"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.
The 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
Ever 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.
One 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.
Like 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
One 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.
You 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.
Racquetball 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!
When 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.
Most 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
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!
It 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.
When 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."
United States Racquetball Association
1685 West Uintah
Winning Racquetball: Skills, Drills, and Strategies,
Ed Turner and Woody Clouse
How to Improve Your Racquetball,
Racquetball: Learning the Fundamentals,
Tom Roberts, James L. Dewitt
Racquetball Magazine Online
The official online publication of the United States Racquetball
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
A huge site full of information, including tips from pros