Learn the Rules with Dave Stone
Dave Stone is a long-time, certified referee and expert in officiating the sport at the highest level, as well as a elite level player in his own right. Over the years, Dave has written a comprehensive series of “Know your Rules” columns for the CRA Rollout, which address a wide variety of common scenarios and interpretations. You’ll find links to those articles at left, as well as an FAQ below, so get ready to brush up!
FAQ – Rules of Racquetball
Question: Can a player’s foot extend over the line when serving?
Answer: Rule 3.2 states, “Neither the ball nor any part of either foot may extend beyond either line of the service zone when initiating the service motion. Stepping on, but not beyond, the line is permitted. However, when completing the service motion, the server may step beyond the service (front) line provided that some part of both feet remain on or inside the line until the served ball passes the short line. The server may not step beyond the short line until the ball passes the short line. See Rule 3.9(a) and 3.10(i) for penalties for violations.”
Q: Is it true that carrying the ball is no longer against the rules?
A: No, this is not true. According to Rule 3.13(c)10, “Carrying or slinging the ball with the racquet” constitutes a failure to make a legal return during a rally. Some people have misconstrued the IRT’s “no carry rule” as applicable to amateur play.
Q: What happens if my serve hits my partner?
A: Rule 4.3(b) specifies “A served ball that hits the doubles partner while in the doubles box results in a fault serve.” However, it is important to note, “A served ball that hits the doubles partner, while outside the doubles box, results in loss of serve.”
Q: What is the dotted line for?
A: The dotted line is called the receiving line. The area between the short line and receiving line is the safety zone, and is only observed during the serve. Rule 3.11(a) dictates, “The receiver may not break the plane of the receiving line with the racquet or body until the ball either bounces in the safety zone or else crosses the receiving line. For example, if the receiver steps on the dashed receiving line with either foot (with any part of the foot contacting the line) before either of the two preceding things happen, a point shall be called for the server.”
Q: How do I know if my opponent is ready before I serve?
A: Rule 3.5(a) states, “It is the server’s responsibility to look and be certain the receiver is ready. If a receiver is not ready, they must signal by raising the racquet above the head or completely turning the back to the server. (These are the only two acceptable signals.)” It is important to note that if you serve while the receiving player/team is signaling “not ready,” it is a fault serve. Also,according to Rule 3.9(j), “In one serve play, if a serve is made while the receiver is not ready as described in Rule 3.5(b), the server will be allowed one more opportunity to hit a legal serve.”
Q: Is a crotch serve considered good?
A: Rule 3.10 (g) defining out serves states, “Any served ball that hits the crotch of the front wall and floor, front wall and side wall, or front wall and ceiling is an out serve (because it did not hitthe front wall first). A serve into the crotch of the back wall and floor is a good serve and in play. A served ball that hits the crotch of the side wall and floor beyond the short line is in play.” An out serve results in loss of serve.
Q: What happens if a ball is struck and leaves the court?
A: Rule3.13.(c)3 specifies the failure to make a legal return includes when, “The ball is hit such that it goes, without first touching the floor, into the gallery or wall opening or else hits a surface above the normal playing area of the court that has been declared as out-of-play.” This is also applicable to the serve as detailed in rule 3.10(h) defining out serves.
However, Rule 3.14(a)1 specifies that a call of replay hinder when, “any ball that leaves the court after legally touching the front wall and then bouncing on the floor.” Also, this is applicable to the serve as detailed in rule 3.8(c) defining dead ball serves.
Q: How much time can players take between serves?
A: Rule 3.5 states that a, “referee may call a technical foul for delays exceeding 10 seconds.” However, the rules note the server may not start the service motion before the score is called by the referee. Rule 3.2 elaborates by adding “The referee shall call the score as both server and receiver prepare to return to their respective positions, shortly after the previous rally has ended–even if the players are not ready.”
In recreational play without a referee,there are some issues that are difficult to enforce: foot faults, 10-second violations, receiving zone violations, to name a few. According to guidelines for self-officiating, “If either player believes an opponent is abusing any of these rules, be sure there is clear agreement on what the exact rule says, and reach a mutual understanding that the rules should be followed.”
The game of racquetball is designed to play at a consistent pace, rewarding the more “fit” player. Players that continually game the clock to slow the pace beyond the allotted times should not be rewarded by allowing the continued bouncing of balls or repeated calling of score prior to serving.
Q: If I can’t see a ball that my opponent hit, isn’t that a screen?
A: Refer to the article The Screen Call.
Q: What happens if the ball is hit so hard that it hits the front wall twice before the receiver gets it (but only bounces once)?
A: According to Rule 3.13(e), “The ball remains in play until it touches the floor a second time; regardless of how many walls it makes contact with – including the front wall. If a player swings at the ball and misses it, the player may continue to attempt to return the ball until it touches the floor for the second time.
If you have any questions that you would like answered in an upcoming column, send your questions to Dave@coloradoracquetball.com.