As we call it, Ladder Ball has been around for some decades now, although information on when it started is rather sketchy at best. Although primarily played in the USA, there are small pockets of dedicated fans worldwide – you would be surprised where the game in some form or another springs up. In particular, it’s always interesting to hear about the local variations. So even if your friends haven’t heard of it, many around the world have. But this article is about the rules of ladderball – there aren’t many but enough to keep the score and have fun!
At an elementary level, Ladder Ball, often referred to as Ladder Golf or Hillbilly Golf, is a ball game played between teams with two or more players. The game’s objective is to throw a bola, a cord connecting two balls (often golf balls) and wrapping the bola around one of three steps of the ladder, which is the target.
As you can see in the picture, the ladder consists of three steps: top, middle, and bottom.
How to Play the Game
Typically played as an outdoor game, Ladder Golf has two teams of as many players as needed on the day. Before they start to throw the bolas at the ladder, there must be a toss line established. A ladder ball court measurement is generally 15 feet, but a good five paces should be fine. The distance established is really more important for who is taking part rather than an exact measure. So, for example, for the young ones, a much shorter distance will improve their enjoyment of the game rather than having them attempt the throw from the adult’s line.
The game is played in rounds. Each round consists of team members throwing three bolas at the ladder. A coin toss is used to decide which player or team will throw first. The first player must throw all three bolas before the next player can throw their bolas.
Bolas can be thrown in any manner a team member chooses, as long as they are thrown individually. The bola doesn’t need a direct hit; bounces off the ground are allowed. Although a variation to this we have played, to make it more of a challenge for those more proficient at the game, is only to allow direct hits to count.
The Allocation of Points
The major part of the rules for ladderball center around the points. Points are determined by which step your bola wraps around. The top step is worth three points, the middle two points, and the bottom one point. Players can score an optional bonus of one point by hanging all three bolas from the same step or hanging a bola on all three steps in one round. The highest amount of points available per player is 10. This is accomplished by hanging all three bolas on the top (three points) step.
After all, players have thrown all their bolas; scoring is determined by the bolas still hanging from the ladder’s steps. Team members can knock off bolas during the course of the game; in fact, knocking off the opposition team members’ bolas is encouraged and a good way to play defensively. Bolas that are knocked off during play do not count as points.
The winner of a round earns the right to the first throw in the subsequent round. Games are played to a total round of 21 points. A team member must achieve exactly 21 points to win the round. If the 21 points are exceeded, that team member’s score does not count for the team in that round.
And that is about it for all the rules you need to have a great game of ladderball. We hope this helps getting you stared on your first game.