Dear Sean,
I just started a four square club at the University of Michigan. It's been a lot of fun and pretty successful so far, but recently one of our rules has been disputed, which is that you can't hit any overhand shots. We put it in place to prevent huge cherry bombs and cheap shots, but I went to research other clubs' rules and found your site. What's your reasoning behind allowing overhand shots? Thanks, and I really like your site! - Jake, 12/20/2007

Well, here's the thing. Those guys that pound the ball basically do one of two things pretty consistently. They either hammer it into the square and get someone else out, or they hammer it into the outfield and get themselves out. The overhand smash only works like 50% of the time and the time that it does work its not positive to be accurate.

Our reasoning is that we don't want to create base rules that restrict people in terms of their skill and ability. If we limited overhand hits by default then we might as well ban right hand hits because its just too natural as well. But we can allow special rules for no overhand smashing so that players can use this as a defense, which makes the game that much more dynamic.

There is an interesting idea that some kids in Iowa dreamed up - this is the smash zone. Imagine an extra square around the main court, and if hits took a second bounce inside that smash zone then the play is good and someone should be out. But if a hit takes a second bounce outside of the smash zone then we're talking about someone who hammered it too hard for anyone to return. This minor limitation adds incentive to hit the ball with more skill and grace rather than by brute force.

Thanks for the note and comments, Jake. Hope this gives you a little insight.