Racquetball Information


Insider Info

dot"I love the fact that I can practice. I love the fact that, at 46 and after playing the game for 15 years, I am playing better than ever before," says Cheryl McKeeman. She is the director of communications for a racquetball association.

"I love the social aspect -- racquetball people never just play their game and go home, they always stick around and visit."

If you love speed and competition, not to mention a serious workout, then racquetball may be for you.

dotThe sport is usually played indoors in an enclosed court. Two, three or four players can play at once. The game has some similarities to tennis or squash. Players use rackets to hit a small and very bouncy blue rubber ball.

Most people play racquetball in sports complexes or recreational centers. The game is played in specially designed courts, usually with six walls, including floor and ceiling. Many courts have walls made of Plexiglas so people can watch from outside the court. Many players become members of clubs and other racquetball organizations.

dotEver since its invention in 1949, racquetball has become immensely popular. In the latest figures available, American Sports Analysis Inc. says that in 1996, 6,883,000 people were actively playing the sport in the U.S. The statistics also show that about two-thirds of all players are men.

dotOne thing that makes racquetball fun is that it's easy to learn. The rules of the game are quite simple. Games are played to 11 or 15 points, and points are only scored on the serve. If the ball bounces twice after your serve, you get a point. All court surfaces are in play.

"The rules are simple. You serve the ball and your opponent must hit the ball before it bounces twice. And it has to reach the front wall. Then you have to do the same," says racquetball player Matthew Bayley.

dotLike many sports, racquetball is constantly evolving. The biggest trend is that the game continues to get faster. Professionals are now using a green ball (instead of the usual blue) because it can apparently be seen more easily, especially when a game is televised. The rackets are getting bigger and are also going high tech, with some now being made with graphite and titanium composites.

dotOne of the biggest reasons racquetball is so popular may very well be because it doesn't cost much to play. Equipment is fairly inexpensive.

Rackets can be as low as $20 for beginner models. Higher-end rackets (for people who play every day) can run anywhere from $70 to $200 or more.

Protective eyewear should always be worn in this sport. Good goggles can cost anywhere between $15 and $60. Good-quality balls cost between $3 and $6 a can.

You can play the game with regular tennis shoes, or buy specially designed racquetball shoes (which are obviously more expensive). Some people also like to wear gloves. Those go for about $10 or $20. About the only other costs to consider would be club memberships and lessons.

dotYou don't have to be extremely fit to play racquetball, but it sure wouldn't hurt! In fact, many people play the sport to get in shape. The game definitely gives players a good cardiovascular workout.

dotRacquetball can be played by people of all ages. As far as skills go, the people who get really good at this game develop excellent hand-eye coordination.

You may not think so at first, but racquetball can and is played by people with a variety of physical challenges. The game is played by people who are hearing impaired, and by people who are legally blind. You can even play this game from a wheelchair!

dotWhen people are swinging rackets and hitting things, there is potential for injuries. But thankfully, racquetball is relatively safe, assuming proper precautions are taken. Common injuries include bruises, scrapes and sprains. The most dangerous situation involves your eyes. You should never play this game without proper eye protection.

"You can get bruised really bad when hit by a ball. Some players have been clocked hitting the ball upwards of 130 mph. Another common injury is eye injuries, because a lot of players do not wear goggles," says player Sam Alvarado.

dotMost people play racquetball for recreation. Others however, take it much further and become professional players. These people play the game competitively for money. There are both Canadian and U.S. pro tours with some pretty big dollars involved.

Other than becoming a professional, there are a few other ways to become gainfully employed in racquetball. If you're really good, you could perhaps become an instructor. There are also many retail opportunities in sport shops specializing in racquetball. Maybe you could even open up your own shop!

Getting Started

dotIt doesn't take much to get started. Just do it!

Go to your nearest sporting goods store and get your basic equipment: racket, eye guards, balls and maybe gloves. This should only cost you about $30 to $40. After that, do a little research and learn as much as you can about the sport and its rules. The United States Racquetball Association has an excellent Web site for this.

dotWhen it comes to instruction, people involved in racquetball all say the same thing: take a lesson or two and off you go!

"Racket, ball and eye guards, and half an hour with a coach -- and you're ready!" says McKeeman.

"There are usually classes offered at colleges and universities," says Kersten Hallander. She is a member of the U.S. national racquetball team. "I do recommend calling a local racquetball club and [seeing] if they offer free beginner clinics also."

Associations

United States Racquetball Association
1685 West Uintah
Colorado Springs , CO   80904-2906
USA
Internethttp://www.usra.org/

Publications

Winning Racquetball: Skills, Drills, and Strategies,
by  Ed Turner and Woody Clouse
How to Improve Your Racquetball,
by  Steve Lubarsky
Racquetball: Learning the Fundamentals,
by  Tom Roberts, James L. Dewitt
Racquetball Magazine Online
The official online publication of the United States Racquetball Association
Internethttp://www.racqmag.com/

Links

Sport Tech -- Racquet Specialists
Find out what goes into a great racquet

NMRA Masters Racquetball
A site for the more experienced racquetball player

Racquetball Association of Ireland
See what racquetball players are up to across the sea

Racquetball Central
A huge site full of information, including tips from pros