Racquetball’s Basic Rules of Play

Some sports rely on finesse. Some are built around tactics. Others have teamwork involved. Then there are those where overwhelming power and force provide the key advantage. Racquetball is one of these where hitting the ball hard is the most important thing but not the only important thing.

Players with only a minimal amount of study can get on the court and play a reasonably recognizable form of play. Like any sport, it takes practice to get good. But the rules are really very simple. If you know these five basic rules, you will go a long way toward having great fun with this great form of exercise.


The server stands in the service box during the serve. They bounce the ball and must hit the ball before it hits the court for a second time. The serve must hit the front wall first and hit no more than one side wall before landing beyond the short line. Hitting a second side wall or the ceiling or the back wall before landing in the court is a fault. If the ball hits the server before landing in the court, the serve goes over to the other player. Like tennis, the server gets two serves to get it in play. Failure to get it in play is a double fault and results in losing the serve to the other player.


The receiver must stand behind the receiving line and may not cross it until the ball lands in play or crosses the receiving line.


The server is the only one who gets a point at the end of a rally. If the receiver wins the rally, then they take over the serve but no point is awarded. In official tournament play a game is to 15 and a match is the first to win two games. If a match goes into the third game, that game is to 11.


The game recognizes the speed and close confines of the court. As such there are times the hitter cannot get to the ball because of any number of factors not related to the shot making of the opponent. If this happens, the point is played over. Example of hinders include the opponent inadvertently getting in the hitter’s way either by being too close to avoid getting hit by the racquet or simply is in the path of the hitter as they run to hit the ball. Another example is if the hitter inadvertently hits the opponent with the ball after hitting it but before it gets to the front wall.


With four players on the court at one time, hinders are a regular occurance. The biggest difference vs. singles play is on the serve. The non-serving member of the serving team must stand in the doubles boxes at the ends of the service box. Other than with the first service of a game, both players on a team will serve before it passes to the other team. At the very beginning of a game the serve goes to the other team after only one player loses the serve. The teams are not required to keep the same order of serve each time they begin. If a hitter hits their teammate with a shot, the other team automatically wins that rally. Teams are not required to alternate hitters during the course of a rally.

In Conclusion

If a player can master these few rules, they will be able to have a fun time at this sport. Typically, players wear eye protection and high quality court shoes, but no special equipment other than a legal racquet is required. With the need for power always at the forefront, new and experienced players will find this to be a great form of exercise.