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How To Play Shuffleboard
Games of shuffleboard are played with pucks, also known as weights. You slide your puck down the table towards a scoring zone with each round or frame of the game consisting of four pucks per player. The idea is to make it to the highest scoring area without your weight falling off the end of the table or being knocked off by your opponent. You can also knock your opponent’s weight off the shuffleboard table with a slide from your own puck.
However, if your push is too hard and you slide off the end of the table, or you bounce off an opponent’s puck into the gutter at the side of the table, you score no points. When all eight pucks have been played, it is the end of that round.
At the end of the round, the score is added up by counting the pucks closest to the end of the table that are of the same colour and only one player scores in each round. Rounds are played until one side reaches 15 points (or 21 points, depending which version you opt to play). Games can be played with just two players or in teams; for the latter, players take turn by playing every other round.
One of the most fun aspects of play is the use of other pucks. You can aim for an opponent’s puck, knocking it out of place or off the table altogether. If you judge it right, you can use the other puck as a brake, stopping your puck as it’s bounced off the table. If you’ve already got a good score, you can sacrifice your puck with an opponent’s puck to deny points to anyone.
Depending on the table you’re playing on, you can also use the playfield’s concave profile to your advantage. Learn how to use the angle to curve the puck around your opponent, or to stop your puck falling off the side. A long, well-balanced shot up the edge of the playfield can devastate a packed playfield.
Tactical play is half the fun of shuffleboard.
Hold the puck on the table with your palm over the top and your arm bent. Your thumb should circle the rear of the puck. Your fingers should lightly surround the puck to stabilise it, but no part of your hand or fingers should touch the playfield.
When you’re ready to shoot, smoothly straighten your elbow to extend your arm and release the puck. It’s a good idea to run the puck backwards and forwards a few times before releasing it, to get a feel for the playfield, the puck weight and any concave profile.
As your technique improves, consider adding backspin to the puck. This can allow more control and slow down the puck as it reaches the scoring zone. You may also find that playing with your dominant hand isn’t always ideal – try playing with both your right and left hands to see if you gain any advantage.
At the beginning of the game, you should aim for the highest score you can get without overshooting. As the scoring zone becomes more populated, employ tactics to gain the upper hand. This could include knocking off your opponent’s pucks, ‘hanging’ your puck over the edge to try to tempt your opponent into a risky response, or blocking your opponent’s clear route to the highest scoring zone.