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Kan Jam: Game Rules and Playing Strategy

I was recently at Cate Square, a city park in our small town, and noticed teenagers throwing frisbees towards a garbage can. There were plenty of spectators, so I walked over to ask what was so fascinating; they told me that it was a Kan Jam tournament. It didn’t take me long to realize why this game is drawing crowds- the enthusiasm is contagious. So I decided to learn more about the rules and strategy of the game.

The game of Kan Jam is played with two teams of two players each. The game’s object is to score points by throwing the disc into a can. A teammate can assist the thrower by deflecting the disc. The first team to reach 21 points wins the game.

Kan Jam is a unique game that is quickly gaining popularity all over the world. It’s fast-paced, exciting, and easy to learn – perfect for players of all ages. If you’ve never played it before, don’t worry – we’re going to give you a crash course in the rules and playing strategy.

Picture of a family playing kan jam

In this guide, we cover:

  • What are the rules and objectives of Kan-Jam?
  • Best Kan Jam Games
  • What are the Can Jam overtime rules?

Rules, Objectives, and Game Play of Kan Jam

Kan Jam is a unique flying disc game that players of all ages can enjoy; its objective is to reach 21 points by sinking your disc in a bin. Sounds easy, but there is a lot more to the game.

Equipment needed

  • In its most basic form, you need a Frisbee/flying discs and two bins (with the tops off and a slot cut out in the front) to play Kan Jam or Can Jam. These act as the goals.
  • These days you also get regulation-style sets of the game. There is also a mini Kan Jam version available for two players.
  • The height of official game goals/bins is 20-inches. Slot opening of the official goals is 13 inches (wide) x 3 inches (tall).
  • The flying discs or Frisbees weigh around n 160-175g. Official game calls for discs with a diameter of 10.75 inches.
  • Under windy conditions, you can anchor the goals with stakes.

Court setup

  • The game can be played outdoors in the yard, on the lawn, or on the beach. The mini version can be played on the floor or tabletop.
  • You place the goals/bins/buckets 50-feet apart from each other.
  • Each goal will have a front line marked at its edge as the official release line.

Number of players

  • You need 4 players for Kan Jam, divided into two teams of two each.
  • The two players of each team stand opposite each other near the bins or buckets. One is the thrower and the other is the deflector.

Scoring/Offensive Strategy

The main difference between the Can Jam and the horseshoe games is that the deflector gets to slap the frisbee thrown by the thrower of their team, so it is deflected and falls into the bin.

  1. Simply hitting the bin (any part of it) wins you one point. This is called Dinger.
  2. If the team member manages to slap the Frisbee into the bin, the team scores two points. An unassisted disc throw is called Deuce.
  3. If the person that tosses the Frisbee manages to directly get it inside the bin without touching any part of the bin earns the team three points.
  4. A bucket is worth 3 points and you can score it either through the top of the goal or by deflecting it into the slot opening.
  5. Tossing the Frisbee into the slot on the front of the bin or can is called an instant win.
  6. No points are awarded if the disc or frisbee hits the ground or another object before landing in the goal or being deflected into it.
  7. The disc may hit a blade of grass – if it does but still continues on its original trajectory, then it is a legal throw. If however, it hits a tree or another object and is stopped or changes trajectory, then the play is dead.
  8. The game goes to 21 points.
  9. One round consists of each team throwing twice – one per player. This means that the round ends after all four players have thrown.
  10. With the exception of instant wins, teams need to complete an equal number of turns.
  11. The team that is behind in points gets a final set of throws.

Rules

  • The game begins with the toss of the disc. The upper side of the disc is the head and the underside is the tail.
  • The winning team can decide which end of the court to play from as well as who will throw first.
  • Players will declare sides and teams will then separate – a single member goes to each court end.
  • Once a side is declared, players cannot switch sides in the middle of the game.
  • Each team shall use its own discs.
  • In official tournaments, the maximum number of discs players can bring is 5.
  • Teams can switch discs during gameplay but they must throw the same disc for the entire round.

Game Play

  • The thrower and deflector of one team will stand on opposite ends of the court.
  • The thrower throws the disc or frisbee and only if needed, the deflector will deflect it to land inside the bin/goal.
  • Both partners complete one throw each and then leave the court. The other team steps inside the court. At a time, only one team will be present on the court.
  • Deflectors can move anywhere around the goal. If needed, they can even move in front of the goal.
  • The throwers must never step over the release line at the edge of their side of the goal.

Winning the Game

Several scenarios can score a team a win:

  • It scores 21 points and the competing team cannot match.
  • After 8 rounds, the team with the maximum score wins
  • If the game goes to overtime, the team that outscores the other wins.
  • At any time, an instant win can end the game and the team that scores the instant win-wins.

What is Hammer in Kan Jam?

  • The hammer is the order of play wherein the team has the right to throw last. Choosing to throw last is advantageous in this game.
  • The team that loses the previous game has the right to decide who has the hammer
  • If the team with the hammer reaches 21 points first, they are the winners. The other team won’t get another round to tie.
  • If the team that starts the game reaches 21 points first, then the team with the hammer still has their last turn. They can use it to extend the game to overtime or catch up in points.
  • If team 1 throws and scores 2 points, and team with the hammer scores a bucket with 3 points on their first throw, then the game ends with team 2 victorious.
  • An instant throw-in overtime still ends the game. Even if the opposing team has the hammer  

What are Can Jam Overtime Rules?

  • The game goes to overtime when both teams score 21 points.
  • If after 8 rounds, both teams have the same score, then also the game extends to overtime.
  • In overtime, each team gets a single turn with both players getting to throw. After the first team gets their turn, the team with the hammer will try to tie the game or force it into a second overtime. If the team with the hammer scores a bucket with 3 points on their first throw, team#2 wins.
  • If both teams score the same number of points, then second overtime begins.
  • The game will continue for as long and as many overtime rounds as it needs for one team to outscore the opposite team.
  • Of course, an instant win will end the game – it doesn’t matter if the opponent team has the hammer.
Picture of a team tabulating their score after a kan jam game.

Best Kan Jam Sets

The best Kan Jam sets available on popular retail sites are:

#1. Kan Jam Original Dic Throwing Game

Kan Jam original is made in the USA and comes from the creators of this beloved game themselves. The maker of the game – Charles Sciandra, owns the company. So you can trust that you’re getting the best. It is very well-made, easy to assemble, and you can get playing within minutes.

Features

  • Goals/bins measure 20 inches high, 16-inches wide, and have a slot that is 13.5 inches wide and 3 inches high
  • The flying disc is 168 g and 10.75 inches in diameter
  • Made in the USA

Pros

  • Lightweight and travel friendly
  • Easy to assemble
  • Easy to store in car or garage

Cons

  • The cans or goals come in the form of plastic sheets with tabs. You have to assemble them into goals. Some tabs deteriorate with time.

Expert tips

  • If you’re playing on windy days, tie ropes to the bottom of the goals and stake them down.
  • Alternatively, bring the goals closer.

#2. Kan Jam Mini

You can play this mini version of Kan Jam indoors on the floor or on a tabletop! It also comes from the makers of the original game – the Kan Jam Store.

Features

  • Lightweight polypropylene construction
  • 3.94 x 3.94 x 7.09 inches
  • Made in the USA

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Compact storage
  • Great for gifting

Cons

  • Does not come in the original Kam Jam box/packaging

Expert tips

  • Play it on a 16-ft table or a beer pong table.

#3. Kan Jam Illuminate

Want to play Kan Jam at night? Then you need this glow-in-the-dark Kan Jam Glow version of the game!

Choose from multi-colored light-up goals and a LED-lit frisbee to keep your game going all night long. You simply attach the lights to the bottom or the side of the goals. The frisbee lights up too. This helps you see the disc and goals, even in pitch dark conditions.

Features

  • Requires 6xAAA batteries
  • From the Kam Jam Store – Made in the USA

Pros

  • Works as well in the day
  • Easy to assemble
  • Light and compact

Cons

  • The lights can get knocked off with the disc
  • Pricier than the original version.

Expert tips

To preserve the translucent finish of the cans, store them out of sunlight in the daytime.

FAQs on Kan Jam

What is the history of Kan Jam?

Kan Jam is based on a game called Garbage Can Frisbee, which was created by four friends in the 1970s in NY. Later, in the 1980s, Charles Sciandra and Paul Swisher from Buffalo, NY, refined it into the Kan Jam of today. Recently, they renamed the official version of the game Discflect for tournament-level play.

Who owns Kan Jam?

Charles Sciandra is the owner of Kan Jam LLC.

How many points is the dinger in KanJam?

A dinger is worth one point. You earn a dinger when you hit any part of the goal.

Conclusion – Kan Jam Rules and Playing Strategy

Kan Jam is a unique game that is quickly gaining popularity all over the world. It is increasingly being hailed as the best party game and tailgate game – Kan Jam or Can Jam. (It is also called Discflect by competitive players that participate in tournaments.)

Kan Jam was created by two New Yorkers, Charles Sciandra and Paul Swisher, in the 1980s. They refined the game by the 1990s and has soon sold 14,000 sets by the early 2000s. Today, it is one of America’s most beloved games for tailgates, parties, and family game nights.

I hope this guide encourages you to incorporate the game in your family/dorm game night as well!

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