Shuffleboard Shooting Techniques

Kip head image

Kip Lohner, Shuffleboard Savant

Between playing shuffleboard and running a carpentry business, Mr. Lohner shares his experience on shuffleboard strategies and game table maintenance


When it comes to shuffleboard, the most basic of the basics is shooting your puck. Without this skill, nothing else really matters; you could be playing on a perfect board, with an unbeatable strategy, but none of it matters if you can’t act on and make the most of those things.

So, this time we’re going to go over all the different types of shots and how to improve your shooting technique.

The Basics

When first learning to shoot your puck, there’s a few things to keep in mind.

The first is to never touch the table while you’re fiddling around with your puck. The smudges left by the oils on your fingertips can easily foul shots by slowing (or even stopping) your puck in its tracks.

Instead, ensure all of your fingertips, save the thumb, rest lightly on the top of the puck, with the thumb placed a little on the back of it. This ensures a firm grip and maximum control.

With one smooth motion of your arm, move the puck forward ad simply…let go. The puck will glide across the table and come to a rest wherever the force you put on it allows.

It’s important that you don’t jerk your arm forward when doing this, as this gives you less control over what you’re doing when you let go. A simple, smooth motion is enough, rather than a flick.

In the tips to win any shuffleboard game, people miss this the most. like throwing horseshoes; the main reason a lot of people fail at games of accuracy like horseshoes and cornhole (or fishing or lassoing for that matter) is because they try to throw too vigorously and end up jerking their own shot off to one side or another (or over or under shooting the target) through the imperceptible ways your arm will jitter when doing that.

Relax; shuffleboard isn’t a game of strength or speed, but of accuracy and placement. You need to remove mental distractions. Also, don’t forget to check if there is adequate table powder on the table before throwing your puck

Types of Shuffleboard Shots

proper-aimIn addition to the basic cast above, over the passage of time, there are a number of more specialized shuffleboard shots that had been developed. You’ll want to learn these shots as they’ll let you accomplish different things over the course of a game.

Free Shot

This is another word for the basic shuffleboard shot, but I feel it’s worth mentioning both as a neat bit of terminology and as being sort of the “master shot”. Most types of shot are either going to be a subset of the free shot, or of the Side Wheel shot (which we’ll talk about below), it all depends on whether you’re shooting without a guide, or with a guide.

The free shot gives you the most versatility in where you place your shot, since you can angle it whichever way you please.

However, it also give you the most room for error of the two basic shot types, with the ability to whiff quite hard if you don’t aim perfectly. If you instead want a safer, but more predictable shot, go with the…

Side Wheel Shot

This sounds fancier than it really is. Essentially all this means is you’re using one of the side rails to guide your shot, by putting most of your fingers on the outside of the rail, and guiding the shot with just your thumb and forefinger.

This results in very consistent shots a consistent distance out from the rail that are very easy to make fly straight.

Of course, this makes your shots predictable. They’re going to be a few inches from the outside of the board every single time.

You can combat this a little bit by switching sides, which is where being able to shoot well with both hands is going to come in handy.

The side wheel is excellent for safe, low stakes shots, or ones where you don’t want to rock the boat (for example because you’re already ahead and don’t want to worry about losing that lead by flubbing a shot).

The rest of these shots are more situations than specific moves.

Sacrifice Shot

Sometimes the most important thing to do in a game is to knock off your opponent’s puck…whether yours stays on the board or not.

The sacrifice, or knock off shot, is a shot aimed at the singular purpose of whacking your opponent’s shot out of bounds. If yours stays within the play area, that’s nice, but not really the goal.

This is primarily a desperation play; sacrificing your own chance at points to deny your opponent’s. However, it can single handedly turn a game around if it makes it so your puck is now the furthest forward. This is a great shot for when your opponent has the hammer and you’re behind, as it raises the stakes for their last shot quite a bit.

English Shot

Also known as a spin shot, this is exactly what it sounds like: a shot with English on it. To put English on your shot, simply twist your thumb and forefinger (forgo using your other fingers in this case) as you release the puck, in whichever direction you choose.

This will cause the puck to stop and reverse a little bit as it hits a certain point down the table (more dramatically increases the more force you put into both the twist and the cast), ultimately giving you a bit of a controlled curve to it.

This is much safer and more reliable than a bank shot for putting your pucks behind an opponent’s and both protecting your own puck while putting it ahead, to ensure you can score. For this shot to be more effective you need to make sure that the table has adequate powder

Bump Shots

This is a shot that bumps either your own or your opponent’s puck to put yourself into a better position, simple as. This is different from a sacrifice shot, as you want to arrest your own puck’s momentum here; much more precision is required.

Also known as a “stick shot” when used on your opponent’s puck.

Guard Shot

Simple enough: this is just shooting a puck to block off access to another one of your pucks to make it harder to bump. This requires you to reign in your power quite a bit, but is otherwise simple.

We can’t finish talking about shooting techniques if we won’t talk about the correct maintenance of shuffleboard tables. Although searching and buying top rated shuffleboard table for the money will help mitigate the problem. Ultimately, you can’t play properly if you neglect equipment maintenance because getting a warped shuffleboard table will be a lot of stress to fix. So regularly clean your table or hire someone to do it for you.

Tom Erickson