Racquetball Rules [ Scoring, Serving, Faults, hinders, Shot ] Expert Guide

The racquetball sport is fun to be with. The following articles, as brought to you, shed light on each and every aspect of the racquetball sport, including its brief history, objectives, and rules to play racquetball, with additional questions that you may wonder while you learn how to play racquetball from being a beginner to an advanced level player.

Racquetball Rules | Equipment, Team Composition, Faults & Penalties, Serving, Outdoor Rules, Popular Shots


Racquetball is the oldest historical game. It was invented by a multi-talented and professional squash, tennis, and handball player Joseph G. Sobek, in 1950, in Greenwich YMCA. Joseph G. Sobek originally called this game paddle racquet. But it’s sometimes referred to as ‘American Racquetball.’

Racquetball Rules, beginners & advanced level players guide 2020

It is played indoors and outdoors on a rectangular and enclosed court of 20 feet in width, 40 feet in length, and 20 feet in height.

The nice thing about indoor racquetball is when you start playing the ball, it stays on the court, and you don’t have to go chasing it around like in other sports.

You can play it singles, doubles and, interestingly, with three players.

Racquetball is an easy-to-learn sport that can be played with a small amount of equipment and can serve as a great form of exercise.

This is similar to the games of Squash and British Racquetball, but with a few significant differences.

In racquetball, players play with bigger stringed racquet heads and a bouncier but larger than a squash ball on a longer but narrower court.

The purpose of this game is to make your shot tough for your opponent so that it becomes difficult for your opponent to play a forceful shot back or to make him fall prey to an error while responding to your shot.

Object of the Game

The object of this game is to outscore your opponent and reach 15 points (the winning target in the racquetball game) before him.

In this game, players take their turns hitting a small rubber ball into the front wall of a racquetball court.

One player serves first, and his opponent responds to his shot.

This exchange of shots (rally) doesn’t stop until one player fails to properly return the ball. In case the server wins the rally, he gets the point.

Conversely, if the opposing player wins, he serves the next shot.

Duration of Play

Normally, a standard racquetball game continues for 20 minutes.

A match consists of games. So, the two games will end in 40 minutes, excluding break time.

A player who reaches 15 points wins the game.

In case a match of two games ends in a draw (each player gets equal points), the third game of 11 points is played to declare the match winner.

The third decisive game increases the duration of the game.

Team Composition to Play Racquetball

Racquetball is played singles, doubles, and even with three players.

  • In singles, one player plays against his single opponent.
  • In doubles, a team of two players plays against another team of two players.
  • While, in a game involving three players, a player (the server) plays against two players (the returners).
  • Any of the three players can be the server, and any two of them can be the returners.
  • The latter type of game is less formal.

Racquetball Rules with Explanation & Examples

Rule #1. Starting the Game

The game starts with the toss. The winner of the toss serves first. To serve, a player must be in the service box. He has to hit the ball to the front wall.

The ball, after striking the front wall, has to bounce behind the short line and move towards the receiving line.

The opponent must wait behind the receiving line during service and cannot cross it until the ball has crossed the receiving line.  You have to play the ball by hitting it onto the front wall.

The ball may hit any of the walls and the ceiling, but you are only allowed to let the ball bounce on the floor once.

If you, intentionally or unintentionally, let the ball bounce twice on the surface of the court,  you are going to lose a point.

Rule #2. Scoring & Winning the Target

A player can score a point only if he serves the ball. It means it is the server who scores points. In case the server wins a rally, he scores 1 point and retains the serve.

On the other hand, when the opponent wins the rally, he avails no point at all, but he takes the opportunity to serve.

It means the change of server takes place in such a case. To win the game, a player has to score 15 points before his opponent. Each match is comprised of two games.

In case both the players (in singles) or teams (in doubles) acquire equal points and win 1-1 game respectively, this ends in a draw.

In such a situation, another game of 11 points is played to finalize the winner.

Rule #3. Faults & Penalties

A fault occurs when the serving player serves the ball improperly. When a fault is committed, the serving player gets a second attempt at that serve.

If the second serve also results in a fault, the serving player hands over the service to the next player.

The basic faults in racquetball include the short fault, the long fault, and the wall-to-wall fault.

  • A short fault occurs when the server is unable to get the ball past the short line while serving.
  • A long fault takes place when the player hits the ball so hard that it makes it all the way to the back wall without bouncing on the floor of the court.
  • A wall-to-wall fault occurs when the server hits the ball in such a way that it hits both sidewalls before bouncing on the floor.


  • Racquetball is played on a small court, so players may get in each other’s way.
  • When this obstruction occurs, the players restart that rally.
  • This interference is termed as a hinder.
  • A simple hinder results in replaying or restarting the rally, while a penalty hinder is a bit severe in the sense that it costs the loss of a serve

Rule #4. Racquet Ball Serving

a. A Legal Serve

To play a legal service, you must stand within the service box, which is made up of two long sidelines, and then bounce the ball before hitting it towards the front wall.

The ball is allowed to touch only one side of the wall, but not the ceiling and not the back wall, before bouncing on the floor.

You must stay in the service box until the ball passes you.

This restriction is applicable until the serve is played. After the service, this restriction automatically becomes ineffective.

See this picture for clarification.

Racquetball serve Rules, Legal serve in Racquetball

b. An Illegal Serve

While serving, your foot has to be either inside the service box or on the line, but not out of the line of the service box, as shown in the following picture.

Even over the line is an illegal serve.

c. Non-Front Wall Serve

It is a self-explanatory service. When a ball, after being served, does not hit the front wall but hits other parts of the court, be it side walls, ceiling, floor, etc.

d. Touched Serve

A serve that first of all hit the front wall. It then comes back to the server and touches his body or his equipment.

Rule #5. Outdoor Racquetball

Outdoor racquetball is different from indoor in a number of ways. Interestingly, there is a different variant of the outdoor court itself.

The thing that really attracts a lot of people from all over the world to play outdoor is that there really aren’t any courts that are exactly the same, and that’s the magic of outdoor racquetball, and that has enhanced its popularity.

Let’s see those variations.

There is no ceiling and no back wall in outdoor racquetball. The sidewalls vary in size.
Some courts have high and then angled walls that come off short.

Other walls carry all the way to the very back line, 20 feet deep. Some walls have no sidewalls at all. Among them, one is very popular, which is called one wall racquetball.

Outdoor racquetball courts can be found generally in high schools and colleges and in community parks.

Outdoor racquetball, especially, as far as sidewalls go, you’ll find that’s where you get the most variance.

A lot of times, the walls will come off anywhere from three to five feet and will extend back.

There are 60 feet courts that are pretty famous. One wall courts are considered one wall because it’s just one wall with a five-foot lip.

On the other side, a very short wall, and then the line extends back to the 20-foot area.

The big difference is that, in an indoor court, you are used to the uniform courts of the 20 feet wide and 40 feet long courts.

Nothing really varies here, the indoor courts are always basically the same.

You need not worry about having control over the ball in indoor courts since the remains are inside the court’s walls.

While on an outdoor court, you are dealing with the element of having to control the ball, not only of taking away your ceiling and back wall. Here, you are off the back wall.

In outdoor racquetball, you have to think about hitting the ball in keeping it in the lines. The lines of the back wall, and a lot of times the extension of short walls.

Back to the back wall, which actually brings an element of platform tennis, and even the thinking a little bit of tennis.

Certain shots now have to be utilized and try to be effective while keeping it on the court and within the lines.

Rule #6. Racquetball  Doubles

Racquetball doubles are slightly different from singles.

Let’s find those differences.

  • We need four people to play doubles. Two players on each side.
  • One person is going to be on the forehand side, and the other person is going to be on the backhand side.
  • The same rule applies to the other team, where one teammate is going to be on the forehand side, and another teammate is going to be on the backhand side.
  • Primarily, you stay on your side of the courts, whether that is the right side or the left side.
  • But you have the capacity to move and switch sides at any point.
  • When you are the server, your partner needs to stand in one of the boxes, in the service box, which is back along the back wall. Your opponent team is next to the back wall.
  • After serving, you have to take your turns; as the team hits the ball, you can hit the ball.
  • Then somebody from the other team could hit the ball.
  • One player from your team and one from the opponent team take turns.
  • It’s like playing tennis or volleyball, but here you need to share some space.
  • Racquetball doubles can be dangerous. So, be very careful if someone comes in front of you, do not swing your racquet, just wait and call it hinder.
  • A hinder is in your favor, you can replay the point.
  • Wherever the hinder is called, serving starts from the same position again.
  • Once a team has lost the rally, on one of the player’s serve, the other partner of the same team gets the opportunity to serve.
  • So, each team gets two chances at serving opportunities.
  • The serve opportunity goes to the other team once both teammates have lost their rallies.

Rule #7. Racquetball Hindrance Rules Hinder

What is a hinder in Racquetball? Types of hinder racquetball.

During the game, players may get in each other’s way on the court. When this obstruction occurs, it turns into a hinder.

Simply, the interference in the ways of players while playing the game is termed as a hinder. Some common hinders in racquetball are:

A. Non-Penalty hinders

These are hinders where no point is scored. They are usually replayed as a let.

B. Unavoidable hinders

These depend on the situation. If it is an offensive shot, or if it is just an opportunity to get the ball to the front wall.

C. Body contact hinders

When your opponent is in your way and you can’t get to the ball, you would rather call it hinder than hitting them or running over them.

E. Screen hinders

Where your opponent is visually hindering you from the opportunity to see the ball.

F. Back swing hinders

Where your opponent is in your way, on your back swing.

G. Safety holdups

When your opponent is directly in your line of swing, you probably had better hold up rather than drilling him.

H. Penalty hinders

Those situations where your opponent is in your way, and you have the easiest offensive opportunity to score a point.

If you obstruct your opponent to deny them a clear winning shot, your opponent will win the rally. This is known as a ‘penalty hinder.’ See here these hinders for further clarification.

Rule #8. Racquetball Volley Rules

In racquetball;

  • the ball is allowed to bounce once before it’s hit back to the front wall.
  • While a volley is to hit the ball before it lands or bounces.
  • A volley means to hit when the ball flies in the air.
  • The volley is allowed in singles.
  • If a player tries to strike the ball but misses hitting the volley, he is allowed to hit the ball before it bounces twice.
  • Remember, the ball cannot bounce more than once in racquetball.

Rule #9. Racquetball Back Wall

The ball, after being struck by the player, should hit the front wall first. It must not directly hit the back wall after striking the front wall.

Also, it must not touch the court ceiling on the full. If it hits the back wall, the server gets changed as a result of this mistake.

Rule #10. When Ball hits Player

  • If the ball that is seemingly unable to reach the front wall due to less velocity or it’s being stray hits the opponent, it is not a hinder.
  • The player, who hits that shot, loses the rally on account of the ball being stray or force-less to reach the front wall.
  • On the other hand, the ball that is appropriately hit and is aimed at the front wall is stopped by your opponent and is a clear hinder.
  • A simple hinder does not cost a point or end of the rally. While a penalty hinders the costs of the change of the server.

Note: It is mandatory to call a hinder as instantly as possible

Rule #10. When Ball is out of Court

This rule is observed;

  • When the ball goes out of the court after hitting the front wall.
  • It is considered an out-of-play ball when it, after hitting the targeted front wall, does not touch the floor and goes out of the court or falls beyond the surface of the specified playing area.

Rule 11#. Racquetball Cutthroat Rules

  • This rule is specific to the game involving three players.
  • These players are not teammates.
  • They are basically three sides. In this game, the player scoring 15 points wins the game.
  • The cutthroat racquetball involves a server and two returners.
  • Anyone can be the server among three players, and any two players can be the returners.
  • The change of server and returners is conditional.
  • As a rule, the server has to stay in the service box while serving, and the returners have to stand back in the court to face the shot of the server.
  • This process continues until the server loses the rally and a new server takes his place.
  • The previous server now becomes one of the returners.

Note: This game is informal and is not recommended for professional tournaments.

Popular Shots in Racquetball

1. Ceiling Shot

You can strike the ball from any part of the court and make the ball hit the ceiling.

Mostly, the ball is hit, with great force, from the back of the court because this will make the ball reach its desired destination effortlessly.

Remember, the harder you hit, the further it goes.

2. Z-Shot

You have to play a Z serve from the side, so it hits the front wall and goes over to the side wall before it comes to the court.

This shot will carry the ball closer to the front wall first and then closer to the side wall.

When you hit the ball, it will collide with the front wall first and the side wall afterward, and then the ball will return to the body. In this manner, it generates a Z effect.

3. Racquetball forehand Shot

Remember, for hitting a forehand, you need to begin with a nice big back-swing, a big extension of your arm.

In doing so, your elbow can go up as high as possible, creating, what we consider, the power arc.

When the racket travels down through the center placement of your body, which is in the ideal hitting zone, from your back foot to the extension of your front foot.

Contact the ball properly by following through. Remember, do not stop your stroke.

4. Racquetball Backhand Grip

The easiest thing to remember is just to pull your racket out and in front of you; that’s a backhand grip.

You have to set yourself up along and swing flat across. It is very simple, you have to reach out and around as if you were to drop the racket.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are some strategies to play better?

Strategy plays as large a part as agility in succeeding in racquetball. The player must use the walls to his or her advantage in order to prevent the opponent from returning the ball.

The basic strategy includes; keeping the ball low in the front wall, hitting the ball hard and fast to limit the reaction times of your opponent, and keeping the opponent away from the center of the court by the use of different shots.

The correct form involves a drop-down stance and a flick of the wrist to send the ball briskly on its way.

A full swing is necessary to make the returning shot more difficult for your opponent to control.

Even though it is simple to learn but practicing the sport will, inevitably, make you a better player by mastering the tactics and rules of the game. Best of luck!

2. Can you hit the ceiling in Racquetball?

Yes, unlike squash, you can hit the ceiling with the ball. It is a unique shot in racquetball.

You can strike the ball from any part of the court and make the ball hit the ceiling.

Mostly, the ball is hit, with great force, from the back of the court because this will make the ball reach its desired destination effortlessly. Remember, the harder you hit, the further it goes.

3. Racquetball Rules vs. Squash?

Apparently, racquetball and squash look alike. But there are minor differences between them.

Let’s check the differences and similarities out. Both the games have rectangular and enclosed courts.

The size of the court varies. A racquetball court measures 20 feet wide and 40 feet long. While a squash court is 21 feet wide and 32 feet long.

Both courts have front walls, back walls, and side walls and ceilings.

In racquetball, it is permissible to hit the ceiling. While in squash, it is not allowed to hit the ceiling.

4. What is a foot fault during the Serve?

You can play your services by putting your feet on the line; that’s legal. But you are not allowed to have your foot exactly over the line; that is not legal.

If you do, it’s called the foot fault. Just the difference is on the line and over the line. On-the-line is permissible, while over-the-line is not.

5. Should we let the ball bounce once after it returns from the wall?

What is a straightforward bounce rule in racquetball? Yes, you must let the ball bounce after your opponent hits it to the wall, and it comes back to you.

Remember, you should only let the ball bounce once before you strike it back to the wall. This is as simple as that.

6. Where lies the service box in racquetball, and why is it so important?

The service area is represented by two lines. They are drawn right close to the center of the court.

You have to stand in between two lines (service area) in order to serve the ball. Your back foot cannot step out of the line when beginning the serve.

It has to be either on the line or inside the service box. Remember, when you finish your service, you cannot step beyond the line instantly. Your front foot has to stay within the line.

And you cannot come out of this area until the ball passes you and is played or missed by your opponent. The yellow colored lines in the following picture represent the service box.

7. Why are there dotted lines on the court of Racquetball?

The hash marked lines are the dotted line. As the service area is for you, so the dotted lines are for your opponent. This is the area in which your opponent cannot enter until the ball crosses that area.

If your opponent steps up too soon, it could cut the ball off. That will be a point for you and against your opponent because he moves into the safety area, which is demarcated by the hash marks.

The yellow-colored lines in the following picture are dotted lines.

8. Can I call a hinder myself? If yes, what does it result in?

Yes, you can. If you believe that by making your next shot, you risk injuring your opponent, you can call a hinder – and the result is that you replay the point.

9. What is a double fault in racquetball and its penalty? Is there any other game that also has the same double fault thing?

Double Fault is observed in tennis too. Hence, it is similar to tennis. Here, you are allowed two chances to serve the ball properly.

If you make two serving faults on consecutive attempts, you lose the serve, and the serve goes to your opponent.

10. How to return the serve in Racquetball?

The return of serve is your most important shot of the rally. If you can get a good return of serve, you can catch your opponent off balance and more easily when the server is back.

Here, your goal should be, when you get into position for the return of serve, to do is start positioning yourself about a racquet length and arm length from the back wall, about mid-court.

You should stand nice and comfortably by having a little bend in the knees, racket in the ready position.

Remember, you should be in the middle of your stance, so you can easily go to your forehand or your backhand as necessary to respond to a service that comes from your opponent.

11. What is a Z serve in Racquetball?

You have to play a Z serve from the side, so it hits the front wall and goes over to the side wall before it comes to the court.

This shot will carry the ball closer to the front wall first and then closer to the side wall.

When you hit the ball, it will collide with the front wall first and the side wall afterward, and then the ball will return to the body. In this manner, it generates a Z effect.


In a nutshell, Racquetball emerged, with the efforts of sports lover Joseph G. Sobek, in 1950.

It is a game of agility, tactics, and smart moves. It demands practice, carefulness, and fair play.

Racquetball is played on a fully covered court (indoors) as well as on a slightly open court (outdoors). You can play it singles, doubles, and even with three players (cutthroat).

All you need is a court, stringed racquet, a hollow bouncing rubber ball, and safety equipment. This game is not complicated to master.

You can grasp its simple rules in a short time and can play it to perfection with some practice. We hope that this exhaustive information will quench your thirst to know about racquetball.