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Racquetball Terminology and Vocabulary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Ace – a serve that isn’t returned; results in a point for the server.

Alley – the area along the court’s side walls, a Down the Line shot is targeted along this lane.

Appeal – the process allowed in official tournament play through which a player may challenge the ruling of a Line Judge.

Around-the-Wall Shot – a hard to return shot which travels from one side wall to the front wall, then the other side wall, before reaching the ground.

Avoidable Hinder – a preventable and sometimes intentional movement to prevent an opponent from returning the ball, results in a loss of rally for the offending player:

Failure to Move – a player does not move away from the ball’s path in order to give his or her opponent the opportunity to return a shot cross court or down the line.

Stroke Interference – a player moves or does not move in a way that prevents the opponent from taking a full swing when attempting to return the ball.

Moving into the Ball – stepping into the path of a ball being returned, preventing it from reaching its target..

Backhand – an essential stroke form beginning at the opposite side of the body from the racquet hand with the arm extended across the torso.

Back Court – the area of the court between the Short Line and the back wall.

Back Wall – the wall 40 ft from and running parallel to the Front Wall which players face away from during the serve; generally shots which intentionally reach or come close to the back wall are Defensive Shots.

Bottom Board – the lowest point on the Front Wall;  shots landing here are often unreturnable. See Rollout.

Bye – a guaranteed pass into the next round of a tournament, usually awarded to the top ranked players to allow them to bypass the first round without having to play a game.

Ceiling Shot – when the ball hits the ceiling before it hits the front wall, it then hits the floor and takes a high bounce into the back court; generally a defensive shot used by highly skilled players to move their opponents from the safety of the Center Court position.

Center Court – the most desirable position to hold on court, midway between the side walls and just behind the Five Foot Line.

Cross-Court Pass – a shot passing the opponent on the way from one side of the court to the other.

Cut-Throat – a racquetball variant for three players in which two players team up against the server, with players alternating at the server position.

Dead Ball – the ball at the end of a Rally; no longer playable until it is served again

Defensive Shot – a strategic shot intended to force an opponent out of his or her position at Center Court and into a more far-flung place such as a back court corner and perhaps set up a scoring opportunity on a later shot.

Donut – a shutout game in which one player loses without scoring for a final score of 15-0 (the zero sort of resembles a donut).

Doubles – a game for four players divided into two teams of two.

Down the Line – a shot near a side wall that hits the front wall and bounces straight back parallel along the same wall.

Draw – the positioning of players in a tournament bracket, also known as seeding.

Drive – an aggressively hit, fast moving ball.

Drive Serve – a hard and low serve, usually an attempt to get an Ace.

Drive service zone – line in the service area one on each end three feet from the side wall on each side designating areas restricted from entering when hitting a Drive Serve.

Eyeguards – safety equipment required as protection for the eyes in all racquetball play.

Fault – an illegal maneuver or violation committed when serving; two consecutive faults result in a loss of serve.

Short Serve – the ball lands on or in front of the Short Line.

Long Serve – ball strikes the Back Wall before hitting the ground.

Three Wall Serve – the ball strikes the Front Wall and both side walls before hitting the floor.

Foot Fault – the server steps over the line during the serve.

Out of Court Serve – ball bounces off the front wall and leaves the court area before bouncing off the floor.

Screen Serve – a served ball that rebounds so close to the server that is or her opponent is prevented from a fair chance at returning the serve.

Five-foot Line – a dotted or striped line, often red, running parallel to the Short Line, five feet closer to the back wall; AKA Receiving Line.

Foot Fault – a violation that occurs during the serve, when one of the server’s feet (or the foot of his or her partner in Doubles) steps outside of the Service Zone before the served ball bounces.

Forehand – an essential stroke that moves from the racquet hand side across the body, the most common shot.

Forfeit – conceding a game to an opponent,  whether voluntarily or involuntarily due to absence.

Front Court – the area of the court between the Front Wall and the Short Line.

Front Wall – the main playing wall directly in front of the service box,  all rally shots and serves must hit the front wall.

Garbage Serve – a slow Half-Lob serve intended to land in a Back Court corner.

Grip – the manner in which the hand holds the racquet.

Half-Lob – a 10 ft high and slow moving serve intended to bounce just before the Five-foot line and rebound at the height of the opponent’s shoulder.

Half-Out – in Doubles, when the first server loses the serve, one half of the Side-Out.

Hand-Out – See Half-Out.

High Lob Z – a  slow-moving 15 to 18 ft high serve to the Front Wall near to a side wall which rebounds in a  Z-shaped pattern.

Hinder – a situation that requires a replay because of interference or obstructed view; several situations result in a hinder call:

Court Hinder – called when the ball rebounds off an irregular or rough court surface, segments of the court may be designated as hinders.

Ball Hits Opponent – a return attempt hits the opponent before it hits the front wall, this is not considered a hinder if the ball,  prior to hitting the opponent,  does not appear to have the needed force or direction to reach the front wall.

Body Contact with Opponent – contact between the two players that prevents a return,  incidental contact which has no effect on either player’s ability to return the ball is not ruled a hinder.

Jam Serve – a hard and fast serve aimed at an opponent to force him or her to move.

Killshot – an aggressive offensive shot,  it is intended to hit the front wall at a point low enough to prevent any chance of a return.

Line Judge – the two officials on the sidelines in charge of ruling on the appeals made to the referee;  if both line judges agree,  they can overturn a referee’s call.

Lob Serve – A softly hit serve that rebounds high along the sidewall and heads slowly into a rear corner,  it is often used as a second serve.

Long Serve – See Fault.

Match – in amateur competition, a match is decided by the best of three 15 pt games (11 pt tie-break),  in the pros the match is decided by the best of five 11 pt games.

Match Point – the serving player or team needs to score only once more in order to win the match.

Midcourt – the area consisting of the Service Box and the Safety Zone which is between the Service Line and Receiving Line.

Novice – a player new to the game of racquetball.

Offensive shot – an aggressive shot meant to score.

Out of Court Ball – a ball outside of the court’s boundaries.

Out Serve – a rules violation during the serve which immediately results in a loss of service or, in doubles, a Half-Out, these violations are:

Two Consecutive Faults – See Fault.

Missed Serve Attempt – a failed serve in which the swung racket completely misses the ball , the ball can, however be picked up by hand before the serve without a penalty.

Touched Serve – A rebounding serve makes contact with the server.

Fake Serve – an attempt to trick the opponent by pretending to serve, such as starting the swinging motion and then catching the ball before making contact;  this is only an Out Serve if the referee rules it intentional.

Illegal Hit – hitting the ball more than once, carrying the ball with the racket, hitting the ball with the racket handle, the hand or anything other than the racket face.

Non-Front-Wall Serve – a serve striking any surface before hitting the Front Wall.

Crotch Serve – A serve hitting exactly the corner of the front wall, simultaneously striking the front wall and a side wall.

Out of Court Serve – a serve which hits the Front Wall and then rebounds outside of the court’s boundaries.

Safety Zone Violation – when the server enters the Safety Zone before the ball strikes the court behind the Short Line.

Overhead – a shot hit from above the shoulder, hard and fast in a downward direction toward the front wall.

Pass Shot –a shot hit near the side wall — it can be struck Down the Line or Cross Court – and should be outside of the reach of an opponent.

Pinch Shot – a hard and low shot aimed at a front corner,  striking the side wall before the front wall.

Penalty Hinder – See Avoidable Hinder.

Plum – a set up opportunity for a great Offensive Shot,  usually a shot which can be hit at knee level or lower.

Rally – an alternating series of shots that continues from the serve until a point is scored or a Side Out is achieved.

Ranking – a categorizing of players’ ability levels,  often based on their placing in tournaments.

Rating – an evaluation of players’ ability levels,  based on their success versus local opponents.

Receiver – the player waiting for the server to hit the ball.

Receiving Line – the dotted line running parallel to and five feet behind the Short Line,  running parallel to and 15 feet in front of the back wall.

Referee – the head officiator in charge of making decisions about rules.

Reverse Pinch Shot – a hard and low Offensive Shot which bounces from a sidewall to the corner opposite the hitter’s racquet hand.

Rollout – A perfect shot that hits the front wall at the Bottom Board so close to the floor that it rebounds without a bounce by rolling back into the court;  virtually impossible to retrieve.

Safety Hinder – a halt in play caused by a situation that could lead to injury from the racket or the ball;  the Rally is replayed.

Safety Zone – the region of the court between the Short Line and Receiving Line;  the Receiver is restricted from entering this area during the serve.

Safety Zone Violation – entering the Safety Zone before the served ball bounces.

Screen – a rebounding ball that comes too close to the now defender,  preventing the opponent from a fair chance to return the ball either because of limited physical space or visibility,  this can be a Fault serve.

Serve – initial shot that begins play at the game’s beginning and after each Rally;  a legal serve must be hit from inside the Service Zone and rebound off the Front Wall and then hit the floor behind the Short Line.  See Fault.

Server – the player hitting the serve;  the only player who can score.

Service Box – the box at each end of the court,  parallel to the side wall and in between the Service Line and the Short Line;  in Doubles the server’s partner must stand in this box until the served ball crosses the Short Line.

Service Line – the line parallel to the Front Wall 15 feet back, all serves must be hit from behind this line.

Service Return – The shot used to return the ball after the serve.

Service Zone – the area of the court between the Short Line and the Service Line.

Set Up – a shot placing the ball in a great position for an aggressive Offensive Shot;  often a Killshot;  AKA Plum shot.

Short Serve – See Fault.

Short Hop – a shot returned quickly,  just after the ball hits the ground – a low fast shot that takes skill to execute and is hard to return.

Short Line – the line midway between and parallel to the front and back walls;  a served ball must cross the Short Line before the server steps out of the serving zone, or the serve is a Fault.

Side-Out – losing the opportunity to serve the ball,  and thus to score.

Singles – the standard game format, two players against each other.

Skip Ball – a too-low shot that hits the floor before it reaches the front wall.

Splat – An offensive shot hit from close to the side wall directly into the side wall at high speed, which then caroms at a sharp angle into the front wall at the Bottom Board.

Wallbanger – slang for a squash or racquetball player.

Wallpaper Shot – a Down the Line shot that rebounds straight and sliding along a side wall, very difficult to return.

Z ball – a shot rebounding off the front wall,  then hitting both side walls in a sort of “Z” shaped pattern.

Z  serve – a serve that rebounds off the front wall,  then hits the side wall, followed by the floor,  and then the other side wall near the back wall.

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