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The layout of a four square court.
|Setup time||30 seconds|
|Skill(s) required||Manual dexterity
Four square, also known as handball, downball, 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.
Four square is usually played with a rubber playground ball, a volleyball, or a tennis ball on a square court with four maximum players. The objectives of four square are to eliminate other players to achieve the highest rank.
Four square is played on any hard-surfaced court, such as wood, concrete or asphalt, with sides measuring 16 feet (4.9 m). The court is divided into four smaller equal-size squares, with sides measuring 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 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. However, a variation exists where if the ball touches the line in any way, the game is stopped and the second highest player proceeds to bounce the ball on the line and allow it to bounce three times, on the third bounce, whosever square it lands in will hit it, and the game proceeds normally.
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.
Four square is played with an 8.5" rubber playground ball inflated to 2 lbs. However, a tennis ball, rubber ball or volleyball can also be used.
During regular play, the ball must be hit with the player's hands only.
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. Hitting the ball must create a perceptible change in the ball's velocity (speed or direction).
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. However, the highest ranking player cannot be eliminated, instead moving to the lowest ranking spot.
The following violations result in elimination:
- Failing to hit the ball into another square
- Hitting the ball out of turn
- Hitting the ball incorrectly
- Hitting the ball out of bounds
- Letting the ball drop twice on a player's own square
- Holding the ball or carrying the ball
- Hitting the ball so that it bounces in another player's square without it bouncing in your own square
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. Children have also played with "unfriendly" and "friendly" moves.
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.
The Four Square World Championships, a competitive adult four square tournament, takes 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 22, 2014[update], the titles are held by:
- 2014 Div I Mens World Champion, Mark Pryor, Richmond, VA, USA
- 2014 Div II Mens World Champion, Billy O'Connor, Bridgton, ME USA
- 2014 Div I Women's World Champion, Tiffany Terrio, Biddeford, ME USA
- 2014 Div II Women's World Champion, Christine Roman, ME USA
- 2014 Team Champions, Raging Narwhals, Biddeford, ME 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, February 26, 2011, February 25, 2012, February 23, 2013, and February 22, 2014.
On August 4–5, 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, the previous record being held by 15 Manchester College students who played the game for 30 hours. The world record was previously held by eight Argentinean players for 29 hours in 2008, as recognized by Guinness World Records. The Argentinean record was preceded by a group of teens from Youngstown, OH who also played for 29 hours.
- Official Rules of Four Square. Squarefour.org (2004-09-10). Retrieved on 2011-06-18.
- Monstrous Collection of Cool Rules. Squarefour.org (2010-02-23). Retrieved on 2011-06-18.
- Nearly 100 players compete in Four Square World meet. Sun Journal (2011-02-27). Retrieved on 2011-06-18.
- World Champion of Four Square Crowned in Maine (Video) – New England Spotlight. NESN.com (2010-03-02). Retrieved on 2011-06-18.
- The Four Square World Championships attract a competitive and creative field of players to the annual gathering in Maine. – ESPN. Sports.espn.go.com (2010-03-04). Retrieved on 2011-06-18.
- Four Square Club raises fund for charity with record-breaking game - Hometown Weekly. hometownweekly.net (2012-08-09). Retrieved on 2012-08-15.
- Manchester College students try to break a World Record to raise money for church camp – CNN iReport. Ireport.cnn.com (2011-02-25). Retrieved on 2011-06-18.