Rules of Foursquare
Foursquare is a game found on playgrounds across America and other parts of the world. Despite its popularity, it’s a relatively new game. It was invented in the mid nineteen sixties. Play involves four players standing at the corners of a divided square painted or drawn in chalk on a paved surface.
Many playgrounds have a foursquare court painted on them. The court is a large square (“outside lines”) of sixteen (16) feet by sixteen (16) feet broken up into four equally sized internal squares (“inside lines”) of eight (8) feet each.
Each (inside line) square, sometimes called the player’s domain, has a number from 1 to 4 inside them with the “1” square being opposite the “4” square
One player will stand at each numbered square. Each number represents a rank, with 4 being the highest and 1 being the lowest.
Use a rubber playground ball or a standard volleyball. An “official” four square ball is an 8.5” rubber playground ball inflated to about 2lbs pressure.
Get in Order
Chose who will start on each square. The player in square 4 will begin the game by serving.
Player 4 (server and highest ranked player) starts play by dropping the ball, and hitting under hand from the resulting bounce to player 1 (receiver). Player 1 lets the ball bounce once, then hits it into whatever square they choose. Now the game has begun!
Players let the ball bounce into their square, then hit the ball underhand into the player of their choice’s square. This goes on until someone misses placing the ball inside another players square. In foursquare, misplacing the ball inside another players square results in a “fault” and leads to elimination.
Players get eliminated and replaced with the person in the next lower numbered box to you if you make any of these mistakes:
Hit the ball out of the playing area;
- Hit the ball without letting it bounce once in their own square;
- Hit the ball when it is not their turn to do so;
- Hit the ball after it has bounced twice in their own square;
- Hit the ball so that it bounces on one of the inner lines of the playing area (the outer lines are considered fair territory);
- Hit a ball that has been passed to them but played incorrectly by another player in one of the manners described above;
- Miss returning a ball completely;
- Hold onto or “carry” the ball before returning it in an effort to guide the ball into a particular area of another player’s square;
- Hit the ball overhand instead of underhand.
If this happens to you, go get at the back of the line of people waiting to be number 1, or if you only have four players, go back to the number 1 square.
Winning in Four Square
The goal is to get to number 4 and be number 4 for as long as you can. There is no official end! Make up rules with your friends and play for as little or as long as you like.
There are no official governing bodies in foursquare. However, university and civic foursquare groups do exist. Try to find one in your area!
One of the most respected organizations that promotes an annual “World Championship” is SquareFour.org.
Information on Square Four.org:
SquareFour was founded in 2003 by Sean Effel and Dana Ostberg in Becket, MA. They were both involved with the Becket Chimney Corners YMCA and brought the game of Four Square as a league to that community as an alternative game to be played in the long winter months.
Squarefour’s goal is to “create great competitive and social spaces for folks of all ages to enjoy casual sporting activities.”
The World Championships of Four Square was actually started by Peter Lowell and sponsored by the Main Lakes Association in Dridgton, ME. The modern championships were started in 2004 and continue today with dates generally set for late February.