Play by the Rules … Always

Gary Mazaroff

The following article – authored by Gary Mazaroff, long-time Director of the American Professional Racquetball Organization (AmPRO) –  illustrates the danger in modifying the rules of racquetball based on personal preference and/or interpretation. I frequently hear statements from club players like, “we don’t play by that rule.” I urge all racquetball players to seriously consider the importance of knowing and upholding the official rules of the game. The next generation of racquetball players will learn the rules based on what is modeled by the seasoned players. Know, and play by ALL the rules – all the time.

Pooh Pooh … My good friend, William Aldridge approached me in the club locker room the other morning. He asked if I would confirm a rule. The rule references a doubles partner’s position in the service box while his or her partner is serving. He demonstrated with feet and torso facing the back wall of the court. I informed him that the rule book states that this is a violation, and his team is subject to a fault serve call. The ‘partner’ must have his or her back facing the wall of that doubles box. This event represents what has been and continues to be a distortion and general disregard for the rules of the game. Bill’s response was that the offending player shrugged it off to a set of ‘pooh pooh’ rules; whereby, players create their own set based on location, day and time, and personal agenda. Other rules within this framework may include:

  • blocking or failure to move (penalty hinder)
  • failure to wear protective eyewear or safety thong (idiots)
  • catching potentially long serves before they are long (point)

At one time players could only bounce the ball up to three times in the service zone before serving the ball, go shirtless or shoeless, and serve hundreds of screens consecutively without any penalty. These infractions are no longer tolerated according to the current rules of the game. Rules changes have evolved for decades and we ought to be aware of them. If the racquetball constituency; young and not so young, women and men, beginners and seasoned, and occasional and core players, pooh pooh around with the rules, then outsiders, including club and venue owners/operators will take our sport less seriously than it deserves. On the other hand, if the masses within our sport (some 5+ million players!) do not know nor do not care about the ‘rules of the game’, maybe our sport does not deserve recognition. For those of you who do care, ask yourself the following question; ‘where do we draw the line’? Should we allow one infraction and not another? Is one infraction any less important than another one? Is a given match any different from others? If the answer is yes, than establish the rules for that game beforehand. Examples are mulligans in golf, no tap in bowling, and 10 run rules in softball/baseball. Next time you are at the club, try playing ‘no hinder’ racquetball. What a great learning experience! Also, play international rules one match and USA rules in another. This may open your eyes! In conclusion, obtain the sets of rules and read them. Many who read this article either have not read the rules before or are not versed in the current set(s). For those who are versed and understand most of the rules and their interpretations, share this article with one or more of your friends and colleagues. It will help everyone involved with our great sport. [Authorized for reprint by Gary Mazaroff, originally printed in: AmPRO/IPRO Director’s Message, April, 2012]

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