The main pieces of racquetball equipment are the racquets and balls. A racquetball racquet is made up of meshed strings in a solid lightweight frame. The strings usually include vibration dampeners and the shaft of the racquets have grips for ease of play. Racquetball racquets are a special size and shape for racquetball. Racquets may not be larger than 22 inches. Racquetballs are also specific to the sport of racquetball. They are small rubber balls that bounce extremely fast off of solid objects. Racquetballs are kept in pressurizers to preserve them at ideal conditions.
Players also use added accessories to optimize performance. These include eye guards, gloves, specialized shoes, sweatbands, and bags to store all of a player's materials. Because of the danger presented by racquetballs, protective eyewear is required by official competitions. Racquetball is one of the only sports with such a requirement. It is also the only racket sport in which a glove is typically worn.
The main equipment you need to play racquetball is a racquet and balls. However, there are other personal and safety accessories that can improve your game and quality of life. Safety accessories include protective eyewear to prevent serious injury and wrist cords and gloves to improve racquet grip. Other accessories that you may want to consider are sweatbands, specialized shoes, sport towels, water bottles, vibration dampeners, specialized grips, and a racquetball bag to carry the rest of your accessories and equipment in. These items are relatively common and can all be found at prices that won't break the bank.
Bags are not an essential item for newcomers to the sport. If you're just starting out and only carrying one racquet and some basic equipment, any sports or duffle bag can do. However, if you have the extra money or are carrying multiple racquets and equipment, a bag can be a great accessory for your quality of life.
Bags are usually made out of a soft nylon-cloth material with varying designs; depending on the bag, this material may or may not be water-proof. Most bags have a main compartment for larger items (i.e. clothes, balls) with single or multiple slots for racquets, accessory equipment pockets lining the sides, and durable cushioning to protect your things.
They can range in price from $15 for cheaper bags up to $100 or more for premium bags with more space and features. Some notable brands include HEAD, Python, Gearbox, Wilson, and E-Force.
Racquetballs come in many different colors that indicate how fast they will travel during play. From slowest to fastest these colors are black, blue, green, purple, and red. A racquetball must meet very specific specifications to be counted as legal for tournament play. A standard racquetball should have a diameter of 2¼ inches and weigh approximately 1.4 ounces. From here, the specifications get kind of wild.
Racquetballs must have a hardness of 55-60 on the durometer and must bounce between 68 and 72 inches when dropped from 100 inches at a temperature ranging from 70-74 degrees. Referees and players reserve the right to throw out any ball that bounces erratically or is not round. These inexpensive rubber balls go for as low as $3 a set.
Eye guards are a necessary piece of equipment to ensure player safety. Since racquetball includes balls coming at players in unpredictable ways at high velocities, USA Racquetball requires that each competitor wear lensed eyewear that is specifically designed for the sport, meeting the current standards for protection. Your personal gym may not require you to wear protective eyewear during casual play, but it is always a good idea for your safety. The eyewear tends to be about the size of a standard pair of shades. Racquetball eyewear includes anti-fogging features, a choice between a one-piece or two-piece lens, and are prescription adaptable. A good pair will cost you around $10 to $30 depending on the brand and model.
Gloves are not required, but many players still prefer to use one when playing. That's because a glove offers the player a better grip on their racquet and helps to prevent the racquet slipping due to sweat wetting the racquet handle. It is recommended to have multiple gloves to rotate between to improve their lifespans and keep them dry. When choosing a glove, things to consider include durability, breathability, padding, stickiness, and cost. Gloves are a relatively inexpensive way to improve anyone's game, ranging from under $8 to $20. Since gloves are typically made of leather, they stretch. It is important to buy gloves that fit your hand snug enough without being uncomfortable.
The grip is the hand's contact point on a racquet. Racquets come with factory grips, but players can improve their game by customizing racquet grips to fit their playstyle. There are two types of grips: slip-ons and wraps. Slip-ons, a single piece of rubber that slides over a handle, offer great durability. Wraps, typically a synthetic leather material that wrap around a handle, wear more quickly. Slip-ons come in a variety of thicknesses, and both types come in a variety of textures so players can find the type and tackiness of grip that suits them. If you do not wear a glove, it's recommended that you stick to wraps because sweat will cause rubber slip-ons to slide in your hand. Grips can typically be found for less than $10.
A racquet is used to hit balls between players in racquetball. The two main parts of a racquet are the handle and the head. The handle is where a player grabs the racquet, and the head is where the strings are. In official competition play, racquets over 22 inches in length are considered illegal. There is no weight limit; however, racquets tend to range from 150g to over 185g. The weight of your racquet will determine your swing speed. A racquet may be made of any material that is judged to be safe. Popular brands include E-Force, Wilson, Python, and HEAD. Prices can range from $20 to $200+.
Whistles are used by some line-judges in racquetball to control the flow of the game and communicate to the players and crowd. However, you will most often find line-judges at top tournaments and world championships not using whistles. Instead they may use a microphone or just project their voice; it all depends on a tournament or club's specific procedures. Most of the time in casual play, you will be refereeing your own match with your competitor, and no whistles will be used. Whistles can be found for as little as $1 but can cost more depending on quality.
Racquetball is typically played inside gyms and clubs with many individual courts or on outdoor facilities that also have many courts. Expensive facilities may have scoreboards for individual courts; however, even in major tournament play, score is often kept on scorecards by a referee. A point is scored if you are able to hit a ball that your opponent is unable to keep in play. A match is won by winning a set of games best two out of three. The first two games are played to 15 points, and the tie-breaker is played to 11 points.
Racquetball is high intensity, requires lots of directional movement, and is usually played on shiny court surfaces. Because of this, players should go for shoes that offer good grip on indoor surfaces and allow for quick switches from forward to lateral movement. Racquetball shoes are lightweight and designed to support the ankle, padded for the correct types of movement, and their gum-soles offer great traction on courts.
Basketball and volleyball shoes make good alternatives because of the similarity of surface and player movement; however, running shoes should be avoided at all cost; they are designed for a different purpose. Sizing is similar to any shoe, and popular brands include Adidas, Wilson, Asics, and Ekleton. There are many great shoes for under $100.
Racquetball strings are designed to give a player more power than tennis, although control is still very important. The main things to prioritize when stringing a racquet are tension, string length/width, vibration, elasticity, and gauge. All of these factors affect the comfort, power, and control a player will feel.
The two most common string types are multifilament and monofilament -- each offers different levels of hardness and comfort. Strings are typically made out of synthetic microfibers or nylon microfibers and are often found between $10 and $20. When playing, strings must not mark or deface the ball.
This is a general item that is not specific to only racquetball. Athletes of all kinds use headbands, wristbands, or both to stop sweat from running down their forehead into their eyes. Sweatbands allow for a player to not have to worry about sweat messing with their vision mid-game or annoying them and causing players to lose focus. They are not necessary, but they may help you improve your game or quality of life. They are available from almost every major sports brand and tend to be very inexpensive pieces of apparel, usually made out of microfiber cloth.
Racquetball is a high-power, high-intensity sport. Often, players sweat profusely, and not just on their foreheads. Towels are great when you need to wipe off your arms, face, hands, neck, and other areas that would be difficult to reach with a sweatband. Since sweatbands are built to keep foreheads dry mid-game, it is best to use a towel if you have a chance. This will help keep your sweatbands in good shape for when you really need them. Sport towels, typically found under $10, are made out of cotton or microfiber cloth, and they are sold by most major sports brands. They can greatly improve your game and quality of life if you are someone who sweats a lot during physical activity.
Vibration dampeners are small pieces of rubber that attach to the strings of racquets (used in tennis and racquetball), reducing the amount of vibration that the strings create when struck. It is important to note that they do not reduce the vibration in the actual racquet head. Their usefulness is a hot debate in the racquet world; however, they are popular -- you can find many of the world's top players using them. There is not conclusive evidence that they affect racquet performance, but many players claim to feel more comfort in hitting when they are attached. The only way to know if they are for you is to test them out. They are sold by many brands, but even the best ones can be found for under $10.
Water is essential to everybody, especially when playing high intensity sports like racquetball. The common recommendation is to drink at least eight glasses of clean water a day; however, athletes often need more than that to stay properly hydrated. When mid-game, it's best to drink as fast as possible, so you are not interrupting play. There are a variety of sport water bottles that can help you stay hydrated in a timely manner. Different bottles include different features such as built in straws, spray nozzles, and flip-tops. The most popular materials for construction are plastic and aluminum. Good bottles can usually be found for under $20 but may cost you more depending on the size, brand, and features.
Because racquetball includes swinging racquets at high speeds in a confined space, it is important that players have a wrist tether to prevent their racquets from getting out of hand, literally. Gloves help prevent this issue, but tethers add an extra layer of security. In major tournament play, it is a requirement to attach a cord to your frame. In the US, tethers cannot be longer than 18 inches when measured end-to-end or 24 inches when stretched to their max. It may take getting used to playing with one, but it is important for all participants' safety. Luckily, these small cords, commonly made of microfibers or rubber, can be found for under $5.
The most essential pieces of racquetball equipment are racquets, balls, and protective eyewear. These are all essential pieces of an official racquetball match. It is also worth noting that racquetball must be played on a specific type of court with certain dimensions and markings.
A racquetball court is 40 feet long by 20 feet wide. The walls are 20 feet tall and the court is completely enclosed. This allows the ball to bounce off multiple walls and adds another dynamic to the sport.
Assuming one can find a racquetball court to use at a local community center or gym, racquetball is a fairly inexpensive sport to play. Basic racquetball sets that include a racquet, balls, and eyewear can be found for about $30. More premium racquets will be more like $50 or $100. Shoes that are designed specifically for racquetball are around $100. The other accessories such as gloves or sweatband are generally common items that can be found for less than $10.