Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For the Christian denomination, see International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. For the New Zealand grocery chain, see Four Square (grocery)
Also, the game has a variant named Handball, but it is a two player similar type of four square game, though it is like "two squares". Square changing is optional, though there is only the highest rank and lowest rank is required. This type of rule is called "King's Rules". Another variant where all the squares are ranked is named Kingpin.
The game of four square requires a ball. The ball may be a rubber or "bouncy" playground ball, such as is used in the game of kickball or a basketball. A volleyball generally makes for very poor gameplay, and its use is not recommended. In New Zealand a tennis ball virtually always used, as this enables faster, more skillfull and enjoyable play. Four square is played on a square court divided into four smaller squares of equal size. There is no "regulation" size of the interior squares and since the game is played by both younger children and older children, considerations must be made for the size of the players. Many playgrounds have four square courts painted on the pavement, but if no such pre-fabricated court exists, large cement tiles that are of the same size and have clearly defined edges make excellent substitutions. Also, sidewalk chalk may be used on a driveway or road to make a court from scratch.
A round of four square is started by the server in square 4. After announcing any rule variations, the server hits the ball underhand into any adjacent square. The receiving player hits the ball after one bounce into any adjacent square. Play continues like this until a player gets "out" or there is a disagreement about the outcome of a round such as confusion over hitting a line, resulting in a consensus decision of 'out' or 'do over.'
The 'out' player moves to the end of a line of any people waiting to play. Players in lower numbered squares than the eliminated player progress to higher squares. So, for example, if player 3 is out, player 2 takes his place and player 1 moves up to square 2. The next person waiting enters the game in square 1.
There are many ways to get out. These rules only make up the default set, and some portions are modified or ignored by a multitude of variants. The rules which are very commonly changed are denoted by asterisks. In Australia, "out" is probably termed as a "full".
A Player is out if:
- The ball bounces from their square to outside the bounds of the court.
- The ball bounces from their square to another player's square without interaction with the Player.
- The ball bounces in their square twice. Also called as "doubles".
- The Player hits the ball and it goes outside the bounds of the court.
- The Player hits the ball in such a way that his fingers are pointed upwards.* This is called a downhit.
- The Player hits the ball before it bounces once in their square.* This is called an airhit.
- The Player hits the ball after it has bounced in another player's square.
- The Player gets hit by the ball and has to keel over.*
- The Player hits the ball and it does not bounce once before entering another player's square. (More common when playing with a tennis ball)
There are as many variants as there are playgrounds. The variants often have cool-sounding names such as black magic, white magic, bus stops, cherry bombs, and voodoo squares. A variant may be invented at any time. The player of highest rank, the one who serves the ball to begin play, is responsible for declaring any and all variants. The declaration "regular" is understood to mean the standard rules, listed above.
Category Four Square
In this version, the server names a category (e.g. types of drinks or girl's names) before play starts, and each player must name something in that category when they hit the ball. If a player fails to come up with an accurate item in the category, they are out.
In this version the squares are ranked King, Queen, Jack and Dunce. The player in square 4 (King) moves to square 2 (Jack) when they are 'out' with the players in squares 3 and 2 (Queen and Jack) moving up into squares 4 and 3 (King and Queen). The players in squares 3, 2 and 1 (Queen, Jack and Dunce) all move to square 1 (Dunce) when they are 'out', while players in lower numbered squares than the eliminated player progress to higher squares. Only when The player in square 1 is 'out' does another player enter the game.
Allowed and Banned Moves
Players may make certain hits that are considered cheap, unfair, or bad sportsmanship because of the difficulty of receiving the ball. Games with beginners generally choose to ban difficult moves. Some advanced variations will only allow the servers to hit the ball a certain way, such as high bounces. Servers usually specify if they allow or disallow the following:
- "Babies": A name for a hit that bounces less than 10 cm off the ground and goes across a very small horizontal distance.
- "Don't Accept": If there are Outs on Serves, the first receiver still may choose to "not accept" a serve if they made no attempt to hit it.
- "Footsies": A term for when the ball is hit by the leg or foot rather than the hand. It can be harder to hit the ball in a player's own square with the foot, though the hit can be much more powerful than a hit with the hand.
- "High Bounces": Also known as "Jolly Green Giants", "Volcanoes", "Bombers", or "High Towers", a high bounce is when a ball goes higher than a height of about 1 meter above the receiver's head. More than for being hard to receive, this move is often discouraged for risk of the ball getting on a roof, and for taking much more time than a normal hit.
- "Holdies": The name for when a player holds the ball for longer than they are supposed to set by the server. Usually a player can only hit the ball and not hold it, but some rules allow holding the ball for half a second or less if using a special move.
- "Interceptions": After the ball hits the server's square and before the ball lands in the receiver's square, any player besides the server or receiver may grab the ball and hit it normally as if they received it. This often happens if the ball passes through one players' square but does not bounce in it.
- "Backstops": a player, upon recieving the ball, hits the ball straight up with an underhanded motion with both palms, lifting the ball, and then hitting the now airborne ball with two flat palms forward to an adjacent square. Accepted variants include "set-ups" or "lobs" which allow a bounce between the first and second hit.
- Lines": When the ball hits the line, it is usually a re-do. Some servers choose for there to be "play-ons" if the ball hits a line: the players continue play as if the ball was in one of the players' squares, and if no player continues, it is a redo. Some servers choose for lines to be automatic outs, or even say multiple players can get out if the line between them is hit by the ball.
- "Outs on Serves": Usually, the first person served to and the server are unable to get out on the first hit, but to make the game move faster sometimes players can get out even on the first hit.
- "Rollies": A term for when the ball rolls, usually done when a "Skimmie" is too low to the ground to tell if it bounces. Generally, the player who committed the rollie is out, though sometimes the play is redone without any player getting out.
- "Slog": A low-boosted move of hit and timing when a player hits the while it is about to touch the ground, the player hits it low with hand straight out under-armed. If the hit does not bounce in the player's square, it is out.
- "Skimmies": Similar to Babies in their low height, skimmies are hits that skim across the court quickly. They are initiated by a hit with a fist close to the ground or an underhand "bowling" motion.
- "Steals": The same as interceptions, but they may happen after the bounce in the receivers square.
- "Bods": The player is allowed to use a specified part of their body to hit the ball, their head or foot for example.
If the server chooses to allow them, any player may call a "War" on another player after they receive the ball. Once a War is called, the two players may only hit the ball to each other, as the other squares are considered "out". Therefore, only one of these two players will get out, and gameplay resumes as normal afterward. A server may choose for wars to last until one of the players is out, or may allow one or both players to call "Off-war" and end the war before either player is out, resuming normal play. It can also be called out as "Challenge No-Brakes", which is commonly called in Australia.
Number of Squares
If there are only two players, a square court may be spilt up into two large rectangles, with the privilege of serving alternating. This is usually only entertaining if both players are very good.
Players may also choose to form a larger court of six (two by three) or nine (three by three) squares, to accommodate large amounts of players waiting in line. Players do not receive the ball as frequently, but the gameplay is enhanced as the ball can be hit more directions and further distances. In Six-square and Nine-square, one of the central squares is the server's square, and the other players rotate around it.
A fairly common variant in New Zealand is line square, in which the squares are arranged in a line rather than in a grid, thus allowing for any number of squares and participants.
Making the Game Harder
This rule is optional. If the ball bounces on the lines anywhere throughout the lines of the squares, then the player that served the ball hitting a line must do a "line serve". A line serve is when the player that hit the ball on the line has to re-serve.
The squares are sometimes called, from highest to lowest rank:
- A, B, C, D
- Gold, Silver, Bronze, Plastic
- Server, Third, Second, First
- Ace, King, Queen, Jack
- King, Queen, Jack, Dunce
- King, Queen, Jack, Fool
- King, Third, Second, First
- King, Second Square, Third Square, Trash Can
- King, Queen, Jack, Toilet Bowl
- Green (server), Red, Blue, Yellow
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