How to Play Ladder Ball in the Yard (Rules and Scoring)

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Last updated: March 4, 2024

Learn how to play ladder ball with this guide for beginners, explaining the rules, scoring system, and setup of this fun outdoor game.

If you’ve seen people playing ladder ball (aka Lasso) in the park or at a barbecue, you might be wondering what that game is all about. Or maybe you sort of have an idea but are a bit fuzzy on the specifics.

Either way, this ladder ball guide will walk you through the rules, scoring, and setup of this game, and teach you how to play. Even if you’ve played this fun game before, you might still learn something new.

Continue reading, and learn how to play ladder ball in the yard!

What Is Ladder Ball?

As you might already know, I am a massive fan of backyard games, and ladder ball is definitely on my list of favorite games to play with friends and family.

But what exactly is ladder ball?

Also referred to as lasso golf, ladder golf, and ladder toss, the game of ladder ball basically involves throwing two balls tied together with a rope (bola) onto a ladder.

The concept is similar to throwing a pair of tied-up shoes in the air onto telephone wires and power lines. You get the idea. Points are scored if the bolas stay on the rungs (or steps) of the ladder.

That’s ladder ball in a nutshell. Now, let’s dive a little deeper into the specifics of this great backyard game.

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Ladder Ball Rules for Dummies

Ladder ball is the perfect lawn and backyard game because it is easy to set up and start playing.

To explain the game of ladder ball, I am going to walk you through the following topics:

  • Setup and equipment
  • Game objective
  • Ladder ball rules
  • Scoring
  • Game etiquette

Let’s first take a look at what sort of equipment you will need for the game.

Setup and Equipment

You only need two things to play a game of ladder ball:

  1. Ladders
  2. Bolas

If you want to get started quickly, it might be best to purchase a beginner’s set online. Take a look at my guide to the best ladder ball sets with a list of good-quality, affordable products.

If you’d like to make a set yourself, let’s go through the components that make up a ladder ball set.

1. The Ladders

Ladder ball ladders are typically 36″ to 39″ high and about 2 ft wide. They contain three rungs that are about 12″ to 13″ apart.

Buying a set is the easiest option (and not expensive), but If you don’t want to buy one, you can make one out of PVC pipes, wood, or metal. A homemade set might be a fun family project, too.

Metal ladder ball game
Metal ladder ball game

Check out this YouTube video explaining how to build your own ladder ball sets with PVC pipes and golf balls.

Traditionally, ladder ball uses two ladders, but you can also start playing with just one ladder if you’re short on time or materials.

2. The Bolas

Bolas are two balls connected by a rope, typically a nylon rope. Each player or team in ladder ball will have three bolas, usually in different colors, to make it easy to tell which ones belong to which person.

The bolas are super easy to make, using nylon rope and the ball type of your choice. Basically, any evenly-weighted ball will do, but popular options include:

  • Golf balls
  • Tennis balls
  • Rubber or plastic balls

You can even make a monkey’s fist knot at each end of the rope instead of adding proper balls. As long as you get a decent amount of weight on each end, it will work.

Now that you know what equipment you need to start playing, let’s get into the game’s objectives and rules.

Game Objective

The objective of ladder ball is really simple.

You’re going to try to throw the bola at the ladder in such a way that it wraps around a rung and stays there until the end of the round.

Each bola still hanging from a rung at the end of a round wins points for the person or team that threw that bola.

You can play the game as a one-against-one game or as two groups of up to four players. The first person or team with 21 points wins.

The game’s simplicity is one of its charms, making it ideal for family backyard game days or events where people of different ages play together. It’s simple enough to understand but challenging enough to keep things interesting.

It’s also worth noting that ladder ball’s simplicity makes it easy to adjust to suit different players’ needs, so it’s something everyone can enjoy together.

Ladder Ball Rules

The rules of Ladder ball are easy to follow, which is great because that means it’s easy to teach to new players.

  1. Set up two ladders 15 ft apart from each other. If you only have one ladder, use it with a throw line about 15 feet away.
  2. One at a time, players stand alongside one ladder (or behind the throw line) and throw their bolas at the far ladder. Once the first player throws all three, it’s the other player’s turn.
  3. After each bola is thrown, the round is over, and it’s time to add up the points. You’ll play as many rounds as needed until a player scores exactly 21 points.
PVC ladder ball set with colorful bolas
PVC ladder ball set with colorful bolas

Some important things to note:

  • Only bolas still hanging at the end of the round are counted. Players can, and often do, knock each other’s bolas off the rungs. This is allowed and part of the fun.
  • Players must not cross in front of the throw line or ladder while throwing.
  • If a player scores over 21, the points they score in the last round don’t count.
  • Example: a player goes into a round with 20 points. Say they score two points, bringing their total to 22. The two points they scored in that round don’t count, and their total is still 20. They must play another round in the hopes of scoring exactly one point to reach the goal of 21 points.

  • In the case of a tie, players continue playing until one player scores exactly two points at the end of a round.

Because ladder ball is such a casual game, many people have slight variations on the original rules. Feel free to adjust the rules as desired.


Players can change the scoring process as they see fit. But in the original game, the scoring is as follows:

  • Top rung: 3 points
  • Middle rung: 2 points
  • Bottom rung: 1 point

Cancellation scoring rules apply. This means that bolas of different colors on the same rung cancel each other out, so no points are awarded.

To make things even more exciting, ladder ball also offers players bonus points, if they:

  • Wrap all bolas around one rung in a round.
  • Wrap one bola on each rung in a round.

Keep in mind that, like regular points, bonus points are only awarded at the end of a round, so the bolas must remain hanging to count.

Game Etiquette

Ladder ball is meant for fun backyard and tailgate gatherings where it’s okay to get a little loud, albeit within reasonable limits.

As such, the game allows, or even encourages, distracting players with fun banter and movements, as long as there is no touching other players or bolas involved. Common sense prevails!

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to play ladder ball, you’ll be ready the next time someone brings it out at a family gathering. Or better yet, buy or make your own set so you can introduce it to others.

It’s a game that is easy enough to learn, and it’s the perfect way to enjoy some quality time outside in the backyard with friends and family.

Here are some more fun games to consider:


How to play ladder ball (rules and scoring)

Thomas Dunnett

The backyard is the perfect place to bond with family and friends or to simply relax with a bit of sunshine and some fresh air. I've been passionate about the backyard lifestyle ever since my childhood, and with this website, I hope to share that passion with you.

  1. Thanks for taking the time to explain the game. Is it true that if one of each colour is on the same ladder, they cancel each other out?


    • Hi Linda,

      Yes, you are right! Bolas of different colors on the same rung cancel each other out. I will include that in the article when I next update it.

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