Dear Sean,
I work in a Youth Detention Centre, in the Programs Department [in British Columbia, Canada], and I would like to paint a four square game on our courtyard grounds for the kids. Could you please give me the proper dimensions for the game? Thank you very much in advance. - Sandy, 1/21/08

Hi Sandy, thanks for the note. I have to say that I can really appreciate the transformative nature of four square for kids. I have been playing this game with youth and teens for ages and this sport gives kids a real opportunity to show off, talk trash, earn street cred, gang up on the little guy, and foster repressed animosity. Throwing troubled kids into the maw of this game definitely a winning idea.

Seriously, though, it all depends on your ages. We big kids (read: adults) play on a court that measures 16 foot on each side, so thats actually a court made of four 8 foot squares. That's a pretty big court. It gives an area that's not too small and yet big enough that we have to be aerobic to cover it. For kids, you can drop the courts down to any size that you feel is appropriate for your age group, maybe using our adult size court as a benchmark.

If you are unsure of the best dimensions, try taping down a court temporarily and seeing how it goes. If you have a mix of ages you could do two courts, just be sure that there is enough room between them that no one gets hurt while playing. If you don't have space for it, try concentric courts like a 16 footer and 10 footer court, using the same center point but two different colors.

Hopefully this will lead you and your delinquent youth in the right direction!