# Four square

Players The layout of a four square court. 4 minimum 5 minutes Manual dexterity Strategy Social skills

Four square, also known as Handball, squareball, blockball, boxball, champ or king's corner, is a ball game played among four players on a square court divided into quadrants. It is a popular playground game with little required equipment, almost no setup, and short rounds of play that can be ended at any time. This particular sport was set up in 1964 and has been introduced around the world.

Four square is usually played with a rubber playground ball, a volleyball, or a tennis ball on a square court with four maximum players, depending on the rules (Big Four Square, Six Square, etc.). The objectives of four square are to get another player into dunce (out) and achieve the rank of king, or ace.

## The court

Four square is played on any hard surfaced court, such as wood, concrete or asphalt, with sides measuring approximately 16 feet (4.9 m). The court is divided into four smaller equal-size squares, with sides measuring approximately 8 feet (2.4 m). Each of the four squares has a rank and is occupied by a single player. The ranks may be arranged so that either the highest ranking square is positioned facing the lowest ranking square, or the ranks increase as one moves clockwise (or counterclockwise). The ranks from highest to lowest are Aces, kings, queens, jacks and dunce. In other words the top or "superior" square is square one and then two, three, and the lowest ranking square would be square four.

The lines on the court are boundaries. The interior lines separating player squares are out of bounds. The ball may not touch any portion of an inside line or the player who hit the ball is in error. The lines marking the outermost edges of the court are considered in-bounds. If a ball lands on or touches the inside lines then the game ends and the last person to touch the ball is eliminated.[1]

## The ball

Four square is played with an 8.5" rubber playground ball inflated to 2 lbs. or a standard volleyball. However, a tennis ball can also be used. During regular play, the ball must be hit with the player's hands only. Overhand strikes are not permitted.

The ball must be struck once and for a single instant only. Carrying, catching, or holding the ball during play is not allowed. Prolonged contact with the ball can give players unfair control over the play. Kicking the ball must create a perceptible change in the ball's velocity (speed or direction) to be legal and in many versions of the game is not legal under any circumstances.[1]

## Elimination

Players may be eliminated from the court because of errors or fouls they commit. Eliminated players leave the court, the remaining players move up to the next highest square, and a new player joins the court in the lowest square. Eliminated players wait in line for their next turn.

• Failing to hit the ball into another square
• Hitting the ball out of turn
• Hitting the ball incorrectly (such as on the full into another player's square or hitting the ball twice without calling double touch)
• Hitting the ball out of bounds
• Missing the ball from another player
• Letting the ball drop twice on a player's own square
• Hitting a shot from another player when it was double bounce or not hit correctly. This is often referred to as "playing the handy". "playing the doubles", "full played", "played it", etc.
• Holding the ball or carrying the ball

In casual games, the highest ranking player may modify the game's rules at the beginning of each round. Many modifications either expand or constrain the legal methods of ball handling. Children refer to these modifications with elaborate local and regional nomenclatures: e.g., double-taps, underhand-only, blackjack, snake eyes, and bus-stop. Common modifications include: whirlpool (the ball must be passed clockwise or anti clockwise until king or queen says end whirlpool), No returns (If the player passes a ball back to a server who has said no returns is out), Pass back soft (pass back the ball with a low amount of push pressure.[2] Children have also played with "unfriendly" and "friendly" moves.[citation needed]

## Terms

There are a number of terms which are used in many versions of the game, such as:

• Airbourne or handy, hitting the ball with your hand and making it go into another square without it bouncing in yours first, resulting in being out
• Into, players going into others squares, resulting in either a play on or Replay (note: sometimes kids claim "friendly-fire", "invaders"or "square hog" to escape this; however, most of the time this is not allowed)
• Re-Serve, foul serve
• Re-Play, a case of unclear situation in which 2 serves
• Interference, a term when another person interrupts the game, for example, walking through the court
• Fault 123: If king serves the ball and gets himself out, he can use his faults to defend himself. There is usually a minimum 2 faults and 3 maximum rule for the number of faults allowed.
• Tea party, when two players pass between themselves excessively, thereby excluding the other two players from the game.

## Game scalability

Four square is a popular game for children and school playgrounds. It is possible to scale the game's difficulty and supervision appropriately for different age groups and ability levels. Schools, churches and camps often change the size of the court, the type of ball, or aspects of the rules to best suit the players' abilities.

## World championships

The Four Square World Championships, a competitive adult four square tournament, take place in Bridgton, Maine, USA, each winter season. Peter Lowell of the Lakes Environmental Association hosts this annual fundraiser each winter to support the environmental work done in the lakes region of Maine, USA. This competition draws athletes from the USA and Canada, and has registered competitors from Israel to Bermuda. As of February 26, 2011,[3] the titles are held by:

• 2011 Div I Men's World Champion, Marc Hirsh, Somerville, Massachusetts, USA
• 2011 Div I Women's World Champion, Christina Laverentz, Somerville, Massachusetts, USA
• 2011 Div II Men's World Champion, Tom Tivoli, Maine, USA
• 2011 Div II Women's World Champion, Sue Grodberg, Malden, Massachusetts, USA
• 2011 Judges Choice, Sydney Adams, Granville, Massachusetts, USA
• 2011 Audience Choice Award, Matt Eckhardt, Philadeplhia, Pennsylvania, USA
• 2011 Team Award, Raging Narwhals, Biddeford, Maine, USA

(Division I includes ages 13 through 39. Division II includes ages 40 and up.)

Prior world championships have been held on January 29, 2005, January 28, 2006, February 3, 2007, February 16, 2008, February 28, 2009, February 27, 2010,[4][5] and February 26, 2011.

• 1987 Floyd Fisher of Champaign, Illinois outlasted 124 others to win the World Four Square Championship in Oslo, Norway

## World record

On August 4 and 5 2012, a core group of 17 Needham High School students and alumni — assisted by 50 other Needham residents at various times — broke the previous world record by playing for 34 hours,[6] the previous record being held by 15 Manchester College students who played the game for 30 hours.[7] The world record was previously held by eight Argentinean players for 29 hours in 2008, as recognized by Guinness World Records.

## Downball

Downball (also known as handball) is an Australian variation of four square played throughout Australian schooling institutions. It is played on courts usually consisting of 4–6 squares, in which each player occupies one square at a time. The game is played with a tennis ball or a rubber ball, which is served by the player in the "king" or "ace" square. The object of the game is for the player to navigate their way to the "king" square by eliminating opponents. Eliminating opponents can be achieved in the following ways:

• A player fails to touch a ball as it bounces (limited to one bounce) through their square
• A player touches the ball twice in their own square
• A player hits the ball and it bounces twice in their own square (This of course include a serve from the "king or "ace")
• A player hits the ball into another square without first bouncing in their own square (This is known colloquially as a "straight" or "full")
• A player hits the ball and it proceeds to roll through their square or another player's square. (Naturally, this is known as "rolls" because of the rolling nature of the ball)
• A player hits the ball and it lands out of the boundaries of the court
• Interfering with other players or the ball
• Hitting the ball on an inside line. Elimination does not occur if the ball is hit on exterior lines (know as "Liner"), for there is no question on which square it was hit into. If the ball is hit onto an intersection (where and inside and an outside line meet), the player who hit it is out.

A version of the game that allows play without a ball. It is played outdoors in a sandy location. Four squares are drawn of the same dimension as four square and a small stick is selected as the "ball". It is decided who starts, and one of the four children tosses the stick into one of their neighbour's squares. At this point everyone runs away from the squares as far as they can before the "tagged" child (the one with the stick in their square) can touch the stick. When the stick is grabbed the three runners must stop and stand. The holder of the stick now attempts to hit one of the runners with the stick. If successful, the "tagged" child may use the stick to draw a new border into the runner's square from the edge of their square creating a much larger piece of land for themselves. But if the "tagged" child misses, the rules are reversed and the runner gets to claim land. The new landholder then has the stick and selects the next target and the game continues until one child has all the land. Surprise becomes a strategic element when the "tagged" child runs away with the others not realizing the stick has landed in their square, creating an impossible to win situation due to the distance the other players have gotten to.