Four Square is a fun playground game that almost anyone can play. All you need is chalk or tape to make the squares, a ball that will bounce, and at least 4 players. Try playing with the standard rules, or mix it up for some fun!
EditPlaying Basic Four Square
- Mark 4 squares on the ground. You can make the squares any size you want, but make sure you have enough room to play. Make the squares about per side for most players, although adults might enjoy the challenge from squares.
- Number the squares from 1 to 4. The squares should be numbered clockwise starting with 1. This means the 1 and 4 squares will be diagonal from each other, as will the 2 and 3 squares.
- Some people use the letters A, B, C, and D instead of numbers, while others use titles of royalty, such as Jack, Queen, King, and Ace.
- Use a standard rubber playground ball if you have one. This is often called a kickball and is a rubber ball about in diameter. If you don’t have a playground ball, use any ball that’s and bounces at least 50% of the height from which it was thrown.
- Australian players use felted tennis balls to play Four Square.
- Make sure everyone agrees on the rules before you start playing. If you’re playing by the standard rules, make sure everyone knows what they are. If you’re playing by variations, or if the server is allowed to make up rules during the game, make sure everyone is aware of this and agrees to it.
- Having everyone on the same page before the game starts will help prevent disputes during the game that could ruin the fun.
- Have a player stand in each square. The players don’t have to stay in their square the entire time, but they should stay close in order to defend their area.
- Serve the ball from the highest-ranked square to the lowest. The server should bounce the ball once in their own square, then hit the ball so that it goes diagonally to the lowest-ranked square. The receiver can then hit the ball in any direction they choose.
- Many people play Four Square so that the 4 square is the highest-ranked square, and therefore the server’s square. If this is the case, the server should stand in the 4 square and hit the ball towards the 1 square.
- Some people play the game so 1 is the highest-ranked square and 4 is the lowest. In this case, the serve would go from the 1 square towards the 4 square.
- The serve always goes in the same direction.
- Allow one fault for the receiver per round. After the serve, the receiver should allow the ball to bounce one time in their square, then should hit it in whatever direction they choose. If they don’t hit the ball correctly or it goes out of bounds, that is a “fault,” and one fault is allowed per round. If the receiver misses the serve twice in a round, they are eliminated.
- The round lasts until a player is eliminated.
- Take turns hitting the ball after it bounces in your square. Once the ball is in play, whoever’s square the ball lands in should be the next to hit it. The ball is considered “in play” after someone touches it but before it lands in another square, meaning players can hit the ball in the air. You must hit the ball before it bounces a second time.
- Hit the ball with any part of your hand but do not catch it. Players are not allowed to carry, catch, or hold the ball during play. However, they may repeatedly bounce the ball off of their hands in order to avoid breaking this rule.
- Advance to a higher numbered square when a player is out. The goal of the game is to move up to the servers’ square. If you have more than 4 players, a new player will move into the lowest-numbered square when a player is eliminated.
- If you only have 4 players, the person who is out moves to the lowest-numbered square and the other players move up, if applicable.
EditPlaying Variations on the Game
- Allow young players to catch the ball for an easier version of Four Square. Younger or less-skilled players might have more fun if they can catch the ball before throwing it again.
- Assign 2 players per square if you have 8 or more players. Play a relay-style variation of Four Square by having 2 players for each square. Whenever one player hits the ball to another square, they’ll jump out of their court and their partner will jump in.
- When playing with 2 players per square, if one player is out then the team is out. If everyone agrees, however, you can adjust the rules to allow the other team member to continue playing until they are out.
- Hit the ball into your own square first for an Australian variation. Australian players must bounce the ball in their own square, regardless of whether the ball has already bounced in their own square. Also, in Australian Four Square the ball is allowed to touch the line.
- Play Black Jack to get players out faster. In Black Jack, if a player can catch the ball before it lands in their square, then the person who hit the ball is out. This usually makes the game move faster.
- Allow the server to make up special rules to keep the game changing. The server can call a rule that all of the players must follow, but it only lasts for that round. When the round is over, the server must call the rules again or else it’s assumed there are no special rules.
- A special rule might be something like 7-Up, in which each player who hits the ball has to call out a number one higher than the previous player. The player who hits on the number 7, or any number that ends in 7, must skip that number or they’ll be out.
- Another rule the server might call could be Underhand, in which all of the hits must be made with the back of the hand. Players should keep their hands open and their palms facing up.