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Quick Start Racquetball
By Joseph Delgado, Team Head on 9/28/08.

I see people around the gym trying to play racquetball without understanding the rules, so here’s something to get your feet wet. Strongly recommend you read the Official Rules on the USA Racquetball site before playing.

Safety First
Wear goggles and wear your racquet’s wrist lacer. So you reduce the chance for eye injuries or getting hit by a flying racquet.

The Serve
A player starts the game and gets to serve. Serving is done from within the front rectangle. A valid serve is allowed to bounce once on the floor and then is hit by the server to the front wall. The ball can touch one side wall but nothing else before touching the floor.

A serve is bad (fault) if the ball doesn’t cross the bottom of the rectangle (short) before bouncing, if it touches the back wall (long) before bouncing, hits more than one side wall before touching the floor (three wall serve), or touches the ceiling after the front wall. The server loses serve if he hits anything but the front wall first, commits two fault serves, or hits himself. There’s more, but focus on this for now.

The Return
The other player, the receiver, must return the ball to the front wall via the other walls or ceiling before the second bounce and not hit his shot into the floor (skip) or the server gets a point. If he does, the players enter the last part of the game, a rally.

One more note, any part of the Receiver (including his racquet) cannot enter the second rectangle (sidewall marks at Cook) during the serve until the ball bounces or passes the bottom of that lower rectangle. This is a safety zone rule to protect the server. Violations are a point for the server.

The Rally
During a rally each player takes turns returning the ball to the front wall before a second bounce. A returned ball can hit the ceiling, the walls, but must contact the front wall at some point before touching the floor to be legal.

If the server fails to return to the ball to the front wall before the second bounce or by hitting the ball into the floor (skip). He loses serve and switches with the receiver.

If the receiver fails to return the ball, the server scores a point and continues to serve. Remember only the server scores points.

End Game
The game continues until the player serving reaches 15 points. Most racquetball matches are played best two out of three games. The last game is played to 11 points.

Common Sense
Follow some common sense and you’ll be fine. The person hitting the ball should have a clear view of the ball, have a clear path to run to a ball, have enough room to swing safely, and be able to hit the ball to the front wall. Most of these only apply to a ball that is still in play. If there’s a problem stop play and replay the point.

There’s a lot more rules to racquetball than the basics I covered. I strongly recommend you study the official rules once you’re comfortable with the game.

Of course the best rule is to have fun.

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