Floor Square is perfect for kids and adults of all ages. I've found that 2nd graders and older are better at remembering all the rules. If you're playing with younger players, consider eliminating some rules to make it more simple.
What is Floor Square?
I might even like Floor Square more than I like Four Square. I came up with the game because I got tired of a lot of the arguments that came from Four Square. It's not always obvious who's square the ball went into. It's not always obvious whether the ball bounced in bounds or out of bounds. So I found a way to eliminate a lot of those areas of difficulty. The game is set up like this:
Set up notes:
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- Five gallon buckets with sand to weigh them down
- Plastic storage bins
- Cinder blocks
Floor Square Rules
Here's a quick look at how to play Floor Square.
- Hit it out of somebody else's square - It must touch the player or the player’s square to get a player out. Buckets are neutral and don't count as hitting anything.
- No Double Taps or Holds - I allow 2nd graders and younger to stop the ball then hit it, but everybody else is allowed only a single hit. If they hit it off a bucket, they can hit it again as long as it's in their square.
- Only hit the ball when it's in your square - If it's on the line between squares, you can hit it but you can't hit it when it's in somebody else's square.
- Serves - The ball is placed in the corner and the server hits it with both hands. The ball must leave their square. If the ball hits one of the buckets in their square and comes back to them, they can't hit it again (this only applies to serves). If the ball leaves their square, hits one of the further away buckets and comes back, they can hit that.
- Open/underhand hits only - You cannot hit with fists or overhand. I describe underhand as pointing your fingers downward.
- Keep your feet behind the imaginary line between your buckets - It's more of a guideline. The game is not near as fun if all players are way up in the front of the squares. It prevents movement, which is really the point of the game.
- Need to stay on feet - If anything but your feet (knees for example) is touching the ground, you can't touch the ball. If you do, you are out.
- If the ball touches the player and not the square, see if the player is in-bounds or not - If the player is in-bounds at all, then that player would be out. However, if they're out of bounds when the ball touches them, then whoever hit it would be out... because there is no way the ball could have bounced in bounds if the player is out of bounds.
- Play On - For minor infractions or maybe calls, I use the play on rule. If it could have been a hold, we point that out while playing and play on. If a player’s feet keep going in front of their bucket, we mention it and play on. But, if a player gets somebody out by breaking one of the rules, the player who broke the rule is out. For instance, if it looked like a hold and that hold got somebody out, then the player who held the ball would be out. This is because breaking that rule created an unfair advantage.
- 3 v 1 rule - If all three other players on the court agree on what happened, then the one person is out. If it's not clear enough to be 3 v 1, then just replay the round. I make sure to point out that 3 v 1 calls are almost always right. And when they're not, and somebody feels like all the others just want them to be out, it has a lot to do with how that person plays. This situation always happens to the players that argue everything. It makes the other players not want to play with them, and thus causes them to be less forgiving when it comes to that player. People will treat you the way you make them feel and they'll always choose the path of least resistance. So if you're making people feel like they don't want to play with you, they'll treat you accordingly. Or if you are creating unnecessary conflict, they'll prefer you not to be in the game so it can go more smoothly. If you play in a way that is conflict-resistant and treat others well, then whenever 3 people agree on a call, it's because that's what they all saw.
The first thing I teach is how the rotation works, but if you're familiar with how Four Square works, you'll be fine. Here's how I teach it: I'll have a couple students stand with me in a line. I'm first, so I'm holding up the number one with my hand. The other students hold up their hands for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Then I tell them to imagine we're at Chipotle, waiting in line (because I love Chipotle and that's the only place I wait in lines anymore). If Player 2 leaves to go wash their hands, who moves up? The obvious answer is the people in 3rd and 4th. Then the player that left just goes to the back. I repeat the question a couple times, then we go over to the court. I don't use the terms KING, QUEEN, etc. Instead, I have dots like you'd see on dice in each corner. Those dots indicate FIRST, SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH. And you want to get to FIRST. That way, you can serve.
The other skills required are essential for all games. Two that I focus on the most are:
- Is it obvious? - There can be a lot of ambiguity in games. In baseball, for example, there are arguments about if a pitch is a ball or strike. Whether a player is safe or out. In football, there are debates over what is and isn't a catch, legal tackle, hold, or pass interference. In Four Square, the ball moves quickly and you have to decipher who's square the ball landed in or if it landed in bounds or out of bounds. My solution to this is the Is It Obvious rule. If it's obvious that something happened, we can talk about it. If it's not obvious, just play on.
- Own it - This one is not just a game skill but a life skill. Owning it is the process of being honest with yourself and using mistakes as learning opportunities. Take baseball for example. You tried stealing a base and got caught. Instead of arguing that the defender's foot was off base, acknowledge that maybe you misjudged the timing. Maybe the defense just made an awesome play. In Four Square, you make the best play you can. And when it doesn't work out, just own it. By doing so, you take that experience and grow from it. This is an important step in growing true self confidence. When you can be honest with yourself and grow from mistakes, you show yourself what you're capable of and that you can always be better than you were before... even by just a little.
Beyond that, I also make sure to illustrate how important it is to move your feet. If you're stuck in concrete, Floor Square will frustrate you.
I make sure to print off the rules and post them next to the activity to settle any disputes. Players can just point to the rule to make an argument. You can get a printable version in the Striking Activity Pack below.