Dear Sean,
I'm a big fan of Four-Square, and my friends and I play with the standard rules. However, I use a couple variations in my play that might be good enough for this site. I hope you appreciate the suggestions:

  • A cool custom rule technique is a "bus-stop," where a player may stop a ball in mid-air before it lands on his/her square. After stopping it and letting the ball bounce the one legal bounce, a player may now hit a better positioned ball. If one is using the "body language" rule, a player may bus-stop with any part of his/her body.
  • The four-square (the "royal," "ace," or "stone-cold") is usually the one to determine the line boundaries. In other words, he/she should be the ultimate decision-maker on whether a ball is in or out. Only if it is completely indiscernable should a showdown be made.

Hope that helps! - John F, 8/21/09

Thanks for the note, John. I'll address your comments in the order they were received.

I've played this bus stop rule of yours before, except we used to call it "backboards". It would let a player tap the ball once, allow the ball to hit the ground once, and then hit the ball a second time for real. It's pretty fun. We called it backboards because it was a lot like using the backboard of the basketball hoop to sink a basket.

But we know a different rule by the name of bus stop, and it's totally crack dope. Basically, the rule is such that if a designated person were to yell the words "bus stop" then all players would abandon the ball and run to the center of the court. The intersection of the four squares represents the school bus stop where the bus picks you up for school. The bus only has three seats and the last person to touch the bus stop with their foot is hosed and has to walk to school. They're out. It's a massive departure from the normal game.

To the same tune, the rule called "mailbox" means that kids have to run to the outside corner of their square. That corner is called the mailbox, its across the street from the bus stop, and the last kid to check their mail doesn't get any. They're out.

These are awesome rules, John, but I have to admit that your second suggestion just wouldn't work in our league. We're overflowing with aggressive type-A personalities who would rather argue their way out of a play then learn to play better. Letting the top player determine who was out is a big conflict of interest on the court, so we would rather leave it up to a third party.

I might begin calling four square "stone cold". I can call it whatever I want, actually, since that's where I am most of the time.

Thanks, John. Keep it real.

Tiger Claw isn't sure who or where this whole "aggressive type-A personalities who would rather argue their way out of a play then learn to play better" commentary is being directed . . . [peers over shoulder] . . .

Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it. -- Jules Renard