How To Play Shuffleboard: A Guide To Help You Take Your Game To The Next Level

Disclosure: We may receive a small commission when you shop by clicking on the links on our site. This is at absolutely no added cost to you. Learn more.

Are you curious about how to play shuffleboard? Have you seen others play and wondered how to get started learning? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got everything you need to know about the game – you’ll be game-ready in no time.

The game is 500 to 600 years old, according to the experts, and while the game has changed in some ways, it’s basically the same game – players push pucks toward a target in an attempt to get the highest score while also knocking your opponent’s pucks out of the scoring area. Don’t let such a simple description fool you, though. There are nuances to the game that are easily learned and understood by beginners but can take years for seasoned players to finesse.

We’re going to start with the basics of How to play shuffleboard for beginners, and we’ll cover everything you need to know about the game, how do you score, and more.

Review of the Top Shuffleboards

Best Shuffleboard Tables

First, The Rules

The rules of shuffleboard are pretty simple [1], but there are nuances of which to be aware. First, before game play begins, all pucks must be placed in the trough, visible to all players. When it’s your turn to shuffle, you should have a puck only in the hand with which you’ll shoot. Never hold a puck in your non-shooting hand.

Foot placement is important. Even though you can lean forward and even rest your weight on the cradle of the table, one foot must always be planted firmly on the ground behind the shuffleboard table throughout your turn.

You can lean against the table for support with your non-shooting hand, but shaking or moving the table in any way will get you into trouble – you’ll get a 1-point penalty and will have to shoot first in the next round, which can be a disadvantage (we’ll explain why soon – keep reading.

As we said above, you can lean on the cradle for support when it’s your turn to shuffle, but you should never touch the table surface. If it is your turn and you see a dry spot on the table’s surface, you can add powder to it, but only on their turn.

Trying to distract your opponent or obstruct their line of view is frowned upon. When you’re done shooting your puck, you’re to move behind your opponent during their turn. Also, do not touch the table while your opponent is shuffling, and do not remove a puck from the trough during their turn. Hands off until it’s your turn.

Now, before you begin your game, you and your opponent need to decide to what score you’ll play before a winner is named. Usually games end at 15 or 21, but in recreational play, players can choose whatever score they want.

Players can choose whatever method they’d like to decide who plays first. Tossing a coin is the most common way to make this decision. The winner of the toss can pick whether they want to play first or second, and they get to pick the color puck they want to play. Whoever ends a round with the highest score plays first on the next round.

shuffleboard game
curve shot shuffleboard

But how do you actually score?

The game sounds easy so far, right? Now we come to the fun part – how do you score. Points are tallied at the end of each round of play. Any pucks that did not make it past the foul line, it is to be removed and does not count. The only pucks eligible for points are which are farther than the opponent’s highest-scoring puck. (Now you see why having to shoot first in a round in a disadvantage.) This means only one player can score points per round. If there is a tie in a round, neither player gets points.

Tables using the 1-2-3 scoring system are easy to tally scores on – each puck is worth the number of points in the scoring zone in which it landed, but it has to have completely cleared the line and enter entirely into the scoring zone for it to count. And those tricky pucks that land hanging over the edge of the table? They each earn 4 points. If the players agree, these “hangers” can be pushed back onto the table a little to make it safe.

Players will continue playing rounds then scoring their pucks until one player reaches the agreed-upon final score. However, you cannot go over in shuffleboard, meaning the player to win must score exactly the number of winning points.

Is there more than one kind of shuffleboard?

There are a couple of different forms of shuffleboard, and each brings its own advantages and scoring system. Outdoor shuffleboard is played on a 52-foot table with a scoring triangle on each end. The triangles are sectioned into scoring zones, with 10 at the tip, decreasing through seven, then with a “10 off” area at the widest part of the triangle. Any player who is unlucky enough to land a puck in the 10 off area loses 10 points when scores are finally tallied. If a player’s puck touches the line of the 10 off area, they lose 5 points.

Shuffleboards also come in smaller sizes. how long is a shuffleboard? Small ones are between 9 and 12 feet in length, mid-size ones can be 14-16 feet long, and tournament sized tables are 18-22 feet long. When setting up your shuffleboard, be sure to leave enough space around the board for game play – you don’t want your opponent getting in your way while you play.

Now how do I become an expert?

Once you know and understand the rules of shuffleboard, how to score, and what not to do during a game, all you have left to do is practice. The more you play the game, the easier it will be for you to develop your skill and work the game in your favor.

And did you know that playing shuffleboard can improve your health, too? [2] People who own shuffleboards spend more time with their families, forming bonds and relaxing together. Not only does this lower stress levels, you’ll also find your relationships becoming richer and closer.

Now, take these rules, your pucks, and grab a friend. Go have fun as you learn the game together. Remember, the more you play, the better you’ll get. You’ll be a shuffleboard master in no time!