Four Square / Box Ball Rules, History, Tips & Equipment

A history of Four Square / Box Ball, how to play, tips for improvement & necessary equipment

Four Square / Box Ball Overview

Four square, also know as box ball, is a popular playground game. It is fun, easy, fast paced, and has little required equipment. The game has no time constraints and quick rounds, so it can be ended at any time.

Four Square / Box Ball History

Not much is known about the history of four square. The game is thought to be at least a hundred years old. Kings corners, a similar game, is mentioned in children's books at the turn of the 20th century.

Four Square / Box Ball Rules

Four square is played on a court of four equal, adjacent squares. One player stands in each square. Each square has a ranking one to four. The highest ranking is diagonal from the lowest ranking. The object of the game is for a player to move up to number one, and remain there as long as they can. The lines touching the other squares are in bounds, and the lines on the outer sides of the squares are out-of-bounds.

Players can hit the ball with any part of their hand from wrist to finger tip. The hit can be open or closed fist, forehand, or backhand. The ball may also be hit with two hands at the same time like volleyball. Carrying, catching, or holding the ball is illegal. The player in the highest ranking box begins the game by serving. The ball is bounced in the servers square and then hit into another square on the court.

Players are out if:

  1. The ball bounces two consecutive times in their square before another player hits it
  2. They hit the ball out-of-bounds
  3. They hit the ball more than once before hitting it into another square
  4. They touch the ball when it is not in their square
  5. The ball bounces in their square and goes out of bounds
  6. They violate the special rule invoked by the server

Players who are out go to the back of the line, and the remaining players move up to the highest ranking empty square. The player at the front of the line enters the lowest ranking square. Play continues until time runs out.

Variations in winning the game include: There is no winner; The last person in the highest ranking square wins; The player who spent the most time in the highest ranking square wins.

Four Square / Box Ball Tips

Four square is a fast paced game that requires concentration. Players should aim to get the better skilled players out before they reach the highest square.

Four Square / Box Ball Equipment

The game of four square requires a playground ball, and a four square court. One can make a four square court using chalk or tape.