Racquetball is a racquet sport played with a hollow rubber ball in an indoor or outdoor court. Unlike most racquet sports, such as tennis and badminton, there is no net to hit the ball over, and, unlike squash, no tin (out of bounds area at the bottom of front wall) to hit the ball above. Also, the court's walls, floor, and ceiling are legal playing surfaces, with the exception of court-specific designated hinders being out-of-bounds. Racquetball is very similar to 40×20 American handball, which is played in many countries. It is also very similar to the British sport Squash 57, which was called racketball before 2016.
In 1974, the International Racquetball Association (IRA) organized the first professional tournament, and is a founding member of the International Racquetball Federation (IRF). Eventually, the IRA became the American Amateur Racquetball Association (AARA); in late 1995, it renamed itself as the United States Racquetball Association (USRA). In 2003, the USRA again renamed itself to USA Racquetball (USAR), to mirror other Olympic sports associations, even if Racquetball is not an Olympic sport.
Governing bodies: The International Racquetball Federation (IRF) governs the World Racquetball Championships, which were first held in 1981 in conjunction with the first World Games. The second World Championships were played in 1984, and since then have been held biennially in August. The IRF also runs the World Junior Racquetball Championships that occur annually in either late October, or early to mid November, as well as the annual World Senior Racquetball Championships for players who are 35 years of age or older. In 1995 the International Olympic Committee approved racquetball as a Pan American Games sport, which it has been a part of for more than 20 years now. There are currently two main organizations that run international tournaments: the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) for men and Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) for women. Also, outdoor racquetball is starting to become more popular and major tournaments are being run by World Outdoor Racquetball (WOR).
Equipment: In addition to the racquetball court, you need the following equipment to play a game of racquetball:
- Racquetball racket: Stringed racket that looks like a miniature tennis racket. Must be no longer than 22".
- Racquetball: Bouncy rubber ball (2.25" in diameter)
- Safety eyewear: The ball can rebound off of the walls at extremely high speeds which can be dangerous to players if they get hit in the eyes. It's mandatory for players to wear safety glasses during official competition and highly recommended for recreational players to wear them at all times.
- Glove: Many players wear a glove on their racket hand to help give them a better grip on the racket, but it's not required.
- The player who is to serve first is decided by lots in the first game, alternates for the second game and goes to the person with the most cumulative points for the decider (if needed).
- To serve, the ball is bounced before being hit against the front wall after which it may hit one side wall before hitting the floor again. The ball cannot hit the back wall on the full and must not touch the ceiling. The ball must hit the front wall first or the point (i.e. both serves) is automatically lost and the other player serves.
- Once the ball is in play, that is, has passed the receiving line or bounced beyond the short line, the receiver must hit it against the front wall.
- Apart from on serve, the ball can be hit against any combination of walls and ceiling as long as it hits the front wall without bouncing.
- A “hinder” is when an obstruction is caused by one player being in the way of the ball or their opponent’s view. This is normally called as a let and the point is replayed, although in the case of a penalty hinder, where one player has been deprived the chance of a point-winning shot, they receive the point (or win back serve).
Scoring: Points are scored only on your own serve, as in squash, volleyball and other sports. If you “win” a point on the opponents serve you win the serve but no actual point. You lose the point if and when:
- The ball hits the floor more than once before you play your return.
- The ball skips or does not hit the front wall without bouncing when you play your shot.
- The ball goes into the viewing gallery, wall opening or out-of-bounds from your shot.
- The ball hits the other player but was clearly not going to hit the front wall.
- The ball hits you (i.e. the player who hit it originally).
- You switch racquet hand during the point.
- You touch the ball with any part of your body or clothes.
- You carry or throw the ball with the racquet (double hit).
- The player serving makes two (or one, under the one serve rule sometimes used at the top level) illegal serves.
- US Open: Held annually in October, the US Open is the most prestigious professional racquetball event. First held in 1996, the US Open was in Memphis, Tennessee until 2010, when it moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Other championships: Racquetball is included in the Pan American Games, World Games and Central American and Caribbean Games. Also, the regional associations of the International Racquetball Federation organize their own continental championships: Asian Championships, European Championships and Pan American Championships.
Racquetball in India: Racquetball Association of India (RAI) is the governing body for the sport of racquetball in India. RAI is recognized by the International Racquetball Federation and the Asian Racquetball Federation. The current Indian National Team was selected based on the guidelines laid down by RAI.
For more information regarding the eligibility criteria visit: eligibility criteria
For list of international tournaments in which racquetball is included visit: tournaments