RACQUETBALL COURTS – Racquetball is played on a court that is 20 feet wide by 40 feet long by 20 feet high, and the ball can be hit off any wall so as to get it back to the front wall. Generally, racquetball courts are indoors, but racquetball is also played outdoors. Outdoor courts generally do not have ceilings or backwalls, and generally have short sidewalls, if they have sidewalls at all.
The court is divided front to back by the short line, which is the back line of the service box formed by two lines that run between the sidewalls. The dashed line 5′ behind the short line is a the safefy line. Players receiving serve cannot cross the safety line with their bodies or their racquets until the ball crosses that line or the ball bounces on the floor.
There are two sets of lines in the service box that are parallel to the side wall. The lines 1.5′ from the side wall are for doubles play: one player of a doubles team stands beside the sidewall on one side of the service box or the other while the other player serves. The lines 3′ from the side wall are the drive serve screen lines; if a player is going to drive serve, then the player cannot break the vertical plane indicated by the line on the side of the court that they are serving from.
Note: the lines on the floor are only involved in serving. Once the ball has been served, then the lines on the floor do not matter.
RACQUETBALL RACQUETS – Racquets are 22 inches long, and have a tether (string) at the bottom of the handle for a player to put around their wrist so that if they lose their grip on the racquet it will not go far from them.
RACQUETBALLS – Racquetballs are hollow rubber balls that come in a variety of colours. Racquetball Canada’s Official Racquetball is the Pro Penn HD Racquetball, which is used at all officially sanctioned Racquetball Canada events.
EYE GUARDS – Eye guards are the only other piece of equipment mandatory for playing racquetball.
Once you have a racquetball racquet, a racquetball, and eye guards, you are ready to play racquetball!
A GAME OF RALLIES – Racquetball is a series of rallies, where players alternate hitting the ball. Each rally begins with a serve. To score, you must serve and win the rally.
You win a rally when your opponent fails to hit the ball before it bounces twice on the floor (ball can only bounce once on the floor) or your opponent skips the ball (a skip is when the ball hits the floor before the front wall).
The person who wins the rally gets to serve to start the next rally, so if you keep winning rallies, you keep serving.
A racquetball game is usually to 15 points. A match is best of three games with the tie-breaking 3rd game to 11 points. In each game, you must win by 2 points.
SERVE – Serve by standing in the service box (formed by the two lines running between the side walls), drop the ball, and after it bounces on the floor hit the ball to the front wall.
For a serve to be ‘good’ it must hit the floor between the back line of the service box (the short line) and the back wall.
If a serve hits the floor before the short line, then it’s a fault serve. If a serve hits the back wall before the floor, it’s a fault serve. If the serve hits the front wall and then the ceiling, it’s a fault serve. You are allowed 2 fault serves, so if you fault on the first serve, you get a second try (second serve).
If a serve does not hit the front wall after being struck by the server (e.g., the ball hits a side wall or the ceiling before the front wall), it is an automatic loss of serve.
HINDERS – Sometimes players get in each other’s way, and that is called a hinder (sometimes an avoidable hinder). Hinders are replays (avoidable hinders are lost rallies for the person who has committed the avoidable hinder).
DOUBLES – Both players on a doubles team get to serve, except for the first service of the game, when only one player serves before the team has to give up serve (after losing a rally). When one person is serving, that person’s partner has to stand in the service box against one of the sidewalls.
During a rally in doubles, either player can hit the ball. With 4 players on the court, hinders happen more often in doubles than in singles.
OFFICIAL RULE BOOK
For the complete rules of racquetball consult Racquetball Canada’s Official Rulebook.