Four Square Game Rules - How to Play
- The Object
- The object of the game of four square is to eliminate players in higher squares so that you can advance to the highest square yourself. The ball is bounced between players in squares until someone makes an error and is eliminated. Eliminated players leave the court, all players advance to fill the empty squares, and a new player joins at the lowest ranked square
- During play, players may only hit the ball with their hands. Players may not catch, carry or hold the ball at any time during play.
- Inside lines are out-of-bounds. If a player hits a ball onto any inside line then that player is out. This applies to ALL inside lines, not just the lines that border her square. If a ball touches an inside line, the player that hit is last is eliminated.
- Outside lines are in-bounds. If a player bounces the ball onto any outside line, it is still in play. However, if the ball bounces outside of the outside line, it is out of bounds and the player that last hit it is eliminated.
- There are two sets of lines on the court. “Outside lines” are the outermost edges of the entire court, while “inside lines” refer to the line dividing individual squares of the court that cross in the center.
- Squares are ranked from highest to lowest. You can use numbers 1 through 4, or use letters. The highest and lowest ranked squares should be diagonal from each other.
- Serving the Ball
- The ball is always served from the highest ranked square to the lowest square. Squares one and four are positioned diagonally across the court. The server must drop the ball and serve from the bounce. The ball must be allowed to bounce once in the receiving square, then the receiving player must hit the ball into another square of his or her choice. After the receiver touches the ball, the ball is in play.
- The receiver of the serve is allowed only one mistake on each round, we call this a fault. If the receiver of the serve hits the ball incorrectly, or fails to hit the ball inbounds, then the receiver is allowed to take a second serve. There is only one fault allowed per player per round.
- Normal Game Play and Possession
Each time the ball bounces in a square, the owner of that square must hit the ball into another square. No exceptions.
Once the ball touches down in a square, ONLY the owner of the square can touch the ball next. If she does not, then she is out. If she hits it poorly or out of bounds, she is out. If another player hits the ball before she does, at any time, the other player is out.
Once that player hits the ball once then any other player may hit it next. This means it is not necessary to let the ball bounce again before another player hits it. The next player to touch the ball is subject to all the normal rules.
Each time a player is eliminated, that player leaves the court and all players advance to the higher numbered square squares. The lowest ranked square is then filled with a new player. All eliminated players leave the court and wait for their next turn to join in the lowest square.
These situations represent all the ways in which a player may be eliminated from the court. Players are eliminated for:
- Failing to hit the ball into another square
- Allowing the ball to bounce more than once in their own square
- Hitting the ball out of bounds or onto an inside line
- Hitting the ball incorrectly, such as holding, catching or carrying
- Hitting the ball with a part of the body that are not hands
- Hitting the ball out of turn (poaching)
- Violating any number of local rules that are made up on the playground