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How Hopscotch Works

The Hopscotch Court and Game Variations
The French variation on hopscotch, called escargot, features a spiral court instead of a linear design.
The French variation on hopscotch, called escargot, features a spiral court instead of a linear design.
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Now that you know you'll be tossing markers and hopping through a series of squares, let's talk about what that set of squares might look like. A hopscotch court is basically a long rectangle, broken into squares, on a spot of flat ground.

The organization Step UP 4 Change, Right to Play at the University of Guelph and Free the Children at the University of Guelph currently hold the record for the world's longest hopscotch court at 18,064 feet (5,506 meters) [source: Guinness World Records]. The courts in playgrounds across America, though, tend to be a lot smaller. Most of us are familiar with the standard layout of a hopscotch court: a rectangle about 10 feet (3 meters) long -- and up to as long as 15 feet (4.6 meters) -- by 3 feet (1 meter) wide and made up of 10 sequentially numbered squares. Also popular is the traditional English court layout, also known as an arched design. This court modification has a half-circle -- an arch -- at the end of the 10 squares, designated as a safe zone, sometimes known as "home," where you may stand freely on both feet [source: SportsKnowHow].

There isn't one true version of the game; hopscotch changes depending on where you live. In Boston, for example, the game is called hopscotch and played with a traditional 10-square court, but just about 200 miles (322 kilometers) away in Brooklyn they call the game potsy (sometimes spelled potsie), and whatever you use for your marker is also called a potsy. Jump across the Atlantic from New York City to France and you'll find the game isn't called hopscotch or potsy, but escargot (which means snail). While the rules of escargot are similar to the ones used in playground games across America, one of the first things you'll notice is the court looks different; the French game uses a spiral court, like a snail shell, with 5 to 8 squares, none side-by-side. Further along in our world hopscotch tour, we find ekhat-dukhat in India, a version of hopscotch played on a 2-square court.

Hopscotch courts are also modified into agility courts, a training method athletes use for faster footwork and a reminder of the game's military training exercise origins. Agility hopscotch courts, also known as ladder drills, are set up for back and forth hopping rather than front to back.