What’s Racquetball?

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Racquetball is an indoor sport played with wooden rackets and a hollow rubber ball. Invented in 1951 by Joe Sobek, it quickly became popular and reached its peak in 1974 with an estimated three million players in the US alone. The rules are simple, and the court has no no-go areas, with walls, floor, and ceiling all acceptable bouncing areas. The game is usually played by two players, with offensive and defensive shots aimed at low corners or the ceiling.

Racquetball is a popular indoor sport, played with wooden rackets and a hollow rubber ball. While at first glance racquetball appears to incorporate many of the rules of tennis and handball, the truth is that racquetball is a unique sport. Invented in 1951 by Joe Sobek, who was looking for a fast alternative to tennis, it quickly caught on.
In 1952, Sobek had formed the National Paddle Rackets Association and codified the rules of the sport. Because racquetball could be played on existing handball courts, the game easily spread across the country. Racquetball reached its peak in 1974, with an estimated three million players in the United States alone.

While a racquetball court is clearly defined by a series of red lines indicating service and reception areas, the standard entry and exit rules do not apply in a racquetball court. For starters, there are no no-go areas in the field – the walls, floor and ceiling are acceptable bouncing areas. The 40-by-20-foot room (approximately 6 by 12 meters) has a service box and receiving line, which players must respect while serving, but there are no other restrictions once the serve has been made.

The rules of racquetball are pretty simple. As long as the ball hits the front wall without bouncing off the floor, the serve stands. The ball can bounce an unlimited number of times off any wall and the ceiling before touching the front wall, as long as it never hits the ground. A point can only be scored by the serving player, either because the ball is not returned by the opposing player or because the ball bounces off the floor before reaching the front wall. Points can also be scored if the ball hits a player, or if a player changes hands during a rally or touches the ball with his body.

Racquetball is usually played by two players, although some variations include up to four. Players can choose to take offensive or defensive shots, defined by the height and speed with which the ball is hit against the block. Attacking shots aim for the low corner, making it difficult for the opposing player to reach the ball before it hits the ground. Defensive hits are primarily aimed at the ceiling, based on the idea that this will cause the ball to bounce deep down the field, usually traveling over the player.

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