Dear Sean,
During play, can a player occupying a specific square leave the square for any reason? I am under the impression that a player must always stay within their square. Please advise. Thanks - John, 6/1/2008

Hi John. I've answered this before but I'll give it another go.

The official ruling is that we let players run all over the court. But that doesn't mean this "ruling" is right for your players.

We're adults, we've signed releases, we play big, and that works for us. We enjoy the challenge of chasing the ball into the far corners of the gym or diving across the court in a last ditch effort to save yourself. The way we see it, its fine to leave your square but foolish to leave it empty and for the most part our athletes don't stray far.

But we have some other rules in place that make this possible.

The anti-poaching rule helps us keep clarify who is allowed to touch the ball and when. Basically this says if a ball touches a square then the only person who can hit it next is the owner of that square, anyone else touching it then would be out. This helps us make it clear when a player is in possession, not matter who might have crept into your square with you.

The interference variety of rules are designed to punish players who prevent a play from happening by getting in the way. This is one of the things stopping a player from flat out moving into another square and being in the way.

But on the flip side, there are advantages to keeping players in their squares.

There is less tendency for players to charge across the gym after a pop fly and accidentally crack some kids skulls together. It can keep the aggressive players in check.

So really, you can play any way you want, and four square is good in this way because you can adjust rules to suit the age and skill of the players. Let us know if this advice is helpful!