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Skee-Ball: How to Play & Rules – 13 Things to Know (Simply Explained)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Skee-Ball is an extremely popular game found in many Arcades and bars across the United States. However, as popular as this game is, doing well is not an easy task. So how do you play Skee-Ball? What are the rules? 

The objective of Skee-Ball is to sink the ball into one of the holes on the ramp. First, you roll the ball on a lane. The ball is then launched from the lane onto a ramp, where it should land in one of the holes. You get nine balls to play with, and the person with the highest combined score wins. 

This article discusses 13 things you need to know about playing Skee-Ball. It explains the rules for Skee-Ball and how to play it. In addition, this article shares some valuable tips for doing well when playing Skee-Ball

Read this article to start your journey to becoming a Skee-Ball Pro. Here are 13 things to know when playing Skee-Ball. 

1. The Skee-Ball Scoring System

A Skee-Ball table might look confusing, but it is straightforward to play this game. The Skee-Ball table has a flat lane with a launch pad and various holes where the ball can fall. Each hole has a number on it, starting from ten, the lowest score, and ending at the highest score of 100. 

When playing Skee-Ball, you will receive a score out of all your nine turns. This score is based on the combined numbers of the holes you threw your balls into. If your balls don’t go into a hole, you don’t receive any scores for that round. 

2. How To Play Skee-Ball

When playing Skee-Ball, you will get nine balls made of either hard plastic or polished Masonite. You will then roll the ball across the lane. Finally, the ball will launch from the launching pad and (hopefully) fall into one of the holes on the ramp. 

The hole your ball falls into will determine your score. The Skee-Ball machine keeps track of your score and shows your total score once you have rolled all nine balls. The player or team that has the highest score wins the game. 

3. Arcade Skee-Ball Rewards You With Tickets

The two most popular places to find a Skee-Ball machine are in a bar or arcade. However, in 1909, when the game was released, it was most commonly found along the boardwalks of Atlantic City and later all over the country.

When playing Skee-Ball in an arcade, you must insert the required number of coins into the machine. Then you will receive your balls. The Skee-Ball machine will reward you with tickets to claim a prize, depending on your score. 

4. Throwing The Ball Is Prohibited In Skee-Ball

You are not allowed to throw the balls at the holes when playing Skee-Ball. There is also a net over the ramp to prevent people from throwing the balls into the holes. Instead, you must roll on the machine’s lane, where it will be launched from the launchpad to land in one of the holes. 

5. There Are Skee-Ball Tournaments

The existence of Skee-Ball tournaments attests to the popularity of this game in America. There are national Skee-Ball tournaments held annually, where players can win thousands of dollars of prizes. The rules when playing Skee-Ball tournaments differ from when you are playing casual Skee-Ball. 

Skee-Ball tournaments are usually played in a team format. In contrast, casual Skee-Ball can be played in a team or solo. 

6. How To Play Skee-Ball In a Team

When playing Skee-Ball in a team, the team cannot have more than nine players. This will ensure that each player gets the chance to throw at least once. However, the combined score is still used to determine the winner, and the team with the highest score will then be the winner. 

Fraternities and bars often have Skee-Balling nights, where people can partake in casual Skee-Balling tournaments. These tournaments also mainly occur in a team format. 

7. Aim For The 40-Point Hole In Skee-Ball

The lowest scoring hole is the easiest to hit and gives you ten points. Although the highest-scoring holes give you 100 points, they are in the corners of the ramp and are also the smallest holes. Therefore, missing the 100-point holes can result in you not getting any scores for that round.

However, by aiming for the 40-point hole, you might still toss the ball into one of the lower holes if it misses the 40-point hole. Therefore, your chances of getting some points for that round are improved.

8. Stay Low When Rolling The Ball In Skee-Ball

Expert Skee-Ball players advise you to stay low when rolling the ball. Because the ramp has a steady incline, you will have a better view and aim when keeping your body low. This will help you roll the ball with more accuracy, improving your chances of success. 

Although you want to stay low, don’t roll the ball when standing on your knees. This position will restrict your arm movement and ultimately lead to poorer performance. 

9. Maintain A Good Stance When Playing Skee-Ball

As in all sports, having a good stance when playing Skee-Ball is key to success. Place your dominant foot against the machine, with your other foot slightly farther back. Keep low as you roll the ball and follow through with your dominant hand. 

Ensure you practice your stance, as consistency is vital when playing Skee-Ball. Having the same stance and positioning for each turn will ensure you get similar scores. By aiming for the 40-pointer hole, you can improve your chances of hitting it with a good stance. 

10. Keep Your Arm Flat When Rolling The Ball In Skee-Ball

According to Roy Hinojosa, a national Skee-Ball champion, you should aim to minimize the variables with each turn. Therefore, he recommends keeping your arm as flat as possible and only moving your arm when rolling the ball. 

He keeps his arm reasonably straight, and there is minimal wrist movement when he rolls the ball. This, in addition to a good and constant stance, is what sets him apart from amateur Skee-Ball players. 

11. Grip The Ball With Your Fingers When Playing Skee-Ball

Another thing Roy emphasizes is gripping the ball with your fingers and not your hand. You shouldn’t close your hand around the ball, leading to a more extended movement and more variables when rolling the ball.

Instead, Roy only grips the ball with four fingers. His palm is below the ball, with his thumb placed behind the ball. His index, middle, and ring fingers grip the other side of the ball. Then he gently rolls the ball, releasing his grip as he goes. 

12. Keep Your Own Score When Playing Skee-Ball

Sometimes Skee-Ball machines malfunction and count one throw as a double score. In this case, the machine will read more points than you have scored. This can cause many problems when playing in a tournament or keeping a score.

Therefore, keep track of your score after each throw or ask a friend or teammate to do so; if you’re scared that the machine will lose count. 

13. Avoid The 100-Pointer Hole When Playing Skee-Ball

Skee-Ball players mainly aim for the 40-pointer holes, as this hole has the greatest chance of success. However, professional players also advise you to avoid aiming for one of the 100-pointer holes unless you’re desperate and only have one or two balls left. 

The 50-pointer hole is also risky, as you run the risk of not scoring any points. However, professional Skee-Ball players sometimes aim for a combination of 40-pointers and 50-pointers in one cage. 

Last Word

Skee-Ball is a fun arcade game played by many across the United States. The game is so popular, in fact, that there are national Skee-Ball tournaments. Skee-Ball has many rules and tricks for succeeding, and this article discussed several things you should know about playing Skee-Ball.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.