Racquetball is a relatively new game which continues to grow in popularity. It can be
played competitively or simply for fun and relaxation.
HISTORY OF THE GAMERacquetball is an offshoot of the game of tennis. It’s
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
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 abilityto strategize quickly and effectively.
HOW RACQUETBALL IS PLAYED
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:The short line runs parallel to the
front wall and divides the court
into front and back courts.The 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.Theservice boxes are formed by lines that run 18 inches away from andparallel to the two side walls. During a doubles game, the server’s 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.The 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.The overhand stroke is the least-used stroke in racquetball. It is often usedfor ceiling shots. It’s 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 yourracquet 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:A foot fault occurs when the server’s foot extends over the foot boundaries.
Two successive foot faults result in a handout.A 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.A 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“a
TYPES OF SERVES
The three most important serves in racquetball are the Power Serve, the Lob and the Zee.The power serve (or “Power Drive”) is the most common serve used byskilled players. When done correctly, this serve is difficult for the player’s
opponent to return. A serve which is impossibleto return is called an “Ace.” On
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.The 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 toeither 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.The zee is a specialized serve. In this serve, the ball follows a twisted paththat 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 bereturned 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.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING
Any type of loose, non-binding garments can be worn to play racquetball.
Many players wear shorts or lightweight sweatpants and
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.
RACQUETBALL NOTES AND NEWS
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 NorthSalem 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
channel’s 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 singleschampion 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 inwomen’s doubles. She is the number one ranked pro player on the Women’s InternationalRacquetball Tour. The men’s 1999 Pan Am Games champion is Adam Karp of the
USA.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 informationabout this fast-paced game.
WHAT TO DO:
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
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
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 fora 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