A popular playground game, tetherball features a volleyball-like ball tethered to a vertical pole. Two players stand in designated areas, with each player attempting to hit the ball in his specific direction so as to wrap the tether around the pole. The player who gets the tether and ball wrapped all the way around the pole in his direction wins. Deceptively simple, tetherball requires physical stamina and clever strategy. Although often considered a child's game, tetherball courts are designed with precise dimensions to ensure fair competition among enthusiasts of the sport.
The Pole's Size
The tetherball pole is a vertical pole standing up to 10 feet high. The ball attaches to the top of the pole via a nylon tether. To ensure safety, the pole must be securely anchored into the ground; otherwise, the intense tetherball action could cause the pole to topple. For best results, dig a hole that is at least 2 feet deep and surround the pole with cement.
About the Ball
Official tetherballs are approximately volleyball-sized and are available in a variety of colors and textures. Typically firmer than volleyballs, tetherballs may actually sting the hands, so many players choose to use softer models. The tetherball’s most important feature is how it connects to the tether string. Some tetherballs have a protruding loop to secure the tether, while others utilize a recessed bar below the ball’s surface to prevent unnecessary hand injuries.
The tether's length can greatly affect play. Having too short a tether will end games prematurely, while too long a tether will extend games beyond enjoyable limits. To measure a correct tether length, allow the ball to hang from the pole at rest. When completely still, the tetherball should hang approximately 3 feet above the ground.
An official tetherball court consists of a circle 20 feet in diameter drawn around the pole, which stands at the center point. An X divides the court into four sections: two playing zones and two neutral zones. If looking at the circle as a clock, the lines of the X should be drawn from 10 o’clock to 4 o’clock and from 2 o’clock to 8 o’clock. The playing zones rest exactly opposite one another, with a neutral zone separating them on either side. The width of each playing zone’s farthest two points should measure 17 feet, 4 inches apart. Players must stand within their designated playing zones to strike the tetherball. Hitting the ball while standing outside of the playing zone results in an automatic game forfeiture. Some courts will paint the playing zones and neutral zones in contrasting colors to help the players navigate the boundaries.
- Sportcraft Official Rules: General Sportcraft Company
- WBDG: Planning and Design of Outdoor Sports Facilities
- Total Tetherball: Tetherball Poles, Sets, Balls, and Courts
- Northern Arizona University Parks and Recreation Management: Tetherball