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How to Play Kan Jam? the Fun and Beginner-Friendly Outdoor Disc Game

Do you have a Frisbee, a couple of garbage cans, and some friends? Then you’re ready to learn how to play Kan Jam!

Kan Jam is a game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, fitness levels, and levels of athletic ability.

With all of the fun of coordinated partner play, but requiring much less running around than a game of Ultimate Frisbee, Kan Jam is a popular choice for family gatherings, days at the park, and anyone who wants to get the feeling of throwing a perfect shot from 50 feet away.

Originally called “Garbage Can Frisbee”, Kan Jam was created by a group of friends in Buffalo, New York. At first, this new game was only popular around Buffalo, but it wasn’t long before Garbage Can Frisbee started to spread around North America, and then the rest of the world.

By 2005, Garbage Can Frisbee had changed its name to Kan Jam, and was ready to take the world by storm! It gained popularity as a schoolyard game, and these days, Kan Jam is played far and wide, on several continents.

How to Play Kan Jam: Game Overview

Rules & Equipment

Kan Jam is a game for four players divided into two teams. Each pair of partners needs a Frisbee and a special goal bin known as a “kan”.

If you’re playing with an official version of the game, you will already have the cans (or kans, in this case) ready to go. If you’d like to try Kan Jam before making a purchase, don’t worry! You can easily use garbage cans as goals, provided you’re alright with cutting a hole in the front of them.

To begin, have each partner stand on opposite sides of the play field. One player should stand beside the goal, and the other should stand across from them with the Frisbee.

The objective of Kan Jam is to get the Frisbee into the goal, with one player throwing and the other doing their best to slap the flying discus out of the air into the can.

The player closest to the goal is known as the “deflector”, and it is their job to make sure that all of their partner’s shots make it into the goal.

The deflector is free to move around the play area however they like, as long as they don’t interfere with the other team. The player throwing the discus, on the other hand, has to stay put. If their foot crosses the designated throwing line, their shot is forfeit.

Once the shot has been made, partners should switch places, with the player who threw the disc taking their turn as deflector, and the player who previously acted as deflector taking their turn throwing. Once both partners have taken shots, play passes to the other team. This entire process constitutes one round of play.

If the deflector manages to hit the discus into the side of the can, that’s one point. If it strikes the side of the can without the deflector’s help, that’s two points. If the deflector manages to “jam” the discus into the can, either through the hole on top or the slot in the front, that’s worth three points!

In Kan Jam, the first team to exactly 21 points is the winner. If a team makes a shot that brings them above 21, for instance if they hit a three point shot when they have 19 points, the point total for that shot is deducted from their total score rather than being added to it. That would make our hypothetical team’s three point shot worth negative three points, dropping them down to 16.

Ties are decided with simple tiebreaker rounds, taking turns shooting until one team ends a round with more points than the other. This team is declared the winner.

If you like this game, chances are you’ll also enjoy a game of polish horseshoes.

A game can also be won before either team gets to 21 points. If the player tossing the discus manages to throw it into the slot on the front of the can without any help from the deflector, that’s an instant win! Nailing this tricky shot is known as “chogging” it.

Scoring a chog is the only way to beat a team that’s thrown a perfect game, which can only be achieved by scoring seven three point shots in a row.

Kan Jan is a game with a fair share of terminology, but don’t worry about remembering it all right away. After all, remembering the terminology is not as important as remembering the rules themselves. But if you’re a stickler for nailing the lingo, there is a helpful appendix below.

Standard spacing for your goal buckets is 50 feet, but depending on your setting, feel free to adjust your throwing distances and fudge the rules based on the abilities of your participating teams.

As long as you’re not in an official, competitive setting, making sure everyone has a good time and an even shot at winning is often more important than respecting the rules down to the letter!

Kan Jam Game Variants

Kan Jam Game Variants
  • Kan Jam Mini: this version of Kan Jam is small enough to be played indoors like a regular board game, thanks to its miniaturized throwing disc and goal cans.
  • Kan Jam Splash: designed for use in the water on hot summer days, Kan Jam Splash features floating equipment, not to mention smaller cans and discs.
  • Kan Jam Hard Count: This football-themed version of Kan Jam is a more traditionally athletic version of Kan Jam, using cones as goals rather than modified garbage cans. Played in a larger, 20 yard play area, this variant on Kan Jam is much more intense, requiring players to run, throw, and catch if they want to win.

Appendix of  Kan Jam Terms

  • Hammer: The player throwing the disc
  • Deflector: the partner whose responsibility it is to strike the disc into the bucket
  • Dinger: a one point shot, where the deflector hits the disc into the side of the bucket
  • Deuce: a two point shot, where the disc strikes the side of the bucket without the deflector’s assistance (also known as a “direct hit”)
  • Bucket: a three point shot, in which the disc is deflected into the can by the deflector, either through the hole on top or the slot on the side
  • Jam: The act of a deflector striking the disc into the can is referred to as “jamming”
  • Chog: Throwing the discus through the small slot in the front of the bucket is known as a chog, and instantly wins the game. A chog is the only way to beat a perfect game of seven three point shots in a row. Chog can be used as a noun, as in “to throw a chog”, or as a verb, as in “to chog a disc”
  • Kan: a special variation on a trash bin made for Kan Jam, with a slot in the front for chogging.

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