Can You Serve Overhand in Racquetball?

This is a question that a lot of beginner racquetball players wonder about. To serve overhand is pretty uncommon in racquetball, but does that mean that you’re not allowed to do it? To answer that, let’s look at what makes a valid racquetball serve and what’s considered as a serving fault.

What Makes a Valid Racquetball Serve?

For a racquetball serve to be deemed valid, there are things that need to take place. Firstly, the serving player has to make one continuous movement upon starting their serve. 

Before striking the ball with the racquet, the ball has to bounce once within the boundaries of the service zone. If the ball bounces more than once before striking, it’s considered a side out. If the ball bounces outside the boundaries of the service zone, it’s considered a fault. 

When players serve, they have to make sure that the served ball hit the front wall first. Further, it has to travel beyond the short line before it bounces. Before its first bounce, the ball may hit one side wall. And lastly, the ball has to bounce within the back wall and short line. 

What Is Considered a Serving Fault?

  • Long Serves – A long serve is one where the ball hits the front wall, traveling to the back wall without bouncing between the back wall and the short line. 
  • Short Serves – This takes place when the ball bounces before passing beyond the short line after traveling off of the front wall. 
  •  Three-Wall Serve – This serve is basically when the ball travels off of the front wall and makes contact with both side walls before it bounces. It’s very common with Z serves. 
  • Ceiling Serve – As you can probably tell from the name, this is when the ball travels off of the front wall then manages to hit the ceiling. Mind you, this isn’t a non-front wall serve.
  • Screen Serve – This is when the serving player manages to pull off a valid serve but then passes too close by the server that the returning player can’t see the ball clearly. 

What Is Considered a Side Out Serve?

  • Non-Front Wall Serve – This is when the ball doesn’t hit the front wall first and manages to strike the ceiling, side wall, or the floor first instead. 
  • Touched Serve – When the ball hits the front wall successfully but then strikes the player that has served the ball or any of his equipment, it’s considered a side out. 
  • Illegal Serve – An illegal serve is basically when the ball gets hit with the handle, a body part, or when it’s carried by the racquet. Hitting the ball more than once is also illegal. 
  • Fake Serve – Not to state the obvious, but a fake serve is when a player signals serving motion but doesn’t actually serve the ball to throw off the opponent. 

What Are the Most Common Serves?

There’s a wide range of racquetball serves that players can use. However, there are three types that every player should know and master, namely drives serves, lob serves, and Z serves.

Drive Serves

This type of serving is the type that generates the most power out of the three. There are plenty of variations when it comes to this type of serve. Let’s discuss the most common ones briefly.

The backhand drive serve is designed to target the backhand of the opponent because it tends to be weaker than the forehand of a lot of people. You need to hit the ball so that it bounces low in the corner of your opponent’s backhand. 

The forehand drive serve is basically the same thing but while targeting the opponent’s forehand instead. You also have the wrap-around drive serve where the goal is to bounce the ball close to the opponent’s left foot. This will lead your opponent to return the shot on the run or off-balance

Lastly, we have the jam serve. This serve requires you to hit the ball at the same height as your average drive serve but in a way that the ball barely makes it across the short line. To do so, you need to aim for the left wall directly at the short line. Here’s a great tutorial on drive serves:

Lob Serves

A well-executed lob serve forces your opponent to return a defensive shot, which can be quite a frustrating task. Your main goal with lob serves is to have the ball bounce near the receiving line so that the opponent is forced to cut it off or fall back. Here’s an awesome tutorial on lob serves:

Z Serves

The Z serve is a pretty safe option to execute in a lot of situations. There’s a lot of variations to this serve. You can hit a Z serve with high or medium force, you can deliver a slow Z serve, or you can do a lob Z serve. Mixing things up helps keep your opponent guessing. Check out this tutorial:

Wrapping it up

So, is it allowed to serve overhand in racquetball? Since the rules don’t suggest otherwise, the answer is yes. However, the real question is whether you should use it or not. It’s preferred for outdoor play for the most part. Once you’ve mastered it outdoors, you can then bring it indoors.