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How To Play Tetherball

How To Play Tetherball

Tetherball is a fun game to play if you want to get entertained. You can enjoy this exciting game with a friend and the best part is that it’s quite cheap and easy to set up. Although tetherball is easy to learn, not everyone excels at the game. Continue reading to learn how to play tetherball like a pro.

Most beginners believe tetherball is about hitting the ball back and forth, but it entails more. Like any other game, tetherball has rules, which players must adhere to when playing. There are also some strategies that can help you excel at the game. This article will cover everything from tetherball game play and setup to winning strategies.

How To Play Tetherball - Rules

Follow along as we go over the tetherball rules, setup and strategies.

What Is Tetherball?

Tetherball, also known as tether tennis, is a competitive yard game that involves two players. You’ll need a volleyball-sized ball attached to a stationary pole by a rope to play this game. Players then stand on opposite sides of the pole, hitting the ball back and forth.

Click here to read more about tetherball.


Tetherball Equipment

For every game of tetherball, you need two players and a tetherball game set. The game set is comprised of three pieces of equipment, including:

  • A pole
  • A rope
  • A ball

Tip: The tetherball pole may be portable or permanent. Permanent tetherball poles are more durable, but portable poles are easier to install.

Tetherball Objective

The objective of a tetherball game is to get the tethered ball and the rope to wrap around the pole fully. During the game, the two players stand on opposite sides of the pole. As one player hits the ball clockwise, the other player hits the ball counterclockwise. You aim to knock the ball past your opponent several times so that it completely wraps around the tetherball pole.

Read our reviews to find the best tetherball sets.

How To Start A Game

How To Start A Game

Every tetherball game begins with a serve. One player will have to serve the ball to the other player. How you decide who serves is up to you and your opponent. Sometimes, the players flip a coin or play rock, paper, scissors to decide.

Other players like to hold the ball over the foul line and let it go. After the ball hits the pole, whoever’s side it bounces to will be the first server. Usually, whoever wins the previous game will be the server for the next round and it goes on in this manner.

Note: Before serving, you must wrap the rope around the pole.

Standard Tetherball Rules

Like all games, tetherball has a few rules that players must follow when playing. Let’s go over them.

  • You can only hit the ball with your hand or forearm.
  • Players cannot catch the pole or rope.
  • Players must stay within their playing zones.
  • You can’t hit the ball two times consecutively.
  • Players cannot hit the ball outside their play area.
If you break any of the above rules, you lose a point for that round.

Double Foul

Sometimes, both players commit a foul at the same time. In such cases, you can’t award the point for that round to either player. Instead, the round should restart with the original server serving the ball again.

House Rules

Tetherball House Rules

In addition to the competitive game rules for tetherball, you can incorporate some house rules to make the game more interesting. Here are some house rules to consider.

  • You can double hit the ball on your side of the tetherball court.
  • You don’t lose the round when you cross to your opponent’s court side. Instead, play restarts with your opponent serving.
  • You may hit the ball with any part of your body.
  • Players can hold the ball for 2 seconds. This is a great rule for children learning to play.
  • Players must win the game by 2 points.

You can choose any of the rules listed here or make your own.

Check out our blog post for a complete list of tetherball rules.

Tetherball Scoring System

Tetherball Scoring System

Most tetherball games consist of seven matches, each worth a point. The first person to win four matches wins the game. You can score a point by wrapping the tetherball rope around the pole. You also score a point any time your opponent commits a foul.

Some house rules may require that a player leads by two points to win the game. This means that the next match doesn’t decide a winner when both players are tied on three points. Instead, you have to score two consecutive points to win the game. This rule makes for a more exciting game.

Note: You can play your tetherball game to 9 or 21 points.

Fouls And Penalties

Play must stop any time a player breaks one of the tetherball rules. Breaking these rules or committing other fouls in the game results in a penalty. The penalty is usually a loss of a point or disqualification.

Tetherball Strategy

Tetherball Strategy

Take advantage of the strategies below to defeat your opponents when playing tetherball.


Once you get the ball and rope fully wrapped around the pole, you win a point. Whatever strategy helps you earn a win without breaking the rules is welcome.

Hand Placement

Hitting with an open palm or closed fist will give you different results. An open-palm hit gives you more control over where the ball goes, whereas a closed-fist hit gives you more power.

Note: Sometimes the ball bounces off course when you hit it with a closed fist. To avoid this, don’t hit the ball with your knuckles.

Angle Change Up

Always try to change the angle at which you strike the ball. Take note of your opponent’s position on the court and plan your attack. Striking the ball with force at a downward angle could propel it over your opponent’s head.

Court Setup

Court Setup
Now that we’ve covered everything you need to know about playing tetherball, let’s talk about how to set up a tetherball court.

Tetherball Court Dimensions

A permanent tetherball court has a diameter of 20 feet (6 m) split into four sections. When setting up a court for kids, you can reduce the diameter to 16 feet (4.8 m). To divide the court into four sections, draw a big “X” in the middle. Two sections will be foul areas or out-of-bound zones, while the other two will be the playing zones.

Tip: You can split the court into two sections only, without foul areas. This gives the players more space to move around.

Tetherball Pole Height

Tetherball Pole Height

A traditional tetherball pole should be about 10 feet (3 m) high, measured from the ground to the top. The pole height on a children’s court is 8 feet (2.4 m).

Check out our blog post for more details about the height of tetherball pole.

Tetherball Rope Length

The length of a tetherball rope is usually 7 feet (2.1 m). However, the length of the rope can vary depending on the size of the pole. You should aim for the ball to sit 3 feet (91 cm) above the ground while hanging from the tetherball rope.

Tip: You can make the rope 6 feet (1.8 m) long for children.

How To Install A Tetherball Pole

After you’ve set up the court, install the pole. The process is the same whether you’re installing a permanent tetherball pole or a portable one.

  • Inflate the ball with an air pump.
  • Attach the ball to one end of the rope.
  • Hook the other end of the tetherball rope to the top of the pole. The pole will have an eyelet where you can attach the rope.

If you’re using a permanent pole, it will be 12 feet (3.6 m) long. That’s because you have to bury the extra 2 feet (60 cm) in the ground.

History Of Tetherball

History Of Tetherball

Tetherball was invented in the 1800s by wealthy English citizens. Some people preferred tetherball over tennis because they didn’t have to chase the ball all over the court. They used to play the game with a racket and a tennis ball attached to a pole.

Around the turn of the century, most people began playing tetherball without tennis rackets and replaced the tennis ball with a volleyball-sized ball. The game became popular among the general public as players began hitting the ball with their hands. Today, you’ll find tetherball courts in school playgrounds, parks and other recreation areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

The rules of tetherball state that players must stay within their playing zones throughout the game play and you can only hit the ball with your hand or forearm. The rules also prohibit the player from touching the rope or pole. If you violate any of these rules, you lose a round.

You play tetherball for kids like an adult tetherball game. However, you may need to reduce the size of the court and use the game equipment for kids to make the game easier. Reduce the court diameter to 6 feet (1.8 m) rather than playing on the standard court diameter of 20 feet (6 m). The tetherball pole height should be 8 feet (2.4 m) from the ground to the top.

You win at tetherball by getting the tethered rope and ball to wrap entirely around the pole. You have to knock the ball past your opponent several times to achieve this goal. You can also win at tetherball if your opponent commits a foul or breaks any of the game’s rules.

No, you’re not allowed to catch the ball in tetherball. Catching the ball in tetherball is a foul that results in a point loss. However, there’s a certain house rule in tetherball that you can follow that allows players to catch and hold the ball for about 2 seconds. This rule is great for children learning the game.

The objective of tetherball is to get the tethered rope and the ball to wrap around the pole in your direction fully. During the game, one player hits the ball clockwise while the other hits it counterclockwise. The first player to get the rope to wrap around the pole tightly wins the game.


As easy as the tetherball rules might seem, it can be difficult for beginners to learn the game. We hope our guide has taught you how to play tetherball and everything else you need to know about the game. No matter how difficult the game initially appears, if you enjoy playing tetherball, you’ll quickly master it.

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