Four Square

Photo By jodigreen

Photo By jodigreen

Apparently, there is normal Four Square, and then the crazy version that I grew up with. The older I got, the more I realized that I had been playing Four Square wrong all those years as child. But since I haven’t played Four Square since elementary school, it has never mattered that much. It makes me sad inside when people have no recollection of playing Four Square the way I did because it made Four Square so much more exciting.

The Traditional Way

The way Four Square is normally played is on a square divided into 4 smaller squares. The sidewalks at my school were convenient to play on because the concrete was split up into perfect sized squares. Each person stands in their square and bounces a ball back and forth to the other players in an attempt to get them out. A player is out when the ball is hit incorrectly or bounces too many times in a square. Once the person is out, everyone rotates to a higher ranking. For example if player 3 gets out, player 2 moves into player 3′s square, player 1 moves into player 2′s square, and the first square is filled by someone waiting in line. The object is to reach the highest ranked square. This continues for as long as everyone is willing to play. Its good exercise if played correctly and can get highly competitive.


We followed all of the same rules as the traditional method, but we spiced things up. I always thought it was the way everyone played this game, but apparently not. The highest ranked player was King, then Queen, Jack, and Baby (or Dunce) followed. I’m not sure how all of the spots were determined at the beginning of the game but it usually panned out in a sort of social hierarchy.

Photo By vissago

Photo By vissago

Whoever was King got to make the calls, therefore, there was more incentive to be King.  The King would make the call, and then play would continue accordingly until someone got out and then a new call would be made. Sometimes the King would just get tired of the call and would change it once he regained control of the ball. Since there was no real way to win Four Square, getting to be in power for a few short minutes could really change the whole entire day for a kid.

The thing about calls was that, if you didn’t know what all of the calls were you were at a disadvantage. I really only remember the names of the calls, but not what they did, so I used the help of the internet to refresh my memory:

Around the World

Once this was called, the ball would either go clockwise or counterclockwise around the square until either the King called “Peace”, a player broke the pattern, or a player got out.

Bus Stop

The King placed the ball in the middle of the court where all the lines intersected while calling out “Bus Stop” and all the players needed to place their hand on the ball. The last one to do so was out.

In another variation, all of the players except for the King would dash to the center of the court. Again, the last to reach the center would be out.

Cherry Bomb

This was probably one of the most memorable calls. The King would spike the ball hard into someone’s square making it difficult to pass the ball on. You can continue to slam the ball toward the ground with extreme force into another square, which makes it hard for the next person.

Or the King would throw the ball out of  the square and if the person given a cherry bomb didn’t get it back in ten seconds they were out, which was usually the case.

Four Corners

Photo by dentedup

Photo by dentedup

All players except for the King would retreat to their corner. The last one to reach their corner was out.


The first person (usually the king) would throw the ball up into the air, clap once, then pass it to the second person who would clap twice while the ball was in the air, and so on. The longer the ball was in play, the more clapping you had to do before you had to catch the ball.


This call would require you to spell out your name. You would bounce the ball for each letter. Whomever you passed it to would have to do the same and so on.


Once declared, the King and the chosen player would hit it the ball back and forth between them only. If one of them messed up at anytime, that player would be out. If the King called “Peace” before the end of the round, the game would return to normal.

I know there were more, but my memory fails me. What way did you play? If you played the way I remember, what was your favorite call? Were any of the calls different from how I described them?

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34 Responsesto “Four Square”

  1. Dan Lount says:

    Theres Pac Man, the Ace chases the other players and the first on he touches is out, if your still in you can go to either king or Queen

    P.s. the psitions are Ace, Highest King 2nd highest Queen 3rd highest jack lowest

  2. Clare says:

    There’s also waterfall, where you put your arms together at the elbows all the way down to your hands, put the ball in between your elbows and chest, and let it roll down your arms. You can also give it a little push to get it going to the next square. I also do “taps”. It’s kind of like volleyball. You “tap” it to another square, but you can’t hold it for more than 5 seconds. “Baby” is when everyone sits down with your legs apart, then you roll the ball to someone. You’re out if the ball goes past your legs. “Black Magic” is when everyone closes their eyes except the Ace – that’s what we call it. Then the Ace moves people’s positions around. Black Cherry Bomb is when the Ace puts the ball in the middle and everyone has to touch it, then run out. The last out or the one who doesn’t touch the ball before running out is out. Snake Eyes is when you look at someone, but throw it to someone else. That’s all.

    P.S. All are called by the Ace.

  3. keith says:

    there was something called posion where some one bounces it into a aquare but be4 it hits the ground the player has to catch it and say poison and then the person that threw it is out

  4. anonomous says:

    There is also a game called glass ball they pass the ball around but they cant drop it

  5. anonomous says:

    there is baby drops too. to play that you get close to the line a drop it like a baby but you cant let it bounce in there square more than once or the person you did baby drops on is out!!!!!!!

  6. elisha says:

    Thank you for another informative web site. Where else could I get that type of information written in such a perfect way? I have a project that I’m just now working on, and I’ve been on the look out for such information.

  7. razor420 says:

    Also, dont forget Bobbling, that is when you bobble it between your hands and as long as you dont hold it you can keep it until you drop it in another square.

  8. unknown says:

    I hate these rules

  9. unknown says:

    what about below knees?

  10. Leanne says:

    LOVE these rules!! i was trying to teach my young cousins….

    I remember one where everyone had to put their feet where the lines intersect and the Ace would drop the ball. Whoever didnt move their foot in time would get hit and be out….anyone know what that was called?

  11. Jill says:

    Theres a rule called rainbow when u throw the ball as high as u can and the other player has to catch it or they r out.

  12. Eura Heade says:

    I have to say, youve got 1 of the greatest blogs Ive seen in a long time. What I wouldnt give to be able to make a weblog thats as intriguing as this. I guess Ill just have to keep reading yours and hope that 1 day I can write on a subject with as significantly expertise as youve got on this one!

  13. Camden says:

    u guys r noobs when i would play anyone could call these rules at anytime and we would make our own up alot like treetops, off the wall (4 inside), and stickfigures

    Ps the positions r king queen jack and toilet

  14. [...] This blog gives a good breakdown of the basic rules: [...]

  15. doggirl 1 says:

    there is also chicken feet – throw the ball at opponent’s feet.

  16. doggirl 1 says:

    you can call animals – each person has to name a different animal – if repeated that person is out. You can use colors or states or food – keep naming different ones until someone is out or there is a repeat.

  17. [...] are a few sites for more information about rules and ideas for fun add-ons., and Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  18. Unknown says:

    There is whips, cherry bombs, spikes, chicken feet, black jack, red jack, side balls, fastballs(whips), carry, snake eyes, regular, oldskool, and playing.

  19. saraaaaa says:

    i remember shusi rollls which you spin the ball making it harder to hit
    also rainbow where who beend when you throw it up in an arch to make it harder to hit

  20. saraaaaa says:

    theere is chicken legs when teh ball bounces twice insted of them eing out they have to hop on one leg

  21. Swift says:

    I remember almost all the rules that our school used.
    Treetops, Double Tipping, Body Parts, Master Padlock, Padlock, Snake Eyes, Plays, Cherry Bomb, Babies, Tiny, Pacman, Batman, Spuds, China, Japan, Triple Tipping, Quadriple Tipping, Bus Stop, War, Four Corners, Black Magic, Mystery Box, Dipstick, Butter Fingers, Lockpick, Pick, Key, Skeleton Key, Paper Clip, Destruction, Bubbling, Lawless, Spuds Only, TRIC (a.k.a Normal/Old Skool), Shoeshine, Interference, Assist, No Specials, Specials, Tag Team, and Friend Keys. We went crazy with the rules and it was fun. We made people start in 4 and try to get to 1 though.

  22. Memory lane says:

    I definitely remember four corners and bus stop. Was so sad with many of the ‘official versions’ without these calls!

  23. Mr. Pickle says:

    There is also blackjack, where if you catch a ball before it bounces in your square the player who passed it to you is out.

  24. Mr. Pickle says:

    and there is whirl pool where you need to pass it in a circle until ace or king calls it off.

  25. Sheri says:

    i thought babbies is where u went and dropped the ball in the other persons square and they had to get there before it bounced more than once
    and cherry bomb is where u bounce it really hard in there square and they can catch it and go about the game or it goes out there square and they out and if u caught the ball before it bounced in ur square the person giving u the ball is out

  26. unknown says:

    all of the ones i can find right now:
    around the world
    bus stop
    cherry bomb
    four corners
    type writer
    pac man
    black magic
    black cherry bomb
    snake eyes
    glass ball
    baby drops
    below knees
    drop foot
    off the wall
    stick figures
    chicken feet
    category (colors,animals,states etc.)
    black jack
    red jack
    side ball
    old skool
    sushi rolls
    one leg
    double tipping
    body parts
    master padlock
    triple tipping
    quadruple tipping
    mystery box
    butter fingers
    lock pick
    skeleton key
    paper clip
    spuds only
    no specials
    tag team
    friend keys

    p.s. the squares are King Queen Jack Peasent. King being the highest of course and peasent being the lowest. i know i didnt explain them but just look up the ones you want to know how to do. hope i helped.

  27. chris says:

    there was also banana boat where one person throws the ball and if they don’t get back in the square in time then they would get out

  28. Amythest D. says:

    I play this all summer with my cousins, siblings and other kids on the street. We play that King is the highest, then Queen, Jack, Ace. We play regular (old school) or with rules that the king decides. We also call all the little games, Minigames.
    Popcorn- king throws the ball up in the air and has to clap once the catch it, queen throws the ball up and has to clap twice before catching it… it continues until someone doesn’t clap the right number of times or drops the ball
    Pacman-every player stands on a line and the king tries to catch you by standing on the same line. You can only follow the lines
    Storytime- All sit in there squares. The king says a word to begin the story, then passes the ball to the queen. When the ball is touched you must continue the story by saying another word as soon as you get the ball with no hesitation and it must make sense or you are out
    Old Bones- Every player must hunch over and bend their knees and play as if they were really old
    Body Parts- you can hit with anybody part and cannot use your hands (except for serving)
    Mutated- there are different restrictions in each square. Ace can only use their hands, jack can only use their dominant hand, queen can only use their nondominant hand, king can’t use their hands (except on serving)
    Shoeshines- if the ball hits your foot while it is on the ground without hitting your square the person who hit it is out
    Airborns- a player can catch the ball before it hits the ground and call airborns, the thrower is out
    Baby Roll- if the ball is rolled on the ground and impossible to hit it is a baby roll and the roller is out
    Spikes- the ball is hit as hard as possible only using one had
    Cherrybombs- the ball is hit as hard as possible with more than one hand
    Sour Grapes- if you argue with the king you are out
    War- two players play only in their two squares untilone is out
    Bus stop- last person to put their foot on the center line is out
    4 Corners- last one to get in their corner is our
    King’s Corner- Last person to be in the kings corner is out
    Poison Ivy- Everyone puts their foot on the center line and must leave it there. If you move before the ball is dropped you are hit you are out
    Gaurdian Angel- If you save a player (usually younger or bad) and get out king can call guardian angel and you are still in
    Chicken Feet- you must play with your feet
    Whirlpool- Must play clockwise/counterclockwise
    Fire Alarm- you must jump out of your square, last one is out
    I am probably forgetting some we have lots of rules! I hope these helped. I liked learning the new rules too

  29. cherry505 says:

    cherry bomb
    the king( square A) they would bounce the ball into someone’s square and they would have to get the ball back into there square until there 10seconds is up. r else they are out. they can also throw the ball into there square.

  30. SolarMagnus says:

    I remember it being King, Queen, Jack (sometimes Prince or Princess), and Ace, and that only the King could say what was in effect and only at the start of a round (after a player got out). The mini games were:
    Dancing Cabbages- Any spectators or waiting players (if there are 5+ players), upon this call, are allowed to dance around and/or through the playing area while the ball is held.
    Snake Eyes- Looking at one player, then tossing to another player.
    Zaps- Bouncing the ball, with WAY more force than needed.
    Fire In The House- Everyone has to jump out of the playing field. Last to get out is out. When the King says “Fire out”, regular play resumes.
    PAC-MAN- The king, while holding the ball, chases the other players around the court’s lines until a player is tapped by the ball, and, as such, is out.
    Hadoukens- Throwing the ball to a person without it bouncing.
    Shoryukens- Tossing the ball into the air. If it lands in someone’s square, they’re out.
    Chorus- A song is chosen (and agreed on), then when the ball is passed, the receiver must sing one line of the song, then toss to someone else, who sings the next line, and so on, until the song is over.
    There are tons of ones I didn’t mention, like Butler or Backup, but these are some of the better ones (except FiTH. It sucks).

  31. Mark Bounheuangvilay says:

    There’s popcorn pass is when you and another person team up and popcorn it then both of you throw it up and smash it to a persons square.

  32. Harrison says:

    Story time is one too. It’s when everyone sits down in the center and everyone puts their hands behind their backs. Then the king says a word. The king will then tell a story. If he says that word, everyone has to put their hands on the ball. The last one to do so is out.

  33. Moshe says:

    Please Help!
    There was a game I used to play that was a much more aggressive version of Four Square, we called it Wallball. I looked up Wallball on the net, and it’s not the same game.
    Basically you divided an entire gym into 4 squares. You used a big rubber ball, like a kickball. The object was to hit the ball into another persons square as hard as you could and it had to bounce more than 3 times before the other person could catch it. It was fast, it was furious, and it was fun. But I’ve never seen or heard of it outside the time I played it. Anyone heard of something similar? Or know it by another name?

  34. Anonymous says:

    thats not popcorn

  35. Awesome! Its truly amazing post, I have got
    much clear idea concerning from this article.

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