As the temperature begins to drop outside, you might start seeking an indoor sport to check off your daily activity box. And it seems racquetball could be the way to go. Especially if you're a fan of tennis, handball, squash, or fast-paced sports in general, racquetball is a great alternative to those sports but you get to do it inside. Want to learn how to play racquetball? Read below to understand the rules.

Before You Play

The Origins of Racquetball

A professional tennis and handball player, Joe Sobek, is credited with the invention of the sport in 1950. He wanted something that would be fun to play and easy to learn while still being fast-paced. To devise the rules, he combined elements from tennis, handball, and squash and created what he called "paddle rackets." The first games were played on handball courts until specialized racquetball courts were established. Today, the sport enjoys decent worldwide players but is most popular in North America.

Court Dimensions

An American racquetball court is 40 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 20 feet high. The cool thing about racquetball in comparison to other, similar sports (such as squash) is that you can bounce the ball off the walls and even the ceiling, which results in some impressive athletic maneuvers to catch a stray serve. And unlike tennis, there are no nets.

Protective Eyewear

Protective eyewear is required in official matches, and though it's not required in recreational matches, it's a good idea nevertheless. Due to the fast-paced nature of racquetball and the risk of a small rubber ball flying at you from any direction, it's not recommended to wear everyday glasses. Even if you don't normally wear glasses, some safety glasses could save you from an eye injury. Shop all our safety glasses by clicking the link below.

Shop All Safety Glasses

Racquetball and Racquet

A standard racquetball is 2.25in (57mm) in diameter, while the racquet is no longer than 22 inches.

You can buy both of these online or at most sporting goods stores. Racquetballs can break or lose their bounce after some time simply from regular use, so it's always a good idea to keep a spare set on hand.

How to Play Racquetball

Racquetball court

A racquetball court


To serve, you must be standing in the service zone (see above) between the two lines. Your foot can be on the line, though not crossing it. The other players must be standing behind the receiving line (the dashed line on the diagram). For a successful serve, bounce the ball once on the floor, then hit it toward the front wall. In racquetball, the ball must hit the front wall before any other wall; otherwise, it's called a "fault." If you make two fault serves in a row, it becomes your opponent's turn to serve.

There are other types of fault serves, including the ball hitting the ceiling after the front wall (ceiling serve), serving before your opponent is ready, serving a ball that hits the side walls after the front wall but before touching the floor (three wall serve), or serving a ball that hits the front wall and then the back wall before touching the floor (long serve).

After the ball hits the front wall, it must hit the floor beyond the short line to be in play. Once it's passed this point, you can move back out of the service zone and begin a rally.


As soon as the ball is in play, it moves pretty quickly, so keeping your eyes on it is a must! Once it is in play, the players alternate hitting the ball against the front wall. The player returning the hit can either let the ball hit the floor once, or hit it in midair. It must then hit the front wall again, before hitting other walls, the ceiling, or the floor.

To win the rally, the ball bounces against the floor twice without hitting a wall or racquet. If the server wins, they score a point and continue to serve. If the receiver wins, they don't score a point and it becomes their turn to serve. Professional racquetball games are played best of three with two sets to 15 points, and an optional third set to 11.

Other Tips

Watching friends or professionals play before you step out onto the court is a good way to see the rules in action and to learn different serve and rally techniques. Since racquetball is quite a fast game, it's best to know the rules before seeing them played out.

If you've played squash, racquetball is very similar. The main differences being the court dimensions, racquet length, and the size and material of the ball. Also, the ceiling is out of bounds in squash but not in racquetball.

Now that you know how to play racquetball, it's time to get out there and cause some chaos!