Getting Familiar with Racquetball

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Getting Familiar with Racquetball

Many times I am asked by new players how to play racquetball. They watch the game and feel perplexed by all the random motion in such a small court.

If you have ever watched a game, you know that it looks more complex than it appears. Understanding the basics of racquetball is the key to keeping the game simple and fun for a great workout.

The first thing to understand is that racquetball games include two people on the court which is singles and four people we call doubles. If you have three people, we call the game cut-throat, which is a non-tournament game.  

Keeping Score

You score points when serving the ball. It’s sideout when you lose your serve. In playing doubles, each player serves before it’s their sideout with a coined term “half-out” when the first partner loses his serve.

But, the team to serve first in a game gets only one sideout for the initial serve. The rest of the serving times both players serve. The first side to win two games to 15 points wins the match. If both sides have one win, then a tiebreaker occurs to 11 points.  The winner of the tiebreaker wins the match.

Racquetball is played in a court that consists of four walls, two are 40 feet in length and two are 20 feet in width, with a ceiling height of 20 feet. The court may appear small but don’t let that scare you.

Remember the walls never move, only the players and the ball move. You will notice the court floor is made of wood with red or black lines. The court lines mark the receiving line, drive serve lines, service line and short line. These lines indicate the serving area, serving boxes and receiving area.

Racquetball Gear and Rules

Racquets are similar to tennis racquets but are smaller. They include grommets (bumper guards) and handles with a nylon rope to secure the wrist to the racquet. It’s very important that every player wears eye protective gearnot prescription glasses, but eyewear designed for racquetball.

In order to get familiar with the racquetball rules and the game, beginners need to just hit the ball around in the court or even attend an hour clinic to get some guidance. When you improve and feel more confident, you can play in a tournament where the game is more formal and rules must be applied.

At the start of each racquetball tournament game, there’s a coin toss. The winner chooses to either serve or receive the first game of the match. At the second game, the player who served first is the receiver.

Casual Games

The player or team that scores the most points in the first two games chooses to serve or receive at the start of the tiebreaker. A coin toss determines the problem if each player or team scores equal points in the first and second game.

For everyday games, players lag. Lag is when players stand at the back of the court and hit a rebounding ball from the front wall closest to the serve line before it bounces. The closest one to the line gets to serve first, or offer the other player or team to go first as a polite gesture.

The key to learning how to play racquetball is to have the right equipment and practice by hitting the ball around in the court.  It’s a fun game and a great workout for any level of player. My next article on racquetball will tell you more about serving and rallying the ball in the court. Racquetball is a great sport. Thanks for being interested in the game.  I love it and hope you do, too.

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