Over the last few months my husband and I have been regulars at the racquetball court in our local gym.  We have fallen in love with competing against each other on the court.  My favorite part is that for an hour of playing and having fun, I burn close to 800 calories!  This is the equivalent of a meal and a snack throughout my day! Playing racquetball has really helped me burn down the last few pounds I wanted to lose.  You know those last 5 lbs that WILL NOT GO?  It takes more effort for me to stay on a treadmill for an hour than it has ever taken for me to play a game of racquetball and in an hour I burn about 4 times as many calories.  So why isn't everyone playing racquetball???  Maybe they don't know? May they are self conscious of the glass viewing wall?

If you'd like to broaden your exercise horizons and introduce a lot of fun into you're routine, grab a racquet from Walmart for about $15 and a few balls for about $5.  You'll also probably be required to wear eye glasses since your eyes can be very damaged if the ball comes in contact with them and most gyms require you wear them anyway.  They are about $15.  So for about $35 you can get started playing.  Of course you need to locate a racquetball court.  And don't worry about people watching you play through the back glass, they are probably like we were (and others have been with us).  They just have a pulling desire to give it a try and are watching you to try to figure some things out.  The other option is they may have the court reserved and are just waiting for you to leave, but first things first. :)  So what is racquetball?

Racquetball is a sport played with 22 inch long racquets and a hollow rubber ball. It is usually played indoors on a 20 x 40 x 20 feet high court box shaped court (ceiling included).  Racquetball can be played outdoors as well on various types of court including 1-wall, 3-wall and 4-wall.  Unlike most other racquet sports, the use of all 4 walls and even the ceiling is legal within the context of the rules.  The game is typically played one on one (singles) but has other variations. Two on two (doubles) is also a very popular form of racquetball, as well as Iron-Man (two versus one), Cut-Throat (each of the three players takes turns serving to the other two), and In-And-Out which is singles with three people on the court (one person is not in the rally but rotates in for the person who lost the previous rally).  Since its inception in the mid 20th century the technology behind racquetball has changed drastically. Initially the racquets were very small and made from wood. Players couldn’t generate the amount of power they do today and as a result different strategies were used.  Today’s lightning fast game is a polar opposite of the way the game was played even as recent as the 1980s. With the technological advances in the racquet frames, the ball and the strings some professional players can hit the ball very close to 200 mph. That will leave your ears reverberating!  This makes for extremely exciting game play and a treat for people to view.  The game of racquetball can be extremely intense and an excellent form of exercise. Competitive players are estimated to burn in excess of 800 calories per hour depending on their weight and other factors. While burning this many calories players often find themselves sweating profusely and many people find it necessary to wear a headband or bandana to keep the sweat from forming around their eye-protection.  And don't forget about the hollow rubber ball you'll need to play.  They come in many different colors and name brands which affect the bounce and playability of the ball.  Try out a few to see which one is right for you.

RULES OF THE GAME:


Play begins with the serve. The serving player must bounce the ball on the floor once and hit it directly to the front wall, making the ball hit the floor beyond the short line; otherwise the serve counts as a fault.[9] The ball may touch one side wall, but not two, prior to hitting the floor; hitting both side walls after the front wall (but before the floor) is a "three wall serve," and a fault. Also, serving the ball into the front wall so that it rebounds to the back wall without hitting the floor first is a long serve, and a fault.

Other fault serves include a ceiling serve in which the ball touches the ceiling after the front wall and serving before the receiving player is ready. Also, the server must wait until the ball passes the short line before stepping out of the service box, otherwise it is a fault serve.

If the server hits the ball directly to any surface other than the front wall the server immediately loses serve regardless of whether it was first or second serve.

After the ball bounces behind the short line, or passes the receiving line, the ball is in play and the opposing player(s) may play it.  Usually, the server is allowed two opportunities (called first serve and second serve) to put the ball into play (two serve rule), although elite level competitions often allow the server only one opportunity (one serve rule).

After a successful serve, players alternate hitting the ball against the front wall. The player returning the hit may allow the ball to bounce once on the floor or hit the ball on the fly. However, once the player returning the shot has hit the ball, either before bouncing on the floor or after one bounce, it must strike the front wall. Unlike during the serve, a ball in play may touch as many walls, including the ceiling, as necessary so long as it reaches the front wall without striking the floor.
Hinders

Due to the nature of the game, players often occupy the space their opponent(s) want(s) to occupy. This may result in a player blocking his opponent's ability to play the ball. Such occurrences are termed either hinders or penalty hinders. A hinder is a replay of the current rally, while a penalty hinder results in the player who caused the avoidable obstruction to lose the rally. A type of hinder is a screen in which the player is unable to see the ball prior to it passing the opponent.

The difference between a hinder and a penalty hinder (or formerly an avoidable hinder) is that in the latter case a player has missed out on a clear opportunity to make a rally-winning shot due to the obstruction by the player's opponent, while in the former case the opportunity missed would not clearly have led to a winning shot. This difference is almost always a judgment call by the referee (if available).

There is also a "court" hinder in which some part of the playing field caused the ball to bounce untrue. Often this is the door frame or (recessed) handle or a flaw in the floor or walls. In this case, the rally is a re-serve.
Scoring

BASIC SCORING:

Points can only be scored by the serving player or serving team in a doubles game, and points are the result of winning a rally that began with a successful serve.

During play, a player loses the rally if any one of the following occurs:

    The ball bounces on the floor more than once before being struck.
    The ball does not reach the front wall on the fly.
    The ball flies into the spectator's gallery or wall opening or strikes an out-of-bounds surface above court
    A slow ball strikes another player without the estimated speed and/or direction to strike the front wall.
    A ball struck by a player hits that player or that player's partner.
    A penalized hindrance
    Switching racquet hands during a rally.
    Touching the ball with either the body or uniform.
    Carrying or slinging the ball with the racquet.

First player to 15 points wins the rally!

GAME VARIATIONS

Racquetball games can be played with two, three or four players, with doubles or singles matches being most common. Two player games are called singles or "one-up" (1 vs. 1 for the entire game), while four player games are doubles with two pairs playing against each other (2 vs. 2 for the entire game). Tournament competitions have divisions for singles or doubles or both.

Three-player games are most commonly called "Cut-throat" and sometimes "Iron man" (2-on-1 for the entire game) where each player takes turns serving to the other two, who play as a team against the serving player. Another 3 player game is "California," "In-and-Out," or "King of the Court" where play is 1 vs. 1 with the third player remaining in the back court out of play while the other two play a rally; the rally winner then serves to the player who was sitting out, and the rally loser stays out of play. Another 3 player variation is "Sevens" in which one player plays against two players as a team, with the game being played to 7 points; if the two player team gets to 7 first, the game is over, but if the solo player gets to 7 first then the game continues to 14; if the solo player again reaches 14 first, then the game continues to 21, where the game ends regardless of whether the solo player or the two player team reach 21 first.

So get yourself some gear and start enjoying burning those calories!