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Some Common Racquetball Rule Questions and Answers

What's the Rule on the Dotted Line / Safety Zone?

Basically, you have to think of the dotted line as a force can't break the force field while its on...the only way the force field gets turned off is when one of two events take place. Event number one occurs when the served ball bounces on the floor before the dotted soon as the ball hits the floor the force field comes down. You can't anticipate the force field coming down and enter early...if you broke the plane and thus are guilty of an infraction and you lose the point. Once the field is down you can cross the dotted line with both feet and swing.

The other time the force field drops is when the ball passes through the field coming off the front wall in the air on a serve. Once again you cannot anticipate the ball coming through must actually pass through the plane of the dotted line for the force field to come down.

If a player tries to contact the ball and the force field is up…it’s a point.

One more note…if the server or serving team enter the safety zone before the ball passes the short line…they are guilty of violating the zone also and it’s a side out.

When is it a Screen Serve?

The ball must do one of two things (not necessarily both) for a server to be guilty of a screen serve. A screen serve is a fault. In the case of a 1 serve game (Open/Pro Levels) the server is given one more opportunity to put the ball in play.

The screen serve line is 3 feet away from the side wall inside the service zone. If any part of your body or racquet breaks the plane created by this line during any part of your service motion and you serve a hard drive serve to that side of the court…it’s an automatic screen serve.

This infraction occurs by many players who use a walking service motion…You can’t start the service motion with your feet or butt breaking that plane and then start walking across the service box and hit a drive serve behind you.

The other instance of a screen serve is a served ball that passes within a certain distance of the server’s body. While the distance is not defined…it is usually agreed that a racquet length (22”) is a good measure of the minimum required distance.

You'll notice there is no mention in either instance of the receiver’s ability to actually see the served ball. Just because a receiver doesn’t see the ball does not make it a screen. If the server does not break the plane and the ball doesn’t pass close to the server as it passes through the service zone, it is the receiver’s responsibility to move to be able to see the ball. His movement or lack there of, that results in him not seeing the ball is not a right to a screen serve call if the before mentioned infractions do not also occur.

Footnote #1…in general you can’t call a screen on a Z-Serve…the receiver always sees the ball enough with all the angles involved.

Footnote#2…You can break the screen line plane and hit a lob serve…in general…something higher than your height.

Footnote#3…When a serve passes close to a server but the receiver sees the ball and elects to play the ball…he has the right to do so. A referee should allow the receiver to make this call. The server made the mistake and the receiver should not have an obvious setup advantage taken away. However, once a player takes the shot they no longer have the right to call a screen serve. A player who wants a screen call should raise his hand immediately and continue to play the ball in this case. Once a referee sees the hand up and he agrees that it was a screen serve…the referee should stop play and make the screen call.

The Blast Rule

Q: What if the ball is hit so hard off the front wall that it comes off the back wall…all in the air…then bounces once and hits the front wall? Can I play it?

A: Yes, you can play it…the front wall is just another wall…the key issue is that the ball must bounce twice for a rally to be over. The ball described in the question only hits the floor and bounces once. The front wall turns into just another surface. The good news is if you can run this ball down…it’s an easy setup!v

Q: I was playing a much younger and taller opponent in a league match last week and he hit the ball into the front wall so hard and high that it carried to the front wall without touching the floor. Once it rebounded and bounced once it was a easy kill, however my opponent claimed it was his point/sideout. Who is right on this one?

A: The ball is never hit the floor twice which is the only way (other than hitting a player) that ends the rally. The front wall is just another wall when this blast shot occurs... it's all about the bounces. If the blast rule resulted in a point by simply hitting the front wall off the back wall don't you think every pro would make this his rally ending shot? doesn't happen.... because as you say look how easy it is to kill the ball the second time off the front wall.

Some Hinder Questions and Answers

Q: Ball bounces off back wall and now defensive player has moved against the side wall to avoid a hinder but is basically pinned in position by the offensive play as he moves to play the ball. Ball hits defensive player without the offense calling a hinder. Offensive player was in position to hit the ball but chose not to. What is the call? Is it a point or side out if the defense is hit by the ball but could not have moved without contact with the opposing player?

A: In 90% of the cases I would say without a doubt it's a point for Team was the players fault for getting penned you can't reward him with a replay....aka Hinder call. There are two other calls that may arise out of this all dealing with the timing of the situation. The first may be a hinder....lets say the ball is coming to player B and he has player A penned in...but he holds up his shot before it hits player A. This is the tough have to get inside the head of player B to make the right call. If he did not swing because of a safety concern...the hinder occurred before the ball hit Player A...thus a Hinder. If he didn't swing because he knew it would hit the player...then it's a point. However, if player A dodges the ball at the last minute...player B can't then call a hinder. Player B may be entitled to an Avoidable hinder...and this is usually the correct call..especially if it was an offensive opportunity and he holds up...then it wouldn't matter if after he holds up it hits player A...both situation result in a point for player B. The tough call is when it's not an avoidable as described above.

Q: What is the proper response when you hit the ball off the front wall and hits your opponent. Should this be a point or a hinder? We have been playing it as a point. In some instances during doubles and you play a short touch shot that goes slightly long and one of your opponents get to the ball and hit it into off the wall you as you try to retreat to good court position. Hinder or point?

A: Point

Q: This is problem that I have been having of late with my opponent: He calls a screen because he has selected a poor position and in essence puts himself out of the play. Here's the background: We play highly spirited doubles with a twist; we pair an A/B player with a C/D player. The A/B player has to do a LOT of running around as the C/D player in our case is over 65 and not terribly spry. (I've often commented that it fells like playing Iron-Man against 3 players.) The A/B player takes 80-90 percent of all the shots and literally runs up-and-down court the entire match. Here's the situation. Given the hectic pace of the game for the A/B player, positioning is critical. My A/B opponent frequently misreads the way that I am going to shot and thus positions himself very poorly. This results in a lot of screen calls. The latest was particularly annoying: Standing 6 feet from the left wall on the back service line, I flicked the ball for a left side passing shot. My feet never moved. The ball passed me about a foot off the floor and about a foot from the wall. My A/B opponent was standing directly behind me heading to the right side of the court. When the ball passed the other way he called a hinder/screen saying "I couldn't see the ball because you were in the way". Since I have no control over his placement is this a hinder/screen?

A: An opponent can not call a screen based on poor positioning or going the wrong way unless he could have recovered and actually retunred the ball if you ceased to exist on the court. If your opponent commits to cover a shot that takes him out of position and you hit a different shot...the first rule of thumb for him to get to a replay is not how close the ball passes to you...but could he have even returned the ball at all based on the new position or direction he choose to move. He can not go back in time before he started moving to cover your shot and thus assume he was back in his original position where he may have had the right to a screen or hinder. That is usually where the faulty logic comes in...if they had not commited to covering a shot and thus moved to a new position, their old position may have yeilded the call they now want...but they can't have it both ways.

Key to Pat's Articles

Lesson Practice
Rules/Equipment Information

Pat's Articles/Tips
Short Description
Sept 12
Rule on the Safe Zone (dashed line)
July 12
Where you can Stand Serving in Doubles
May 12
Losing to Players that look like you should beat
Apr 12
Who makes a short server call
Mar 12
Being outmatched in a tournament
Jan 11
The Finale of the 2011 Christmas Saga
Dec 11
Santa Lacks Mental Toughness
Dec 11
Jolly Green Giant Trains for Racquetball
Oct 11
Controlling the Court in Doubles with your serve
Aug 11
How to determine if it was a screen serve. Flow Chart
July 11
Play Forever but don't get any Better
June 11
New Doubles Serving Rules
Aug 11
How to Beat a more Skilled Player
Feb 11
Jan 11
Jolly Green Giant vs. Santa Finale
Dec 10
Jolly Green Giant vs. Santa 3 part tip (part 3)
Dec 10
Jolly Green Giant vs. Santa 3 part tip (part 2)
Dec 10
Jolly Green Giant vs. Santa 3 part tip (part 1)
Sept 10
Why an Old Racquet Stops Performing as well as it use to
May 10
How to Deal with Big Guys that won't Move out of the Way
April 10
The Use of Angles when Hitting the Ball
Feb 10
Being able to Articulate your Shot Selections while on the Court
Jan 10
How to Deal with Plantar Fasciitis
Dec 09
Players at Different Levels Playing Together
Nov 09
The Importance of Starting to Play Racquetball when you are Young
Aug 09
Getting in Shape for the Racquetball Season
June 09
Questions and Answers About Hinders
June 09
Questions and Answers About Hinders
May 09
The Importance of not Being Predictable
April 09
All about Racquetball Colors
Mar 09
How to Hit the Ceiling Ball
Feb 09
How to Save Money for Racquetball Equipment in a Bad Economy
Jan 09
The Racquetball Equipment Pat uses and Why
Dec 08
The Payoff of Practicing the Everday Shots
Nov 08
The Importance of Identifying your Opponents Weaknesses
Oct 08
Tips for Older Players vs. Younger Players
Aug 08
How to use the Backwall to your Advantage
May 08
The Best Way to Warm Up with Line Drive Shots
April 08
Learning About your Opponents from Watching them from Outside the Court
Mar 08
How to Overcome the Jam Strategy
Feb 08
The Importance of not Allowing 2 Bounces off the Back Wall
Jan 08
Playing Opponents with Different Body Types
Dec 07
The Forehand and Backhand Grips
Nov 07
How and Where to Position Yourself
Oct 07
Doubles Serves to the Forehand Side
Oct 07
Doubles Serves to the Backhand Side
Sept 07
How Players of Various Skill Levels can Play Together
Aug 07
Getting Back in Shape for the Racquetball Season
July 07
All about Racquetball Racquet Stringing
July 07
Why do I Play Better Against Better Players and Worse Against Lower Level Players
June 07
Playing Together on a Doubles Team
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