Ladder Ball Rules
When it comes to backyard games, ladder ball is a classic. It’s a simple, fun, and inclusive way to enjoy the outdoors. Whether with the family or with some buddies drinking a few cold ones ladder ball is a simple game all around, requiring only a few pieces of equipment: the ladders themselves, and three balls per side (or golf ball bolas) for throwing.
One of the many reasons ladder ball is a great game is it’s quite easy to transport. Often you can wrap a set up in a small bag and throw it over your shoulder. If you’re traveling ladder ball will slide into a vehicle with ease as well. It’s a great game to take over to the in-laws, camping, children’s parties; any outdoor function is an opportunity to play. Ladder ball doesn’t require a ton of skill so the primary goal should be having fun.
The Objective of Ladderball
The objective of the game is to wrap the balls (which are attached by a rope with a ball at each end) around a rung of the ladder, each rung carrying a different point value (typically three at the top, two in the middle, and one on the bottom).
- To begin each game, the ladders are set roughly 15 feet apart (or five paces) and the team that begins the game is decided by coin toss, or our personal favorite, rock-paper-scissors (best of three, always)
- Once the order of throwing is decided, teams accrue points by wrapping the balls around a rung of the ladder of the opposition, playing to a predetermined score (often to 21. Some rules suggest an exact score is required to grab the victory, but use whatever rules you see fit. It's supposed to be fun, after all)
- One side throws all three of their balls and then the other throws all three of theirs, with the winner of each round earning the right to throw first in the subsequent round
- Balls can, however, be knocked off of rungs and only the balls remaining on the ladder once all have been thrown count towards the final score
- Once 21 is reached by one team the other team will have a chance to match scores by getting one final opportunity. If the losing team fails to match their opposition's total, the scores are reset to zero and a new game begins
- A best of 3, 5, or 7 series is the best way to keep the competitive juices flowing. After a team has reached the final win total, feel free to change teams up to keep things interesting and fair
Ladder ball doesn’t require any style points either; a bounce off the ground or a ball thrown way up in the air can be just as effective as a classic “spinner.”
When playing with adults, in certain circles at last, it’s best to have a drink in your hand at all times. Ladder ball requires a steady hand and a consistent throwing motion to score points, and a few adult beverages can keep the game light and interesting throughout the day (there are sets where the balls aren’t actually golf balls, but something softer for when someone throws a wild pitch).
The goal when playing backyard games is to get outdoors and enjoy the sun. In many places, summer can be short so be sure to maximize your time and soak up that vitamin D.
Ladder ball is a great reason to get outdoors with your family or friends, have some fun, and mix in a little friendly competition. It’s an accessible game as it requires only a small financial outlay initially and doesn’t necessitate anyone too skillful to be successful. Next time you’re thinking of getting outdoors for a few hours, keep ladder ball on your brain and our handy walkthrough of the rules. Always keep in mind our handy rules guide and don’t take the game too seriously. Have a few cold ones (or pops, whichever suits your age bracket best) and be sure to keep your head up as those balls can come flying in from all angles.