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racquetball rules

Lets learn about racquetball rules now.The credit concerning the invention of racquetball sport is bestowed on a professional tennis and American ball player, Joe Sobek. He invented it in Greenwich, Connecticut, YMCA. Although he invented it, he didn’t name it. The invention of the game happened as a result of his search for a sport that was fast in pace and also that wouldn’t be so difficult to learn and play.

So, he went on to design a strung paddle, the first of its kind at the time, after which he drafted out a set of rules by which he intended to play the game. His idea was informed by squash, handball, and paddleball. At the earlier years of the invention, the racquetball was named paddle rackets which Joe Sobek gave his own invention.

By the year 1952, he gave those rules he drafted code – i.e. he codified them – and then he went ahead to have it printed in a booklet. The rules became the official rules governing the game at the time. The rules were incorporated under an organization he created, the National Paddle Rackets Association.

Through the assistance of some 40,000 handball courts that already existed in the country as at the time, the game soon was adopted and not at a small pace, and it became popular. Joe Sobek saw to the publicity and promotion himself. Although, in the 1970s, Kendler helped promote the game through his publication ACE.

 Fifteen years later, in I969, the professional tennis player, Bob McLerney coined the name that became the official name of the racquetball game governed by the International Racquetball Association. This was done with the help of the president and founder of the US Handball Association (USHA).

In 1974, the IRA, being a pioneer member of the International Racquetball Foundation, had its first professional tournament. As time went by, the IRA was made to become the American Amateur Racquetball Association (AARA). Later in 1995, towards the end of the year, it gave itself another name – the United States Racquetball Association (USRA).

USRA became USAR (USA Racquetball) so that it could fit in to the associations of the Olympic sports although it wasn’t an Olympic sport.

As at 1974, the game already had over 3.1 million players. As a result of this, there were a lot of demands and, to meet those demands, clubs and courts were built for the racquetball game. The sports and clubs employed goods manufacturers who began producing equipment that were specific to only racquetball.

There was progress until early in the 1980s that its continuity was threatened and its popularity reduced due to the fact that racquetball clubs decided to become fitness clubs because they wanted to serve more clients. Aerobics exercise classes, physical fitness, and bodybuilding machines were incorporated. However, since then the number has steadied. The game records approximately five million six hundred thousand players.

Racquetball is close in similarity to the British sport, racketball, which was invented by Ian D. W. Wright in 1976 who invented the sport using the racquetball techniques. There are some differences, however, in that the racketball is much smaller, denser and doesn’t bounce as much as the racquetball.

Also, the racketball is played in a squash court which is significantly wider and shorter than the racquetball court. Apart from these, the racketball game court’s ceiling is out of bounds.

The Racquetball Game’s Objectives

Racquetball is an interesting and fun game but it is not just a game without direction or reason for its existence. The racquetball objectives are listed thus:

The game is played by two groups of players namely:

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

Summarily, the main objective of the game is to win rallies and, consequently, win points.

Racquetball’s Health Benefits

Like most sports and games, the racquetball game has numerous benefits not just career-wise or wealth-wise. It has benefits that are health related. Some of those benefits include:

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.

The Bodies Governing the Racquetball Sport

Racquetball championships were first held in 1981 in collaboration with the first World games and they were governed by the International Racquetball Federation. 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

Racquetball Rules

The rules are not just conventionally listed out; they are sectioned just like in any other sport. The rules cover everything needed to play the game and play successfully without the player injuring himself or the next player. The rules cover pretty much everything you can ever know about the game. The sections: Rules concerning –

The equipment to be used;

The ball maintenance;

Serving the ball including the offensive and defensive shots;

Scoring goal points;

The hinders;

The various ways the game can be played; and

Strategies of the game play.

1. The Equipment to be Used

The equipment includes the court, lines, the racquetball, racquet, gloves, clothing, eye guards and wrist tether. The rule states that:

the court must be rectangular in shape and must be fully enclosed, whether indoor or outdoor, and must be with a front wall. It should be in length 40ft, in width 20ft, and the height should not be more or less than 20ft. Red lines are used to mark out the areas where balls are to be served and received.

the lines are of two forms, the short line and service line. The short line is a solid red line that runs parallel to the court’s width straight to the front and back walls and at a distance of 20ft forms the service box. The service line is 15ft from the front wall and runs parallel to the short line. Right there within the service box are two sets of lines that are perpendicular to the length of the short and service lines.

The racquetball must be bouncy rubber ball and the diameter should not be more than 2.25 inches. Ball colors may be blue, pink, red, green, purple, black or red. Professional matches use blue and green balls, beginners and amateurs use the blue ball, while the black ball is mostly used by senior players for its slow movement.

The racquet should not be more than 22 inches in length.

Gloves, though not compulsory, made for a firm grip of the racquet if used. It is similar to the ones golfers use when driving.

Clothing is racquetball games should be of comfortable short sleeved shirts and shorts with court shoes specifically designed to make quick movement either laterally, forward, or backward possible.

Racquetball eye guards are required for safety purposes. The racquetball is strong enough to cause a permanent vision damage if it should hit the eye. Playing without an eye guard is dangerous.

Wrist tether should be used to prevent inevitable accidents.

The Ball Maintenance

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 could possibly cause them 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.

Serving the Ball ­– Offensive and Defensive shots

Different players have their own different style of serving. However, generally, serving is divided into two parts: offensive service and defensive service. It is common among players to use the offensive serve as the first serve while the defensive serve only serves if and when they need to hit a second serve.

Offensive shots

Terms and terminologies used for offensive shorts are:

Straight-in shots – which are usually hit for the purpose of hitting the front wall as low as possible. The shots are done with the idea that the ball should be hit towards that part of the call where the rival cannot get to.

Kill shots – The shot is referred to as a ‘kill’ shot if the ball happens to touch the front wall so low such that it bounces twice before getting to the service line.

Down-line – They are down-the-line if and cross court passing shorts if they opponent was unable to return the ball.

Dink – is most effective when rival players are too deep inside the court. It is a shot that has been designed to end a point. The shot is very low to the wall which hits it very softly such that it bounces twice before the rival player could get to it.

Z shot – done majorly and effectively to confuse and frustrate an opponent. To attain a Z shot, the player must hit the side wall hard and very high such that the ball hits the front wall then the side wall and back to the initial side wall. The ball path will be Z shaped hence the name ‘Z shot’.

Defensive Shots

Defensive shots are the exact opposite of offensive shots. They are, unlike the offensive shots, not returned to the front wall low. The primary defensive shot is the ceiling ball shot. The ceiling ball shot is one where the ball hits the ceiling either at or near the front wall. The ball bounces in the forecourt before it moves as close to the back wall as possible. The opponent can be lucky as to get a kill shot if the ball travels too long or too short down the back wall.

The high Z defensive short – is done when the player on the defense is close to the front wall. It is hit about ten feet as high or higher than the front wall after which the ball bounces over the opponent towards the opposite side wall with a spin.

Around the world or the 3-wall defensive shot is about the shot traveling around the court alternatively hitting the ceiling ball.

Scoring Goal Points

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.

International championship competitions organized and overseen by the IRF are like the scoring systems of the USA Racquetball in that two games are 15 points with the third point 11 but being a tie-breaker.

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. Basically, you lose points when;

You make two illegal serves;

The ball touches the floor at least twice before you play;

The ball touches you;

You change the hand your racquet is in during the point;

You throw or carry the racquetball with your racquet;

The ball hits another player with no chance of hitting the front wall;

The ball goes out of bounds when you made your shot;

The ball fails to hit the front wall and also did not bounce when you made your shot.

The Hinders

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 unrivaled 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.

In addition to the hinders and penalty hinders, we also have the court hinder where a ball is caused to bounce untrue by a part of the pitch. This may be the door frame, handle, or some construction hitch. When this happens, a re-serve is called for.

Various Ways the Game can be Played

The game can be played with two (also called singles), three (also called cutthroat) or four players (also called doubles).

Singles: played by two players and also called one-up. It is basically a one-on-one competition throughout the game.

Doubles: a two vs two throughout the game. Two pairs play against another two pair.

Cutthroat: also known as ironman is a two vs one competition for an entire game. This is done by each player taking turns to serve the ball. While one serves, the other two are opponents who team up to play against the one serving. However, if and when the one serving loses, the next player becomes a server. Now, the server who lost teams up with the other player to play against the new server.

Another variation of the game is that in which there are three players but, unlike in cutthroat, each player is playing against the other. That is, there are three players who are competing against one another.

Strategies of the Game Play

The main 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. 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.

So, there you have the basic rules you need to know about racquetball rules.