Racquetball Rules

How To Play Racquetball | Essential Racquetball Rules Explained

With more than 6 million players in 95 countries, racquetball is one of the most popular sports in the World. Even though it’s played widely, the rules of racquetball usually vary by country. That’s why many people confuse it with squash and fail to understand its basic rules. 

Well, this is where we came in!

Our editors have collaborated with professional racquetball players to get detailed insight into the game. So, if you’re searching for how to play racquetball, here’s the information we don’t want you to miss:

Racquetball is a team sport that is played on a 40(L) by 20(W) indoor court.  The matches are played to 15 points. Usually, the winner is decided by the best of 3 games. A coin toss decides who will serve. While serving, the players are bound to stay in the designated service area. 

The basic racquetball rules state that while serving, the ball must bounce against the floor at least once, and the matches must be won with clear two points.

Pretty simple, Right? Well, technically, these rules are only suitable for beginner-level play. In professional matches, players have to follow more expert-level rules. 

Worry not! We have done our detailed research to make things easy for you. So, sit back and keep on reading to understand the racquetball rules efficiently. 

Racquetball Serve Rules

Alike all other racket sports, the match begins with the serve. For a legal serve, players must start the game by hitting the ball within the service one. Here’re some essential rules to follow:

  • While serving, the feet of the server must stay on or behind the service line. 
  • Before hitting the ball toward the wall, it must bounce once in the service area.
  • If the ball bounces twice or more, then it is considered a side-out.
  • The serve is considered illegal and a player’s fault if it bounces outside the serving box.
  • The opponent can’t return the ball until it passes the short line.
  • A player has only two serving chances.
  • If the first serve is faulty, then the player still has a second chance. But after two consecutive faults, a point is awarded to the opponent.

The power serves, the lob and the zee are the three most popular serve styles. All professional players opt for power to serve as it requires a lot of hitting force, and mostly, the opponent fails to return it.

Racquetball Scoring Rules

The general rule of thumb is that only the server can score. The first two games are played for up to 15 points, while the third round is only played for up to 11 points. 

  • The receiving player can’t earn the point.
  • If he/she wins the rally, they will serve the ball in the next rally.
  • The referee can deduct a point in singles or double games on the basis of technical fouls or misconduct.
  • If the ball touches your body or clothes, you lose a point.
  • The game must be won with two clear points unless it’s a tiebreaker. 

It is worth mentioning that there is no sudden death rule in racquetball sports. Players are bound to play all rallies, even in a tiebreaker game. 

Racquetball Doubles Rules

The game can be either played as singles (two players) or as doubles (four players), forming two teams. The basic core rules remain the same with some minor modifications:

  • Both members can hit the ball during a rally, as there is no alternate shot rule.
  • While serving in doubles, both partners should strand in the serving zone.
  • A service fault is considered if one member of the team leaves the service box before the ball passes the short line.
  • If both members of a team conduct service fault, only then the second team will serve.

In some UK racquetball leagues, teams must decide first which player will return the ball with the right hand and which will return with the left hand. During the game, they can’t change the pattern or otherwise, it will be considered a foul.

Cutthroat Racquetball Rules

Cutthroat rules apply when there are three players competing against each other. It mostly happens at the beginner level of play. 

Suppose there are three players, A, B, and C. All three players will serve in such order that player A will serve the ball to be, player B will serve the ball to C, and player C will serve the ball to A. 

Alike the basic rules, only the server can score the point. The only difference is that when player A is serving, B and C play against A by forming a temporary team and vice versa. 

Racquetball Hinder Rules

When a player occupies the opponent’s way purposely, it is known as a hinder. Usually, it results in two consequences:

  • The referee announces to restart the rally
  • A point is awarded to the opponent

Mostly when a player hits the opponent with the ball, the rally is replayed.

Racquetball Back Wall Rules

The back wall of the racquetball court is made of glass. The rule of thumb is that the upper portion of it is out of bounds. Here’re the three essential rules to remember:

  • The ball must hit the floor first before it hits the back wall.
  • While serving, if the ball touches the back wall first, then it is a fault.
  • Players can play the ball if it hits the back first.

In a nutshell, the racquetball ball rule state that the ball can only hit one side wall but no further than that. 

How To Play Racquetball?

The game begins with the serve breaker. It is decided by a coin toss which player will serve first.

  • For serving, the player must stay in the service zone and hit the ball in the opposite direction so the opponent can receive it.
  • The general rule of thumb is that the ball must bounce on the floor once before serving.
  • While serving, the player must avoid foot fault and short line fault.
  • The ball must bounce and pass the short line. Otherwise, you lose a point.
  • Matches are played for up to 15 points.
  • During the rally, you cannot switch the racquet to another hand or sling the ball.
  • The game continues until one player fails to return the ball legally.
  • The winner is decided by the best of three matches, but the victory must be with over two-clear points.

Keep in mind that during the game, you can block the opponent’s way purposely, as hindering is strictly prohibited. Breaking the official rules or showing misconduct may result in a penalty.

The rules mentioned above are basic in nature and mostly suitable for beginners. In professional matches, players are also bound to follow several other rules, including serve, scoring, and hinder.

As mentioned earlier, apart from tennis, squash is often considered similar to racquetball. The major key difference between squash and racquetball is the ceiling is out of bounds in squash while not in racquetball.

Racquetball Equipment

A 2.25’’ (57mm) hollow rubber ball is required to start the game. In professional matches, either the blue or green color is preferred. The difference in color shows how bouncier the ball is.

Racquetball racquets are another essential requirement. They are between 19’’ to 22’’ (48.3 cm – 55.9 cm)long and 9.5’’ to 11.5’’ (24 cm – 29 cm) wide, with a depth of 1’’ (2.54cm).

Apart from it, players are also bound to wear proper shoes and protective eyewear. Wearing gloves is optional.

Racquetball Court Dimensions

The court is 20 feet (6.1 m) wide and 40 feet (12.19 m) in length, with a total area of 800ft square. The key requirement is that the front wall must be 20 feet (6.1 m) high. The court surface is marked and divided with three main lines.

The upper part of the back wall (above 12 feet) is out of bounds. While the ceiling is not out of bounds. The distance from the back wall to receiving line is 15 feet, followed by a 5 feet-short line and a 5 feet-wide service zone.

The Racquetball court has three walls with a glass back wall. The minimum requirement for the back wall is 12 feet in length.

History Of Racquetball

It was invented in 1950 by a famous squash and tennis player, Joe Sabak, who was looking for a way to increase his indoor exercise.

In frustration, he amended some basic rules of tennis and thus introduced the new “Paddle Racket” sport. Over time, the game borrowed a few squash rules, making it similar to both tennis and squash.

The modern form is named racquetball, as it is played with rackets. Currently, there are many US leagues and a championship trophy; it is widely popular in North America.

The Rules Of Racquetball FAQs

No, both sports are different from each other. The rules of squash are more technical and hard compared to squash. The equipment in both sports seems the same but differs in size.

The racquetball court is 20 feet wide and 40 feet long, with three solid walls and one glass back wall. 

Yes, you must hit the ball before it bounces twice. If, while serving, the ball hit twice, then it is considered a fault.

Usually, a beginner-level matches, a game rally can last up to 20 minutes. But it can last much longer in professional games, depending on the level and the player’s skills.

Yes, you can play it alone by yourself for practice. But it is best to play it with an opponent for a better understanding of its rules.

Three players can play a racquetball match using the cutthroat method. In such scenarios, player A serves to B, B serves to player C, and C serves back to A. Two players form a temporary team and play against the server.

While serving, the player must stay within the serving box. The ball must bounce once within the zone. The server must hit the ball to the front wall in the opposite direction in such a way that the opponent fails to return it.

The drive serve, Z shot, and lob serve are the three main types. In the drive serve, the players aim the ball as low as possible. While in the lob serve, the ball is hit high, arching against the front wall.  

Contrary to the other two types, in Z shots, only one side of the court is utilized. The drive serves, also known as the power serve, is the hardest to practice.

A player gets two chances to serve the ball legally. If he fails to do so, then a point, along with a service, is awarded to the opponents. 

A racquetball ball usually lasts for 3 to 5 games. In professional matches, the ball is replaced after every rally.

No, it is not an Olympic sport. The highest game title is the World Racquetball Championships competition that is held each year.

Yes, it is a dangerous sport. Due to the fast movement of the ball, you may end up with minor ankle or eye injuries.

Wrapping It Up!

Racquetball is one of the famous sports in North America. It is played with racquets and a 2.5’’ ball. An indoor racquetball court is 40 feet in length and 20 feet wide. 

The matches are played up to 15 points and in best of 3 matches. The rule of thumb is that only the server can score the points. While serving, the ball must bounce once. If the ball bounce twice or the server goes out of the serving line, then it is considered a fault.

In doubles, both players of a team can take turns serving. In the US league matches, both players can hit the ball to return it to the opponent team. During the match, the players can’t show any act of misconduct. Blocking the opponent’s way is strictly prohibited and may result in a point loss.

We hope that this article helps you to understand the racquetball game rules more efficiently. Well, in the meantime, be happy and keep your morale high!

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