Written by Jim Banko, U.S. Steinholding Founder

Official Steinholding Rules

In the experience of the U.S. Steinholding Association, rules and enforcement are critically important to the legitimacy of any competition. In order to ensure that all competitors are being judged fairly and to the same standards, our Executive Rules Committee has created the following rules, which are updated periodically to improve clarity for competitors and judges alike. It is important for all competitors to know them in advance and incorporate them into their training early on to ensure good form, so if you are planning to host a competition, share these rules with all potential competitors. The images below help to demonstrate the rules visually.

Official U.S. Steinholding Association Rules

Version 1.4 - Updated April 2024

How to Compete and Win:
  1. The competitor who can hold their stein with proper form (as described in the rules below) for the longest without being disqualified by the judge will be considered the winner.
  2. An infraction of any rule will result in a strike being issued by the competition judge. After two strikes, the third strike results in immediate disqualification of the competitor.
  3. If any amount of beer spills or drips off of the stein, the competitor is immediately disqualified, regardless of the number of strikes previously assigned.
  4. Once the match has started as signaled by the judge, the competitors will immediately extend their arms, and may not set the stein back down, switch hands, or touch the stein with their off-hand (hand not holding the stein).

The Rules:
  1. A 1L dimpled glass stein with handle weighing approximately 3 lbs must be used. Steins used for each competition should be of the same brand and style, and should be provided by the establishment hosting the competition to ensure consistency.
  2. The stein must be filled with liquid up to the 1L line marked on the stein.
  3. The stein must be gripped by the handle.
  4. The thumb may not rest on top of the stein handle; it must rest on the other fingers.
  5. The pinkie finger may be held outside of the stein handle. If positioned outside the handle, it may touch the stein handle, but it may not touch the body of the stein.
  6. The stein must be gripped such that the front (the side of stein opposite the handle) faces directly away from the competitor, extending in parallel with the arm.
  7. Limited arching of the back is permitted, however only minimal leaning is acceptable. In the vertical plane, the competitor's elbow must never cross behind the back of the ankle of either foot, and the competitor's armpit must never cross in front of the hips or toes of either foot.
  8. Significant leaning to the left or right side is unacceptable. The upper torso may not be noticeably angled to the competitor's left or right side, and the line between a competitor's shoulder blades should remain close to parallel to the ground.
  9. The stein must be held out directly in front of the competitor, not out to the side. The line between a competitor's shoulders should remain close to perpendicular with the arm holding the stein.
  10. The arm holding the stein must remain close to parallel with the ground and from a side view should remain close to perpendicular with the line of the torso from the neck to the bottom of the rib cage. The arm holding the stein must be extended straight with no bending at the elbow.
  11. The arm holding the stein must remain separated from the chest and torso of the competitor. The chest and torso may not be used to support the arm.
  12. The off-hand should remain at the competitor's side and may not touch or support the stein or the arm holding the stein. The off-hand/non-holding arm may be held in a straightened position against the competitor's side but may not otherwise be used to brace or support the competitor's torso.
  13. Competitors may not contact any other structures, objects, or people during the competition.
  14. Competitors must stand within their personal area and may not move more than is necessary to make adjustments ensuring proper form during the competition.
  15. If any amount of the liquid filling the stein spills or drips off of the stein, the competitor is immediately disqualified, regardless of the number of strikes otherwise assigned. NOTE: During outdoor competitions or in humid conditions, judges must take care to differentiate between dripping resulting from condensation or sweat, and dripping resulting from spillage.

U.S. Steinholding Association Competition Apparel:

  1. No brace, support, or strap of any kind may be worn during competition.
  2. Athletic compression clothing is acceptable, however stiff or supportive clothing (such as a bench press shirt) may not be worn.
  3. The elbow of each competitor must be visible to the judge to ensure straightness at all times. If a competitor is wearing a shirt with loose sleeves that go past the elbow, the competitor should be asked to roll up the sleeve so that the elbow can be viewed.
  4. The wearing of gloves or the use of grip powders, pine tar, or any similar substance is prohibited.

U.S. Steinholding Association Judging Guidelines:

  1. Within the first 60 seconds of a competition, judges may provide corrections to competitors (hold higher, straighten back, straighten elbow, etc.) without assigning an official strike. However, if a competitor does not immediately make the correction, a strike should be issued. The allowance for corrections does not apply to spillage, which results in immediate disqualification even during the first 60 seconds.
  2. Judges should be conservative but consistent and fair when assessing competitors.
  3. Failing to adhere to all of the rules, or being inconsistent or too lenient with judging will negatively impact the competition experience for competitors and spectators, damage the reputation of the competition establishment, and improperly prepare competitors for further competition.
  • Good grip
  • Good grip, alternative
  • Thumb up - not ok
  • Unacceptable grip - holding mug body
  • Unacceptable grip - sideways facing
  • Arm parallel to ground, no elbow bend
  • Too much arm bend
  • Holding too high
  • Holding too low
  • Way too arm bend
  • Stein not held out in front of competitor
  • Stein held properly out in front of competitor
  • Acceptable amount of leaning
  • Arm contact and overlap with chest

Jim banko national steinholding champion Jim Banko is the founder of the U.S. Steinholding Association. He is the 2015 Hofbrau Masskrugstemmen National Champion and previous United States record holder for Steinholding with an official time of 17 minutes and 11 seconds.

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