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While having the first turn in many sports is considered an advantage, the opposite goes for playing table shuffleboard.
Shooting last, or playing as “the hammer” as it’s called in table shuffleboard, can be quite advantageous for standard games. While players shooting first typically have more table space to work with, shooting as the hammer ultimately gives the player the final opportunity to determine how the round will be scored.
To decide on who will shoot first, players must flip a coin prior to starting the game. The winner of the coin flip is given his or her choice of shooting as the hammer, or deciding on the color. If the coin flip winner chooses a color, the other team will shoot as the hammer.
If you do end up winning the hammer and shooting last, there are a few techniques to take advantage of your turn and put yourself in a position to win.
Even if the shade of blue on your shuffleboard pucks is your all-time favorite color, it’s probably best to choose the hammer if you win the coin flip. If you’re serious about winning, always take advantage of a coin flip victory by choosing the hammer.
Unless you’re starting a new game, the only way to lose your position as the hammer is to tie a round. Whether no pucks are on the board or the leading pucks are exactly tied, no points will be awarded to either team and the hammer will change. While it is not always avoidable to tie a round, players shooting as the hammer should be conscious of a tie’s effects.
While knocking opponents’ pucks off can be incredibly effective as the hammer, players still need to remember to put themselves in a position to win. Even a single missed knock-off attempt can put the hammer at a disadvantage, and knocking every puck off the table, including your own, will lose your spot as the hammer. Without a well-placed shot near the end of the board, it can be difficult to rack up points as the hammer. That being said, it’s important to attempt to score when a clear shot is available.
With the final shot to end a round, a skilled player should be able to determine their own fate as the hammer. While playing as the hammer won’t guarantee victory, taking advantage of the second shot, and particularly the last shot, gives the shooter a clear-cut advantage over their opponent.
Looking for more table shuffleboard tips to master your shot? You can find our in-depth guide to standard shuffleboard rules here.
Are you in need of a shuffleboard table to put these techniques to test? Check out McClure’s line of premium shuffleboard tables for exciting gameplay on a beautiful handcrafted surface.