What Is 4 Square Volleyball and How Do You Play?

Learning a new game can bring a whole new level of fun to your gatherings. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know about a game called Nine Square, a combination of Four Square and volleyball. 

Combining 4 Square and Volleyball  

Both Four Square and Volleyball are common recess games for kids in kindergarten through high school. The ideas of the games are similar--you must successfully pass the ball to the opposite player.  

In volleyball, the players set, bump, and spike the ball over a net to another team. On the other hand, Four Square players hit a bouncing rubber ball on the ground and bounce it to one of three other players.  

When combining the two games, you get a game called Nine Square. It combines volleyball skills and Four Square to create a competitive game for the casual player. Keep reading to learn how to play Nine Square. 

4-square + Volleyball

4 Square Volleyball Set Up  

Four Square Volleyball, or Nine Square, uses a three by three court raised above the players’ heads. Most versions of the court are made from PVC piping or aluminum piping to make the court light and portable with an easy set up. A Ninne Square court will also come with a portable carrying case to make it easy to transport it from one backyard to another. Most courts also come in an adjustable size so that both young kids and adults can play.  

Because there are nine squares, there is a central square. The center square acts as the Queen or King of the game, meaning that it is the highest position in the game. All of the other positions are trying to work their way to the center square, similar to position one in Four Square.  

The volleyball aspect of the game comes into play when hitting the ball up and over your head rather than hitting it towards the ground. In Nine Square, players are encouraged to set the ball for better aim. This combines the techniques of volleyball with the goals of Four Square. Nine Square is one of the best games for older kids, teenagers, and adults.  

To set up the game, start by assembling the frame. The CastleSports Nine Square court comes with six straps that you place across the top frame in a crisscrossing pattern, creating the nine squares. In total, the game only takes a few minutes to set up.

Rules for 4 Square Volleyball  

The rules for basic Nine Square are similar to Four Square, with some obvious tweaks. The elimination, waiting line, and rotation all follow the same principles set up in Four Square, making the game easy to learn for those who grew up playing Four Square. In fact, many of the game’s rules are intuitive. 

Before starting the game, players should agree on the rules. Nine Square rules are flexible and vary from game to game. If playing with younger participants, players might create more forgiving rules and then change the rules as the players learn and become better at the game. Make your own rule book for varying levels of athleticism and competitiveness. 

There are three main parts that make up the game: the serve, the volley, and the elimination.  

The Serve 

Players have two options when serving the ball. The first option is to let the first person in line throw the ball into the court. This lets the ball enter neutrally, without giving the middle player an advantage in the game.  

Players can also choose to let the middle player serve the ball. This option rewards the middle player for working hard to make it to the middle square. They can serve the ball into any of the other squares. 

Players can also choose to adopt a rule of Four Square called “one bad.” One bad is when the server messes up the serve and self-eliminates from the game; instead of being eliminated, the server can call “one bad” and get a second chance to serve the ball. This rule can only be used once by the server while the server is in the Queen/King square.  

The Volley 

The server (or line member) begins the volley by pushing the ball up and out of their square. The receiving player can’t catch the ball and must push it to hit it up and out of their square into another player’s square. The volley continues until someone drops the ball or hits it out of the court.  

The volley should take up the majority of the game since the game is centered around the volley. Depending on your group, you can make specific rules that limit or enhance the ball’s play. Feel free to be creative when playing Nine Square and make the game something special for the group that you’re playing with. 

The Elimination  

Nine Square is a game of constant change. Although one player could be in the Queen/King square for one round, they could be waiting in the elimination line within a few moments. There are several ways to be eliminated: 

  • If a player drops the ball in their square, they are eliminated. 
  • If a player hits the ball out of the bounds, they are eliminated.  
  • If a player is unable to hit the ball out of their square, they are eliminated.  
  • If a player holds the ball, they are eliminated.  

When a player breaks one of the established rules, they leave their palace on the court and move to an elimination line. The line starts next to square number one. All other players move up to fill the eliminated player’s place while a new player from the line fills the last open spot. 

How to play 9-square infographic


When to Play Nine Square 

Nine Square is a versatile game welcome at any gathering. From picnics to family reunions, Nine Square is a great way to engage both young children and adults all in the same activity. The best times to play Nine Square include: 

  • Youth groups meetings 
  • Family gatherings 
  • Friend gathering
  • Picnics 
  • Outdoor activities 
  • Recess 
  • Birthday parties 
  • Any outdoor event

Nine Square is an excuse to get outside and enjoy the sun while playing a fun, new game where everyone can participate. 

9-square collage