Rules & Requirements


  1. The decision and interpretation of the ABA Rules and Requirements are at the discretion of the Contest Representatives. Their decisions and interpretations are final to the extent they are consistent with the ABA Rules.
  2. Every team at a contest, whether in Pro or Backyard division, will receive ABA “Trail” points. These points will be awarded from First place to Last place. Additionally, every team, up to a maximum of 50 teams, will be awarded bonus points based on the number of teams participating in the event (Pro or Backyard). Pro events will count only the teams competing in the Pro division; and, Backyard events will count only the teams competing in the Backyard division.
  3. Professional teams may not compete in Backyard competitions. If a Pro team participates in a Backyard contest, that team will be removed and all teams in that contest will move up accordingly. Contest coordinators are required to notify the ABA Board regarding the team status (Pro or Backyard). Because of the limited staff of the ABA, we operate on an “honor system”. It is requested that organizers, teams, and judges display the utmost character because the ABA staff are unable to police every transaction.
    The definition for the composition of a Backyard/Amateur Cook Team is as follows: (I.) Any member of the team who has not entered in and competed in more than twelve (12) sanctioned “Pro Division” BBQ competitions in the past and (II.) any person who has been a member of a team who has not been awarded a Grand Champion or Reserve Champion status in any KCBS sanctioned “Pro Division” competition and (III.) any member of the team who has competed in three (3) or fewer “Pro Division” BBQ competitions within the current competition year.
    If any member of the team has entered in and competed in more than twelve (12) sanctioned “Pro Division” BBQ competitions in the past, they are ineligible to participate in the Backyard/Amateur competition. Any person who was a member of a team who has competed in three (3) or fewer “Pro Division” BBQ competitions within one (1) competition year may be considered an amateur and may declare or revert to such status. This includes the Chief Cook and/or Assistant Cooks. The only exclusion to this rule would be those judges cooking with a team to qualify for Master Judge status. Individuals who feel they have extenuating circumstances may appeal to the KCBS Sanctioning Committee or their designee for reconsideration as an amateur. Those requests must be made in writing at least 90 days before the competition in question.
    The purpose of defining Backyard/Amateur Cook Team is to ensure a level playing field in the cooking competition. The Cook Team cannot have been compensated as a Pro BBQ Restaurant or Caterer.
  4. All Teams (Pro and Backyard) are required to be a member of ABA in good standing for the current year to be eligible to compete for “Trail” points. Good standing means having a paid membership and an assigned ABA Member Number. Membership applications are available via the Join link on the ABA website: Team Membership Dues are $40.00 per year. An ABA Number will be assigned to each team upon receipt of their Team Membership application and dues.
  5. Individuals (non-cook teams) may also join the ABA. Individual Membership Dues are $25.00 per year.


  1. All scoring for the Backyard division will follow the KCBS scoring guidelines with 1 thru 9 being the scores given by the judges.
  2. The Pro teams will follow the rules of the Association that has sanctioned the event.
  3. The only scores to be submitted to the ABA, for their Team Of the Year “Trail” points, are the overall standing of the teams for that competition, First place thru Last place.
  4. For Backyard competitions, only the overall score the teams receive for the meat categories will count towards “Trail” points. The meat categories are limited to: chicken, pork ribs, pork butt or shoulder, and brisket. Should a Backyard contest require only 2 meat categories, only those categories will be scored. No Backyard contest may require fewer than 2 major meat categories. Additional category scores (sausage, seafood, desert, etc.) will not be included in the overall ABA scores. The ABA only accepts the overall score of the meat categories (chicken, pork ribs, pork butts or shoulder and brisket); the competition may have all 4 of the meats but a Backyard competition must have at least 2 meats.
  5. After adding the points for the chicken, pork ribs, pork butt or shoulder, and brisket to decide the First place thru Last place teams, this point system is to be used to decide the overall placement of teams for the ABA, both Pro and Backyard.
    Follow the examples given in this paragraph. Use the chart below for computation of overall placement scores for the ABA as follows: 1st place 250 plus 1 bonus point for every team competing in the individual divisions, up to a total of 50 teams; (for example: if you had 40 teams in the Pro, the first place winner would be awarded 250 plus 40 bonus points equals 290 “Trail” points; likewise, if you had 25 teams in the Backyard, the first place winner would get 250 plus 25 equals 275 “Trail” points.)  

1st - 250 + BP 2nd - 225 + BP 3rd - 200 + BP
4th - 175 + BP 5th - 150 + BP 6th - 140 + BP
7th - 130 + BP 8th - 120 + BP 9th - 110 + BP
10th - 100 + BP 11th - 95 + BP 12th - 90 + BP
13th - 85 + BP 14th - 80 + BP 15th - 75 + BP
16th - 70 + BP 17th - 65 + BP 18th - 60 + BP
19th - 55 + BP 20th - 50 + BP 21st - 45 + BP
22nd - 40 + BP 23rd - 35 + BP 24th - 30 + BP

25th and down is 25 points + BP (1 Bonus Point for each team competing up to 50 teams)

  1. The Contest Organizer is responsible for calculating the overall scores and sending them to the ABA Board secretary. All scores must be sent to the ABA in “Excel” format only. No other format will be accepted. Additionally, these scores must be sent within 3 weeks after the contest or there is no guarantee the scores will be included on the ABA website.
  2. The “Team of the Year” score for the Backyard and Pro divisions will be based on the team’s best 5 “Trail” points.


  1. There will be the same number of judges at each table so that each team will be judged by the same number of judges. For example, you cannot have 5 judges at one table and 4 at another. It is recommended that you have one (1) judge for each team,
    Additionally, for the ABA portion of the contest, all meat categories; i.e., chicken, pork ribs, pork butt or shoulder, and brisket must be judged by the same group of judges, you cannot change judges between these categories.


  1. ABA Trail Competitions may not be held on the same weekend unless there is at least 100 miles distance between the competition sites.
  2. For any event to be sanctioned by the ABA, requires the contest organizer to provide a list of teams that compete in the event, either Pro or Backyard divisions. Requirements also include the team name, pit master, email address and/or mailing address plus phone number.
  3. If a team does not want their name and contact information given out, that is OK; however, if they happen to be one of the winners and have a trophy and check coming, ABA will not hunt them down to award the prizes.
    The purpose of the ABA is to promote BBQ in the state of Alabama. Additional teams want to participate in events that are part of the ABA network and are willing to travel to do this. With complete contact information, ABA can let teams know about your event and provide you with better promotion. We are adding more prize money and will be advertising our events throughout the state and in neighboring states to help promote your events and get more teams to compete and more people to attend. By having all the contact information in place we can grow the ABA.