How to play Racquetball

On this post you will learn how to play Racquetball. Racquetball game is a type of racquet sport which is usually played using a ball that is hollow; it is played either indoors or outdoors on a court. The modern racquetball was invented by Joseph Sobek in 1950. He added a stringed racquet to the paddleball for the purpose of increasing its velocity and control. It is very close in similarities to the 40×20 American handball played by and in many countries; also to the British squash sport that used to be referred to as ‘racketball’ as at 2016.

Racquetball, unlike a lot of racquet sports like the tennis, is not about hitting a net. There is no net over which the ball can go. Also, there is no area that is out of bounds at the foot of the front wall above which the ball can be hit. Unless in a situation whereby the court-specific specialized hinders are out of bounds, the walls, floor and ceiling of the court are all legal surfaces for playing the racquetball.

Racquetball has its own body responsible for governing, managing, and maintaining the integrity of the sport. The IRF, the International Racquetball Federation, is in charge of the governance of racquetball championships all over the world i.e. the World Racquetball Championships. The first championship tournament was held in 1981 collaborating with the first World Games. The second tournaments were played in the year 1984. Since 1984, the tournaments began to be held in August every two years. The United States’ racquetball players have won most of the championship titles.

The Racquetball championships are subdivided into two: the World Junior Racquetball Championships and the World Senior Racquetball Championships. The junior championships are held every year in October or early to the middle of November for players who are below 35 years of age. The senior championships are also held annually around the same time as the junior championships. Players are 35 years of age or older.

Racquetball has been incorporated in the World Games five different times: in 1981, 1982, 1993, 2009, and 2013. It is no wonder that the sport has a high appeal to Americans because most of them find it fascinating. Apart from that, racquet ball holds high appeal also because it was part of the 1995, 1999, 2003, 2011, and 2015 Pan American Games

The Game Play – Objectives of the game

Racquetball is played by two groups of players:

the singles which is made up of two players in a one versus one match. It is the most common way racquetball game is played whether on a competitive level or just for fun.

the doubles which is made up of four players in a two by two face-off. It is played mostly in competitive tournaments and non-competitive leisure matches.

Another angle of play in the game is called cut-throat, a group made up of three players. In this group, the two players serve as opponents against the last player in the group. The last player will be the server (we will talk about service in racquetball as we move along). If the server happens to lose the rally, either one of the opponents will take up the mantle of serving. The cycle continues if they all keep losing.

Meanwhile, the main objective of the game is to win every single rally either by serving the ball or by returning it such that the opponent of the server finds it difficult to keep playing the ball. The rally is declared over if and when a hinder is called or:

When a player is unable to hit the ball and it has already bounced twice, or

When the plyer is unable to return the ball such that the front wall is touched first before the front wall.

The Importance of the Game

Racquetball is not just played for fun. Apart from the career success one can get from it, it has its own health and fitness benefits. Basically, those who participate in racquetball games are doing it for their health benefit with or without their knowledge. What are the health and fitness benefits of playing racquetball?

1. You burn an average 640 – 822 calories per hour. It is advisable for those who want to shed some weight and keep fit.

2. Averagely, a racquetball game takes 20 minutes. Within the 20 minutes, player runs an approximate distance of 3,650 feet (equivalent to two miles in an hour). The player is indirectly exercising his body while playing the game he loves.

3. As a result of the many running, jumping and moving done in the racquetball game, nearly every muscle group of the body is worked. The muscles worked includes continuous use of large muscles that hike calories burn and reduce the percentage rate of fat that are accumulated in the body.

4. Racquetball game aid both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism of the body due to the fact that the heart is highly active during the game and for the hyper level of energy required to play the game.

Understanding the Basic Rules of the Game

Learning how to play the racquetball game starts with knowing and understanding the basic rules governing the game. The rules are briefly summarized thus:

a. the play is put into motion by the server who stands in between the two solid parallel lines right at the center of the court – this area is referred to as the service zone. He bounces the ball once of the floor and punts it towards the wall opposite where the opponent is standing. As soon as the ball bounces off the front wall and soars over above and beyond the service zone, the rally has begun. Players then start taking shots at the front wall and this will continue until someone loses due to either being unable to keep the ball from bouncing off the floor more than once or to reach the front wall when bringing back a shot.

b. the winner of the rally gets the serving honor. Serves are counted as goal points when the serving player wins a rally and serves one point. If he loses, he neither gains nor loses a point but he loses the serving opportunity and his rival now has the chance of scoring.

c. a serve is considered good if the ball happens to hit the front wall before it hits any other thing, bounces beyond the service zone, and doesn’t hit the back wall before it hits the floor. Hitting a side wall is not counted as anything. If neither of these happens, it is a false serve.

d. all players are allowed to stay in the same area of the court although this would result in players blocking one another which is the nature of the game. Players have to make their best shot despite the hindrances which would normally end up in the rally being replayed.

Equipment Needed for the Game

The Court: Like any other sport or game, the racquet holds its uniqueness in the type of court fitted for it. The racquetball court is either with a full enclosed indoor or an outdoor that is protected with a front wall. The court, by standards, is rectangular in shape; it is 40ft in length, 20ft in width, and 20ft in height. The service and areas where the service is received are distinguished by red lines such that it is easy to sight by anyone. Parallel to the side walls are a set of lines that are 18 inches from it.  The line where the ball is received is a dashed line, parallel, and 5ft behind the shorter line.

The Racquet ball: The racquet ball is a unique rubber ball that bounces. It is 2.25 inches in diameter.

A racquet: the racquetball needs a racquet which should not be longer than 22 inches in diameter.

Eye guards: this is a compulsory equipment needed by the player if he wants to participate in playing. Although players that only player for fun do without the eye guards but it is dangerous and not advisable. The reason for this is that, the ball has the potential of causing a permanent damage to the eye if the eye gets hit. Therefore, always wear your eye guards when you play.

Wrist tether: every player is expected to put a tether on their wrist and keep it on for both their safety and their opponents’. One cannot be too careful when it comes to sports; anything can happen.

Gloves: Unlike other racquet sports, racquetball players use gloves so that they are able to have a firm grip on the racquet. The golf is similar to the one golfers use when driving. However, this equipment is optional.

Dressing: Except in professional games where the team gets matching colors of shirts and shorts, players are only required to put on any short which is comfortable. Sleeved shirts, and racquetball court shoes suitably designed to fit the purpose of the sport. The shoe enables quick movements laterally, forward, or backward.

The Ball

Racquetballs are of different colors. The colors range from blue, green, purple, black red to pink. When it comes to professional plays, some of the colors have specific functions in which they are played. That is, the color of ball used for the outdoor game play is different from that played indoors. But, for recreational plays, any color of ball can be used.

Their various functions:

The blue ball: recommended by Penn, Ektelon or Wilson for beginners. The blue ball is considered most neutral for average speed and accuracy of contact. It is most commonly used by racquetball players.

The green balls: in a way, they are similar to the blue balls in that the United States’ main choices of balls to play for a tournament are the blue and green balls.

The purple galls: The International Pro Racquet Tour (IRT), in some cases, prefer to use a purple Penn HD ball as their official ball for play in any tournament.

The black balls: These ones are commonly used by the senior players in tournaments. This is because the balls are designed to move slower. Also, longer rallies are possible when using the black ball.

The red balls: this is the fastest in production. They are also referred to as the Red Ektelon Fireballs. They are heavier than all the other balls and allows players to move at a quicker pace.

Maintenance of the Ball

It is not unusual for a racquetball to break as they are known to do so occasionally. And, even if they don’t break, they are made in such a way that they could possibly lose their bounce. For the ball to last, be sure to keep it in a room with the right temperature. Overmuch heat or cold can reduce the longevity of the ball making them to lose their bounce and to be less effective so, keep them out.

How to Play Racquetball

Now, you are acquainted with the game and the rules governing racquetball game. Let me show how it is played.


Before the game starts, you must decide and agree amongst yourselves who will be the first person to serve. You can make a fair choice by coin toss, lagging, or any other method you can think of. For the serving, the player chosen to serve has to drop the ball right there in the service zone and, after it makes one bounce, punt or hit it. There are normally two chances given to servers to put the ball into play. If it is a good serve, the ball would hit the front wall without hitting any other wall before it hits the floor; it hits the floor beyond the short line. If otherwise, it is counted as a false serve and, if committed twice, the server loses the serve and the opportunity to serve to the next player.

Server is free to continue serving until either they hit out serve, hit two fault serves subsequently, or they fail to make the ball remain in play after their rival has returned the serve.

Serves are false when:

ball fails to land over the short line – this is referred to as ‘short service’;

ball hits more than two walls before it hits the floor – this serve is referred to as a ‘3-wall serve’;

the ball went straight to hit the ceiling after hitting the front wall – referred to as ‘ceiling serve’;

the ball, before it hit the floor, hit the back wall –  this is termed ‘long serve’; or

when the ball moves and passes very close to the server’s body such that the player to receive, the receiver, could not see it. In this instance, the receiver is required to be in a good position on the court to be able to make the court. This serve is referred to as ‘screen serve’.

On the other hand, a serve is considered an out serve if and when;

two faults are simultaneously served – termed ‘two consecutive fault serves’;

server drops the ball, tries to swing at it and misses – this is termed a ‘missed serve attempt’;

the ball fails to hit the front wall first before it hit any other wall or the floor – this is termed ‘non-front wall serve’; or

after serve, the ball rolls out of the court before it got to hit the floor – this is termed ‘out of court server’.


Most of the time, due to the nature of the game, player occupy the space their rivals desire to occupy. For this reason, a lot of blocking is done by each player in a bid to keep the opponent from playing the ball. These instances are referred to as ‘hinders’ or ‘penalty hinders’. A hinder is a replay of a rally currently in play while a penalty hinder, on the other hand, is that instance where the hinder who caused the blocking loses the rally.  Both the hinder and penalty hinder misses an opportunity but in the penalty, the player misses out on an unrivalled opportunity to make a shot that could really win the rally because of the obstruction of his rival. In the case of a hinder, the missed opportunity would not have giving him a goal point.


Primarily, the strategy of the racquetball game is to dominate the center of the court either at the dashed receiving line or behind it. As a result of this, the player is able to move as quickly as possible to each of the areas of the court except for court areas whose defense are rather difficult. Players are expected to return to the center of the court as quickly as possible.

A successful player will keep an eye on his opponent by continuously glancing sideways in order to expect the return shot. He learns and studies his opponent to be able to know how his opponent makes his shots. However, he doesn’t try to be all-knowing or predictable with the shots being returned.

Another tactic used in racquetball which is a rather obvious one is to keep the returned ball on the front wall as low as possible. This will limit the reaction time of the ball and keep it from moving so fast as to bounce on the floor more than required. Using lobs, cross court shots, and dink, in addition to keeping the returned ball low, also prevents your rival from moving away from the court center.


Every single line on the court serves the purpose of serving and serve returns alone. They aren’t applicable for use after a rally has started on the return of a good serve. Rally starts when the ball is served during which rivals each take their turn in punting the ball to the front wall. All the players are allowed to either make the ball hit the front wall directly or they use a combination of the ceiling, side wall, or back wall. It doesn’t really matter as long as the server was able to get the ball to hit the front wall before it hit the floor. Teams that are not hitting at the moment surrender the right way to the server and this may require them having to move to the most disadvantageous part of the court.

Server has to stop his play if it happens that a player has been injured with the ball, racquet, or the server’s or other players’ body.

Winning the Rally

The rally is won if the opponent is not able to make a good enough return. Good returns can be made in two ways:

Either by returning the ball before the second bounce on the floor, two bounce, or

By not letting the ball hit the floor before it touches the front wall, known as skip ball.


Every rally is made up of multiple shots between at least two players. These shots cannot start or end until one of the players have made a fault or been unable to return the ball to the front wall successfully. If having served the ball the server was able to win the rally, server scores one point and gets to continue serving. However, if he is unable to and the rival player wins, no point is scored at that point by the rival but the rival player becomes the new server. Racquetball rules in USA states that each match is a set of three games and up to 15 points can be won in the first two games. The third game can be won to 11 points.

To learn how to play racquetball, on the other hand, if the server makes a fault while he is serving, he is indirectly dashing his opponent a point. If the opponent doesn’t return the ball to the front wall in time and before it bounces on the wall a second time, the server gets a point. If the ball is carried on the server’s racquet, opponent gets a point.