May 182013
 
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The Racquetball Screen Serve FAQ

What exactly does the rule say?
Rule 3.9 (h) Fault Serves Screen Serve – “A served ball that first hits the front wall and on the rebound passes so closely to the server, or server’s partner in doubles, that it prevents the receiver from having a clear view of the ball. The receiver is obligated to take up good court position, near center court, to obtain that view.”

When Does a Screen Serve Occur?
Screen serves normally occur during fast serves, since slower serves allow the receiver a view and time to see where the ball is moving. With rare exceptions, screen serves may also occur after hitting a side wall.

Who Makes a Screen Serve Call?
Only the “receiver” (or referee) may call a screen serve. The receiver, or referee, may make a slow or no call if the serve becomes playable off the back wall. The receiver may not play a serve, then because of a poor return shot, ask for a “screen serve” call.

The Ball Must Be How Far Away From the Server?
There is no designated distance the ball must pass the server by, since it is difficult to measure while playing.

What Determines a Screen Serve?
The server is allowed to hide the ball from the receiver during contact to and from the front wall. But the ball must be in clear view to the receiver as the ball passes next to the server inside the service zone. Good serves are sometimes hit so fast that the receiver may not have time to react and argue for a screen call. Situations may be resolved by determining the path of the ball between the front and the back wall in relation to the server’s position.

How Does One Make a Screen Serve Call?
The receiver should “signal” by raising their non racquet hand above their head during the
serve return, but still attempt a return, if possible, unless they believe they may hit the opponent.The signal tells the server (referee) that you will be requesting a screen serve, or any other service rule call like a foot fault, short or long serve. Screen serves are faults.

good serveGood Serve (Fig 1) This serve is from the center area and away from the server. It could be a screen serve if ball path was closer to the server and further from the side back wall corner. Figure 2 shows the same player positions with the serve passing too close to the server.
possible screen serveScreen Serve (Fig 2) This ball passes too close to the server. Only the receiver may call a screen serve. The receiver may play the serve, especially if the serve is playable after rebounding off of the back wall. The receiver is not allowed to play a serve, then wait to see if they hit a good shot before calling a Screen Serve.
screen serveScreen Serve (Fig 3) Server is left of center court. The red shade shows possible screen serve area. Notice that the ball is hit from the center of the court while the server is positioned just left of center court. This explains the greater chance for a screen to occur at the left side.
screen serveScreen Serve (Fig 4) The server is in center court. The serve is actually hit just right of center court. Red shade shows possible screen serves. The angle of the ball will likely pass closer to the server on the left side, since the ball was hit slightly right of center court.
screen serveScreen Serve (Fig 5) Server is at left side of court. Any serve to the left side that does not go directly to the left back corner will be a screen serve. Any serve hit to the right of the server’s body will not be a screen serve, but could result in a Penalty Hinder (side-out) if the server is blocking a straight-in or cross court return by the receiver.
screen serveScreen Serve (fig 6) Server is at right side of court. Any serve to the right side that does not go directly to the right back corner will be a screen serve. Because the serve is hit at the right side of the server’s body, the angle is slightly different from what occurs in Figure 4 above. This slight angle increase will occur when a right-handed server positions right of center
and serves left.
serve violationScreen Serve (Fig 7) Server is at left side wall and must serve to the right side. Server is violating Drive Serve Zone and may not serve a drive serve down the left side wall.
screen serveScreen Serve (Fig 8) Server is at right side wall and must serve to the left side. Server is violating Drive Serve Zone and may not serve a drive serve down the right side wall.

Special thanks to WEB Racquetball for the screen serve diagrams.

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  11 Responses to “The Racquetball Screen Serve Illustrated”

  1. What about Z drive serves from the center of the service box? I played a guy who who was right-handed and would hit a low z drive serve to the right front corner.

    • Z serves are not considered to be screen serves. Even thought the ball comes close to the server on a Z serve, it does not prevent the receiver from having a clear view of the ball as it travels to the back of the court.

      • What if after the z serve is hit the server steps to the left, leaving you to only see the ball re appear as it is bouncing to the back corner? ie you never see the ball hit the front or side wall from a center court position?

        • A reverse z-serve could do this (a right-handed player hitting a z-serve into the front left corner while standing on far left side of service box), but this does not make it a screen serve. Once the ball is passing inside the serving zone, it should be visible to the receiver as it goes in front of the server.

          Otherwise, I am not aware of any z-serve that can be hit into a front corner and not be seen by the receiver.

  2. I started a conversation about z-serve screens on 40by20, a racquetball forum, and many of us came to a different conclusion. If a right handed player is standing in the service box about 5 feet from left wall and he hits a hard drive z into the left corner, the ball will pass in front of and very close to the server after hitting the front side wall. Sometimes, the server has to dance to prevent himself from hitting the ball. If the receiver is in good position (center court and 3 feet from the back wall), the ball will be obstructed. I have seen this a number of times while playing a guy who likes to use this serve. Otto Dietrich, the current rule commissioner, said screens on z drive serves are possible, even though they are rare. I would totally agree with this…they are rare, no doubt, but they happen often from the position I mentioned. Fortunately, very few people use this serve or stand closer to the side wall when attempting this kind of Z serve.

    • There is a top ranked player (#34) in the NW, Jeff Stark, left handed, who hits a Z serve from the right side of the service box into the right front corner which then comes back in front of him. I’ve watched many of his matches, and have never seen any referee or player call a screen serve on him.

      But I think your comment about a player needing to “dance” to get out of the way of their own server is a clue to whether it should be called a screen serve, whether it is a drive or z serve.

      The rules on screen serves are still unclear on a z serve such a this. The only way to make the rules clear on this type of serve would be to ban it… and I would really hate to see that happen, since it is a very useful serve if done correctly. Right now as I see it, it is not possible for a referee to objectively make a ruling on whether it is a screen or not.

  3. These are helpful but it would even be better to see the screened area from a top view. Here are some diagrams showing likely screen serves shown from above.

    Screen Examples

  4. Cliff

    What about the responsibility of the receiver to assume a position relative to the server’s serving position, to better enable the receiver to see the ball, in example; drive serve down the right wall? (assuming no violation of the drive zone).
    I have experienced a screen serve call on me (drive serve down the right wall) in a tournament where the receiver was in back-center court and the referee declined the screen call sighting that he was out of position to see the serve and therefore no screen. The tournament director
    ‘s intervention was requested. The director upheld the referee’s decision given the details;no screen.
    Right or wrong?
    AL Bach

    • (i) Screen Serve. A served ball that first hits the front wall and on the rebound passes so closely to the server, or server’s partner in doubles, that it prevents the receiver from having a clear view of the ball. (The receiver is obligated to take up good court position, near center court, to obtain that view.)

      I wish this rule was more clearly stated. I am not sure how the receiver can be sure they are in a “good” position and exactly how “near” center court they need to be. IMHO, the receiver should not need to move from their center court position in order to get a good view of the serve. If they do move, then they relinquish coverage of one side of the court.

      For further information on screen serves, go here Screen Serve Illustrated

  5. What about a screen call on your second serve… is it serve out or redo second serve?

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