How To Play Racquetball: A Newbies Guide

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We know…Diving into a new sport can be super intimidating. It’s going to take a lot of practice to get good, but seeing that improvement can be the most rewarding part of the process. Here’s a helpful guide on how to play racquetball so you can get a grasp of the basics.

Racquetball is an amazing exercise and a great way to be a part of a community. 

Racquetball is relatively easy to learn and can be played with minimal equipment. The game has been around for a long time and has millions of people who play it worldwide.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t going to take time. But, if you learn the basic rules of the game, start implementing techniques and strategies and get the necessary equipment, you’ll be a solid racquetball player in no time.

Let’s get started.

How to play racquetball, with blue ball on court and text overlay

What is Racquetball?

Racquetball is unlike any other game, and is pretty easy to learn once you get the basics down. It has very simple rules that give the game a competitive edge. The game is derived from squash and is quite similar.

However, there are some peculiarities that set it apart. It is played both indoors and outdoors in a room-like structure and every wall, ceiling, and floor are playable in the game.

The game is played between two or more players. The concept is simple All you need to do is strike the ball against the front wall and score more points than your opponents to win the game.

Easy right?

Now you may be asking “What is is that makes this game so entertaining?”

Every wall, ceiling, and floor are playable surfaces and important to the game!

Equipment Needed for Racquetball

Whether you are learning to play racquetball as a hobby or playing your local gym league, there is a set of equipment or gear that you will need. They ensure your safety and enable you to enjoy the game.

For beginners, the basic equipment you’ll need: 

  • Racquetball racquet
  • Racquetballs
  • Protective eyewear

These are the absolute essentials, once you’re a full fledged racquetball junkie you’ll want to invest in the following:

  • Racquetball gloves
  • Racquetball shoes
  • Bag or backpack

Now that you have got the gist of the basics, you need to learn and understand some basic rules. Let’s dive right into the rules of the game.

What Are the Basic Rules of Racquetball?

If you have played tennis, badminton, or any other racquet game, you will find racquetball rules very simple. Here are some of the basic rules of racquetball.

Holding a Racquet

In racquetball, there is a certain way that you should hold the racquet. Even before you start playing the game, this is the first rule that you should know about.

A racquetball racquet comes with a wrist tether or cord for protection. It helps the player in maintain control over the racquet during the game. 

The racquet can be used with a forehand grip that should have the thumb and index finger grip in the middle to create a V-shape. If you don’t prefer a forehand grip you can opt for a backhand grip. It will enable you to swing the racquet in the clockwise direction while using the same V-shape hold on the body of the racquet.

The backhand grip generates slightly more power than the forehand grip as the face is laid out differently.

The Racquetball Court

outdoor racquetball court with green wall

The game is played on outdoor courts and indoor courts that are divided into different parts and boundaries such as:

A standard racquetball court looks like this. It has:

  • Walls: It has 4 walls. All the walls- front, side, back, and even the ceiling is used to play racquetball.
  • Area: The court’s length is – 40 feet, width is – 20 feet and Height is- 20 feet. The back wall has a height of about 12 feet.
  • Court Markings: The court markings in red have short lines, service lines, the service zone, drive serve lines, double serve lines, receiving line and safety zone. For the beginner’s guide, remember the 3 most important line markings of the racquetball court-

– Service Zone: The rectangular middle section marked by 2 solid red parallel lines excluding the 2 smaller sections on each side is the service zone. The player has to stand there and serve.

– Receiving Line: The receiver stands behind the broken red markings to receive the ball after the first player has completed the serve.

– Safe Zone: The 5×20 inches area bordered by the short line, the receiving line, & the side walls is the safety zone.

racquetball court view from the back

How Do You Play Racquetball?

The entire concept of the game revolves around hitting the ball before it bounces on the floor twice and preventing your opponent from returning the ball. While doing so, you should take the following rules into consideration.

  • When serving the ball, you must bounce the ball once in the serving area and hit it while it is in the air and before it bounces twice.
  • If you are on the returning side, let the ball bounce once before returning it. You also need to hit the front wall when returning the ball.
  • Once the ball has been returned, both players can continue hitting the front wall to return the ball to their opponent before the ball bounces twice. The returning of the ball is referred to as a rally.
  • In an ongoing rally, the players are allowed to use any part of the court such as the walls and ceilings to return the ball.
  • Points are only awarded when the ball is hit but it fails to reach the front wall, or the ball bounces twice before the player attempted to hit the ball.

Scoring Rules of Racquetball

The rules are the same for scoring whether you are playing a friendly match with your friends or a league or tournament.

  • The player to score 15 points first wins the game. (Winning by one point only)
  • An official racquetball match is played the best two out of three games (15 points, 15 points, 11 points). If you win the first two games, you don’t have to play the third game.
  • The third game to 11 points is played only when a tiebreaker is necessary.

Racquetball Serves

Every game of racquetball starts with a serve. The player initiating the serve must ensure that their serve complies with the rules of serving as explained in this guide.

If the serve fails or is done incorrectly it is deemed as a ‘fault’ and the server is allowed a second serve.

These are the rules that you need to follow to hit a valid serve.

Racquetball Serve Rules

  • Position: The serve position is very important in the racquetball game. The player needs to be in the service zone marked by solid red lines.
  • Stepping: During a serve, the player may step on the lines but cannot go beyond the lines.
  • Ball position: At the time of starting the service motion, the ball has to be within the service zone.
  • Front Wall: The player has to serve aiming to hit the front wall. A service cannot be made on any of the other walls except the front wall.

There are also 3 different types of serve to keep in mind:

There are 3 Basic Types of Racquetball Serves:

Types of Racquetball Serves

  1. Drive Serve: It’s a low serve which it hit hard.
  2. Lob Serve: It’s a slow-pace high-bounce serve.
  3. Z-Serve: It’s an angular serve. In a Z-serve type, the ball first hits the front wall, then after hitting the side wall, the ball travels across the court to hit the floor & finally strike the other side of the wall.
  • The ball must bounce once on the floor before the strike.
  • The ball must hit the front wall without bouncing.
  • The ball must cross the ‘short line’ while returning.
  • The ball can hit one sidewall after it hits the front wall.
  • You get two chances to hit a good serve, if you are unsuccessful in both attempts, the serve will be passed on to your opponent.
  • You get an ‘ace’ if your opponent is unable to hit the ball back to the front wall or the ball bounces on the floor twice.

Racquetball Warm-up

Warm-up before playing. just like any other game, racquetball involves a lot of physical activity. Therefore, you need to stretch your muscles and get your body warmed-up before starting the game.

Stretching is always a good idea, but you need to do something more to get your body ready for action. Try jogging around the court, or you can bring a jump rope and do running in place to get your muscles warmed up.

Shot Selection

Once you are able to follow the ball and hit it with the right amount of power and at the right angle, you need to learn how to pick the right shot during the game.

For instance, if your opponent is standing right behind you, you can hit the ball to the other side of the court. This forces your opponent to get stuck on one side of the court. In racquetball, this is known as passing the ball. The best way to use this shot is to hit it away from your opponent.

Conclusion

Racquetball is an incredibly fun game that you can pick up as a hobby and play to improve your fitness. The fact that it is easy to learn with simple rules, is ideal for people of any age or gender. I hope that the above information has helped you gain comprehensive knowledge of racquetball rules and tips.

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