Racquetball is a relatively new game which continues to grow in popularity. It can be

played competitively or simply for fun and relaxation.


Racquetball is an offshoot of the game of tennis. Its

tempting to make comparisons between the two sports

but we have to be careful not to be misleading! According

to many pros, excelling in one of the racquet

sports does not necessarily guarantee top performance

in another.

Racquetball is a young sport, having originated in the

United States in the 1950s. Although it is strenuous

and physically challenging, it does not entail chasing

balls all over a court. But like tennis, it does require

both superior physical dexterity as well as the ability

to strategize quickly and effectively.



Racquetball can be played alone, against one opponent as a singles game, or with four

players as a doubles game.

In racquetball, the first team or player to score 21 points (or to score 11 points if the

opposing players remain scoreless) wins. A match is won by the first side to win two


The server or serving side tries to win each volley by serving or returning the ball so that

the opposition is not able to keep the ball in play. Points can be scored only by the side

that is serving when it makes an unreturnable serve or wins a volley. When the serving

side loses the volley, it automatically loses the serve (called a handout).


Competitive racquetball is played on a fourwalled

room with a ceiling. The typical court is

20 feet wide, 40 feet long and 20 feet high, with

six playing surfaces: the front wall, back wall,

two side walls, the ceiling and the floor.

Lines divide the court into sections:

short line runs parallel to the

front wall and divides the court

into front and back courts.

service line runs five feet in front of the short line and parallel to it.

The service zone is the area between the short line and the service line.The

service boxes are formed by lines that run 18 inches away from andparallel to the two side walls. During a doubles game, the servers partnerstands in one of the boxes during the serve.



Racquetball is played with three basic strokes: backhand, forehand and overhand.

In the
backhand stroke, the key point to remember is that the face of the

racquet must hit the ball perpendicular to the floor just past the right leg.

Your body is bent slightly facing the left wall (right wall for left-handed

players). The right arm is raised so that the racquet head is above your left

ear. The weight is on your left leg until the racquet is swung; then the weight

shifts to your right leg as your arm swings across the front of your body.

As you swing the racquet, keep your

eyes on the ball. After you hit the ball,

let your arm follow through the arc of

the swing until it straightens out again.

forehand stroke is easier to perform

than the backhand stroke. However,

the body motions used in this

stroke are almost identical with those

used in the backhand stroke. The

racquet is held perpendicular to the

floor. The racquet contacts the ball just

past the left leg.

The key to the forehand stroke is to

bring the racquet arm back behind your

head as fast as possible before starting

the downswing. Also, keep your wrist

cocked back so that it snaps as the

racquet meets the ball.

overhand stroke is the least-used stroke in racquetball. It is often usedfor ceiling shots. Its also widely used by beginning players who are not yet

sure of the other moves.

In this stroke, move your racquet arm back and hold it at a 90-degree angle.

The overhead motion is similar to tossing a ball in the air. Extend your

racquet arm forward as if you were trying to smash the ball.


As with tennis, the serve is where the game of racquetball begins. The player who serves

is the only one who can earn points. As in tennis, the exchange of the ball between

players after the serve is called the volley.

The proper way to serve is to bounce the ball and hit it with the racquet against the front

wall of the court. As mentioned above, a handout (losing the serve) can occur if there is

a foot fault or a bad serve. Three kinds of errors can result in losing the serve:

foot fault occurs when the servers foot extends over the foot boundaries.

Two successive foot faults result in a handout.

bad serve occurs when the ball hits the ceiling, floor or any of the other

walls of the court before it hits the front wall.

handout occurs when two successive faults are committed. This can

occur when the ball hits the short line on a serve (this is called a short), orwhen the ball hits the rear wall on a serve before it bounces (this is called




The three most important serves in racquetball are the Power Serve, the Lob and the Zee.

power serve (or Power Drive) is the most common serve used byskilled players. When done correctly, this serve is difficult for the players

opponent to return. A serve which is impossible

to return is called an

a low bounce, the ball is hit with full

strength to a point on the front wall

so that the ball rebounds only a few

inches high off either side wall.

lob is a much softer

serve than the Power

Serve. The ball is hit to

the top of the front wall

so that it rebounds to

either side wall and hits

the floor near the rear wall. The closer the ball to the rear wall, the more

difficult it is for the receiver to return it.

zee is a specialized serve. In this serve, the ball follows a twisted path
that resembles the letter Z.Ideally, the ball will strike the front wall 8 to

16 feet above the floor. It rebounds onto the side wall and travels across the

court, bounces on the floor, and hits the opposite side wall. The ball cannot

hit the first side wall before it hits the front wall.

The Zee is a complicated and tricky serve. Considerable practice is required

before a player can use it effectively.


Two rules of thumb when returning balls are:

1. If a ball is below the knee, the player should run toward it and return it.

2. If the ball is above the knee, the player should wait for the ball to rebound

off a wall and then return it.

Five other basic rules also should be kept in mind during a game:

1. When the ball is being served, stand at least five feet behind the short line.

2. A ball cannot be returned until it has passed the short line.

3. The ball must be returned before it hits the floor twice. The ball can also be

returned on the fly or before it touches the floor.

4. A ball should hit the front wall first. However, it can hit the ceiling or side

walls before it reaches the front wall. It must not touch the floor before it

touches the front wall.

5. If you swing at the serve and miss, you can recover and make a legal return.


Any type of loose, non-binding garments can be worn to play racquetball.

Many players wear shorts or lightweight sweatpants and

a T-shirt.

Beginning players might also consider wearing protective

eye gear. Occasionally, serious eye injuries occur in racquetball

because of the enormous force of the ball. Canada

requires protective eye gear of all racquetball players, but

the United States has yet to pass such a law.


America has two national racquetball organizations: the American Amateur Racquetball

Association (AARA) and the United States Professional Racquetball Association

(USPRA). The AARA publishes the official racquetball tournament rules and sanctions

racquetball events. The USPRA exists primarily to promote the sport of racquetball and

the racquetball teaching profession.

Some of the top racquetball magazines are Killshot, P. O. Box 8036, Paducah, KY 42002-

8036; Racquetball, published by the AARA; and Racquetball Today, published by the

West Publishing Company.

In addition to print media sources, the Internet has many sources. If your school has a

computer department with Internet links, you might look at The United States Racquetball

Association's website at: http://www.usra.org

At this site you can see the very latest information about the sport at both the amatuer

and the professional level. For example, the site lists High School Boy's Singles Champions

(2000 - Jack Huczek of Adams High School, MI) and High School Girl's Singles

Champions (2000 -Adrienne Fisher of Centerville High School, OH ). Also listed are

the 2000 winners of first place team play. For the boys, the team winner was North

Salem High School, OR, and the girl
s team winner was Nerinx Hall High School, MO.

You can also get racquetball information from the ESPN, the television cable sports

channels World Wide Web page at:


Some of the very best racquetball players are on the U.S. World Championship Team.

Heading the 2000 team are two Pan American Games gold medalist: Cheryl Gudinas

(Lisle, Il.) and Jackie Paraison (El Cajon, CA.). Gudinas is a two-time national singles

champion and captured the women
s singles gold medal at the 1999 Pan Am Games.

Paraison also won a gold medal at the 1999 Pan Am Games with her twin sister in

s doubles. She is the number one ranked pro player on the Womens InternationalRacquetball Tour. The mens 1999 Pan Am Games champion is Adam Karp of the


The men
s U.S. World Championship Team is led by 2000 national singles champion

Rocky Carson (Santa Maria, CA.). He is joined by silver medalist Doug Eagle (Houston,

TX.). Carson was the bronze medalist at the 1998 world championship competition.1999

National Doubles gold medalists, Ruben Gonzalez (Staten Island, NY) is also a member

of the 2000 U.S. World Championship Team. Gonzalez, 49, is considered a legend in the

sport of racquetball, and was inducted in the USRA Hall of Fame this year.The International

Racquetball Federation holds its World Championships every other year. As many

as 148 athletes representing 42 countries participate in this important event.

The USA Junior Team consist of 20 members. The team is selected through a National

camp held yearly at the United States Olympic Training Center (USOTC). The participants

go through a series of grueling tests which help the coaches pick their 20 members.

These members participate in the World Championships in Los Angeles, California.

The USA has held the World Championship title ever since the tournament started,

9 years ago.

Racquetball is an exciting sport to play or watch.

Try the Internet for more up-to-date information

about this fast-paced game.


The following questions will help you to have a greater appreciation and understanding

of racquetball. Write your answers in the spaces below the questions. If there is not

enough room, write on the backs of these sheets. Be neat, spell correctly, and write in

complete sentences.

1. From which other sport was racquetball derived?

2. What are some of the physical benefits to be gained from playing racquetball?

3. Who wins a game in racquetball and how? Who wins a match and how?

4. Describe the typical racquetball court.

5. What are
service zones?” “service boxes?

6. Describe three basic types of strokes in racquetball.

7. It
s often said that the serve is where the game of racquetball begins.Why is

this true?

8. What three kinds of errors can result in losing a serve?

9. What are the three basic types of serves in racquetball?

10. If a ball is below the knee, what should the player do? What should he/she do for

a ball above the knee?

Short Answer Question:

1. Points can only be earned by this player

2. The lob is a _____ serve than the power serve

3. The court often has four of them

4. Stroke with the palm of the hand facing the ball

5. A serve which is impossible to return

6. Error when two successive faults are committed

7. Decade of the 20th century when racquetball originated

8. Type of bounce where ball is hit with full strengh

9. A ball should hit this wall first

10. Stroke often used for ceiling shots

11. The line that runs five feet in front of the short line

12. One important type of serve

13. Another important type of serve

14. A specialized serve

15. Stroke with the top of the hand facing the ball

16. The primary tool of the racquetball player

17. This fault is a serving error

18. The line that runs parallel to the front wall

19. Service areas formed by lines 18" away from side walls

20. Length of the court in feet