Official Rules of Racquetball (effective Sept 1, 2004)
1 -- THE GAME
Rule 1.1 TYPES OF GAMES
Racquetball is played by two or four players. When played by two, it is called singles and when played by four, doubles. A non tournament variation of the game that is played by three players is called cut-throat. Rule 1.2 DESCRIPTION
Racquetball is a competitive game in which each player uses a strung racquet to serve and return the ball. Rule 1.3 OBJECTIVE
The objective is to win each rally by serving or returning the ball so the opponent is unable to keep the ball in play. A rally is over when a player (or team in doubles) is unable to hit the ball before it touches the floor twice, is unable to return the ball in such a manner that it touches the front wall before it touches the floor, or when a hinder is called.
Rule 1.4 POINTS AND OUTS
Points are scored only by the serving side when it serves an irretrievable serve (an ace) or wins a rally. Losing the serve is called a sideout in singles. In doubles, when the first server loses the serve, it is called a handout and when the second server loses the serve, it is a sideout.
Rule 1.5 MATCH, GAME, TIEBREAKER
A match is won by the first side winning two games. The first two games of a match are played to 15 points. If each side wins one game, a tiebreaker game is played to 11 points.
2 -- COURTS AND EQUIPMENT
Rule 2.1 COURT SPECIFICATIONS
The specifications for the standard four wall racquetball court are:
(a) Dimensions. The dimensions shall be 20 feet wide, 40 feet long and 20 feet high, with a back wall at least 12 feet high. All surfaces shall be in play, with the exception of any gallery opening, surfaces designated as out-of-play for a valid reason (such as being of a very different material or not in alignment with the backwall), and designated court hinders.
(b) Markings. Racquetball courts shall be marked with lines 1 1/2 inches wide as follows:
Short Line. The back edge of the short line is midway between, and is parallel with, the front and back walls.
Service Line. The front edge of the service line is parallel with, and five feet in front of, the back edge of the short line.
Service Zone. The service zone is the 5' x 20' area bounded by the bottom edges of the side walls and by the outer edges of the short line and the service line.
Service Boxes. The service boxes, used in doubles play, are located at each end of the service zone and are designated by lines parallel with the side walls [see 4.2(b)]. The edge of the line nearest to the center of the court shall be 18 inches from the nearest side wall.
Drive Serve Lines. The drive serve lines, which form the drive serve zones, are parallel with the side wall and are within the service zone. For each line, the edge of the line nearest to the center of the court shall be 3 feet from the nearest side wall.
Receiving Line. The receiving line is a broken line parallel to the short line. The back edge of the receiving line is five feet from the back edge of the short line. The receiving line begins with a line 21 inches long that extends from each side wall. These lines are connected by an alternate series of six inch spaces and six inch lines. This will result in a line composed of 17 six inch spaces, 16 six inch lines, and 2 twenty-one inch lines.
Safety Zone. The safety zone is the 5' x 20' area bounded by the bottom edges of the side walls and by the back edges of the short line and the receiving line. The zone is observed only during the serve. See Rules 3.10(i) and 3.11(a).
Rule 2.2 BALL SPECIFICATIONS
(a) The standard racquetball shall be 2 1/4 inches in diameter; weigh approximately 1.4 ounces; have a hardness of 55 60 inches durometer; and bounce 68 72 inches from a 100 inch drop at a temperature of 70 74 degrees Fahrenheit.
(b) Only a ball having the approval of the USAR may be used in a USAR sanctioned tournament.
Rule 2.3 BALL SELECTION
(a) A ball shall be selected by the referee for use in each match. During the match the referee may, based on personal discretion or at the request of a player or team, replace the ball. Balls that are not round or which bounce erratically shall not be used.
(b) If possible, the referee and players should agree to an alternate ball, so that in the event of breakage, the second ball can be put into play immediately.
Rule 2.4 RACQUET SPECIFICATIONS
(a) The racquet, including bumper guard and all solid parts of the handle, may not exceed 22 inches in length.
(b) The racquet frame may be any material judged safe.
(c) The racquet frame must include a cord that must be securely attached to the player's wrist. (d) The string of the racquet must be gut, monofilament, nylon, graphite, plastic, metal, or a combination thereof, and must not mark or deface the ball.
(e) Using an illegal racquet will result in forfeiture of the game in progress or, if discovered between games, forfeiture of the preceding game.
Rule 2.5 APPAREL
(a) All players must wear lensed eyewear that has been warranted by its manufacturer or distributor as designed for use in racquetball and
meeting or exceeding either the full ASTM F803 standard or Canadian (CSA) impact standard. This rule applies to all persons, including those who wear corrective lenses. The eyewear must be unaltered and worn as designed at all times. A player who fails to wear proper eyewear will be assessed a technical foul and a timeout to obtain proper eyewear [see rule 3.17(a)(9)]. A second infraction in the same match will result in immediate forfeiture of the match.
Certifications & Compliance. The USAR maintains a reference list of eyewear so warranted by their manufacturers, and provides that list to each sanctioned event (an eyewear list dated more than 90 days prior to the first day of the tournament will be deemed invalid for the purpose of determining compliance with this eyewear rule). In addition, the list is available online at the USAR.org website (indexed under “eyeguards”), and individual copies may be requested by calling the USAR National Office at (719) 635-
To be used in sanctioned competition, protective eyewear must:
; bear a permanent, physical stamp of the appropriate “ASTM-F803” citation on the frame itself,
; appear on the ASTM reference listing, OR
; bear the “Protective Eyewear Certification Council” [PECC] seal of approval for the ASTM
; be certified in writing by the maker that it complies with the required ASTM standard (in this
instance, the player must be able to provide written, adequate proof - on demand - at any
sanctioned event, before such eyewear may be used).
(b) Clothing and Shoes. The clothing may be of any color; however, a player may be required to change wet, extremely loose fitting, or otherwise distracting garments. Insignias and writing on the clothing must be considered to be in good taste by the tournament director. Shoes must have soles, which do not mark or damage the floor.
(c) Equipment Requirements During Warm up. Proper eyeguards [see 2.5(a)] must be worn and wrist cords must be used during any on court warm up period. The referee should give a technical warning to any person who fails to comply and assess a technical foul if that player continues to not comply after receiving such a warning.
3 -- PLAY REGULATIONS
Rule 3.1 SERVE
In Open Division competition, the server will have one opportunity to put the ball into play [see section 5.0, for complete, one-serve modifications]. In all other divisions, the server will have two opportunities to put the ball into play.
The player or team winning the coin toss has the option to either serve or receive at the start of the first game. The second game will begin in reverse order of the first game. The player or team scoring the highest total of points in games 1 and 2 will have the option to serve or receive first at the start of the tiebreaker. If both players or teams score an equal number of points in the first two games, another coin toss will take place and the winner of the toss will have the option to serve or receive.
Rule 3.2 START
The server may not start the service motion until the referee has called the score or "second serve." The referee shall call the score as both server and receiver prepare to return to their respective positions, shortly
after the previous rally has ended--even if the players are not ready. The serve is started from any place within the service zone. (Certain drive serves are an exception. See Rule 3.6.) Neither the ball nor any part of either foot may extend beyond either line of the service zone when initiating the service motion. Stepping on, but not beyond, the lines is permitted. However, when completing the service motion, the server may step beyond the service (front) line provided that some part of both feet remain on or inside the line until the served ball passes the short line. The server may not step beyond the short line until the ball passes the short line. See Rule 3.9(a) and 3.10(i) for penalties for violations.