Rules Question: Poaching

All right, I need a rules clarification:

At the 1/8 game I was called for poaching and lost the 4-Square based on the call. The situation was that the ball was hit by the 1-square and was in the air over the line between the 3 and 4 squares. I (in the 4-square) hit the ball into the 3 square and the player in 3-square missed the ball, but she called me for poaching because the ball was, in her opinion, over her (the 3) square, and that a player doing that has ?poached,? and is out. Although I thought the ball was in the air between the two squares, I wasn?t familiar with the rule and therefore took myself out of the game.

I just checked the website rules (, and checked the section on Poaching and have pasted it below:

?It should be mentioned here that there are times when one cannot hit the ball. When a ball bounces in a square it is that player's responsibility to hit the ball into another square, and failure to do so would be a fault making her out. Other players may not interfere with a player's turn by hitting the ball and preventing her from returning it.

Specifically, if the ball lands in another player's square then other players are not allowed to touch that ball until it has been hit again. This tactic is called 'poaching' and is not allowed. However, there is nothing stopping one from hitting the ball before it touches a square.?

According to the rules (most specifically the last sentence of the above) it appears that there is no such thing as Poaching if the ball has yet to hit a square; i.e. if the ball had hit the ground in 3-square and I then hit the ball, keeping the 3-square player from playing it, I would be guilty of poaching, and would then be out, but if I hit the ball before it hits a square, whether it is contested air-space or not, it is a legal play.

Could the powers that be please address this burning Four Square rules question as I will be unable to sleep until things are clarified?


Jason McG's picture

Sounds like the ball was hit from second square towards third square. Is that right?

Either way, what you've described is definitely not a poach, but since I'm not the powers that be, don't take my word for it.

hillary's picture

perhaps the image listed under ,"photos, totally randoms, poaching illustrations" will help.

sean's picture

Sounds like it was a bad call, and unfortunately we must accept some small margin of bad judgement in a fast-paced, blood thirsty game like four square.

Poaching is called when someone attacks the ball that belongs to another player. If the ball has first landed in a square then only that square's player can hit it. If the ball has not landed first then it is fair game (though if you hit it poorly then it's you who is out). That illustration was made exactly to, um, illustrate the poaching rule, thanks for pointing it out Hillary.

Anonymous's picture

If the ball bounced in your square and you ran into hers to play it, it wouldn't be poaching. Of course, if you hit it in her square and were in her way so she couldn't get to it, that would be interference and you'd need a showdown. I think, anyway.

Bonzilla's picture

Thanks for the judgements. It appears I was the victim of a misinterpretation of the poaching rule, but as was accurately pointed out, sometimes that happens in the nylon coated, 2-lb inflated bloodbath that is competetive four square. Plus, now I know the correct rule, and if all those years studying GI Joe in the 80's taught me anything, it is that Knowing is Half the Battle. Go Joe!