Best Ladder Ball Sets

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
290 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best ladder ball sets

Last Updated December 2019

If you’re looking for an outdoor game that’s easy to learn and fun for all ages, ladder ball is an excellent choice. The unusual look of the game is sure to make anyone want to give it a try.

Played in two teams, the goal of ladder ball is to toss bolas (two balls connected by string) so that they wrap around the “rungs” of a ladder-like target. The ladders may be made of PVC, wood, or steel, each of which directly affects game play and has its own advantages and disadvantages. The materials of the bolas vary as well, affecting their feel and durability. Because of the materials, some sets may not be suitable for children, but in general, ladder ball is a game for everyone.

Most ladder ball sets are fairly inexpensive, but the materials and additional accessories may increase the price. To learn more about the types of ladder ball sets available and to see some of our favorites, continue reading our shopping guide.

Ladder ball is also known as ladder golf or ladder toss.

Key considerations

How to play ladder ball

Ladder ball is a fairly new lawn sport, dating from the 1990s, and as a result, its rules can vary. Here is a common way to play ladder ball:

  • Divide an even number of players into two teams and give them their corresponding set of bolas: three per team in two colors.
  • One team throws all three bolas from a line about 15 feet from the ladder. There are no rules about how bolas must be thrown except that, to score points, they must wrap around a rung. The top rung is worth 1 point, the middle rung is worth 2, and the bottom rung is worth 3. (Some rules reverse the scoring of the rungs, with the top rung earning 3 points.)
  • The other team throws all three of its bolas. Knocking off an opponent’s bola is encouraged (and those bolas then don’t count).
  • The first team to earn exactly 21 points wins. If a team exceeds 21 points, its score for that round is ignored.
  • The team with the higher score throws first in the next round.
EXPERT TIP

Though the throwing line is typically 15 feet (or five paces) from the ladder, you can shorten this distance to make the game easier for younger players.


Staff  | BestReviews

Ladder ball set features

When choosing a ladder ball set, consider the number of people who will play and the ages of the players.

Ladders

Number: Ladder ball sets typically include either one or two ladders. You can play the game with only one ladder, but if you have teams, you may find it easier to play with two. When playing in teams, situate at least one player from each team behind each ladder. One side throws at a time, saving you the effort of having to walk over to the ladder to retrieve the bolas.

Materials: What the ladders are made of — PVC, steel, or wood — determines a set’s sturdiness, durability, weight, and price.

  • PVC is the least expensive option and the easiest to assemble: simply insert the tubes into the appropriate sockets. However, it’s very lightweight, increasing the chances that it can be blown over or knocked over by a hard throw. In addition, PVC can be brittle and is prone to breaking.
  • Steel is far heavier and sturdier than PVC. It’s unlikely anything will damage a steel ladder. The rungs slide into the frame and are secured with screws. Though this takes a bit more time than assembling a PVC set, it’s sturdier and still fairly straightforward.
  • Wood is the most expensive option, and depending on the thickness of the wood, the sets can weigh about the same as steel sets. Assembly may take some time because the pieces need to be screwed together (with built-in threading). Wood makes a classy-looking ladder ball set that is just as sturdy as steel.

Bolas

Each bola has two components: the balls and the string that connects them.

Materials: You’ll find bolas made of rubber, plastic, and wood, as well as golf ball bolas.

  • Rubber bolas have a decent weight to them and bounce more than other materials, which can make it easier to knock other players’ bolas off the ladder.
  • Plastic bolas, usually weighted with sand, are a more affordable option that’s less likely to bounce. Because these are soft and lightweight, they’re a good option for children to use.
  • Wooden bolas are less common and are usually found only in premium ladder ball sets. Though not as heavy or likely to bounce as other materials, wooden bolas feel nice in your hand and make a satisfying sound when they strike the ladder or other bolas.
  • Golf ball bolas are the most expensive option and are preferred by many customers for the weight and feel of the balls. They clack when they hit each other and can easily knock off an opponent’s bolas. The weight of these balls can make them unsuitable for use by children.


String: The string that connects the balls is usually a durable material like nylon. Take note of how the string attaches to the balls because this is the most common part to break. Cheaper sets may have a string that threads inside a hollow bola, while on higher-quality bolas the string ties to a ring.

Accessories

Bolas: Some more expensive ladder ball sets include spare bolas.

Carrying case: Especially when it comes to wooden or steel sets, a carrying case can be a great accessory if you plan to take your game to the park or beach.

Score tracker. Some sets come with a built-in score tracker. This may be in the form of a rubber band on one of the tubes that can be moved up or down, or in a wooden set, a pegboard on the side of the ladder.

Some rules allow for other ways to score, such as getting one bola on each rung or dangling one bola from another.

Ladder ball prices

Inexpensive: Basic ladder ball sets that cost $20 to $40 are usually made of PVC and have plastic or rubber bolas. Most sets in this price range include one ladder, but some on the higher end of the spectrum may have two. These serviceable sets are fine for casual backyard play, but the ladders and bolas may break over time.

Mid-range: For $40 to $60 you’ll find ladder ball sets made of PVC or steel. These sets may include one or two ladders, as well as accessories like a carrying case and score tracker. The bolas may be plastic, rubber, or golf balls. Sets in this range are generally fairly durable and can last for years if treated properly.

Expensive: High-end ladder ball sets that cost $60 to $100 are usually made of steel or wood and often have golf ball bolas. These are high-quality sets that look great on your lawn and will hold up well over time. A carrying case is almost always included in this price range.

EXPERT TIP

Though it’s possible to make your own ladderball set out of PVC tubes, it’s usually less expensive (and time-consuming) to purchase a basic set.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Find a throwing style that works for you. Many people like to throw the bolas underhand, allowing one ball to swing so that the bola flips backward as you release it. You can also pinch the string in the middle, which can result in less spin but more control. Some people hold the whole bola — both balls and the string — in one hand when they throw.
  • Aim for the middle rung. It’s a safe way to ensure points. Aiming for the top or bottom rung is more likely to result in a miss.
  • Go for spin. In general, more spin means a greater likelihood the bola will wrap tightly around a rung.
  • Aim for an opponent’s bola. It’s challenging, but it can be a necessary strategy to win.

Other products we considered

Though we stand by our top recommendations as the best ladder ball sets available, there are a few premium sets we thought we would mention. For an all-wood design, consider the Yard Games Ladder Toss Game, which includes two ladders and a carrying case. The bolas are made of real golf balls, and the wooden frame is high quality and durable. The scoring pegs are convenient, though some customers reported that their set came without pegs. Another solid wood option is the Franklin Sports Beach Bumz Ladder Ball set, which has a cherry lacquered finish for a classy look. The wooden bolas feel nice, but the finish can wear off. However, this two-ladder set makes up for it with solid construction, steel stakes for holding the ladders in place, and a unique sliding score tracker on each ladder.

The rules of ladder ball are simple enough that anyone can learn to play in a minute or two.

FAQ

Q. How safe is ladder ball?
A.
Compared to a lawn sport like bocce ball or horseshoes, ladderball is incredibly safe. The only potential danger comes from the bolas, so be careful not to hit anyone with them!

Q. Do ladder ball sets include rules?
A.
Not always, but rules can be found easily enough online. There are many variations of the rules, so choose some that seem the most fun to you.

Q. One of my bolas broke. Can bolas be purchased individually?
A.
They can, but finding bolas that match your set can be difficult. The manufacturer may be able to provide more bolas for an additional price.

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