What Are The Racquetball Rules?

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Racquetball is a fantastic physical activity. For people that love to compete and get plenty of exercise, racquetball is both fast-paced and fun. It’s also a game that is easy to learn and will get you in great shape if you take the time to learn it.

What are the racquetball rules? In racquetball, the server says the score before starting every point. The server announces his or her score first. Most games are played to 11, 15, or 21 points. A player must win by at least two points.

Since there isn’t much on the Internet today about racquetball rules, we’ve created this ultimate guide to racquetball rules to help you out. We’ll teach you the game so that you can enjoy it the next time you hit your local gym.

Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Squash And Racquetball?

What is Racquetball?

Racquetball was initially called “Rackets” and was invented less than a century ago. To help you better understand what the game entails, we’ll cover some of the rules of racquetball below. We’ll also give you a few pointers on how you can improve your racquetball game.

How to Play Racquetball

If you’ve ever played tennis before, then you have a bit of a jump start already on racquetball, although you might not know it yet. Racquetball resembles tennis because each player has a racquet and one ball.

There are a few different ways people play racquetball. There are one on one games, two on two games, or one on one on one games (known as cut-throat, which we’ll cover in detail later). Racquetball is played on a court that features four enclosed walls and a ceiling.

When people play one on one, the game starts with a server standing inside a box that’s found in the center of the court. The other player is allowed to stand anyplace they want behind the box.

When serving, the server begins by first bouncing the ball, then hits the ball with his or her racquet. A successful serve must hit the front wall on the fly then strike behind the server box without hitting the back wall on a fly.

If you’re new to racquetball, and you’ve never heard the term “on a fly” before, it just means that the ball cannot hit the ground first before hitting the wall.

After the serve is completed, the other player needs to hit the ball again before it bounces two times on the ground. To successfully return a serve in racquetball, the player must hit the front wall on a fly.

After the serve is returned, the two players alternate hitting the ball until the ball either hits the ground twice or the front wall is not hit on a fly.

Once you start playing racquetball, you’ll notice that you’re always on the move. Even if you think you’re in great physical shape, you’ll probably feel humbled after a few rounds of racquetball. Excellent racquetball players demonstrate a lot of endurance on the court, and it can take a while to build up that kind of strength.

Do you want to get started now? Take a look on our complete guide about the equipment needed to play racquetball by clicking here.

Racquetball Rules

Now that you understand the general concept behind the game, we’ll take some time to cover some of the other racquetball rules in a bit more detail.

If the server wins the rally, the server collects the point and gets to serve again. However, if the returner wins the rally, they don’t tally up a score. Instead, the returner will get to serve to kick off the next rally.

Each time you serve, you’ll get two chances to make a serve successful. Just like in tennis, if you fail to serve correctly twice, it’s considered a double fault. 

If you double fault, the other player gets the point and also gets to serve to start the next rally.

There are three different ways to play racquetball, which we mentioned above. Those three ways are singles, doubles, and cut-throat. We’ll get into the rules of each game in a bit more detail below.

Singles in Racquetball

Singles racquetball is the most common type of racquetball play you’ll find around, and it’s also known as one on one racquetball. If you’re a newbie to racquetball, this is the best format with which to start. Until you get some experience and learn the rules well, we recommend playing singles racquetball to start.

We've created a list below that covers some of the more traditional rules for one-on-one racquetball.

  • While you are in the middle of a point, you can hit the ball against the back wall first, or the ceiling. Doing either one of these things is allowable as long as the ball hits the front wall on the fly at some point.
  • When returning, remember that you can’t go past the hash mark line until after the ball is served by the serving player.
  • When you are serving, remember that it is a fault if the ball hits the back wall on a fly. However, if the ball was going to hit the back wall and the returning player hits the serve anyway, you’re now in a rally, and the serve is considered good.
  • When you are serving, if you hit the ball on a side wall before you hit the front wall, then you lose that point. You’ll lose the point even if you hit the ball like this on the first serve. You’ll not only lose the point when that happens, but the other player also gets to serve the next point.
  • If you’re in the middle of playing and you get in the way of the other player during a rally, the player you interfere with may call out “hinder.” If that’s the case and you’ve obstructed the other player, then the entire point gets replayed.
  • If the ball hits your body at all, then you lose the end and play stops. Also, if the ball hits either player’s racquet two times in a row, that player even loses the point.
  • If one player hits another player with a ball, which does happen on occasion, the point can be replayed as long as the shot looked like it was going to hit the front wall on a fly.
  • If you are in the middle of a rally and the ball hits the front wall and the back wall, then the ball can hit the front wall again before the next shot so long as the ball hasn’t bounced more than a single time. This is a rare occurrence, and it’s a rule that is worth knowing.

Doubles in Racquetball

When you get a bit more experience under your belt, then it is time to learn how to play doubles in racquetball. The rules of the game differ when there are two teams of two people on the court.

Doubles racquetball is very intense, and the rallies tend to be much more fast-paced when compared to singles racquetball. That’s because, with four people on the court, there is less time for players to think.

Since doubles racquetball moves so quickly, working with a good teammate helps because you’ll have less ground to cover and you’ll also have to think more rapidly. However, these factors make the game more challenging and enjoyable overall, as well.

When you’re ready to get started with doubles in racquetball, there are a few rules you’ll need to know.

  • Teams take turns taking hits. Either player on your doubles team can hit the ball when it’s their team’s turn.
  • Typically, each team will have one player for each side of the court. However, during play, players can go anywhere on the court during a point.
  • When it comes to serving, each player on a team gets an opportunity to serve. After the first player on the team loses a serving point, that team continues to serve. That is until the other teammate misses a serving point.

We’ve just covered the basic rules of doubles racquetball above. If you’d like to review more rules, feel free to read more here.

Cut-Throat Racquetball

Once you get familiar with cut-throat racquetball, it might become your favorite version of racquetball to play. Several experienced racquetball players love cut-throat because it forces one person to be up against two other people.

Cut-throat is a very challenging game physically, and players with the best levels of endurance usually perform best at it. Also, cut-throat tends to take much longer than your standard singles or doubles game in racquetball.

If you’re dying to get started with cut-throat racquetball, then we’ve got some of the basic rules for you below.

  • Only the player serving can win a point. The server is continuously challenged by the two other players on the court.
  • In cut-throat, the serve rotates around the three people in the game in the same order throughout the duration of the match.
  • For example, let’s say players A, B, and C are playing. A serves first, then B or C returns the serve. After that, A must hit the ball again, and then B or C can hit the ball. If A wind the rally, he or she gets the point and serves still. If A loses the rally, then Player B serves, and the rules continue to rotate as such.

If you’d like to learn a little more about cut-throat’s rules, you can go here.

Scoring in Racquetball

If you’re not sure how scoring works in racquetball, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Below are some basic rules about scoring in racquetball.

  • Before each point, the server calls out the score. It doesn’t matter who is winning the game; the server still says his or her score first.
  • Racquetball games are played until players reach 11, 15, or 21 points. Most games must be won by two points, but the players can decide that before starting if it’s just a friendly match against friends at the gym.
  • It’s not uncommon for players to have uneven skill levels in racquetball. Often, the weaker player is given a few points before the game even begins to level things out a bit.

Winning Your Racquetball Games

So, now that you know a bit about how to play racquetball and the rules of racquetball, the next thing you’ll want to consider is how you can win at racquetball. We’ll cover a few strategies to help you out below.

Hit the Ball Low

You’ll want to learn how to hit the ball low to win your racquetball games. One of the best strategies is to learn how to make a “kill shot,” which happens when the ball hits the bottom of the front wall. When that happens, the ball is tight for your opponent to return.

However, learning how to make a “kill shot” is a risky strategy. If you hit the ball too low, the ball will hit the ground first, causing you to lose the point. So, make sure you spend plenty of time practicing this move if you want to keep it in your bag of tricks for your next racquetball game.

Hit the Ball Hard

To become a better racquetball player, you’ll also want to learn how to hit the ball hard. The harder you can hit the ball, the less reaction time your opponent gets when he or she tries to return it. However, keep in mind that racquetball hits aren’t all about power.

For example, hitting the ball soft and low is almost always better than hard and high. So, even when you hit the ball hard, make sure you control the placement of the ball.

Play-off the Ceiling

You’ll also want to learn how to play off the ceiling to improve your racquetball game. A ceiling shot is a safe and defensive shot that can create problems when your opponent tries to return it. If you wind up in an unfortunate position and you can’t make a kill shot, knowing how to hit the ceiling is another great way to defend yourself.

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