Beginner’s Guide to Shuffleboard – Learn How to Play the Game

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Vintage shuffle board

In this beginner’s guide to shuffleboard, you’ll learn how to play the game using basic and advanced strategies, how scoring works, and I’ll also include some great tips and tricks that can help you earn a higher score. Shuffleboard is a game that involves the use of weighted pucks that players will slide across a table into the high-scoring areas. Pucks that make it the closest to the edge of the table will earn more points. This is a fun sport and a great game for players of all ages. In fact, with a good shuffleboard table and basic knowledge of game strategy, shuffleboard can be a perfect option if you’re looking for a game the whole family will love.

Below, I’ll begin with the basics and how the game is played.

How to Play Shuffleboard

In shuffleboard, the weighted pucks must be slid across the board alternately, against the pucks of an opponent, to the highest scoring area. This must be done without the pucks falling off the end of the board into the alley. The winning player is the only one that will receive a score. To win, your weights must be further down the board than your opponents.

Single or Two Players

You can play single or two-player games. For a two-player game, a round will begin by standing with an opponent at the same end of the board. A coin toss will determine who will shoot first. The winner of the coin toss will slide their first weight across the opposite end of the board. This is known as the scoring end. The opponent will then shoot their first weight in an attempt to either outdistance the other player’s weight or knock it off the table. Each player can continue to shoot their weights until each of the eight weights have been shuffled. This will complete a round.

The player with the weights that are farthest down the table is the winner of that round. The score of the winner will be registered on the scoreboard. Each player can now proceed to the opposite end of the board where the weights are. The winner of the previous round will begin the next round.  The second round is the same as the first. This game will continue until one of the players reaches a score of 15.

Four Players

In a 4-player game, one person from each team will be placed at the opposite end of the board. Just like with the two-player game, a coin toss is used to determine which player will shoot first.

Additionally, like in a two-player game, the weights will be shot alternately until every weight has been shuffled. The winner of the round is the player with the leading weight that’s farthest down the board.

Who Goes First?


As I mentioned earlier, a coin toss is used to determine who will shoot the first weight. A coin toss can also be used to choose the color of the weights.  The first player will slide their weight towards the opposite end of the board, which will become the scoring end. The opponent will then shoot their first weight in an attempt to outdistance or knock the first player’s weight off the table. The weights are then shot alternately until every weight has been shuffled. Once this has been completed that’s the end of the first round.

How to Win

Learning how to win at shuffleboard is simple enough but it will take plenty of practice. Each player will need to consider the fact that not every table is created equal. If you’re not using a high-quality shuffleboard table, then you may end up playing on a warped field. In this event, a player must learn how to quickly avoid sending their weights off the side. This is done by compensating for any type of curvature the player might come across. Even if a player commonly plays at home on the same table, over time that table can warp.

How is Shuffleboard Scored?

A player will alternate weights, sliding their weight across the table to get the weight as close as possible to the end of the board, without a weight falling off. If one of the weights doesn’t pass over the foul line completely, then the weight must be removed immediately from play. It’s pretty typical for a player to knock already played weights deliberately to cause an opponent’s weight to fall out of play. Once a weight has been pushed down the table, a player whose weight is the closest to the far end of the board will win that round and will score points. The other player will not score any points.

To score a point, a weight must be on the table, must have crossed over the foul line, and it must be closer to the end than the opponent’s weight.

Any weight that is overhanging the farthest edge of the table scores four points. Any other qualifying weights that land in the first, second, or third area scores one, two, or three points. Weights that are touching on a line will count as being in the lower-scoring areas. If no weights are found in scoring positions than no points will be awarded. To learn more about scoring and how the game is played, click here to read my guide on the rules of shuffleboard.

Handicap Scoring

The entire purpose of handicap scoring allows players of all skill levels to play at an even level, which is similar to handicaps in golf. The better player or team will use the smaller red numbers, while the other team or player we’ll use the black ones. As an example, an advanced player can receive three points for a certain shot, while the other player will receive four points for the same shot.

How Do You Play Triangle Shuffleboard?

Different types of tables will use different scoring systems. The triangle scoring system is commonly used for outdoor boards. Essentially, you’ll find a line that’s set 6 1/2 feet from the edge on these large 50-foot long courts. This line is referred to as the baseline. The shooting area is the space between the end of the court and the baseline. The baseline is where the scoring system begins. The triangle has five areas, including a ten off zone that’s located at the bottom of the triangle, a couple of 7-point zones, a couple of 8-point zones, and one 10-point zone.

In the middle of the court there are a couple of lines called deadlines. In order for a weight to earn a point, the weight must be shot past the deadline that’s farthest from the shooter.

Shuffleboard StrategiesPlaying the game

Some of the best strategies stem from basic moves. But before you try using any advanced strategies it’s important to learn the ins-and-outs of the game. Obviously, the point of the game is to outscore an opponent using weights.

If you’re already familiar with the basics and the rules of the game, then it’s time to learn how you can crush the competition. This game is all about angles. A player must know where to shoot the weight in order to take advantage of all the angles. As an example, a player may think that hitting a certain shot isn’t possible due to the opponent’s weight that’s being shielded by a couple of their other weights. However, if you play an angle of your shot and bank it off the sides of the board then you may end up knocking your opponent’s weight out of the way.

Because of this, it’s always important to learn new shooting techniques. Handling the same shots time and again will make your playing style way too predictable. Learning new shots, approaches, and techniques will be crucial if you want to get better at the game. Before you start practicing, you’ll want to do a little research regarding the most effective techniques based on shooting style and weight position.  A few simple shooting techniques is all you really need to start with.

It’s also important to learn where an opponent succeeds and fails. Does an opponent tend to overshoot? Going for a longer shot can have them scratch frequently. Do they usually undershoot? If undershooting is the case, then a player won’t need to worry so much about knocking them off. Instead, they’ll need to focus on controlled longshots. Since an opponent and the shuffleboard table itself can change, a player must have a dynamic strategy in place.

Using backspin is a great technique that can be used for improved control. It’s also a great choice for a player who often uses too much power on their shots. Using a forefinger and thumb, a player can apply backspin to the weight. Keep in mind, this can also slow it down so a player will need to experiment with how much power they want to apply. This move is used to prevent the puck from falling over so the player must be careful that they’re not slowing the puck down too much.

Knock Off

Another way to win is by using a technique called knock off. For this move, a player will shoot from the side of the table, using their fourth and third fingers to guide the weight.

Side wheeling is a technique that involves risky controlled shots that are designed to improve accuracy. For this style of shooting, a player will shoot from the outside edge of the table and will keep their shooting hand balanced on the side of the table. This move is also a great choice if a table is warped. Too much curvature will usually require a player to start from one side anyway.

Stick Shot

With this move, you’ll knock off your opponent’s weight by clearing it out of the way in order to stick your own shot.

Protect Your Pucks

It’s crucial to learn how to block your weights. The strategy behind this is to protect your weights better in the high-scoring areas of the board and prevent them from getting knocked off. This can be done by tossing the weight so that they’re in the way when an opponent throws their pucks, so that the highest-scoring weights are protected from falling off. When using this strategy, you must always keep a small distance between the scoring weight and the blocking weight. If they’re too close together, this can cause the blocking weight to hit the puck that it was meant to protect.

Advantage of the Last Shot

The hammer is the last shot in a round or frame. The team or person who has the hammer in any frame is on the defensive. Basically, it’s a huge advantage to shoot last and will give a player one last chance to score big.

If you want to learn more about the history of this unique game, click here!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You go Over in Shuffleboard?

There have been many debates concerning what score is needed to finish the game. In most cases, a game will end when a player reaches 15 points, however, in recreational gameplay, the winning score can be set to whatever the players want it to be.

What is the 10 Off Area in Shuffleboard?

An outdoor shuffleboard court is 52 ft long. On each end of the court you’ll find a square and triangle. Each of the triangles is divided up into zones. The 10 off area is located at the base of the triangle. The name 10 off means – 10 points, since this is the penalty zone. If a puck falls into this zone the player will receive a penalty of -10 points.

Can Two People Play Shuffleboard?

Yes. This game can be played by two to four players. With a two-player game, each player will stand at the opposite end of the table, sliding their pucks to the other end of the table. For a 4-player game, there’ll be teams of two. The teammates will stand on opposite ends of the table.

Final Thoughts

Learning about and understanding the basics of shuffleboard can help you improve as a player, while helping you brush up on the basics of the game. This beginner’s guide to shuffleboard includes basic gameplay strategies and advanced moves that can easily have you dominating any round. One of the best things about this game is the different variations you can try once you’ve mastered the basics. If you want to get better at shuffleboard, just like with any other game, you’ll need plenty of practice. Make sure that you devote at least 30 minutes a day to practicing both the basics and advanced playing strategies in order to develop a versatile playing style that allows you to change up your moves depending on the type of table you’re playing on and who your opponent is.