How to Play Ladder Ball

Ladder Ball—also commonly known as Ladder Toss or Ladder Golf—likely originated at American campgrounds in the early 1990s. While crafty campers have been making their own Ladder Ball game sets for several years, the game was patented in 1999 and has been a classic backyard game ever since.

All you need to play are two ladders and a set of three bolas—two balls connected by a string—per team. Read on to learn how to play ladder ball, a simple but exciting game of skill and coordination.

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The rules of Ladder Ball

Ladder Ball is a simple game that requires players or teams to throw bolas and land them on the rungs of your opponents’ ladder. Set up the ladders at least 15 feet away and start tossing the bolas. You’ll toss your three bolas, then your opponent will toss theirs. The first player or team to earn a score of exactly 21, no more and no less, wins the game.

How many players?

Ladder Ball can be played in either a head-to-head match with two players or with two teams of two players. When playing in teams, four ladders are used, but two players of opposing teams will be on each side. Your opponent would toss bolas and the other side would toss them back.

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Ladder Ball scoring

The scoring of Ladder Ball makes the game a bit more complicated. Landing your bolas on the top rung earns you 1 point, 2 points for the middle rung and 3 points for the bottom. Points are tallied at the end of each round, which means you have the opportunity to knock your opponent’s bolas off the ladder if you’re tossing second. Any bolas knocked off the ladder don’t contribute to the overall point total, so it’s best to not toss first.

Whoever reaches a cumulative total of 21 points wins! The score for the last round is erased when players go over 21 points, so you have to be precise with your throws if you’re getting close to the magic number.

Since this game is about precision, messing with your opponents during their throws is encouraged. Get creative and distract your opponent as they throw—but be sure not to touch the player or their bolas. Now that you’ve learned how to play Ladder Toss, head to the backyard with your family and friends and see who can hit the magic number, 21, the fastest!

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