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Updated: Apr 17
Whether you enjoy playing with friends or competing against expert players, shuffleboard is the perfect game for all casual and competitive players. The combination of strength, focus and strategy make shuffleboard an ideal game that players of all skill levels can enjoy.
If you're new to the game and need some pointers on how to win at shuffleboard, check out our handy shuffleboard guide. It'll teach you everything you need to know about the game, how to shoot a shuffleboard puck and some beginners tips and tricks.
If you've been playing shuffleboard for a while now, you're more than likely eager to try out some new techniques and strategies to give you more of an edge against your competitor. We've compiled a list of six great shuffleboard strategies and some fun techniques that will be sure to impress you and your friends.
6 Shuffleboard Strategy Tips
Shuffleboard is more than just sliding a puck across a smooth court. You have to find ways to give yourself the upper hand while undermining your opponent's attempts to score points. If you've been playing shuffleboard for a long time, you know that the game has more to it than simply sliding a puck down the court. Shuffleboard is one of those games that's easy to play but difficult to master. It takes a thorough understanding of the game's intricacies and lots of time spent practicing movements and shots to excel at shuffleboard.
There are six more advanced strategies to understand that can help you get started or improve your shuffleboard game. Read on to gain a more thorough understanding of these strategies and learn how to use them to your advantage in your next game.
1. Review Competitor Weakness
Most competitive games are all about finding ways to exploit your competitor's weaknesses. You will want to take the time to observe and analyze the way your opponent plays. Whether you watch them during a different match or in the one you're currently playing, you'll want to find ways to throw them off balance or force them to use a technique they may not be particularly good at.
If you notice your opponent tends to refrain from using bank or angle shots, you should find ways to force them to use those moves to score points. They'll have a harder time performing the shot they're not used to playing with, making it more difficult for them to play well and score points.
2. Play With the Weight
Most shuffleboard players are aware of the three different puck styles (flat, pointed and cupped) and the benefits associated with each of them. A flat puck may be better at sliding down the table faster, but the weight of the puck plays a part in determining how effective the puck is.
The heavier the puck, the more force you'll have to apply to get it to travel the same distance as a lighter puck with less force. Weight also determines how sturdy your puck is when hit by the opponent. You'll have to determine when it's essential to use a heavier puck or a lighter puck.
The same is true for your opponent. You want to observe the way they slide their puck down the court. Do they use more force with one over another? If you can determine which pucks are lighter, you'll know which pucks to knock off or how much force to apply to ricochet off the opponent's puck.
3. Work With the Angles
When it comes to shuffleboard, angles play an essential role in scoring against and sabotaging your opponent. If your shuffleboard has side rails, you should take full advantage of them. Ricocheting your puck off the rails is a great way to bypass your pucks or your opponent's pucks. Knowing your angles will give you more flexibility in how you can shoot your pucks.
You can also use angles to knock off your opponent's pucks more effectively. Rather than relying on a straight knock-off shot, you can use the angles to ricochet either you or your opponent's puck into another one. The angles can help cause a chain reaction, leading into a double knock-off or a bump shot that turns into a knock-off.
4. Protect Your Pucks
Protecting your pucks may seem like an obvious strategy. You don't want your opponent to bump your pucks off the edge of the court easily. Mastering the technique of blocking is a great way to ensure your high-scoring pucks remain protected. You want to be careful that you don't have your pucks too close together when guarding.
You can achieve this result by sliding your pucks into a position that functions as a sort of barrier against your opponent's pucks. Blocking is especially useful for keeping those high-scoring points safe and preventing your opponent from knocking your puck off. If you set up just right, you can put your blocking pucks in a position to score some additional points, too.
5. Practice Throw Accuracy
Nothing is worse than trying to slide your puck into a particular spot or attempt a knock-off, bump or other shot only to have it miss entirely. Practicing outside of games and competitions helps to build your accuracy and performance. It also gives you more time to play around with the weight of your pucks and how much force you need to get to a certain distance.
While you practice, you should take extra time to get your nondominant hand practice. If you're primarily right-handed, you will want to spend time making shots and improving accuracy with your left hand. You may find yourself in a situation where your other hand can improve the accuracy of your shot.
Time spent practicing will help improve your game and your confidence, making you feel ready to succeed in your next competition.
6. Learn New Techniques
Nothing improves your shuffleboard skills like learning new and helpful techniques to give you that extra edge against your opponent. You'll become more unpredictable and certain shots can help you out when the time is right. When you play against someone, you will always want to use a wide variety of shot types and techniques to keep your opponent guessing, forcing them to adapt to numerous playing styles. If you use the same shot over and over, your opponent can take advantage of your play patterns and turn it against you.
With a little practice and patience with learning new shots, you'll have all the tools you need to take down your opponent and win the match effectively. Take a look below for seven different shots you need to get you started.
7 Different Types of Shuffleboard Shots
Having a wider array of shots in your tool belt can improve your gameplay drastically and keep your competitions more interesting. Even if you find yourself struggling to master a specific shot, knowing what it can do and how it works can help you counter your opponent and play against them.
While you may find some shots more useful than others, you should still take the time to practice the entirety of the list below. You never know when you'll be in a situation where a less common technique will come in handy.
There are seven basic techniques you should master to level up your shuffleboard game. Read descriptions of each shot and learn how to execute it below.
Side-wheeling is one of the more traditional methods of sliding your puck down the court. Even so, side-wheeling gives you the most control and accuracy with your shots. It's great for getting yourself on the board and gives you a puck to defend.
Performing the shot, which is even more helpful on longer shuffleboards, is straightforward and easy. You may find that certain hand positions work better than others to give you the most control. To perform the shot, you gently grab the sides of the puck with your thumb, index finger and middle finger while your ring and pinky finger use the sides of the shuffleboard as a guide.
Some people prefer to use only their pink finger as a guide or keep fewer fingers on the puck. Whichever way you prefer to hold the puck, the results should be the same.
When practicing this shot, you should take time to use your other hand on the opposite side of the board. You'll have more freedom and control of more parts of the board.
2. Free Shot
While side-wheeling gives you a bit more control and predictability with your shot, free shooting has the opposite effect. You can still maintain control of your shot, but you don't rely on the edge for guidance. Instead, your focus is on the center of the board.
Although free shots can be effective, they do come with their own set of risks. You have less predictability of where the puck will stop. Most shuffleboard experts use free shots for situations where rail shots are difficult to perform or the opponent can easily block.
Knock-off shots are your first line of offense against your opponent. With this technique, you force your opponent's puck off the board by using the weight of your puck against it. Most people will use this technique as their last shot or in desperate situations. When you perform the knock-off shot, you are sacrificing your puck to remove points from your opponent.
4. Stick Shot
Unlike the knock-off shot, the stick shot requires a little more finesse to perform, but the results are more beneficial to you. Rather than forcibly using your puck to remove one in play, you use the momentum of your puck to push your opponent's puck off the board while ensuring yours remains in play. You want your puck to replace the position of your opponent's puck.
If you find that your puck continues with the momentum of the shot and falls off the court, you can try to give your puck a spin when you slide it. The spinning motion transfers most of the momentum to your opponent's puck, helping to keep yours from moving.
A bump shot functions similarly to a stick shot, but rather than focusing on striking your opponent's puck, you use your puck to hit one of yours further along the scoring area. You will mostly use this shot to your benefit, placing your puck further into the scoring zone. Bump shots are a great way to recover some points from a previously failed shot.
You can also use a bump shot to place your opponent in a disadvantageous situation. With enough force, you can easily turn your bump shot into a stick shot if the pucks align just right. You use your current puck to hit one of your idle pucks with enough force to push it into an opponent's.
6. Spin Shot
The spin shot, also known as an English shot or a curved shot, gives your puck more mobility than the traditional straight line down the alley. With a spin shot, your puck moves in a curving motion toward the end of the court. Most shuffleboard players will use this technique to align their puck behind another one. With a spin shot, you'll be better able to make more strategic maneuvers.
While the shot is one of the more useful techniques, it is also one of the most difficult to master. To perform the shot, you need to slide the puck as you normally would, but just before you release it from your fingers, you need to rotate your thumb and index finger toward your body in a clockwise or counter-clockwise motion.
If you have difficulty performing this shot, you can try adjusting the speed of your shot or the amount of spin you apply. You may also want to make sure you're not releasing too early or too late and check for imperfections on the board.
7. Hangar Shot
Another advanced shot to perform that's highly beneficial, the hangar shot gives you the most points possible at the risk of leaving your puck open for a stick shot. To achieve a hangar shot, you need to slide the puck with enough force and precision to reach the edge of the scoring zone without going over the edge. You want to position the puck so it is hanging partially over the edge of the board.
Purchase a Shuffleboard Table
Shuffleboard is a fun and competitive game that's easy to learn to play and challenging to master. With these six strategies and seven useful techniques, you can easily give yourself the upper hand against your competitors. Or, for the more casual players, you can simply impress your friends with your newfound strategies and techniques.
If you're looking for a new indoor shuffleboard or looking to begin your shuffleboard journey, look no further than HB Home for all your shuffleboard needs. At HB Home, we offer premium-crafted shuffleboards with all the equipment you need to begin playing as soon as you can.
Check out our online store and order yourself a brand new shuffleboard table today.