Written by Darren Love
About 15 million players in ninety countries play racquetball year-round. The sport is played indoors and unlike other racquet sports the ball can be bounced off any wall to return to the opponent. Racquetball helps a moderately skilled player burn about 700 calories during a match while building muscular strength, flexibility and endurance. Racquetball is considered a "power" game compared to the "finesse" and endurance required for squash.
Connecticut tennis pro Joe Sobek developed racquetball in 1949 combining elements of squash and handball. It uses a strung short-handled paddle, and the sport was originally called 'paddle racquets'. His newly created sport caught on due to its easy rules, obvious health benefits, and because racquetball could be played on any handball court, which were prevalent at that time.
Racquetball can be played singles (two players, against each other), doubles (four players, on two teams) and "cut-throat" (three players). The goal of racquetball is to serve or return the ball so the opponent cannot hit the ball before the maximum two allowed floor bounces. The period while the ball is in play, a "rally," is typically short and fast. When the serving side wins a rally, it scores a point, if the opponent wins a rally, they earn the next serve. Games are played to either 11, 15, 21 or 31 points, and a player must win by at least two points.
To play racquetball, you need three items: a racquet, court shoes and eye protection. The most important piece of equipment you will need is your racquetball racquet, which range from $50 - $300. These differ from those of other racquet sports by having a short handle with a loop for your wrist, so the racquet won't fly off mid-swing. A good pair of court shoes (usually white-soled and non-marking) would also be a good investment and aid in the footing in this fast-paced game while providing suitable ankle support. Most courts usually require that the court shoes are used only indoors and have white soles. Eye protection is usually required by most racquetball clubs.
Almost every school in the city has either an indoor and outdoor court, if you want to play a game with some friends. Almost every sports or recreation complex has basketball courts (check that they aren't already booked). You can even set up a basketball hoop on your driveway.
There are several options for competitive basketball. If you are still in school (elementary, junior high, high school, college or university), try out for a school team or an intramural league. You can also join a community league through your local Parks and Recreation office.
You can also watch some exciting basketball action with many local high school, college and university games open to the public. Contact the athletic departments during the particular season for game schedules.