How To Play Tetherball

Tetherball is a popular game played on many playgrounds all across America. Though the ball-and-pole combination is instantly recognizable, the actual game itself is far less well known. Tetherball can be a fun game for children from ages 3 to 73.  Because of its low cost and the simplicity of the game's rules, tetherball is enjoyed by people of all backgrounds.

Dating back to the 1950's, tetherball has recently seen a reemergence of popularity. Tetherball is a two player game. It is played on a special court consisting of, as noted, a ball connected to a pole by a rope or strong string. This ball hangs loosely, with the string or rope attached to the pole at the top. The first player begins the game by hitting the ball clockwise. The second player hits the tetherball back in the opposing direction (counterclockwise). The ball must be hit; it is considered illegal for a player to grab and throw the ball. The first round ends when one player hits the ball so that it becomes completely wrapped around the pole. Tetherball is won after one player does this a predetermined amount of times. While tetherball sounds simple enough, there are no set rules and regional differences abound.

The game of tetherball requires few skills, and is seen by many as a test of strength. Those who can hit the tetherball the hardest will often leave their opponents swinging at and missing the ball. Obviously hand and eye coordination play an important role in this game. Despite the fact there is little strategy involved in tetherball, the game provides hours of entertainment for the young and old.

Originally tetherballs were simply appropriated volleyballs, though today tetherballs are specially made. The resemblance to volleyballs remains. Generally the pole is ten feet high although, as noted, there are no set rules and pole heights can vary widely. Tetherball can be played on a variety of surfaces including sand, gravel, grass, and asphalt. There are no professional tetherball associations; the game has not yet escaped the schoolyard, at least in terms of popularity.


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