In 1950, racquetball was invented by Joe Sobek. He was an American professional squash and tennis player who wanted to develop a new game that was a combination of squash, handball and paddleball elements because they were quick and easy to learn. As it was referred to as paddle rackets, the game’s rules became standardized in 1952.
The sport achieved rapid growth through the use of America’s 40,000 YMCA and JCC (Jewish Community Center) handball courts as well. The International Racquetball Association was founded in 1969 and also later became recognized by the US Olympic Committee.
The number of racquetball players all over the world currently are above six million. Also, there are many more that also play racketball well, although it is a version of racquetball that is more common in the UK.
Like we all know other sports to be, racquetball can be played as singles (one versus one), doubles as well (two against two), or two competing against one, the former being for formal games. The rules are quite similar to other games you know, with the significant difference standing as the service. So in this article, we will place primary focus on the singles game.
Objectives of the Game
To win the game, the player or team, whichever the case may be, has to win a total of two games. Games can be won when you reach 15 points. It is not mandatory to win by two clear points. If the games are tied at 1, the third game is played to 11 points.
Points can only be scored when you do your service, as in volleyball, squash and some other sports. If you “win” a point from the service of the opponents, then you become the winner of the service, but you don’t get an actual point for that.
- The play is allowed to start when the server stands anywhere in service zone.
- The server has two opportunities to put the ball into play.
- Both feet have to be on or in front of the short line.
- During the serve, the ball or both feet have to be on or behind the service line. If one of the servers’ feet exceeds the service line, it is a fault.
- However, when completing the service motion, the server may step beyond the front service line provided that some part of both feet remain on or inside the line until the ball passes the short line.
- The server may not step beyond the short line until the ball passes the short line.
A valid serve is when:
- The ball bounces on the floor in the service zone once before hitting the ball towards the wall.
- The ball must then hit the front wall first.
- The ball must pass the short line before bouncing.
- The ball may hit only one side wall before the first bounce.
- The ball must bounce between the sort line and the back wall.
There are three different Defective Serves:
- Dead-ball Serve
- Fault Serve
- Out Serve
Dead-ball Serves– These serves results in no penalty and the server is given another serve.
There are three Dead-ball Serves:
- Court Hinder– A serve that takes an irregular bounce because of a wet spot or an irregular surface on the court.
- Broken Ball– The ball breaks during the serve.
- Out of Court Serve– A served ball that hits the front wall first and after hitting the floor either goes out of court or hits a surface above the normal playing area.
Fault Serves– These serves are faults and two in a row result in an out:
- Foot Faults– A Foot Fault results when at the start of the service motion, any part of the server, including the racquet, touches the floor outside of the service zone or at the end of the service motion, the server steps with either foot on the floor beyond the service line, with no part of the foot on the line or inside the service zone, before the served ball crosses the short line.
- Short Serve– A served ball that first hits the front wall and on the rebound hits the floor on or in front of the short line either with or without touching the side wall.
- Three-Wall Serve– A served ball that first hits the front wall and on the rebound strikes both walls before touching the wall.
- Long Serve– A served ball that first hits the front wall and rebounds to the back wall before touching the floor.
- Bouncing Ball outside Service Zone– Bouncing the ball outside the service zone as part of the service motion.
- Serving the Ball Without a Bounce– Tossing the ball into the air and serving it without a bounce.
Out Serves– Any of the following results in an out.
- Missed Serve Attempt– Any attempt to serve/strike the ball that results in a total miss or in the ball touching any part of the server’s body, including the foot. Also allowing the ball to bounce more than once during service motion.
- Illegal Hit– A hit that includes contacting the ball twice, intentionally carrying the ball or hitting the ball with the handle of the racquet or part of the body or uniform.
- Crotch Serve– A served ball that hits the crotch of the front wall and floor, front wall and side wall, or front wall and ceiling. This is because it did not hit the front wall first.
- Out of Court Serve– A served ball that hits the front wall first and before hitting the floor either goes out of court or hits a surface above the normal playing area.
- Safety Zone Violation– If after the serve has been struck, the server steps in the safety zone before the served ball passes the short line.
Return of Serves
- The receiver may not break the plane of the receiving line with the racquet or body until the ball either bounces in the safety zone or crosses the receiving line. The follow through may carry the receiver or the racquet past the receiving line but may not break the plane of the short line unless the ball is struck after rebounding off the back wall.
- The receiver must strike the ball on the fly or after the first bounce and before the ball touches the floor for the second time.
- The return must hit the front wall, either directly or after touching any of the side walls, back wall or ceiling.
- A returned ball must touch the front wall before touching the floor.
- A failure to return a serve results in a point for the server.
You can lose a point as the receiver if:
- The ball bounces on the floor more than a single time before you can return your play.
- The ball misses or skips the front wall without your shot bouncing when you play it.
- From your shot, the ball moves into the wall opening, out-of-bounds, or viewing the gallery.
- The ball hits your opponent but was originally not about to hit the front wall.
- You are hit by the ball (i.e. the player who hit the ball).
- During the point, you change your racquet hand.
- Any part of your clothes or body gets in contact with the ball.
- The ball is thrown or carried by you (when you double hit).
More on the rules
A “hinder” is explained as when an obstruction is created by one player staying in the way of the ball or blocking the view of their opponents. This is often referred to as a let, and the point is allowed to be played again, but in the case of the hindering of a penalty, where a player is being disallowed the chance of winning a point shot, they receive the point.
Racquetball racquets come with bumper guards and handle with nylon ropes also attached to it to secure the racquet to your wrist. You should never play if the nylon is not well secured on your wrist. That would reduce the risk of the racquet gliding out of your hand and hitting someone else in the face or head.
The other equipment needed is the eye-guards that are necessary for competitions and also recommended when playing in informal games. These should be used if you indeed place a premium on your sight.
Hinders can occur for some safety reasons. Playing or the service is considered as over if a hinder takes place. Some hinders could function as; a screen (when an opponent intentionally decides to block the view of the ball), or hold up during gameplay (when the swing is held for safety reasons).
These are considered as the basic racquetball rules you need to know before you can fully enjoy your game. I intentionally looked over some details to keep this quite interesting, short and intriguing so you can have the time to get out there and start enjoying this beautiful game with friends and family. You can now enjoy the game of racquetball and also have fun with the knowledge of the basic rules.