- THE GAME, HOW PLAYED
The game of RACKETBALL is played between two players each using a
standard racket, with a ball officially approved by the English Racketball
Association and in a rectangular court of standard dimensions (32 feet x
21 feet), enclosed on all four sides.
- THE SCORE
A match shall consist of the best of 3 or 5 games at the option of the
organisers of the competition. Each game is 15 points up; that is to say,
the player who first wins 15 points wins the game, except that, on the
score being called 14 all, the game shall be set to the 'best of five
points', in which case the player who first scores three more points wins
the game with a score of 17 points. A player who first scores 15 points
shall win the fifth (3rd) game; in a five (3) game match, except that the
player must win by a margin of two points over the opponent and where
necessary that fifth (3rd) game shall be extended until this margin is
- POINTS, HOW SCORED
Points can be scored by either player. When a player fails to serve or
to make a good return, in accordance with the rules, the opponent wins the
point. When the Receiver wins a point, he/she becomes the Server and adds
one to his/her score. [top]
- THE SERVICE
a. The right to serve is decided by the spin of a racket or coin.
Thereafter the Server continues to serve until he/she loses the point,
whereupon the opponent becomes the Server, and so on throughout the
b. At the beginning of each game and each hand, the Server has the choice
of either box and shall thereafter alternate for as long as he/she scores
points and remains the Server. However if the Server serves a fault which
is not taken, or a rally ends in a Let, he /she shall serve again from the
same box. If the Server serves from the wrong box, there shall be no
penalty and the service shall count as if served from the correct box,
except that the Receiver may, if he/she does not attempt to take the
service, demand that it be served from the other box.
c. The ball, before being struck, shall be dropped or thrown on to the
floor, without touching the wall; it must be served direct on to the front
wall between the board/tin and the out of court line, so that on its
return, unless volleyed, it falls to the floor within the back quarter of
the court opposite to the Server's box. Should a player, having dropped or
thrown the ball on to the floor, make no attempt to strike it, it may be
dropped or thrown again without penalty. A player with the use of only one
arm/hand may utilise the racket to propel the ball on to the floor before
d. A service is good when it is not a fault or does not result in the
Server serving his/her hand out in accordance with Rule 4(f). If the
Server serves one fault, he/she shall serve again. The Receiver may take a
fault, and if he/she attempts to do so, the service becomes good and the
ball continues in play. The Receiver has not attempted to take a fault
until he/she has clearly made a commitment to play the ball. (A second
service fault cannot be played by the Receiver ).
e. A service is a fault:
(i) If at the time of striking the ball the Server fails to have at least
one foot in contact with the floor within the service box, and no part of
that foot touching the line surrounding the service box (called a
foot-fault ). (ii) If the ball touches the back wall before touching the
floor. It may touch the side wall before touching the floor. A ball which
strikes the back wall and floor simultaneously is a good service.
(iii) If the ball first touches the floor on or outside the short or half
court lines delimiting the back quarter of the court required in Rule
(iv) If it is not bounced on the floor before serving.
Any combination of faults in the one service counts only as one fault and
in (ii to iv) is called a fault.
f. The Server serves his / her hand out and loses the service and the
opponent scores a point:
(i) If two consecutive faults are served, excluding any that have been
taken by the Receiver, when the ensuing rally has ended in a Let.
(ii) If the ball touches the walls before being struck or if the Server
fails to strike the ball after it has bounced or it is struck more than
(iii) If the ball is served on to, or below, the board/tin, or out, or
against any part of the court before the front wall.
(iv) If the ball, before it has bounced twice on the floor or has been
struck by the opponent, touches the Server or anything he wears or
g. The Server shall not serve until the Marker has completed calling the
- THE PLAY
After a good service has been delivered, the players return the ball
alternately until one or other fails to make a good return, or the ball
otherwise ceases to be in play, in accordance with the rules.
- GOOD RETURN
A return is good if the ball, before it has bounced twice upon the
floor, is returned by the striker on to the front wall above the
board/tin, without touching the floor or any part of the striker's body or
clothing, provided the ball is not hit twice or out. It shall not be
considered a good return if the ball touches the board/tin after it hits
the front wall. [top]
A Let is an undecided stroke, and the service or rally in respect of
which a Let is allowed, shall not count and the Server shall serve again
from the same box. A Let shall not cancel a previous first fault which was
not taken by the Receiver. [top]
- STROKES, HOW WON
A player wins a stroke:
(a) Under Rule 4(f);
(b) If the opponent fails to make a good return of the ball in play;
(c) If the ball in play touches the opponent or anything carried or worn
by the opponent, except as is otherwise provided by Rules 9, 10, 13 (a) (i):
(d) If one is awarded by the Referee as provided for in the Rules.
- HITTING OPPONENT WITH
If an otherwise good return of the ball has been made, but before
reaching the front wall it hits the striker's opponent, or opponent's
racket, or anything opponent wears or carries, then:
(a) If the ball would have made a good return, and would have struck the
front wall without first touching any other wall, the striker shall win
the stroke, except if the striker shall have followed the ball round, and
so turned, taking the ball on the forehand rather than the backhand or
vice-versa, a Let shall be allowed.
This includes the case where the striker plays the ball behind his/her
back or between his/her legs. If the striker, having turned elects not to
continue the rally for fear of striking opponent with racket or ball and,
in the opinion of the Referee, is able to make a good return, then a let
shall be allowed.
(b) If the ball would otherwise have made a good return, a Let shall be
allowed unless, in the Referee's opinion a winning stroke has been
intercepted, then the striker shall win the stroke.
(c) If the ball would not have made a good return, the striker shall lose
the stroke. The ball shall cease to be in play, even if it subsequently
When a player has been struck by the ball as described in rule 9, the
Marker shall call 'down'. [top]
- FURTHER ATTEMPTS TO
HIT THE BALL
If the striker strikes at and misses the ball, further attempts may be
made to return it. If after being missed, the ball touches the opponent,
or opponent's racket or wearing apparel, then:
(a) If the striker would otherwise have made a good return, a Let shall be
(b) If the striker could not have made a good return, the striker loses
If any such further attempt is successful, resulting in a good return
being prevented from reaching the front wall by hitting the striker's
opponent, or anything worn or carried by opponent, a Let shall be allowed
in all circumstances. [top]
(a) An appeal may be made against any decision of the Marker, except
for a call of 'fault' or 'foot- fault' to the first service.
(b) If the Marker fails to call 'fault' or 'foot-fault' to the first
service, the Receiver may appeal provided no attempt is made to return the
ball. If the appeal is upheld the service shall be a fault.
(c) If the Marker calls 'fault' or 'foot-fault' to the second service, the
Server may appeal. If the appeal is upheld, a "let" shall be allowed, with
'one fault' standing.
(d) If the Marker fails to call 'fault' or 'foot-fault' to the second
service, the Receiver may appeal, either immediately or at the end of the
rally if he/she has played the ball. If the appeal is upheld, the Receiver
shall win the stroke.
In all cases where a Let is desired, an appeal shall be made to the
Referee with the words "Let please". Play shall thereupon cease until the
Referee has given his decision.
No appeal may be made after the delivery of a service for anything that
occurred before that service was delivered.
- FAIR VIEW, FREEDOM TO PLAY
(a) After playing a ball, a player must make every effort to get out
of the opponents way. That is :
(i) A player must make every effort to give the opponent a fair view of
the ball, so that it may be sighted adequately for the purpose of playing
(ii) A player must make every effort not to interfere with, or crowd, the
opponent in the latter's attempt to get to, or play, the ball.
(iii) A player must make every effort to allow the opponent, as far as the
latter's position permits, freedom to play the ball directly to the front
wall, or to either side wall to within approximately one metre of the
(b) If any such form of interference has occurred, and, in the opinion of
the Referee, the player has not made every effort to avoid causing it, the
Referee shall on appeal, or stopping play without waiting for an appeal,
award the stroke to the opponent, provided the opponent was in a position
to make a good return.
(c) However, if interference has occurred, but in the opinion of the
Referee the player has made every effort to avoid causing it, the Referee
shall on appeal, or stopping play without waiting for an appeal, award a
Let, except that if the opponent is prevented from making a winning return
by such interference or by distraction from the player, the Referee shall
award the Stroke to the opponent.
(d) When, in the opinion of the Referee, a player refrains from playing
the ball, which, if played would clearly and undoubtedly have won the
rally under the terms of Rule 9(a) or 9(b), that player shall be awarded
(e) If either player makes unnecessary physical contact with his opponent,
the Referee may stop play and award a Stroke accordingly.
The practice of impeding an opponent in the effort to play the ball by
crowding or obscuring the view is highly detrimental to the game of
Racketball. Unnecessary physical contact is also detrimental as well as
being dangerous. Interfering with players must be interpreted to include
the case of a player having to wait for an excessive swing of the
opponent's racket. [top]
- LET, WHEN ALLOWED
Notwithstanding anything contained in these rules, and provided always
that the striker could have made a good return:
(a) A let may be allowed:
(i) If, owing to the position of the striker, the opponent is unable to
avoid being touched by the ball before the return is made.
This rule shall be construed to include the case of the striker, whose
position in front of his opponent makes it impossible for the latter to
see the ball, or who shapes as if to play the ball and has a change of
mind at the last moment, preferring to take the ball off the back wall,
the ball in either case hitting the opponent, who is between the striker
and the back wall. This is not, however, to be taken as conflicting in any
way with the Referee's duties under rule 12.
(ii) If the ball in play touches any article lying in the court.
(iii) If the striker refrains from hitting the ball owing to a reasonable
fear of injuring opponent.
(iv) If the striker, in the act of playing the ball, touches
(v) If the Referee is asked to decide an appeal and is unable to do so.
(vi) If a player drops the racket, calls out or in any other way distracts
the opponent, and the Referee considers that such occurrence has caused
the opponent to lose the stroke.
(b) A Let shall be allowed:
(i) If the Receiver is not ready, and does not attempt to take the
(ii) If the ball breaks during play.
(iii) If an otherwise good return has been made, but the ball goes out of
court on its first bounce. (A ball which strikes the top of the glass
backed wall is deemed to be out, unless it rebounds into the court in a
(iv) As provided for in rules 9, 10, 11(b)(ii), 18 and 19.
(c) No Let shall be allowed when the player has made an attempt to play
the ball except as provided for under rules 10, 13(a)(iv), 13(b)(ii) and
(d) Unless an appeal is made by one of the players, no Let shall be
allowed except where these rules definitely provide for a Let, namely,
rules 9(a) and (b), 10, 12, 13(b)(ii) and (iii).
- NEW BALL
At any time, when the ball is not in actual play, a new ball may be
substituted by mutual consent of the players, or on appeal by either
player, at the discretion of the Referee. It is the responsibility of the
player losing a rally or game, to check that the ball is not broken,
immediately the rally/game ends. When it is discovered to be broken, the
preceding rally must be replayed immediately.
Immediately preceding the start of play, a period not exceeding five
minutes shall be allowed, on court, for the purpose of warming-up. A
further period shall be allowed to warm-up if the match is being resumed
after a considerable delay or when the ball is replaced.
- PLAY IN A MATCH TO BE
After the first service is delivered, play shall be continuous as far
as is practical, provided that:
(a) At any time play may be suspended owing to bad light or other
circumstances beyond the control of the players, for such period as the
Referee shall decide. In the event of play being suspended for the day,
the match shall start afresh, unless both players agree to the contrary.
(b) The referee shall award a game to the opponent of any player who, in
his opinion, persists, after due warning, in delaying the play in order to
recover strength or wind, or for any other reason.
(c) An interval of one minute shall be permitted between games and of two
minutes between the fourth and fifth of a 5-game match. A player may leave
the court during such intervals, but must remain in earshot of the Referee
and be ready to resume play at the end of the stated time. When 15 seconds
of the interval permitted between games are left, the Marker shall call
"fifteen seconds" to warn the players to be ready to resume play. Should
either player fail to do so when required by the Referee, a game may be
awarded to the opponent.
(d) In the event of an injury, the Referee may require a player to
continue to play or concede the match, except where the injury is
contributed to by his opponent, or where it was caused by dangerous play
on the part of the opponent. In the former case, the Referee may allow
time for the injured player to receive attention and recover, and in the
latter, the injured player shall be awarded the match under rule
No play is permitted while a wound is bleeding, which is not securely
covered or where blood flow continues from an uncovered wound. In the
event of a natural nose bleed, the Referee may allow up to 3 minutes for
the player to recover. The player may concede a maximum of one game to
obtain a further one minute ( 2 minutes if 2-all ) and if unable to
continue shall concede.
(e) In the event of a ball breaking, a new ball may be warmed, as provided
for in rule 15(b).
In allowing for a player to receive attention and recover, the Referee
should ensure that there is no conflict with the obligations of a player
to comply with rule 16(b). "Contributed to by the opponent" should not
include the situation where the injury to the player results from that
player occupying an unnecessarily close position to his opponent.
The practice of serving faults deliberately in order to obtain an
additional period of rest is contrary to the spirit of the game and rule
16(b). When the Referee is satisfied that a player is doing so, he shall,
after warning, in terms of rule 16(b), award the game to the opponent.
- CONTROL OF A MATCH
A match is normally controlled by a Referee, assisted by a Marker. One
person may be appointed to carry out the functions of both Referee and
Marker. When a decision has been made by a Referee, he/she shall announce
it to the players and the Marker shall repeat it with the subsequent
Up to half an hour before the commencement of a match, either player may
request a Referee and/or a Marker other than appointed, and this request
may be considered and a substitute appointed. Players are not permitted to
request any such change after the commencement of a match, unless both
agree to do so. In either case the decision as to whether an official is
to be replaced or not must remain in the hands of the Tournament Referee,
where applicable. [top]
- DUTIES OF THE MARKER
(a) The Marker calls the play and the score, with the Server's score
first. The Marker shall call "fault", "foot-fault", "not up"' "out" or
"down" as appropriate.
(b) If in the course of play the Marker calls "not-up", "out", or "down"
or in the case of a second service, "fault" or "foot-fault", then the
rally shall cease.
(c) If the Marker's decision is reversed on appeal, a Let shall be
allowed, except as provided for in rules 11(b)(iii) and (iv) and 19(b)(iv)
(d) Any service or return shall be considered good unless otherwise
(e) After the Server has served a fault, which has not been taken, the
Marker shall repeat the score and add the words "one fault", before the
Server serves again. This call shall be repeated should subsequent rallies
end in a Let, until the stroke is finally decided.
(f) When no Referee is appointed, the Marker shall exercise all the powers
of the Referee.
(g) If the Marker is unsighted or uncertain, the Referee shall be called
upon to make the relevant decision; if the latter is unable to do so, a
Let shall be allowed. [top]
- DUTIES OF THE
(a) The Referee shall award Lets and Strokes and make decisions where
called for by the rules, and shall decide all appeals, including those
against the Marker's calls and decisions. The decision of the Referee
shall be final.
(b) The Referee shall in no way intervene in the Marker's calling except:
(i) Upon appeal by one of the players.
(ii) As provided for in rule 12.
(iii) When it is evident that the score has been incorrectly called, in
which case he should draw the Marker's attention to the fact.
(iv) When the Marker has failed to call the ball "not up",
"out" or "down" and, on appeal, the Referee rules that such was in fact
the case, the stroke should be awarded accordingly.
(v) When the Marker has called "not up", "out" or "down" and, on appeal,
the Referee rules that this was not the case, a Let shall be allowed
except that, if in the Referee's opinion, the Marker's call had
interrupted an undoubted winning return, the Referee shall award the
(vi) In exceptional circumstances when the Referee is absolutely convinced
that the Marker has made an obvious error in stopping play or allowing
play to continue, the Referee shall immediately rule accordingly.
(c) The Referee is responsible that all times laid down in the rules are
strictly adhered to.
(d) In exceptional cases, the Referee may order:
(i) A player, who has left the court, to play on.
(ii) A player to leave the court and to award the match to the opponent.
(iii) A match to be awarded to a player whose opponent fails to be present
on court within ten minutes of the advertised time of play.
(iv) Play to be stopped in order to warn that the conduct of one or both
of the players is leading to an infringement of the rules. A Referee
should avail himself / herself of this rule as early as possible when
either player is showing a tendency to break the provisions of rule 12.
(e) If after warning, a player continues to contravene rule 15(c), the
Referee shall award a game to the opponent.
- RULES FOR DOUBLES
The RULES of DOUBLES are the same as for the SINGLES game with the following
Sides shall consist of two players each.
Each side shall nominate its SERVER for the whole of a particular game, in
any match, with the alternative player serving in the second and, if played,
the fourth game. In the final game (3rd or 5th) when the first side's score
reaches "seven", the server shall change, with each team.
RETURN OF SERVICE & SUBSEQUENT PLAY:
At the beginning of each game, each side shall designate one of its players
to receive service in the right-hand service court and the other to receive
service in the left-hand service court. Throughout the course of such game,
the service must be received by the players so designated.
Only the Receiver may be positioned in the service court opposite the
Server's service court, at the point of impact of the service.
Until the ball has been touched or has hit the floor twice, it may be struck
at any number of times by either or both players on a side, in rotation.
(N.B. The order of striking shall be : The Server, the Receiver, followed by
the Server's partner, followed by the Receiver's partner).
If either player on the striking side is inadvertently hindered by either of
his/her opponents from reaching or striking at the ball, a let shall be
Note to Referees: Under rule 12c, where interference has occurred and the
player has made every effort to avoid causing it, a let shall be allowed and
the Referee shall not consider whether a winning stroke has been prevented.
This shall not affect the Referee's duties in awarding strokes , as
otherwise required in Rule 12 of the "Singles Game".
At the request of either side, the referee shall allow to either side or to
the two sides together, a period of five minutes, immediately prior to the
start of the match for the purpose of a warm-up. The right to warm-up first
shall be decided by the spin of a racket or coin.
NOTES ON LETS & STROKES ---- DOUBLES:
If either player on the striking side is inadvertently hindered by either of
his/her opponents from reaching or striking the ball, a LET shall be
If, in the opinion of the Referee, interference to the striker is
unnecessary or created, he/she shall stop play and award a STROKE to the
Unnecessary CROWDING shall also be penalised by a STROKE. If the ball, after
being struck from a good service or a good return and before reaching the
front wall, hits one of the striker's opponents or his/her racket or
anything he/she wears or carries, it shall be a LET if the ball strikes the
front wall fairly or would have done so but for such interference but if the
return would not have been good, the striker's side shall lose the point.
When a fairly struck ball hits the striker's PARTNER, it is a point to the
other side. [top]