You may have seen most people playing racquetball indoors, but the question is: can racquetball be played outside as well?
After all, plenty of indoor games like basketball can also be played outside, but is racquetball one of them?
Racquetball can be played both indoors and outdoors. While the game itself remains the same, there are some differences between racquetball played inside and outside that need to be kept in mind, from court specifications to some crucial game aspects like serves and racquets.
Without these differences, it would be very hard to adjust a game meant for indoor play for the outdoors.
We took opinions from experts in the field to understand what the differences are between indoor and outdoor racquetball.
Outdoor Racquetball Court
The biggest difference between indoor and outdoor racquetball is the court. Of course, indoor courts are mostly the same. While some will have different heights for the back wall, for the most part, they will all have the same dimensions and line placements.
This is not true for outdoor racquetball! The courts used for outdoor racquetball are usually very different from each other. The only thing they’d likely have in common is the fact that there is no back wall, and is instead marked with a line to show where the ball goes out of bounds. This line will also not necessarily be in the same place!
There are usually two different ways to set up the court, though again, dimensions and measurements can vary.
In this setup, the front wall is kept at a 20x20 feet measurement. There are also sidewalls with the same measurements towards the back of the court. This setup will affect how you select and place your shots since the angles you have to play with now change.
This setup is basic, with one wall at the front that is only a few feet high. There are no sidewalls and no back wall.
In 1-wall racquetball, splats and pinches are not an option, which can make things difficult for people who rely heavily on those types of shots.
The type of court setup you play on can affect your gameplay as well, so depending on what setup you’re used to and how well you can adjust to the court, you can decide where you want to play. Since outdoor courts are rarely uniform, you’ll have plenty of adjustment to do either way.
However, branching out into different types of court setups will help by bringing more variety into the game.
Outdoor racquetball also does not have court hinders, unless a court specifically sets a part of it as the hindered.
Court Markings & Lines
Since the size of the court often varies, you’ll find variations in the placement of the lines as well. For example, outdoor courts will have some extra lines like side lines, back lines, and single service lines.
There are also some differences in the rules around these markings. For example, outdoor racquetball games will allow players to play on all side and back lines as long as the ball is bouncing within the court.
There are also line judges in outdoor games, though they follow slightly different rules. The line judges can’t put a stop to the game in the first call, but they can call out the first in/out. The referee’s judgment is not asked for, in such a case.
Outdoor racquetball also does not have a receiving line. Instead, players have to make sure that their racquet doesn’t swing over into the service box when they’re returning the serve.
When it comes to serves, indoor and outdoor racquetball follow the same rules. However, there are some things to note. Sometimes, players end up hitting their partners with their serve, and while this is considered a hindrance, outdoor racquetball allows an exception. If the partner is inside the box, the server will still get another legal server.
However, if the server hits the partner again, this is an out.
There are also differences in how many faults you get on your serve before a side out. In indoor racquetball, you get two faults, but with outdoor racquetball, it’s one.
An important rule to remember is that in outdoor racquetball, even if the ball lands on the boundary line, it is not considered dead, and is still a live ball.
For outdoor games, safety hold ups are called on the moving crowd, rather than the stationary crowd. Players are expected to hit the ball before it enters the stationary crowd. If they do not manage this, the referee has to stop the game, and the ball is considered dead.
While not really part of the rules, the difference in the environment also has a significant effect on the game. Being outside means that the forces of nature can also affect the game. While wind is not necessarily considered a hindrance, just the environment and setting can make a difference to the players.
On nice, sunny days, an outdoor game becomes something of a social event, since it can attract larger crowds and adds to the fun of it.
Why you Should Play Outdoor Racquetball
There are plenty of reasons to take your racquetball game outdoors. For one thing, you might just want to get some fresh air while playing, instead of being stuck indoors where it may be stuffy. Since racquetball takes up a lot of energy and makes you sweat, having that fresh air and wind can help!
With the pandemic around, wanting an open-air court is also very understandable.
However, a big reason to want to take your game outdoors is to improve the way you play indoors. As mentioned, many outdoor racquetball courts have a 3-wall setup, but many others have a 1-wall setup.
Such courts put you in the position of being forced to improve your passing shots because, with a 1-wall court, you no longer have sidewalls as your safety net to add a bit of spin to your ball and send it flying at an angle.
With 1-wall courts, players are also forced to reduce their reliance on splats and pinches because there are no angels to work with. This means that they have to improve on their drop shots instead or find other, newer ways to win.
Still, no matter what the court looks like, you can also practice how accurately you come off the front wall. Getting your shots to hit boundary lines can help you with the accuracy with which to send your shots in bad spots so your opponents have difficulty hitting them.
On top of that, without a ceiling, your lobs are much more reliable and offensive outdoors. With better control over lobs, they can be included in indoor games to get points.
Outdoor racquetball helps with not just expanding your racquetball skills, but also fighting off cabin fever – we all spend too much time indoors, as it is. With a bit of sunshine and fresh air, the game becomes even better.
However, it’s important to make sure you know the differences in how to play indoor and outdoor racquetball. If you mess up, you might end up sacrificing a few points for your team.
About THE AUTHOR
Since initially playing at the collegiate level, I have amassed several decades of experience playing racquetball, tennis, and pickleball. I have played thousands of matches and games, and won medals and awards in multiple tourantments. I am constantly improving my game and enjoy mentoring and coaching other players in strategy and technique. I have authored dozens of articles on the sport.Read More About Michael Stevens