Four Square

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Four Square is a game very commonly played at most CTY sites. It requires a Four Square ball (though a kickball, basketball, tennis ball, or even a soccer ball may suffice) and four squares drawn on the ground (though sidewalk tiles, if large enough, may suffice).

The Basics

Four Square is a game involving a ball, four squares arranged to form a larger square, and at least four players. Each square is recommended to be 6 to 8 feet in length. Each square has a name, as well as a rank. The name and rank, from lowest to highest, is as follows (though this may vary depending on where people live):

  1. Jack
  2. Queen
  3. King
  4. Ace

Each player stands in a square, the Ace with the ball. The general gameplay is very similar to tennis - the Ace serves the ball to a person in another square by bouncing the ball in his own square once, then hitting the ball to another player. That player then hits the ball to another player, maintaining a steady pace of the game, and so on, until a player gets out. The play is then over, and the ball is returned to the Ace to begin the next play.

Misconceptions

Four Square has become popular in many elementary schools and thus has built itself a reputation of a game it is not. Here are some common misconceptions that should be avoided when possible.

The Objective

Many players believe the objective of the game is to achieve the highest-ranked square. However, because Four Square is a cooperative game, such an objective would cause players to turn against each other and attempt to get each other out. In reality, Four-Square is a defensive game where the objective is simply to stay in the court as long as possible. Targeting other players and attempting to get people out is mean-spirited, which CTYers most certainly are not.

Making Up Rules

In many variations of the game, the Ace is able to modify the rules of the game to his liking, "turning rules on or off." These extra rules, however, do nothing for the game except allow people to target each other and further disrupt the game's rhythm. This generally degrades the game rather than enhances it, but it is how many elementary schools play; Four Square is just like any other sport, though, where the rules cannot be modified. Players who enjoy modifying the rules of a game should play Mao.

Rules

Four Square essentially has a very simple set of rules, but this article gets rather detailed in order to serve as a reference for advanced players.

Getting Out

Getting out is considered a penalty for a player disrupting the pace of the game for the others. There are 6 absolute ways of getting "out," which cannot be debated upon or reconsidered. These methods are listed below:

  1. Double-Bounce - if the ball bounces once in the player's square, then a second time anywhere else without the player hitting the ball
  2. Double-Touch - if the player touches the ball twice in a row in the air (unless the Ace calls double-touches, which were very common in BRI)
  3. Own Square - if the player hits the ball in his/her own square
  4. Out - if the player hits the ball out of the court
  5. Hold - if the player holds the ball
  6. Reaching/Volleying - if the player hits the ball without it first bouncing into his/her square

When a player gets out, he/she moves to the Jack square, while the rest of the players move up to fill in the empty space created by the player getting out (i.e. Jack moves to Queen, Queen moves to King, King moves to Ace). If more than four players are playing the game, the player who gets out moves to the back of a line next to the court, while the person in the front of the line moves to Jack.

  • Keep in mind that all players are required to HIT the ball. Pushing, spinning, or throwing the ball is considered a hold.

The Line

When playing Four-Square, avoid thick lines at all costs, as they induce arguing amongst the players. The line is simply used to divide the court into four squares, and on the occasion that the ball hits the line in between two squares, players should continue playing as they normally would. If the player somehow hits the line on the outer perimeter of his/her own square, it is considered Own Square. If the ball hits the line, and then bounces out, the play is classified as a Redo.

Redos

A Redo is when the current play ends, but no player is legally out. In this case, all players maintain their normal positions and the ball is returned to the Ace to be served. Some reasons a Redo may occur are listed below:

  1. If the ball hits the line, and then out, without any player contacting the ball
  2. If the ball is served and goes out without any other player contacting the ball
  3. If a player waiting in line or a person not in the game interferes with the game (called an Interference)
  4. If a Dead Ball occurs in the form of "gradually dead"

In most cases, Redos are called because no player can absolutely determine which player is out. Redos may not be used as an excuse to stay in; in other words, if a majority feels that a player is out, that player should not argue a Redo. Redos are used only if all players are unsure whether or not one is out.

Dead Ball

A "Dead Ball" is defined as a point of time in a round in which the ball is simply rolling on the ground rather than bouncing. There are two different types of Dead Balls that are treated differently when they occur, explained below:

  • Gradually Dead - The ball gets steadily lower throughout the round until it finally begins to roll.
  • Instantly Dead - The ball is high enough to hit normally but a player hits it such that it rolls.

If a Dead Ball occurs in the form of Gradually Dead, it is no specific player's fault that the game was stopped, so it is considered a Redo as explained in the previous section. If a Dead Ball occurs in the form of Instantly Dead, the player who caused the Dead Ball is considered out, usually by Own Square.

  • Dead Balls are much less likely to occur when using a proper Four Square ball. Basketballs are usually the reason Dead Balls occur, as they are much heavier and bounce differently.

Reaching and Volleying

Suppose the ball bounces in the Jack's square but happens to pass the Queen's square first. After the ball bounces into the Queen's square, the Jack may instinctively reach into the Queen's square in order to try to hit the ball. Sometimes if the ball bounces in the Jack's square, for example, and is heading towards the Queen's square, the Queen tends to reach and hit the ball before the Jack is able to.

These types of events are called Reaching. Reaching is usually unintentional, as it is instinctive to reach for and hit the ball. However, Reaching is a violation of the rules and is considered out. To avoid Reaching, players should try to hit the ball only after it bounces in his/her square.

Similarly, Volleying is defined as one player hitting the ball, then a second player hitting the ball without the ball touching the ground at all. Once again, in this case, the volleying player is out.

At BRI, it is commonly called hacking. Sometimes, hacking is allowed by the Ace. Hacking causes a lot of confusion.

Variations

Soccer Four-Square

At BRI, RA Joe started Soccer Four-Square. As implied, a soccer ball is used. It is a mix of soccer and four-square in which players are not permitted to use their hands or arms. In soccer four-square, the ace can and will often call double touch, triple touch, or unlimited touches. This allows some players to stay in for much longer. "Dirty" serves were often called if a player puts their foot on top of the ball, but it is often played.

This was also very popular at Easton 17.1.

Nine Square

Initiated CAR 14.2 by RA Robel (?), this is four square but 9. Makes for a very interesting game, because the person in the middle can easily be squashed. One essential rule: if your body hits the ball, and then the ball does not go in another person's square, you are out. No other rules allowed. This was heavily played by *the male population of* Macro b. Memorable instances include Riley's hall bonding which took place during the last two activity periods (after having had some horrible bubble-tea) and during one of the dances, when the game was joined by some wandering Micro students in front of KW building.

Places where it's common

  • Stanford (Baby CTY, defunct)
  • Chestertown
  • KW CAR
  • Lancaster
  • Mt.Holyoke (Baby CTY)
  • Bristol
  • Easton
  • Los Angeles
  • Seattle

(Please add more )