How to Play Hopscotch

By James Holloway ; Updated October 03, 2017
Hopscotch diagrams can vary, but the traditional one has 10 spaces.

With nothing more than a piece of chalk, a flat surface and a rock, children can test their balance and coordination in the traditional game of hopscotch. The rules of hopscotch are very simple; the trick of winning is in keeping your balance through a series of quick hops.

Setting Up

All that's needed to play hopscotch is a course. Players can scratch a course in the dirt with a stick or draw it on a concrete surface with chalk. The course is usually six to eight feet long and around three feet wide. It can consist of any number of squares, but 10 is a common layout. The first square is followed by two side by side. A fourth single square follows, then the fifth and sixth squares side by side. The seventh square is single, the eighth and ninth squares are side by side, and the tenth square is a half-circle with a base as wide as two squares. Each square is prominently numbered.

Taking the First Turn

To begin the game, a player throws a rock or other marker onto the course. The rock must land on the first square without bouncing out or touching a line. The player then hops onto the course, skipping the first square. When hopping into a single square, the player jumps on one foot; when going through a double square, she hops with one foot in each square. Once the course is complete, the player throws the rock into the second square and repeats the course. This process is repeated over and over until the player commits a foul.

Passing the Turn

A foul occurs when a player tosses the rock onto a line or out of the square altogether. Similarly, the turn ends when a player puts his foot onto a line or out of a square. Lastly, the turn ends if the player loses balance altogether. When a player's turn ends, play passes to the next player in order. The next time the player's turn comes up, she will start on the same square.

Winning the Game

A player wins when she hops through the course once for every square, starting with the first and ending with the last. Getting the rock into the last squares can be tricky, so the last few turns tend to take the longest, allowing other players a chance to catch up.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.