The rules of racquetball
Get a grasp of the basic rules of racquetball
Before you jump right in to playing this intense and fast-paced racket sport, it’s important you know the rules of racquetball. Here is our guide to the basic rules of racquetball, which will give you a good understanding of the game before you start.
If you’re familiar with squash or handball, then you should be able to easily pick up the rules of racquetball.
- The game is generally played by two or four players.
- The court is rectangular, measures 40ft (12m) long x 20ft wide x 20ft high, and is enclosed on all four sides.
- The object of the game is to hit the ball so that the opponent can’t reach it before it bounces twice. Players hit the ball alternately.
The right to serve first is usually decided by the spin of a racquet or coin. The server continues to serve until he or she loses a point, after which the serve passes to the opponent.
To serve, the player takes up position in the service zone and bounces the ball within this area. The ball must be hit before it bounces for a second time and must hit the front wall first and on the rebound hit the floor beyond the back edge of the short line, either with or without touching one of the side walls.
If the server serves one fault, then they can serve again – but two consecutive faults means the server loses the serve. Serves can be called as faults in a number of instances including:
- Foot Faults - e.g. stepping outside the service zone during the serving process.
- Short Service - a serve that first hits the front wall and, on the rebound, hits the floor on or in front of the short line.
- Three-Wall Serve - Any served ball that first hits the front wall and, on the rebound, strikes both side walls before touching the floor.
- Ceiling Serve - a served ball that first hits the front wall and then touches the ceiling (with or without touching a side wall).
- Long Serve - a served ball that first hits the front wall and rebounds to the back wall before touching the floor (with or without touching a side wall).
- Bouncing Ball Outside Service Zone – involves bouncing the ball before serving outside the service zone, including the ball touching a side wall.
There are other examples of serve that could be deemed faults, but the main ones that will most frequently occur have been covered here.
After a good service has been delivered, the players must return the ball alternately until one of them fails to make a good return. A return is good if the ball player hits it against the front wall before it has bounced twice. The ball can be hit directly onto the front wall or hit onto the front wall via the other walls.
How points are scored
Points can be scored only by the person who is serving. When the server wins a point, he or she keeps the service. When the server serves a fault or fails to make a good return, then the opponent wins the point and becomes the server.
A serving player can win a point in a number of ways, including the following:
- When the opponent fails to return the ball before it has bounced twice.
- When the ball is hit out of bounds by the opponent.
- When the ball touches the opposing player or anything worn by the opposing player.
- When the opposition player ‘double hits’ the ball.
Winning a match
Matches are best of three games with the first two games to 15 points. If each side wins a game, a tiebreaker to 11 points is played. USA Racquetball rules do not require players to win by two clear points.
There are variations of the game, such as those played in Canada, where matches are played in a best of three format, but require a winning margin of at least two points. The men′s and women′s pro tours play matches that are the best-of-five games to 11 points, requiring a two-point margin for victory.
The rules of doubles matches are pretty much the same as the rules for singles, ´with a number of minor differences relating to serving and receiving and the order in which this is done. More details can be found on the official USA Racquetball site.