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The racquetball court Ball rules
Service and scoring rules Types of hit
Types of serve Glossary

The racquetball court

The racquetball court (play goes from the left of the diagram)


Objective: Racquetball can be played by two, three or four players. One player will serve the ball from the service zone (the yellow area on the diagram above), so that it hits the front wall, and rebounds to the floor behind the service zone. See court diagram for more details.

The other player must try and return the ball (by hitting it) back to the front wall before it hits the floor twice. If they cannot return it in time, the server scores a point. Players can only score points when serving. If the serving player is not able to return the ball after the receiving player has hit it, the receiving player becomes the serving player, and the serving player receives.

The game is won by the first player to reach 15 points, although there can be variations of the amount of points needed to win.


The racquetball court

Diagram of a racquetball court

It is worth noting that not all racquetball courts have the receiving line marked. There must be at least a 15 centimetre (6 inch) line marked on the side walls to signify where the line would be.

To start the game, the server will bounce the ball on the floor while standing in the service zone. The ball must hit the front wall first and rebound to the floor behind the short (serve) line before touching the back wall. The rebounded ball may hit one side wall after hitting the front wall, as long as it lands in the backcourt before touching any other wall (including the ceiling).

The receiver should be in the middle of the backcourt. They must not hit the ball until it has gone past the receiving line, and they cannot move in front of the receiving line until the ball has bounced.

If the ball touches the floor twice before the receiver hits it back, the server wins a point. When the receiver returns the ball, it can hit any surface (but not the floor) before striking the front wall. It can also be hit straight at the front wall. When the players are hitting the ball continuously, this is called a rally.

Service and scoring rules

When the ball is served, it must hit the front wall and rebound to the floor behind the short line before touching the back wall. The rebound may hit one side wall after hitting the front wall, as long as it lands in the backcourt before touching any other wall or the ceiling.

If the ball hits two side walls, the ceiling, the back wall, or it lands on the short line, it is called a fault, and the ball goes out of play. The serving player has a second attempt. If the serve becomes another fault, then there is a side-out (also called an out), and the server becomes the receiver, and the receiver becomes the server.

If the ball hits any surface other than the front wall first during a serve, it is immediately declared an out, and the server and receiver change places. In this case there would be no second service attempt.

If, during a rally, the server cannot or does not return the ball, the receiver and server change places, as only the server can win points.

Types of serve

Fault serves

These are fault serves. Any two of these in a row result in an out.

Foot fault - Both the servers feet must be within the serving zone. They must not step over either line before the ball passes the short line. The servers feet can touch the lines, but not go over them.

Short serve - Any served ball that hits the front wall then hits the floor on or in front of the short line (whether it touches a side wall or not).

Three-wall serve - Any served ball that hits the front wall then hits both side walls before hitting the floor.

Ceiling serve - A serve that hits the front wall and then the ceiling (whether it touches a side wall or not).

Long serve - A serve that hits the front wall and then the back wall (whether it touches a side wall or not).

Out serves

These are serves that cause the server and receiver to change places without a second service attempt.

Missed ball - Any attempt to hit the ball and missing, or if the ball hits any part of the server's body.

Non-front wall serve - Any served ball that does not make contact with the front wall before anything else.

Touched serve - Any served ball that hits the server or their racquet on the rebound from the front wall.

Crotch serve - Any served ball that hits the crotch of the front wall and floor, front wall and side wall, or front wall and ceiling (The crotch area is the part where the walls join). A ball that rebounds to the crotch area of the side wall and floor behind the short line is in play, as is a ball that rebounds to the crotch area of the back wall and floor.

Illegal hit - Hitting the ball twice or hitting it with any part of the racquet handle or any part of the body or clothing.

Fake / Balk serve - Any non-continuous movement of the racquet towards the ball, such as a feint or an attempt to mislead the receiver.

Dead ball serves

A dead ball serve is not a fault or an out. There is no penalty for this, but it also does not cancel a fault made previously.

Screen ball - When the serve passes so close to the server that the receiver's view of the ball is blocked (screened).

Court hinder - If the serve hits any part of the court that is designated as a court hinderance - what constitutes a hinderance can change according to local rules.

Broken ball - If the ball breaks or is damaged on the serve.

Ball rules

Legal hit - Only the head of racquet (the mesh part) may be used to hit the ball. The racquet can be held in one hand or both. The racquet cannot be switched between hands during a rally. A player doing so would forfeit the rally.

One touch - The ball may only be hit once on a return. The ball must not be carried on the racquet. If a player swings and misses, they can swing again, providing the ball has not touched the floor.

Failure to return - If the ball bounces on the floor more than once before being returned, or is returned but does not hit the front wall, that player loses the rally. If the ball hits the other player and would not otherwise have hit the front wall, this also counts as failure to return.

Dead ball hinders

Usually, any type of interference in play that cannot be avoided is a dead ball hinder. There is no penalty against either player and the point is replayed. This also cancels any previous fault serve - so the server still has two chances to serve.

Court hinder - When the ball hits any part of the court that has been damaged and it affects the ball movement.

Hitting opponent - When a legal return hits an opponent before the front wall. The player hit should make the call.

Body contact - Physical contact or almost contact if it restricts a player from hitting the ball. The player hindered should make the call. Contact on the follow-through is not necessarily a hinder.

Screen ball - If the ball rebounds so close to the player that the receiver cannot see the ball, the receiver should call a screen ball hinder.

Safety holdup - Any time a player feels that their swing or the ball may hit their opponent, they should call this hinder.

Types of hit

Around-the-wall shot - a defensive shot that hits (in order) a side wall, the front wall, and the other side wall, before touching the floor.

Corner shot - a shot that hits at one or two of the front corners.

Cross-court drive return - a return that hits the front wall and passes the server on the opposite side from where the ball was hit.

Cross-court pass - where the ball goes from left to right or right to left.

Down-the-line shot - a ball that is hit directly at the front wall and rebounds back along the same side wall.

Drive - a hard hit in a straight line.

Drop shot - where the ball is not hit very hard, and usually rebounds a short distance from the front wall.

Fly ball / Volley shot - any ball hit before it touches the floor.

Half volley - hitting the ball as it bounces up from the floor.

Kill shot - a shot that the opponent is unable to retrieve.

Lob - a high and gentle ball hit towards the front wall which rebounds back to the back wall.

Offensive shot - any shot that is designed to end the rally or put the opponent in a difficult position.

Pass shot / Drive shot - a shot hit past an opponent which is out of their reach.

Pinch shot - a kill shot that hits the side and front walls near the corner.

Power serve / Drive serve - a hard serve where the ball rebounds from the backcourt.

Rollout - when the ball rolls along the floor after rebounding off the front wall, so that it cannot be returned.

Skip ball - a return that hits the floor before reaching the front wall.

Three-wall-serve - a serve that hits three walls before hitting the floor. This counts as a service fault.

Wallpaper shot - when a shot stays very close to a side wall and is difficult to return.


Ace - a legal serve that is not returned even once

Backhand - a stroke hit across the body from the side opposite the racquet hand.

Dead ball - a ball not in play.

Follow-through - the momentum of the swing after the ball is hit

Forehand - a stroke hit across the body from the same side as the racquet hand.

Live ball - a ball that is still in play.


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