How To Play Tetherball

Tweet Pin it

­­Tetherball is an interesting game for both adults and kids. And the best way to enjoy the game is to know the right way how to play it.

When you have friends and family friends over the holidays or weekends, it’s one game that can add fun to your meetings.

Did I tell you that it requires very few pieces of equipment?

This page might include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. Read more here.

Basic Requirements and Set Up of the Game

The tetherball game requires very few things. That includes a ball tethered to a pole via a rope or chain, and a circular court round the pole.

Pole Height

The pole should stand about 10 feet high for adults. But if you are setting up the court for kids then a pole height of about 6 to 8 feet is adequate.

The pole should stand perpendicularly to the center of the court and be firmly rooted to the ground.

Rope or Chain Length

You can use either a rope or a chain to suspend an inflated ball from the top of the pole. The rope should suspend the ball two or three feet above the ground.

Circular Court

A standard tetherball court for adults involves a circle of a diameter of 20 feet. The court divides into four sections.

Out of the four divisions, 2 are standing points for the players (opposite sides) and the remaining two are neutral zones.

An easy way to divide the circular court into four is to draw an X that intersects at the center of the circle.

However, some tetherball players usually divide the court into two equal parts and hence ruling out the neutral zones.


Once you have gathered the required equipment and set up the court, you are ready to begin the game.

Who to Serve First

Each player takes his respective side. You can toss a coin to decide who serves the ball first. After that the serving player lets his opponent choose the direction of the initial serve.

To make a serve the player hits the ball with his hand or forearm once. Alternatively, he can toss the ball first before giving it a hit. And after the initial serve, the server can only hit the ball again after the opponent has either hit it in the opposite direction or the ball has wrapped over the pole 4 times.

The opposing player then times the ball to hit it back in the opposite direction. Each player only hits the ball when it’s on his side.

How to Score

The aim of each player in every game is to earn points. Whenever a player hits the ball to pass the opponent and wrap around the pole once, he earns one point.

Usually, a tetherball game consists of seven matches. However, both parties can agree to amend the rule. However, whoever wins 4 matches first takes victory of the game. Some house rules dictate that the winner must lead by two points.

Standard Rules and Fouls of the Game

Stick to your Side

Each player must keep onto his side of the court and keep off the neutral (no-go zones) grounds. Otherwise stepping out of your marked boundaries attracts a penalty.

Use Your Hands Only

In the standard-setting, a player can only use his hands to hit the ball. You can make a fist or open palm.

Strike and Do Not Hold the Ball

Each player should aim at striking the ball to oppose his opponent’s direction. Holding the ball (also known as carrying) is illegal. So whenever you contact the ball ensure it bounces off.

Hit the Ball Once

When the tetherball crosses to your side, you must only hit it once. Multiple hitting (also known as juggling) is an offense unless the ball hits the pole or your opponent.

In addition, you must not touch the string or the pole with any part of the body including the hands.

Throwing the ball or attempting to boost its momentum in any other way apart from hitting during the play is an offense.

Tetherball Penalties

Whenever a player commits a foul, the play stops and serving goes to the player not guilty of the foul. Depending on the house rules the non-guilty party may get additional wrap in his favor.

When a player intentionally commits a foul, he loses the game.

But in case the two players commit a foul simultaneously then they must carry out a pole drop. That is the players jointly hold the hand singlehandedly and then let it go down.

Once it hits the pole you restart the game. Alternatively, some people simply restart the game in favor of the initial server.

How to Boost Your Chances of Winning the Tetherball Game

As you play the game often you sharpen your skills and gain experience. But in addition, the following tips can also help;

Whereas hitting the ball with an open palm offers more control a closed fit injects more power. So know when to use either of the moves.

Inject deceptive move into your game. Don’t let your opponent read your move to be a slam or power hit.

Refrain from hitting the ball at one particular angle. Instead, track the position of your opponent and vary the ball angle accordingly.


Tetherball is easy to learn and play by everyone. Besides, it requires very few components, entertains and acts as an exercise. Whether at a camping site, beach or at home, it’s a versatile game you should try.

Leave a Reply