Supporting and promoting international sport worldwide

Spotlight on Racquetball

A racquet sport that is rapidly growing in popularity all around the world, is Racquetball. The sport takes aspects from many other racquet sports, with squash being the nearest. The racquet is taken from a paddleball with strings added to provide greater control and velocity for the player. The ball is hollow and made from rubber and the game can be played on an indoor and outdoor court. Unlike sports like tennis, badminton and table tennis, there is no net to hit the ball over, and unlike squash, no out of bounds area at the bottom of the of the front wall. Apart from some designated areas, the floor, walls and ceiling are all legal playing surfaces in an indoor court. The sport is also very similar to American Handball and Squash 57. The latter was called racketball until 2016 and is also known by the name 57.   

Joseph Sobek, born in 1918 in Greenwich, Connecticut, and who later became a professional tennis and American handball player, is credited with the invention of racquetball. However, it was initially named paddle rackets. He looked to establish a fast-paced game that closely resembled the rules of squash, paddleball and handball. He also devised the first strung paddle. It was in 1952 that Sobek founded the National Paddle Rackets Association. The rules were also written and printed to be distributed as a booklet. After a rapid growth in popularity, the International Racquetball Association was established seventeen years later with the help of Robert Kendler, the president-founder of the U.S. Handball Association. Today the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) governs the World Racquetball Championships, with the first held in 1981. The sport also features as part of the World Games. IRF was formed in 1979 with the sport now featuring in over 70 nations. Racquetball received IOC recognition in 1985.  

In addition to the World Championships, there are also three World Tours. These are the International Racquetball Tour, the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour, and the World Racquetball Tour. A standard racquetball court is 40 metres by 20 metres, with the height being 20 metres. There is a service box formed by two short lines. One runs across the width of the court parallel to the front and back walls at 20 feet, while the second runs parallel to the short line and is 15 feet from the front wall. Apart from the racquet and ball, players often wear gloves like in golf. Protective eyewear is also another aspect of the sport that has become compulsory. With a relatively low-cost to participate, racquetball is becoming one of the fastest growing sports in the world. 

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