the disc is immediately removed from the game board and cannot earn points until the next round.

Scoring

Once all eight discs have been played down the court, the score is added together. Players need to stand over the discs as they evaluate scoring, as the disc is only eligible for points if it is completely within the scoring lines of the triangle. Discs that overlap the scoring lines are disqualified from scoring. After adding up all scored points and subtracting any penalties, the final score is written on the scorecard. The discs are collected and played down the court in the opposite direction. The first player to surpass 75 points wins the game. If both players surpass 75 points in the same round, the player with the highest overall score wins the game.

About the Author

Aaron Kopf graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with honors in 2009, holding a Bachelor of Arts in communication. While enjoying his time at college, Kopf was published in The Echo and Vortex magazine.