Very Best Games

Athletic Games Thinking Games

Four Square

Name of GameFour Square
Age Range5-adult
Number of Players2-8
Playing Environmentsgym, pavement
Shared Equipmentone playground ball
Individual Equipmentnone
SummaryThe court is a square 12 feet on a side, divided into four equal squares. One player, standing just behind the outside corner of his square, drops the ball, then hits it underhand into the square diagonally opposite. That player must hit it into any other player's square, and so on, until someone misses. The server's square is A, the top square, and the rest are B, C, and D, descending in counterclockwise order. If other players are waiting in line, the player who missed drops out, everyone below him moves up a square, and a new player enters D; otherwise, the player who missed drops down to D.
RulesEach group of kids seems to come up with its own variations on the rules, some allowing double-hits; others allowing fist hits, catching the ball, and even attempting tricks with the ball while the others wait. The basic game has the following rules:
  • If a ball hits a line between two squares, the player toward whose square the ball is moving is the one who must play it.
  • If a ball hits a player on the fly, and her feet are in bounds or she makes contact above an in-bounds area, that player is out. A variation makes any contact in the air illegal, but this can result in more chasing of stray balls, as wild shots can't be caught.
  • The serve must be playable: it cannot be too aggressive.

The liveliest form of the game keeps the hitting simple and quick, with no double-hits or catching. Fist hits are okay as long as bigger players aren't blasting little ones.

Scorekeeping and timing are rarely used for Four Square, but one variation keeps track of how many points each player survives while serving.
CommentsThis makes a good game for adults as well as kids. You can draw a court on any decent pavement.

The two-person variation, called Two Square, just uses half of a normal court and has surprisingly strong applicability to tennis, including use of spins.

You can find "official" Four Square balls, but any moderately light playground ball will work well. A basketball is too heavy.

We play this in summer and with mittens in winter.