The Ladder ball game can be played well in the park, in your own garden or on the beach.

27. August 2017 - Alexander Schmidt

Ladder Ball Game – Throw the Bolas Like a Real Gaucho | Game Rules


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Cult in America for a long time, known in Germany through Schlag den Raab: The ladder ball game is great fun for adults and children alike and a super outdoor throwing game!

Ladder golf, or in the original Ladder Ball, is a throwing game that looks a bit like a curious mixture of a ring toss game, boccia and lasso throwing with golf balls. In any case, it is great fun and has been one of the most popular outdoor games in the USA since the turn of the millennium.

The Ladder ball game is a great alternative for anyone who loves throwing games like Kubb, Mölkky, boules or bocce and wants to play something new in the park, in the garden, at the campsite or even at the beach.

In ladder ball, you throw bolas (Spanish: balls), actually the traditional throwing weapon of the Argentine gauchos for catching animals. The bolas in ladder ball are slightly modified: 2 golf balls are connected with a rope. The player whose turn it is lets these bolas circle and then throws them onto a small three-step ladder.

Depending on whether you hit the ball and on which rung of the ladder the bolas land, you get points (see rules below). Especially nasty: if you manage to knock your fellow players’ bolas off the ladder again, they lose their hard-won points! So the ladder ball is definitely also a game for mischievous people… 😀

A Brief History of the Ladder Ball Game

The ladder ball game is a super portable throwing game that's great to take camping or on holiday.

Ladder ball game At Night by Zasdoka at CC BY 2.0

As is so often the case with cult games, the origins of ladder ball are lost in the darkness of history. Some particularly mythically inclined ladder ball enthusiasts claim that cowboys threw live snakes at fences and tree branches as a game in the glory days of the Wild West. Or was it the Mexican caballeros after all? The Argentine gauchos?

Fact is: At the latest in the 1990s, groups of people were observed doing a strange activity on American campsites. One after the other, they threw two golf balls connected with a string onto a small stepladder with just three steps, hooting with joy or disappointment.

A certain Robert G. Reid recognised the market potential and patented Ladder Golf. Since then, the game has been distributed internationally by Ladder Golf LLC. Passionate do-it-yourselfers and DIY lovers, however, will not have too much trouble making a ladder ball game themselves.

In Germany, ladder golf is still an insider tip, but it became known to a larger audience through Schlag den Raab, the first game in which Stefan Raab was beaten by a woman!

Equipment for the Ladder Ball Game

All you need for a ladder ball game match is a three-bar ladder with a sturdy base that can be placed vertically on the ground and 3 bolas of the same colour per player.

Complete ladder golf sets in different finishes (wood, plastic) can be bought quite cheaply, e.g. via one of the following affiliate links on amazon. By buying through them, you are also supporting Abenteuer Freundschaft without it costing you even 1 cent more.

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Otherwise there is also the possibility to make your own ladder golf set. 🙂

Ladder Ball Game Rules

Ladder ball game is good for both adults and children as an outdoor throwing game.

Caleb and Ladder ball game by David Fulmer at CC BY 2.0

1. Throwing Order

As in other throwing games, throwing is done in turn. According to the classic rules, the oldest player starts in the first round, then follows, the second oldest, etc. From the second round, the order then follows the current score, with the leading player throwing first.

2. Turn

The player whose turn it is throws his or her three bolas at the ladder one after the other from a distance of about 5 metres. The aim is for them to wrap around the ladder rungs and get stuck.
But the nasty thing is: if one of the following players throws the previous player’s bolas off the ladder or wraps them around, the player loses the corresponding points!

3. Scoring

After each round, each player’s points are awarded according to the following rules.

  • Only bolas that are still hanging on the ladder at the end of the round will be scored.
  • Also, bolas wrapped by an opponent’s bola do not count!
  • A bola …on the top rung gives 3 points
  • …on the middle rung gives 2 points
  • …and on the bottom rung 1 point
  • If all 3 bolas of a player are hanging on the ladder, he gets an extra point!

So per round, a player can score a maximum of 10 points (hit top rung three times + 1 extra point).
The points scored in each round are added to the previous ones. It is best to record them on a board or a piece of paper.

4. Objective

The winner in ladder ball is the first player to reach exactly 21 points at the end of a round. However, if a player exceeds this target score of 21, he or she receives 0 points for the current round.

A player who, for example, already has 18 points and now throws 4 points must therefore start again at 18 points in the next round.

If several players have reached exactly 21 points after a round, these players continue to play against each other for the victory until one of them has at least a 2-point lead at the end of a round and thus becomes the final winner.

5. Rule Variations

The rules of ladder ball game can be modified individually according to the wishes of the players. The only thing is that they should be able to agree on it… ?

  • For example, the number of target points can be set differently. For a shorter ladder ball game, 15 is a popular variation.
  • For beginners or children, it can be agreed that wrapped bolas also count as points.
  • To make ladder ball harder, you can limit the extra point to when all three of a player’s bolas are hanging on the same rung or else spread over all three rungs.

Have you ever played the ladder ball game? There are lots of indoor activities and excursion tips and lots of activities with friends, as a couple and with the family on Abenteuer Freundschaft.

If you like our page, we’d love your Like on Facebook and Instagram. 😉

Image source Cover photo: ladder ball by Nick Chapman at CC BY 2.0.

*If you order products through one of these affiliate links, we receive a small sales commission. Nothing changes in price.


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