Racquetball is a fun and exciting sport for people of all ages. It involves many of the same skills required for tennis, but has very few of those annoying "rules." Here's how I play, although the actual rules might be a bit different:

First, you need a racquetball court, which consists of a big room with some lines drawn on the floor. These lines consist of a rectangle about two shoulder-lengths wide which stretches all the way across the middle of the room. This rectangle has two very small rectangles inside of and perpendicular to it. These are positioned very close to the walls. The line marking the back edge of the big rectangle also travels halfway up the side walls.

Serving

The serve occurs from anywhere within the big rectangle and between the two small rectangles (which I will call the serving box. That means it's legal to serve from the middle of the room, but not from very close to the wall. The serve must hit the front wall, but it may not hit another wall, the floor, or the ceiling before it clears the back line of the serving box. The serve may not hit the back wall before the ball bounces. The server may commit two of these faults before the serve is lost.

Receiving

The receiver must hit the ball to the front wall before it bounces twice. Other than that, there are no rules governing how many walls the ball can hit after the serve has been successful. The ceiling is also fair. After he returns the ball to the front wall, the other player becomes the reciever. This exhange, from serve until the ball bounces twice, is called a rally.

Scoring

I believe that the accepted way to score is much like the method used by volleyball, which means the server serves until he commits two faults or allows the ball to bounce twice. Then the other player gets to serve. Points are only awarded to the server. However, this can take a long time for two evenly matched players, so I prefer the ping-pong method of scoring, in which the players take turns serving, each getting 5 serves per turn. A point is awarded on every serve to the person who wins the rally. The game is generally played to 15, but the winner must win by 2 points.

Other Stuff

If it's hard to tell whether or not the ball hit the floor first before hitting the front wall, a good rule of thumb is that the ball will squeak if it hits the floor first, because it is generally spinning towards the players. If you get hit with the ball while you are the receiver, your opponent wins the rally. If the receiver hits you with the ball, you are free to beat him savagely in the head with your racquet. Then, you both must agree whether or not the ball could have made it to the front wall had you not been standing in the way. If there is any doubt, the rally is redone. If there is an open observation port at the top-back of the room and ball goes out, the rally is also redone.

Have fun!


Pro raquetball rules require that you wear goggles, and if you're serious about raquetball, get some! Ironically, as I write this, my left eyelid is bruised to look like I did a lousy job putting on eyeliner. Since I'm a non-transvestite guy, though, that's kind of embarassing. I'm lucky that's all I've got, though. I could've lost what sight I have left in that eye. I thought I'd mention this since this writeup has come to my attention just a few days after this injury!

Wear Goggles, dammit! I don't care how stupid you look in them!

Atari 2600 Game
Produced by:Apollo
Rarity:4 Scarce+
Programmer:Ed Salvo

From The Back of the Box.

You are a raquetball player, and you have been challenged by a formidable opponent. The frenzied game begins with the crack of the raquet against the first ball which recoils from the backboard at ninety miles an hour. Are you fast enough to return it?

We were asking someone in the business office of the gym about reserving a racquetball court when the manager chose to join in the conversation. He declared that Racquetball was invented here in San Diego in the 1970's by a guy at SDSU. An interesting bit of trivia for us, so he thought. And it would be. If it were true...

Having just refreshed my memory on the rules here in this node, I thought it'd be cool to double check that bit of trivia and add it here if it were correct. Apparently it's not.

Racquetball was invented by a man named Joe Sobek (1918-1998) in Greenwhich, Connecticut in the year 1949. He fashioned short raquets, selected a rubber ball that had the proper size and bounciness, and came up with the rules for a sport he originally called Paddle Rackets.

How to Win at Racquetball

Back in the day, I was a racquetball fanatic. For a guy who hated nearly all forms of sports and who couldn't do a push-up to save his life, this game completely bowled me over when I discovered it. I'd been a miserable failure at tennis, but racquetball seemingly removed everything about tennis that I stunk at. You could hit the ball as hard as you wanted, and it wouldn't go over the fence. You could do trick shots off the back wall. You could bellow in rage, and the echoes would sound really cool. But as I played the game more, I discovered that, though I was having fun, I wasn't winning. So after a little study and a little practice, I learned how to win. And it's easy. You can do it.

1. Learn how to hit backhand.
Many racquetball players have never learned how to hit with their backhand. They approach every return with their forehand, even if they have to twist themselves in knots to make contact with the ball and even if the ensuing shot is weak.

Practice with a friend. Have them hit every ball to your backhand until you can hit as well with your backhand as you can with your forehand. When you can control both sides of the court while your opponent can only control one, you've got a massive advantage.

2. Learn how to hit to your opponent's backhand.
This can help win the match for you easily, especially if your opponent has trouble hitting backhand. Again, practice your shots. Learn where to hit the front wall so that it will head for your opponent's off-hand. Learn how to do this with both your forehand and your backhand. Learn how to do this with your serve, too.

3. Aim low.
If your shots hit fairly low on the wall, their first bounce is going to be closer to the front wall, and your opponent will have a more difficult time even getting to the ball before it makes its second bounce. Ideally, your return should hit the front wall about an inch or two above the floor--this shot is nearly impossible to return and is called a kill shot. It is very difficult to do--the pros can hit 'em no problem, but for the rest of us mortals, just concentrate on hitting as low as you can.

4. Quit with the smashing.
Yeah, it's lots of fun to hit the ball as hard as you can, to smash it so hard it leaves blue spots on the walls, to blast it so hard it doesn't make its first bounce 'til after it's ricocheted between the front and back walls a few times. But when you use that much power, you lose your ability to control the ball. You can't hit low, you can't hit to the backhand, and you give your opponent the chance to set up his kill shot.

Get the macho smashing action out of your system early, then start learning how to control the ball properly. You can get truly amazing results with light taps into the front wall, with subtle wrist twists that send the ball in unexpected directions, with zigzagging cross-court shots that are more difficult to track. But don't neglect your power shots either. Power and control are both important tools, and both must be added to your arsenal if you want to win.

5. Control the center of the court.
It's vitally important, for both offense and defense, that you stay toward the center of the court as much as possible. If you need to get to either the back or the front of the court, you don't have far to travel. If you're stuck at the back of the court and you need to get to the front of the court, you probably aren't going to make it in time.

If you're stuck at the back, you need to force your opponent out of his position in the center. Shots that arc high toward the back of the court are ideal for this--while he moves back to make the return, you can move forward and take his place. If you're lucky and position your shot correctly, maybe you can even get the ball to land in the juncture between the back wall, the side wall, and the floor--no telling where it'll bounce then, if it'll even bounce at all.

6. Don't get too flashy.
You'll see some hotshots out there who, in returning the ball, will actually hit it as hard as they can toward the back wall and let the force carry it all the way to the front wall. This is stupid. Again, you lose all control over the ball and end up standing in the back of the court facing the wrong way, while your opponent will be able take the time to line up a great shot and take the next point. Besides, it takes too much energy. Pulling hotshot stunts may make the pretty girlies ooh and aah at you, but actually winning the game will make more of an impact. And it'll leave you more energy for post-game celebrations.

7. Practice!
'Cause there are a lot of shots out there, and I can't tell you how to return all of them in one writeup. You'll have to learn how to get most of 'em yourself.


Research: Memories of the days when I wasn't too fat to squeeze through that itty-bitty door

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