Official Tetherball Rules

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Tetherball is a game that consists of a volleyball attached to a rope, which is tied to a center pole. The playing circle is typically a 20-foot circle, with each player assigned to one-half of the circle. It can also be played with a smaller ball attached to a rope and struck with paddles. However, while many get the basic concept, most don’t know the basic tetherball rules.

Where is tetherball played?

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Tetherball is played on a tetherball court. A tetherball court consists of a tetherball pole and a tetherball. Its play area is a 20 foot circle, which is divided into two half circles known as playing zones. Sometimes neutral zones are painted, depending on the gameplay. Due to its easy setup, a tetherball set can be found in most school playgrounds and is a popular outdoor game.

What is Scoring in tetherball?

The object of the game is to win the most games. To win a game of tetherball, you must be the first person to wrap the ball all the way around the pole to the point that there is no more rope to wrap. Once this first game is over, the winning player is ahead one game to zero games. Tetherball players decide how many games a player needs to win to win the match. All tetherball matches must be won by two games or more so that the order of serves doesn't determine who wins due to the receiver's advantage. A common format is that the first player to win seven games by a margin of two wins the match.

What is Serving in tetherball?

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Players take turns serving each game. The serving player serves by throwing up the ball and hitting it in the direction of the receiver. The ball can be served in the same direction or the opposite direction. Once the ball is served, the server can't hit it again until either the opposing player touches the ball, or it has wrapped around the pole at least four times. Once either of these conditions is met, both players can hit the ball at any time that it's on their side.


Players are not allowed to touch the pole or the rope at any point during a tetherball game. Crossing over the line that separates the opposite sides of a player's territory is considered offsides. Throwing the ball is not allowed, and all strikes must bounce off the hands or forearms . The ball should never pause, or be "carried," in the closed or open hand. Touching the ball with anything other part of the body besides the hands or forearms is illegal. Players are allowed to hit the ball only once per wrap around the pole unless the ball touches the pole itself, or the opponent. Hitting the ball twice is a double hit and is a penalty.

What is a penalty in tetherball?

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If any of these fouls is committed accidentally, the ball is wrapped around the pole at the exact position of the foul, and the non offending player who did not commit the foul serves the ball back into play. An intentional foul results in forfeiture of that game. Should both players commit a foul at the same time, each puts a hand on the ball and holds it 3 feet out from the pole on the line that marks the territories. The ball is dropped, and after it contacts the pole, either player can play it.