Menu Close

Official Tetherball Rules

Tetherball Rules

Tetherball is a simple and enjoyable game that is popular in the United States and some parts of Europe. The basic principle of the game is to strike a ball on a rope and get it to wrap around a pole. If you want to learn how to play this fun game, you should first learn the basic tetherball rules.

Although most people play tetherball in an informal way following their own house rules, the game has its own official rules that are easy to understand and implement. This article will cover the tetherball rules and everything else you need to know before playing this exciting game.

How To Play Tetherball - Tetherball Rules

In this section, we’ll go over the basic rules of tetherball and explain how to set up equipment for the game.

1. Equipment

Tetherball is one of the easiest games to set up as it requires only three pieces of equipment: the pole, rope and ball.


The tetherball pole is one of the most important pieces of equipment for a tetherball game. You’ll need to stick the pole into the ground or use a weighted base to hold it in place.

Tip: You can create a permanent tetherball pole by cementing the pole into the ground.

Pole Height

Pole Height

The pole should be around 10 feet (3 m) long with a diameter of 2 to 4 inches (5 – 10 cm). When constructing a tetherball court for children, reduce the length of the tetherball pole to 8 feet (2.4 m) so that it is not too high for them.

Click here to read more about the tetherball pole height.


You also need a rope that you can use to attach the ball to the pole. Attach one end of the rope to the ball and the other end to the pole.

Check out the best tetherball equipment here.

Rope Length

For a 10-foot (3-meter) pole, you need a rope that is around 7 feet (2.1 m) long. The rope length may vary depending on the length of the pole. The goal is to ensure that the ball hangs about 3 feet (91 cm) above the ground when tethered to the pole.

Tip: If your tetherball rope is too long, you can tie a knot to adjust the length instead of cutting it.


Finally, you need a ball. Tetherballs typically look like volleyballs and are available in various colors. In most cases, a ball will come with the tetherball set you buy.

Tip: If you don’t have a tetherball, you can use any other ball as long as you can hit it with your hands.

2. Court Setup & Dimensions

Court Setup & Dimensions

A traditional tetherball court is 20 feet (6 m) in diameter. You can slightly adjust the dimensions to suit the available space. There are two ways to set up a tetherball court, which we’ll discuss below.

Four Zones

You can create a permanent tetherball court with four zones, in which each player will have one zone while the other two zones will be the foul areas. Draw an X at the center of the court, dividing it into four areas. The two bigger zones will be the playing zones, while the other two zones will be neutral or foul zones.

Two Zones

To make the game easier, you can split your tetherball court into only two zones rather than four. In this case, there are no foul zones and the players start on opposite sides of the court. When playing on a tetherball court with only playing zones, you can move into different areas on your side of the court but cannot cross to your opponent’s side of the court.

Visit our blog post to learn how to play tetherball.

3. Game Rules

Game Rules

The tetherball rules are pretty straightforward. We’ll review the standard and house rules that you can use when playing the game.

Standard Rules

Standard tetherball rules are the generally accepted rules that tetherball players play by.

  • You cannot hit the ball more than once unless it has wrapped around the pole and returned to you.
  • You cannot hit the ball with both hands at the same time.
  • Players cannot touch the pole or rope.
  • It’s a foul if the ball hits any part of your body other than your hand.
  • You cannot catch the ball or hold it.
  • Players cannot step on the neutral zone lines.
  • You cannot enter the foul zones during gameplay.

Note: If you break any of these rules, you will lose that round.

House Rules

House Rules

You can modify the standard game rules by introducing some house rules to make the game easier or more entertaining.

  • You can hit the ball twice when it is on your side of the court.
  • You don’t lose the game if you cross to your opponent’s side of the court. Instead, the opponent then gets to serve the ball.
  • You may hit the ball with any part of your body.

4. Serving


The tetherball game starts with a serve. It is up to you and your opponent to decide who serves first. Some players select the server by holding the ball over a foul line and letting it go. After the ball hits the pole, whoever’s side it bounces to will be the first server. Others prefer to flip a coin.

Note: Whoever wins the previous game gets to serve at the start of the new game.

5. Scoring

When playing tetherball, you score points by getting the rope to wrap around the pole completely. You also score points whenever your opponent commits a foul during the game. Most tetherball games have seven rounds, each worth one point. The first player to win four rounds or score four points wins the game. However, players can choose to play to 11 or more than that.

6. Fouls And Penalties

Touching the ball, pole or crossing into the foul zones are considered fouls in tetherball. When players commit a foul, they lose that round unless the house rules state otherwise.

7. Strategies

Tetherball is a pretty straightforward game, but you can utilize some strategies and techniques to overcome your opponents. For example, you can vary the speed and angle of your hits so it is difficult for the opponent to hit the tetherball back. You can also aim to hit high so the ball bounces over your opponent’s head.

Tetherball History

Tetherball History

Well-off citizens of England invented tetherball in the 1800s. At that point, they called it “tether tennis” and played the game with a racket and a tennis ball attached to a pole. Some people preferred tether tennis over regular tennis because they didn’t have to run around the court chasing the ball.

As time passed, more people began playing tetherball without tennis rackets and they replaced the tennis ball with a larger, volleyball-sized ball. Tetherball grew in popularity because it was inexpensive and simple to set up.

Can You Catch The Ball In Tetherball?

Can You Catch The Ball In Tetherball

No, you can’t catch the ball in tetherball. Catching the ball or holding it is considered a foul. In most cases, the penalty for this foul is the loss of a point.

Note: You can modify the rules to allow players to catch and hold the ball for two seconds. This rule is great for beginners or kids learning the game.

Can You Touch The Rope In Tetherball?

No, you cannot touch the rope in tetherball. Touching the rope in tetherball is considered a foul and you must stop play if it happens. The player that touches the rope will lose the point for that round unless your rules dictate otherwise. In some cases, players choose to restart the game rather than have the offender lose the round.

Can You Use Two Hands In Tetherball?

No, you cannot use two hands in tetherball. You can only use one hand to touch the ball at a time. However, the rules allow players to switch hands at any point in the game. For example, you can use your left hand rather than your right one if it is better positioned to hit the ball.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, you can’t hit the ball twice in tetherball. After hitting the ball, you must wait for your opponent to hit it back to your side of the court before hitting it again. If you hit the tetherball and it wraps around the pole and returns to your side of the court, you get to hit it again.

If you touch the string in tetherball, you have committed a foul. Tetherball rules do not allow players to touch the string or the pole. If you do so, you automatically lose the point for that game round. Instead of losing a point, some players choose to restart the round with the other player serving.

The point of tetherball is to wrap the rope and the tethered ball completely around the pole. During the game, players will hit the ball back and forth, hoping to get it past their opponent. Any player that knocks the ball past the opponent several times and gets it to wrap around the pole wins a round.

A tetherball should be 3 feet (91 cm) above the ground. To achieve this, you must ensure that the rope is shorter than the pole by precisely 3 feet (91 cm). If you have a 10-foot (3-meter) pole, your rope must be 7 feet (2.1 meters) long. When measuring the length of the pole, don’t take the part that is buried in the ground into account.


As you can see, all tetherball rules are clear and easy to follow. If this is your first time playing the game, you may have some trouble remembering all the rules. However, if you enjoy playing tetherball and play it frequently, the rules will become clearer. Feel free to use any house rules that will make the game more exciting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *