Equipment Specifications

Dave Stone

Dave Stone

USA Racquetball recently published an article entitled Why Rules Matter, which was emailed to all members and positioned on the home page of USARacquetball.com. It discusses the marketing of racquets that do not meet the specifications as detailed in the Official Rules and I encourage everyone to read it. Adding to this important discussion, this column will explore more rules related to standard racquets, eyewear and balls – as published in full on pages 3-5 of the Official Rules. Follow along as we review these excerpts:

Rule 2.4 Racquet Specifications details the following standards:

(a) The racquet frame, including bumper guard and all solid parts of the handle, may not exceed 22 inches in length. The racquet frame may be any material judged safe.

(b) Using a racquet frame that exceeds 22 inches will result in forfeiture of the game in progress or, if discovered between games, forfeiture of the preceding game.

(c) The penalty for playing with a racquet frame that does not exceed 22 inches, but has a grip extending beyond the 22-inch limit, if noted during the course of a game, shall be a technical foul and a timeout to correct the problem. Subsequent violation will result in the loss of the game in progress. If a player challenges a racquet during a game that is found to be within the 22-inch limit, then a timeout is charged to the player who made the challenge. There is no penalty if the grip issue is noted and corrected between games.

As shown, Subsection (a) prohibits the use of racquets that exceed 22 inches in length. In years past, racquet manufacturers have adhered to this requirement. However, one manufacturer has introduced racquets for the 2016 model year that violate this rule. USA Racquetball recently added a List of Non-Conforming Racquets to its website. Please note that the use of any racquet listed therein constitutes a violation of the rules, and as called for in subsection (b), will result in loss of the game in process. Additionally, the rules dictate that grips may not extend beyond the 22 inch limit and the wrist cord cannot exceed 18 inches.

Rule 2.5 for Apparel covers regulations for required eyewear:

(a) All players must wear lensed eyewear that has been warranted by its manufacturer or distributor as having:  (1) Been designed for use in racquetball and; (2) Met or exceeded the then current and full ASTM F803 standard.  This rule applies to all persons, including those who wear corrective lenses. The eyewear must be unaltered and worn as designed at all times. A player who fails to wear proper eyewear will be assessed a technical foul and a timeout to obtain proper eyewear (see Rule 3.17(a)9). A second infraction in the same match will result in immediate forfeiture of the match.

Certifications & Compliance. The USAR maintains a reference list of eyewear so warranted by their manufacturers, and provides that list to each sanctioned event (an eyewear list dated more than 90 days prior to the first day of the tournament will be deemed invalid for the purpose of determining compliance with this eyewear rule). In addition, the list is available online at the USRA.org website (indexed under “eyewear”), and individual copies may be requested by calling the USAR National Office at (719) 635-5396.

USA Racquetball maintains an Approved Eye Guard List providing guidance on pre-approved eyewear. In addition to the list maintained by USA Racquetball, the rules provide for certification as detailed in the following requirements:

  • Bear a permanent, physical stamp of the appropriate “ASTM-F803” citation on the frame itself
  • Appear on the ASTM reference listing
  • Bear the “Protective Eyewear Certification Council” [PECC] seal of approval for the ASTM standard
  • Be certified in writing by the maker that it complies with the required ASTM standard (in such instance, the player must be able to provide written, adequate proof – on demand – at any sanctioned event, before such eyewear may be used.

In short, eyewear manufactured by racquetball companies should meet the rule specifications, while prescription eyewear typically will not. Given the potential danger of playing with substandard eyewear, players are highly encouraged to protect themselves by wearing compliant eyewear in all cases. Moreover, tournament directors must strictly enforce the eyewear rules to ensure player safety and compliance with liability insurance coverage. In addition to the potential risk to eyesight, wearing non-complaint eyewear results in a technical foul and timeout for the first offense, and forfeiture of the match for the second infraction.

Rule 2.2 Ball Specifications regulate that:

(a) The standard racquetball shall be 2 1/4 inches in diameter; weigh approximately 1.4 ounces; have a hardness of 55-60 inches durometer; and bounce 68-72 inches from a 100-inch drop at a temperature of 70-74 degrees  Fahrenheit.

(b) Only a ball approved by the USAR may be used in a USAR sanctioned tournament.

All racquetballs manufactured by leading companies comply with requirements as listed in Rule 2.2.; however, it’s useful to note that the bounce requirement may be impacted by the age of the ball, storage temperature, or altitude.

The rules of racquetball are subject to modifications, as witnessed over the past quarter century. For an explanation of the amendment process as found in Section E of the official rules (pg.38), I encourage you to read Amending the Rules under the rules section on the CRA website. The CRA encourages all players to know the rules – since they will be enforced at all sanctioned events.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me at Dave@coloradoracquetball.com.

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