Basic Racquetball Rules
Racquetball is a cross between tennis and paddleball. By learning a few simple racquetball rules, you'll be on your way to playing an exciting, high-speed game that will challenge your hand-eye coordination and agility and really get you moving!
The object of racquetball is to earn points by hitting the ball off of the front wall of the court in such a way that your opponent is not able to return it. It can be played by 2-4 people.
Racquetball is played on a court that’s fully enclosed. The standard court is rectangular and measures 40’ long, 20’ wide, and 20’ high. The court is marked with red lines to designate the service and serve receiving areas.
A service line is marked across the width of the court 15’ from the front wall.
Another line, the short line, crosses the width of the court 20’ from the front wall. The short line actually cuts the court in half.
These two lines form a rectangular box known as the service box.
Within the service box there are 2 sets of 5’ perpendicular lines that connect the service line to the short line and run parallel to the side walls.
There is a red dashed line that extends the width of the court 5’ behind the short line (25’ from the front wall) known as the receiving line.
In addition to the racquetball court, you need the following equipment to play a game of racquetball:
Racquetball – A bouncy rubber ball that measures 2.25” in diameter.
Racquetball racket – A stringed racket that looks like a miniature tennis racket. It can’t be any longer than 22.”
Safety eyewear – The ball can rebound off of the walls at extremely high speeds which can be dangerous to players if they get hit in the eyes. It is mandatory for players to wear safety glasses during official competition and highly recommended for recreational players to wear them at all times.
Glove – Many players wear a glove on their racket hand to help give them a better grip on the racket, but it’s not required.
Racquetball RulesStarting Play
Play begins with the server standing in the service box and serving the ball to her opponent. The server gets 2 chances to make a good serve each time she tries to put the ball in play.
The server has to bounce the ball on the floor once and hit it directly off the front wall, making the ball hit the floor beyond the short line.
If the ball fails to do any of these things, the serve counts as a fault.
The ball may touch one side wall, but not two, before it hits the floor. If the serve hits any surface directly other than the front wall, the server immediately loses her serve regardless of whether it was the first or second service attempt.
Service fault - A serve is no good and considered a fault if it:
Racquetball RulesPlaying the Ball
After the ball bounces past the short line, the ball is in play and the receiver tries to return it. Players then alternate hitting the ball against the front wall. The player returning the ball may either hit the ball on the fly or after it hits the floor once, but her hit must strike the front wall first before it hits the floor. A return hit can touch as many walls, including the ceiling, as possible as long as it hits the front wall before touching the floor.
Since the racquetball court is relatively small and the ball travels quickly all over the court, it is common for players to get in the way of each other. If this happens and a player isn't able to get to the ball, either a “hinders” or a “penalty hinders” is called.
A hinder results in a replay of the rally, while a penalty hinder causes the player responsible for obstructing play to lose the rally.
There’s an important difference between a hinder and a penalty hinder. With a penalty hinder, the player missed out on a clear chance to make a rally-winning shot due to the opponent’s obstruction. In the case of a hinder, it’s not absolutely certain the missed opportunity would have led to a rally-winning shot.
There is another kind of hinder known as a “court hinder.” In some cases, the ball hits a door frame or handle or some flaw in the floor or walls which interferes with the ball’s bounce. In this case, the ball is replayed.
Here are some common hinders:
Points can only be scored by the serving team. Players earn one point each time they serve successfully and win the rally. The first player or team to earn 15 points wins the game.
A player loses a rally if any of the following things happen:
Racquetball matches usually consist of winning 2 out of 3 games. The first two games are played to 15 points, and if a third game is necessary, it’s played to 11 points. According to U.S. rules, players can win with just a 1-point margin; they don't have to win by 2 points.
Number of Players
Racquetball games can be played with 2, 3, or 4 players. The most common games are singles and doubles.
Singles = 2 players play 1-on-1
Doubles = 4 players play 2-on-2
There are several fun games to play with 3 players.
“Cut-throat” or “Ironman” = 3 players play 2-on-1.
“California” or “In-and-Out” = 2 players play 1-on-1.
“Sevens” = 3 players play 2-on-1 up to 7 points.
Racquetball In a Nutshell
The game boils down to 3 basic racquetball rules:
If you have access to a racquetball court, try out all of the game variations like Cut-throat, California, and Sevens to keep the game interesting.
You're biggest hindrance to playing racquetball could very well be that you don't have a racquetball court available. Well, not to worry! There are some easy modifications you can make to the basic racquetball rules to fit the skill level of your players and your available equipment and playing area.
Here are some ideas:
These are just a few easy ways to change up the racquetball rules to fit your needs. Hopefully, they’ll give you some ideas for adapting the game to make it more fun for your group.
Check out the rest of our fun kids sports activities that include other games that involving striking balls!
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