If you have ever played shuffleboard, you have probably been confused by some of the terms. If you know what the term “riding the rail” means you probably don’t need to read this article. But everyone else who is not a hardcore shuffleboard enthusiast will probably pick up some new shuffleboard lingo, slang and terminology. This will help you better understand what your opponents are saying. And if you’re more knowledgeable you will likely have more fun and then win more games.
We have assembled some of the most important phrases you should know so you can have more fun playing the game. Feel free to print this page out and put in your back pocket!
If you want to find. great Shuffleboard table for home be sure to check out our post on the Best Shuffleboard Tables.
Shuffleboard Terminology & Lingo
Black Numbers – This refers to a classic game where you keep score using the regular scoring rule. In short, this is the classic game with normal scoring. Points are given to shuffleboard pucks that land within areas of the table that display the black numbers. Only the team that manages to land their puck farthest gets to score for one frame.
The Black Numbers scoring system is straightforward and basic and that why it is the classic game. Here are the basic scoring concepts you need to know to master black numbers shuffleboard scoring:
- Pucks that land within the 3-point section score three points.
- Pucks than land within the 2-point section and the 1-point section get two points and one point respectively.
- If a puck hangs off the edge, it scores four points.
Bowling Pins – People sometimes play bowling on their shuffleboard table. It’s a nice secondary usage if you have a table at home already. These are specially designed bowling pins that are smaller and designed to fit on a shuffleboard table. The bowling pin set we recommend highly can be found here.
Bowling Shuffleboard – If you have a bowling pin set that is custom designed for your shuffleboard table like we describe above, you can play bowling shuffleboard. This is a great way to get more enjoyment out of your shuffleboard table, especially with your family. The game rules are similar to traditional bowling.
Climatic Adjusters – These are the brackets that are bolted to the bottom of the board. They allow you to make adjustments to any misalignment in the playing surface. For example, you can adjust the level of concavity or convexity of the table. Changes in temperature and humidity can affect shuffleboard play and these climactic adjusters allow you to adjust things to to keep your table relatively consistent despite any environmental changes. Shuffleboard tables should have a very slight dip in the middle of the table.
Crazy Eights –This is one of many shuffleboard game variations. In this version, each player gets to use all eight pucks on each turn. It is obviously a much quicker paced game and good for children or newbies.
Cue – This is the term for the shuffleboard stick you use to push the disks when playing outdoor shuffleboard – for example at a park or on a cruise ship. This is not a term that apples to an indoor wooden shuffleboard table that you would have in a bar.
Deck Courts – These are the outdoor courts used to play traditional outdoor shuffleboard. Typical dimensions are 52 feet long and 6 feet wide. Deck courts have a large triangle that is drawn inside the court that shows the scoring numbers.
Deuce Line – This is the line drawn on both sides of the table closest to the foul line. It is designated by the number 2.
Discs – In indoor shuffleboard, the pieces are are referred to as pucks. In outdoor shuffleboard the pieces are referred to as discs.
English – English is slang for using a twist or sidespin on your shot for better control. It is more of an advanced technique but as you progress in the game you will develop the skill to do this. To put English on a shot, you use your thumb and forefinger to twist the puck toward your body when you release it. Using English creates a breaking effect on the puck so it stays where you place it and it gives you greater control over your shot.
Foot – In outdoor shuffleboard, this term refers to the end of the court that does not have the scoreboard.
Foul Line – The foul line is the line in the middle of the table. If your puck odes not cross this line it is not considered a qualified shot and it is forfeited and you have to remove it from play.
Frame – Frame is an essential term in shuffleboard gameplay. It refers to the set of turns that each team or player takes during a shuffleboard game.
Free Hand – In a free hand, players throw the puck from the middle of the board. They don’t use the rail to guide them in the release of the shot.
Go Around – This is common shuffleboard jargon to refer to a shot in which you curve your puck around another puck. This puts your puck in a better position to score at the end of the frame.
Go Around Hanger – This is one of the most impressive shots that a shuffleboard player can make. It’s when your puck curves around another puck and then stops to hang over the edge of the table. Although it doesn’t earn you more points than a regular hanger, it will definitely earn you the respect of other players.
Hammer – A hammer shot is the last shot of the round. The hammer is basically the game point in a game of shuffleboard. Before you start a shuffleboard game, you have a coin toss to determine which player shoots first or gets the hammer shot. The coin toss winner gets to choose and usually chooses the hammer shot since it is considered an advantage.
Hanger – A hanger carries the highest point in shuffleboard. It refers to a puck that goes all the way to the other end of the table so that it hangs off the edge. You get four points for this.
Head – In outdoor shuffleboard, this is slang for the end of the court that has the scoreboard. This is typically where all outdoor shuffleboard games are started from.
Light Kit – Shuffleboard light kits typically consist of a pair of lamps that you mount on the side of your shuffleboard table. They light up your table so you can see more clearly, especially in the evening.
Partners – Partners is shuffleboard jargon for a four-player game with two players on each team. This is like a doubles game in tennis.
Powder – Shuffleboard wax is referred to as several things including powder, dust and sand. These products help protect your playing surface and help you with smooth game play. Depending on what product you use, you can improve the speed of the surface and speed up, or slow down, the game depending on the speed rating. Shuffleboard waxes or powders are rated from 1 to 3. 1 is the slowest and 3 is the slickest, fastest surface.
Playing Field – A shuffleboard table has two main components – the playing field and the outer cabinet. The outer cabinet is the frame that holds the playing field together, while the playing field is the surface on which you play the game.
Pucks – Commonly known as weights, these are the playing pieces in table shuffleboard and can vary greatly in quality. They are typically made of metal, but you can also find pucks made of plastic. There are eight pucks per set – generally four blue and four red pucks – so each team gets four pucks.
Red Numbers – Red numbers are a handicap scoring system to help beginner or novice players compete against more advanced shuffleboard players. In short, the more advanced player uses the smaller red numbers and the beginner uses the black numbers which have higher scores. So an advanced player would score two points for a shot that the novice receives three points for. Thus, there is a built in handicap to the scoring.
Riding the Rail – Sometimes called “shooting the rail,” this is a shot in which your puck slides along the edge of the table. This is an effective technique to knock off the opponent’s pucks and could improve your chances of scoring for that frame.
Score Zone – As the name suggests, this is the area of the shuffleboard table in which players can score points. Pucks should make it to this score zone to be eligible for points.
Scoring Bead – Scoring beads is the shuffleboard terminology for the abacus they use for keeping score. Some tables come with scoring beads attached to them.
Scoring Unit – Traditionally people have used an abacus style of scoring beads since they are a cheap and easy method. Digital scoring units are more expensive, and allow for easy scoring while you play. And also allow for observers to better understand the score if they are watching from a distance.
Shuffleboard Cap – the protective surface that attaches to the shuffleboard weight/puck. Many caps have smooth grooves that enable you to grip better with your fingers. The placement of your fingers allows you to vary your control over the thrust and spin.
Singles – A two-player game in which two people play against each other.
Trey Line – The trey line refers to the line on either end of the table that is furtherest from the foul line and closest to the table edge. In other words, the line closest to the edge of the table. It is designated by the black number three.
Wax – Shuffleboard wax is used to ensure the table has a smooth surface for gliding. Sometimes people use wax, powder, sand or dust for the same purpose so there are variety of terms and products used. Also if you get more advanced be sure you know that waxes come in different grades, which allow for different levels of speed in your shuffleboard games. If you have a slower speed you will have more control over your puck. So this is better for beginners since you will have less control over the puck. And if you are more experienced, you can find tournament grade wax that will make the pucks have less friction and move at higher speed.
Weights (Pucks) – Weights are also known as pucks. These are the objects you push or thrust across the table. The weights, or pucks, vary in size according to the table size:
- Recreational Tables (9-14 inches in length) – use pucks with diameters of 2 1/8th inches
- Tables longer than 14 inches (including 22 inch tournament approved tables), use weights with diameters of 2 5/16th inches.
Puck weights are 12 ounces or three quarters of a pound. All eight weights in a set should be polished by hand and speed tested to ensure they are equal in velocity.
Shuffleboard Video – How to Play Shuffleboard
Sometimes a quick video makes it much easier to understand these concepts. Give this video a watch to learn how to play shuffleboard.
Shuffleboard is a very fun game!
This video coversthe rules of how to set up, how to play and how to win
You won’t immediately improve your shuffleboard skills just from reading this article, but understanding the terms will help you understand all the shuffleboard slang, lingo and jargon that other players are using while you are playing.
In our experience, the more knowledgeable you are with the terms for any game, the more comfortable you will be. And the more comfortable you are the more you will enjoy the game. Remember, the whole point is to have fun while you are playing shuffleboard! ‘
If you have fun and enjoy it you will probably want to improve your skills too and will become a better player.
And if this post about lingo inspires you to buy a shuffleboard table for home, be sure to check out our Ultimate Shuffleboard Tables Buying Guide.
And finally if you want to improve your game, be sure to see our complete guide on how to play shuffleboard .
I’m Lia and I love playing games. I started this site to share things with friends and they encouraged me to post more and now I’m trying to share things with the world – indoor and outdoor sports, and board and bar games. I write about things like Bocce, Croquet, Billiards, Darts and other fun ways to enjoy time with your friends and family!