It's been a long time coming that a new rating system would have to be made for professional level cornhole bags. When West Georgia Cornhole pioneered the scientific speed scale and flex rating system several years ago, it proved to be extremely helpful in the cornhole community, but it left a lot of questions unanswered. Certainly, everyone wants to know how fast each side of a bag is, but they also want to know what they can do with the bags as well. Even if bags might have the same speeds, not all fabrics and fills are going to react the same way when the make contact with the surface of a board.
Enter the SPARC system. SPARC is an acronym for slide, push, airmail, roll, and cut. These are some of the more predominant things people want to be able to do with a bag. As mentioned in our video on the SPARC Rating System, if you are really well versed with throwing bags, you can probably do near about any of those kinds of shots with any bag, but the SPARC rating of a bag will give someone a general starting point of what a bag will be better at doing than other bags.
This is something that every experienced player wants to know before going in and buying bags. The more information we can know upfront about the properties of a bag, the better. It gives us more realistic expectations for what kinds of bags we can use against certain opponents and in certain conditions.
The slide refers to how easily you can throw a bag and have it travel up the board into the hole. The higher the speed of the fabric, the higher the slide rating, but that isn't always the case. If there is a bag that is a much fuller bag, even if it's fast, it may not be the best bag at sliding up to the hole. Generally, faster and more flexible bags will have higher slide ratings.
How easily can you push through blocker bags? That is what the push rating is all about. While this metric is correlated to the fabric speed as well, a lot of this rating has to do with the geometry of the bag, the fill type, the drag coefficient, and the overall inertia of the bags.
The airmail may be the trickiest of all the SPARC metrics to get a true reading on, because much of what make a bag "airmailable" has to do with a player's preference and their level of comfort in throwing a bag. For us, it generally came down to how consistently we could release the bags in terms of grip and the friction of the fabric on the hands during release.
Generally speaking, the slower the bag, the easier it is to roll, but that isn't all there is to it. The most common denominator between all of our best roll bags is that the slow fabric on the bag is stiffer and the fast side fabric. Rolling is also done more easily with a fuller bag than a very loose bag. With somewhat tighter seams on a bag, the momentum of the fill doesn't dissipate as much on impact, which means it keeps moving forward more. If a bag is thrown at the right place, this momentum can cause a bag to go end over end resulting in a roll bag. The friction of the pellets against one another in the fill also contributes to this as well. If there is more friction with the pellet blend, it is like having "brakes" on your cornhole bag when it comes in contact with another. When there is less friction, the bag's momentum has to go somewhere, and most of the time it rolls!
Bags that grip the board and have the capability to twist when thrown at an angle receive a higher cut rating. This typically involves a player changing his or her angle of release, but when it is executed properly, the bag can hit and then travel at a diagonal angle across the board. Bags with a higher cut rating can typically be used to maneuver around blocks placed in front of the hole.