This is a simple game for five or more players (when I say more, the more the merrier - I have played it with 30+ participants.)

EQUIPMENT NEEDED : a ball (a football or volley ball is best, but it can be played with any size ball), a piece of chalk for marking out the court and sufficient space on a hard surface to mark out the court - the ball has to bounce.

PREPARATION : mark out the playing court on the ground (it doesn't matter if the surface is uneven, in fact it can add an extra dimension to the game) : ideally the squares should be around 2 metres across but exact size doesn't matter, nor do they need to be precisely square as long as all four are the same size.







Number the squares as shown.
One player stands in each of the four numbered squares and the rest line up around the perimeter of the square, starting at the Xs and carrying on along the side(s) as much as necessary.

The player in square 4 serves to any of the other 3 players; decide beforehand if you are going to allow overhand serves or stick to underhand serves; either way, the players must bat the ball to each other with their hands, they must not catch or throw the ball. The ball can bounce once in the square or players may hit it back before it bounces; the ball must not bounce in your own square from your hit. If the ball goes out, or into a player's own square then the player who hit it is out; if it is missed or not returned before a second bounce, the player who missed is out.

When a player is out she leaves her square and joins the end of the queue and the other players move round to the next square : for example, if player 3 misses, she leaves the square and stands behind player 8 (in the queue), player 2 moves up to square 3 and player 1 moves to square 2, and 4 stays where she is. The newly vacant square 1 is filled by the first person in the queue, in this case player 5, and play continues with player 4 serving as before. If player 4 is out, everyone moves up one, a new player joins at square 1 and the new player in square 4 serves as before to continue the game.

Four square is a fast game with a quick turnover of players, so no-one is waiting for their turn very long. It can be played indoors or out as long as there is enough room. There are no winners or losers, although competition to get to square 4 can be quite fierce, and the game ends when everyone has had enough or you run out of time!

* I first played this game on a PGL holiday in Wales, with an ever-changing selection of players of all ages who dropped in and out as they pleased, on the most uneven flagstone surface imaginable! It went on for HOURS, until well after dark. *

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