How to Play Racquetball: Rules Explained

by | Mar 20, 2024 | Reviews

Welcome to the world of racquetball, a super fun and exciting sport. If you’re new to racquetball or just want to learn the ropes, you’re in the right place. Racquetball is easy to pick up and loads of fun to play.

With a little practice, even beginners can swing that racket like a pro. Plus, when you’re looking for something exciting to do, racquetball is a perfect choice. So, get ready for some awesome fun on the court – let’s dive into racquetball together.

What is racquetball?

Racquetball is an exciting game that started in 1950 when Joseph Sobek made some changes to paddleball. He added a special racquet to make the game faster and easier to control. Unlike tennis or badminton, there’s no net in racquetball. And unlike squash, there’s no area out-of-bounds at the bottom of the front wall. In racquetball, players can hit the ball against the walls, floor, and ceiling, except for certain areas called hinders, which are off-limits.

The game involves hitting a hollow rubber ball with a racquet onto the ground so it bounces off the wall, making it tricky for the other player to return. It’s a fun game that requires skill and strategy!

Racquetball shares similarities with other sports like American handball and British Squash 57 (formerly known as racketball before 2016). These similarities make it familiar and enjoyable for players who love these sports too.

Know the game variations in racquetball

In racquetball, there are different ways to play, depending on how many players are involved. Here’s a breakdown of each game:

  • Racquetball Singles: This is when two people play against each other in a one-on-one match. It’s the most common way to play racquetball, whether you’re just playing for fun or competing in a tournament.
  • Racquetball Doubles: When there are four players involved, and they split into two teams of two, it’s called a racquetball doubles match. This style of play is popular in both competitive tournaments and casual games with friends.
  • Cutthroat Racquetball or 3 Player Racquetball: In another version called cutthroat racquetball, three players face off against each other. It’s usually played in a 1-vs-1-vs-1 setup, where one player serves and tries to score against the other two players who team up. Although it’s not as popular in tournaments, it can be a great choice when you have an odd number of players.

Each style of play offers its own unique challenges and strategies, so feel free to try them all and see which one you enjoy the most.

What do the lines mean on racquetball court?

The lines marked on the racquetball court help keep the game fair and organized, so make sure to pay attention to them during your matches.

Here’s a quick guide to the lines you’ll find on a racquetball court:

  • Service Line: This line is closest to the front wall and is important during the serve. The server must keep both feet behind this line. Stepping over it is a foot fault, causing them to lose the serve.
  • Service Zone: The area between the service line and the short line, extending to the side walls, is the service zone. The server must stay within this area until the ball passes the short line.
  • Service Boxes: These are in the service zone closest to the walls and are used in doubles matches. The teammate of the server must stand inside one of these boxes.
  • Short Line: The Short Line in racquetball serves several important purposes:
    • The ball has to go over the Short Line in the air before bouncing. If it touches the ground before reaching the line, it’s called a short serve, and that’s not allowed.
    • Also, the server has to begin with both feet behind the Short Line. If even one foot goes past the line, it’s counted as a fault.
    • Lastly, the server can’t step beyond the Short Line until after the ball has passed over it during the serve.

Receiving Line or Encroachment Line: The player returning the serve mustn’t cross this line until the ball either bounces after the short line or crosses the line in the air. Crossing it early results in a point for the server.

What equipment do you need to play racquetball?

To play racquetball, you need the right equipment: a racquet, balls, and safety glasses. Optional extras include gloves, shoes, and a bag for your gear.

Use a balanced racquetball racquet

Choosing the right racquetball racquet is essential for playing the game effectively. There are several factors to consider when selecting a racquet, including grip size, weight distribution, and frame material.

When choosing a racquet, it’s essential to consider your personal preferences and playing style to find the best fit for you.

  • Racquet Price: Racquets can vary in price, ranging from $20 to $200, depending on your preferences and budget.
  • Grip Size: It’s crucial for comfort and control while playing. A 3 ⅝ grip size is suitable for people who wear XS-L gloves, whereas a 3 ⅞ grip size is better for those who wear XL gloves.
  • Racquet frame: These come in different materials. Less expensive racquets typically have metal frames, while more expensive ones may include materials like graphite and titanium. The choice of material can affect the racquet’s performance and durability.
  • Racquet Weight: Weight distribution is another important factor to consider. Even-balanced racquets are less expensive, while head-heavy racquets tend to be pricier because they can help generate more power during shots.

Racquetball ball with the right color

In racquetball, players use a special ball made of rubber. This ball is small and hollow. It’s about 2.25 inches wide. The ball is designed to bounce well on the walls and floor of the racquetball court. Sometimes, these balls come in bright colors like green, blue, or purple. But it’s not just for looks. The color can actually tell us something about how the ball performs.

For example, some colors might mean the ball is heavier or bouncier than others. This affects how fast it moves and how it behaves on the court. So, picking the right color of the ball is important for players. It can change how well they play and how much fun they have during the game.

Wear the right shoes

Court shoes are designed to provide good traction, which helps you change direction quickly on the wooden racquetball floors. These floors can be slippery, so wearing the right athletic shoes made for indoor courts is essential for preventing injuries and improving your performance. You can find court shoes at a sporting goods store.

Use gloves for better grips

Gloves can be a helpful addition to your racquetball gear. While not mandatory, they can improve your grip and control, especially if you tend to sweat during play.

Wearing a glove on the hand you hold the racquet with can enhance your grip and prevent blisters. You can find racquetball gloves at a sporting goods store, which can be a valuable investment to improve your game comfort and performance.

Get eye protector

Eye protection is crucial when playing racquetball. The ball can travel at speeds of up to 100 mph (160 km/h), posing a significant risk of injury if it hits your eye. Therefore, it’s important to wear right goggles to protect your eyes from potential harm.

When choosing goggles, make sure they fit securely around your head to provide adequate protection. Vented goggles are also a good option, as they prevent steam from building up and obstructing your vision. You can purchase these protective goggles at a sporting goods store.

The Basic Rules of Racquetball

How to serve the ball

To start a game of racquetball, you have to serve the ball properly. There are two main types of racquetball serves: the drive serve and the lob serve. Each serve has its own technique and strategy.

  • First, stand in the service zone, which is between the two solid lines in the middle of the court. 
  • Then, bounce the ball once and hit it toward the front wall. Make sure you hit it opposite to where your opponent is standing. Once the ball hits the front wall and goes back over the service zone, the game begins.
  • If you mess up your first serve by missing the ball, hitting a wall other than the front one first, or hitting your opponent before the ball touches the ground, don’t worry. You get another chance to serve before you lose the point.

Be aware of service faults

You should avoid making service faults when playing racquetball. Let’s learn about the different types of faults that can happen during a serve:

  • Short serve: When the ball hits the front wall but bounces off the floor before crossing the line.
  • Ceiling serve: When the ball hits the front wall and bounces off the ceiling.
  • Foot fault: This occurs when a player steps outside of the service zone before the ball crosses the line.
  • Long serve: This occurs when the ball hits the front wall and bounces to hit the back wall before hitting the ground.
  • Three-wall serve: This happens when the ball hits the front wall but then bounces off both side walls before hitting the ground.
  • Screen serve: When the ball is served so close to the server that the other player(s) cannot see it.

Knowing these faults can help you serve correctly and avoid losing points during a game of racquetball.

Continue rallying

Once the ball is served, the rally begins, and it’s time to start hitting the ball back and forth between players. This is called rallying.

During the rally, players keep hitting the ball at each other, and it can bounce off any walls in the court. However, it must hit the front wall before touching the floor, and it can’t hit the floor two times in a row. This back-and-forth play continues until one player wins the point.

How to score points

During a racquetball game, points are scored when a player makes a fault or fails to make a successful shot during the rally.

There are different ways a player can lose a rally, such as switching racquet hands, carrying or slinging the ball with the racquet, touching the ball with their body, or making the ball leave the gallery.

After a rally ends, the player who wins the point gets to serve and start the next rally.

The winner of the game is the player who wins two out of three sets. Each set has its own point system. The first two sets require players to reach 15 points to win, while the third set only goes up to 11 points. The first player to reach the necessary number of points wins that set. So, to win the game, a player must win two sets out of three.

Do not hinder your opponent

To keep the game safe and fair, it’s important to avoid hindering. This means not getting in the way of your opponent when they’re aiming at the wall. Also, try not to hit the ball directly at your opponent. These actions could lead to injuries and disrupt the game. If hindering occurs, the game might need to be replayed or a penalty could be given, depending on the situation. So it’s best to be mindful of your movements and where the ball is going to keep the game running smoothly.

Quick rules you must learn to play racquetball

  • Players agree on the rules before starting and decide who serves first. 
  • The game begins with a serve, and play continues after a successful serve.
  • Once the ball is in play, the opposing player or team must hit it against the front wall before it bounces twice.
  • The returning player can strike the ball either in mid-air or after it bounces once.
  • After hitting the ball, it must reach and hit the front wall before touching the floor.
  • Play goes on like this until one player wins the rally.
  • If the serving player wins the rally, they earn a point. However, if the returning player wins the rally, they get to serve next.
  • Only the player who serves can score a point. 
  • The game ends once a player reaches the agreed-upon number of points.

The best strategies on how to play racquetball

Hold the racquet with your suitable grip. There are two main types- forehand and backhand.

  • Master forehand grip: To hold a racquet with a forehand grip, imagine you’re shaking someone’s hand and then wrap your fingers around the handle. Ensure there’s a slight gap between your fingertips and the base of your palm. Your fingers should grip the handle low without extending beyond its edge. It’s important not to hold the racquet perpendicular to your arm, as this can make serving more challenging. Practicing this grip can improve your control and performance in racquetball.
  • Use backhand grip: To master a backhand grip in racquetball, start with the standard forehand grip. Then, rotate the racquet slightly clockwise, about ⅛ inch. This grip may be challenging at first, but it offers players a more powerful swing. With practice, you can improve your backhand technique and enhance your gameplay in racquetball.

Use different strokes

Your strokes depend on how you hold the racket. There are two main strokes: the forehand and the backhand.

  • Forehand stroke: Imagine forehand stroke like swinging like you would when playing baseball. One knee bends down a bit but doesn’t touch the ground. Keep your swing level and steady.
  • Backhand stroke: Start with the racket near your head. Swing it forward, around your body, and end it behind you. It’s like making a big arc with the racket.

Remember, no matter which stroke you’re doing, your stance is important. Bend your knees a little and keep them loose. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart. Make sure your torso is parallel to the side walls. This stance helps you stay balanced and ready to hit the ball.

Hit the ball at various heights

When you’re practicing hitting the ball, it’s good to aim at different heights. There are a few levels you can aim for.

First, there’s the low shot, just a few inches off the ground. This is called a kill shot because it’s aimed to end the rally quickly.

Then, there’s the pass shot, which is aimed a bit higher, about one to two feet off the ground. It’s easier to hit and helps you keep the rally going.

Finally, there’s the pass-kill shot, which is in between the other two heights. It combines the speed of the kill shot with the control of the pass shot.

Understanding these different heights helps you make better shots during your game.

Master the offensive shot: straight-in

Straight-in shot involves hitting the ball straight at the front wall so it bounces back parallel to the side wall. It’s a powerful move because it’s tough for your opponent to return.

What’s great about the straight-in shot is that you can take it at any height. Whether it’s low, medium, or high, mastering this shot can give you a strong advantage during the game. Practice it well, and you’ll see your game improve.

Pick up the offensive shot: cross-court

Cross-court shot happens when you hit the ball so it bounces to the opposite corner from where you hit it. It’s a smart move because it forces your opponent to move away from the center of the court.

The cool thing about the cross-court shot is that you can do it at any height. Whether the ball is low, medium, or high, you can make this shot work for you. It’s a strategic move that can give you an advantage in the game. Keep practicing, and you’ll master it in no time.

Care of the defensive offensive shot: pinch and shot

Many players do not take advantage of the pinch shot and the splat shot. But they are the hidden gem under the shell.

The pinch shot is aimed low, ideally at kill shot level, with the goal of ending the rally. You hit the ball against the far end of the side wall and quickly bounce it off the front wall.

On the other hand, the splat shot is similar to the pinch shot, but with a twist. Instead of hitting the ball against the far end of the side wall, you hit it against the side wall close to you. Then, it bounces off the front wall in a way that’s tricky for your opponent to follow.

Both shots are low shots, and they can be very effective in catching your opponent off guard. Give them a try during your practice sessions, and see how they work for you.

Use an effective defensive shot: ceiling

Ceiling shot is a defensive shot that helps you push your opponent away from the center of the court.

To do a ceiling shot, you aim carefully to hit the front wall first before hitting the ceiling. This way, the ball bounces high, making it harder for your opponent to return and giving you time to reposition yourself.

Remember, the key is to aim precisely and time your shot well. With practice, you’ll be able to use the ceiling shot effectively in your games.

Use the deffensive shot: Z-shot

A tricky shot called the “Z” shot can really mess with your opponent’s head. Here’s how it works: you hit the ball hard and high against one side wall. Then, it bounces off the front wall, hits the other side wall, and goes back to the first side wall. If you do it just right, the ball’s path looks like the letter “Z”.

This shot can be super confusing for your opponent because the ball bounces in unexpected ways. Plus, if you get it perfect, the ball spins on the last bounce. This makes it even harder to return. So, the “Z” shot is a real game-changer if you can pull it off.

Dont miss the offensive dink shot

In racquetball, there’s a move called the “dink” that’s great for scoring points. It’s all about finesse. You hit the ball softly and low against the front wall so it bounces twice before your opponent can reach it. This shot works best when your opponent is far back on the court. The dink can catch them off guard and help you win the point.

Smartly hit the ball away from your opponent

When you hit the ball far away from them, they have to rush and run to reach it. This can tire them out and give you an advantage.

Plus, when your opponent has less time to set up for a strong return shot, it increases your chances of winning the point. So, aim to keep the ball away from your opponent during your games. It’s a strategy that can help you score more points and win more matches.

Get positioned near the center of the court

By positioning yourself close to the receiving line, you have quick access to all areas of the court.

If you move too close to the front wall, your opponent might take advantage of that and try to make the ball fall closer to the back wall, making it harder for you to return.

By staying centered, you can cover more ground and ensure that no part of the court is too far away for you to reach. This gives you better control over the game and improves your chances of winning points.

Target the corners

In racquetball, aiming for the corners can be a strategic move. When you hit the ball so it lands near the corner where two walls meet, it can change the game’s dynamics.

The ball bouncing off the walls at an angle can make it trickier for your opponent to return. They’ll need to adjust quickly, which gives you an advantage.

So, when you’re playing, keep those corners in mind. Aiming for them can help you control the game and score more points.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you play racquetball inside?

Racquetball is a game you can play indoors or outdoors. You can have 2 to 4 players in a game. This guide explains all the tips you need to know to play racquetball. Different organizations around the world help manage the sport.

Can racquetball be played with more than two players?

Indeed, racquetball can be enjoyed with more than two players. When there are four players, it’s called a doubles match, where two players team up against another pair. Alternatively, three players can compete in various formats, often with all three players playing against each other. Another option is for two players to team up against one player, adding versatility to the game.

Final Takes

Racquetball is a fun and exciting sport for everyone. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been playing for a while, there’s always something new to learn and enjoy.

Learning how to play racquetball is an enjoyable journey. With its straightforward rules and fast-paced nature, getting started is easy. By practicing your swings and mastering the basic techniques, you’ll quickly improve your game. 

So, grab a racket, hit the court, and experience the thrill of racquetball firsthand. With dedication and practice, you’ll soon be playing like a pro.