The first match of racquetball was played in 1940 when Joseph G. Sobek, who was a professional athlete, invented a game that had a little bit of all the games he loved.
Racquetball is a combination of handball and squash with just a dash of tennis. The first draft of the rules appeared in 1952, but the racquetball rules were issued in1969. Later that year, the international racquetball association organized the first official racquetball championship.
Cutthroat Racquetball is played with three players and the rules are pretty simple, but the game is tough. Read on to see how!
How to Play Racquetball
The rules are quite clear about what is a fault and how a point is scored, however, there are more than a few of them, so if you intend to play the game, you might want to have a quick read first, then go through each one until it feels like a walk in the park. Here’s a link to the USA Racquetball Official Rules.
There are videos demonstrating the rules, so take your time watching the game in action, and soon enough you’ll be in the court – acing the game!
How to Play Cut-Throat Racquetball
It’s very similar to the regular racquetball, but instead of being a singles or doubles game, it’s played with three players, and it’s not included in official tournaments. This is a fun, non-official way to play the game.
There are a couple variations. In the first, player 1 plays against player 2 and 3. Player 1 serves then either player 2 or 3 returns the serve. Player 1 is then up to hit, then player 2 or 3. Basically it’s player 1 versus players 2 and 3 and either 2 or 3 can hit the ball on their turn.
Only the server wins the point. If the server doesn’t win the volley, the serve moves to player 2 then 3. The serve moves through the players in order – 1, 2, 3.
The alternative cut-throat variation is players 1, 2, and 3 rotate shots in order. This is quite difficult with three players on the court. Space becomes an issue. Nonetheless, this method is an option. And your heart rate will go through the roof!
Try them both with your threesome and see what your groups likes best.
The General Idea of Racquetball
This is clearly a ball and racket kind of game, it can be played in singles or doubles, or in an innovative 3-player setup, which is cut throat racquetball, and the players stay on the same side of the court, like squash.
The match is divided into two games, each one has 15 points. You win points by acing rallies, that’s the back and forth the players keep on having until a fault brings the rally to a stop. A tie could happen, of course, so a third game is played with only 11 points.
One player serves, and he has to do that in good form, and the others receive. Scoring and faults need a bit more explanation, but we’ll get there.
You don’t need much equipment to play racquetball, just a racquet that’s less than 22 inches long, a rubber ball with a 2.25-inch diameter, and eye-guards. The ball could be quite powerful so these guards are highly recommended.
The court has a rectangular shape, it measures 20 by 40 feet, with a 20 feet high ceiling. As you can see, it’s a smallish playfield, so it’s a game of strategy of agility rather than fitness. All the walls and even the ceiling are parts of the play.
The markings on the court are the interesting part: it has a line right across at the 20 feet mark, and then another one parallel to it, and drawn 15 feet from the front wall. This area is where the server should stand.
There are a few vertical lines perpendicular on these two lines, that’s the spot where the second player in a doubles match would stand.
The lines are very defining of proper form, so stepping on them or crossing over, is one of the main reasons people are faulted and lose their serve. The place of the ball at a certain moment marks the difference between a legitimate and a wrong move. We’ll see how in a moment.
The serve is a lot like tennis, a show of skill and the start of the game. The server can’t start though until the receiver is ready.
The server needs to stand within the limits of the service zone, which is the area contained by the two lines we mentioned above. He can let the ball bounce up to three times before serving.
The serve is a sequence of letting the ball bounce once on the service zone floor, stroking it, getting it to hit the front wall, then it needs to bounce back and cross the centerline or ‘the short’. It could also hit one of the side walls as it takes that trip.
Deadball serves happen when it lands on a different part of the court, hits another player, or standing in front of the opponent blocking his sight.
A fault is the result of the server stepping on the line, or crossing over the serving zone before the ball bounces back. It can also happen if the ball fails to cross the short line, shoots straight to the back wall, flies outside the court, or jumps at the ceiling.
The serve is an out if the balls bounce over three times before starting the serve, if a player serves when it’s not his turn, or if he couldn’t hit the ball. It’s also an out if the ball hits anything or any person before reaching the short line.
A successful serve means that the ball is in play, and the receiving player or team should hit it back.
The receiver waits for the ball to cross the short line before hitting it back. He should also make sure that he doesn’t cross the receiving line.
The receiver can hit the ball after it bounces once, or on the fly. It can’t be returned if it bounces more than one time.
Here’s one of the quirks of this game: only the serving side can score points, and they can only do that if they win a whole rally. The receiving end doesn’t really win a point when they get the rally, they just earn back the serve.
The rally is interrupted after a defective serve, a player holds the ball on the racket, a ball hits the player, a player changes the hand he’s using to hold the racket, or if a player doesn’t use the wrist safety attachment.
There’s another thing that could terminate the rally which is the hindrance. A player obstructing another intentionally isn’t an acceptable practice, but it’s considered a let.
The hindrance could stop the player from a winning shot, then it’s considered a penalty, and naturally, that costs some points in addition to giving the serve back to the other player.
On a Final Note
Cut-throat racquetball is a cocktail of many games, but the end result is a coherent and well put together game. The rules seem to be overwhelming at the outset, but eventually, become easy to remember and follow. Now find a couple friends and hit the court!