In racquetball, players score points when their opponents either commit a fault or are unable to return the ball to the front wall.
Racquetball is a fast paced yet easy to play sport that originated in America. The sport has been gaining in popularity since its inception in the 1950's. The rules of scoring are simple and similar to squash. Of course, there are many things about the way racquetball is played and scored that make it a unique sport.
The first rule of scoring in racquetball is that players can only score when it is their serve. This means after every serve either a point will be scored or the serving team will switch. In order for it to be a legal serve, the player must have the ball bounce once before hitting it on the wall in front of the server. The ball also must land behind the short line but before the back wall. If either of these mistakes are made, a server does get a second chance unless it's a professional tournament. If on the second attempt one of these mistakes still happens, it is a fault and the player loses the serve.
If the serve is done correctly, the players will then alternate hitting the ball against the front wall in what is known as a rally. After the serve, players can hit the ball in the air or after one bounce. Additionally they can hit the ball along any walls, including the ceiling, as long as the ball eventually hits the front wall before bouncing on the ground twice.
A point is scored at the end of a rally when there is either a fault or a player is unable to return the ball to the front wall. A player can fault after the serve if they carry the ball with their racquet. If this happens, the opponent gets a point or gets to serve. Another special case is if one player blocks or hinders the other player from returning the ball. If the player seems to purposely hurt the opponent's chance of returning the ball, it is a penalty hinder. In this case, the opponent gets the point. If it's an accidental disturbance then it is just a hinder and the rally restarts.
Most racquetball sets are played to 15. However, some recreational players like to play to 11, 21, or any other set number the players agree on. This usually depends on the amount of time they have. Racquetball players can win a set by just one point unless they are playing in Canada where players need to win by two points. This means that the first player to 15 or whichever number was decided, will be the winner.
The official USA racquetball rules state that the match winner has to win the best of three sets. This can either be done by winning two sets to 15 or by winning one set to 15 and the tie-breaker set which goes to 11 points. This is also how most recreational players believe the racquetball winner should be decided.
In most games the server is decided by flipping a coin or spinning a racquet. Whoever wins the coin toss/racquet spin will decide if they want to serve or receive for the first set. In the next set, whoever didn't serve first will serve first this time. For a tie breaker, whoever scored the most points in the two matches will serve first. If this is equal, then the players do another coin toss/racquet spin to decide who serves first.
Sometimes in racquetball the ball will hit a loose tile, the door, or floorboard and fly off in an unnatural way. If the referee decides that it was an unusual instance, they will call it a hinder and the rally will restart. Additionally, sometimes the player will decide not to return a ball in order to avoid accidentally hitting the other player. In this case, they will ask for it to be considered a hinder and the rally will restart.
In racquetball a player can only score if they are serving. However, in squash, a player can score a point at any time throughout a game, even if they aren't serving. This difference makes racquetball sets last longer than squash's. Another difference is that racquetball players win after the best of three sets. Alternately, in squash the overall match winner is decided by the best of five sets.
The service line spans the width of the court and is closest to the wall. The server cannot step in front of this line and their serve must land behind the short line (the next long line). The rectangles on both sides are used in double matches for the teammate not serving to stand in. The space inbetween the short line and dotted line is the safety zone. During a serve, the opponent can't pass the dotted line until the ball bounces in the safety zone or passes the line.