Common Terms

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Racquetball Terminology ... A to Z
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Ace -- A serve that is goes unreturned by the receiver, gaining a point for the server.
Alley -- The lane along both side walls that is the target area for down-the-line shots.
Appeal -- The process by which a player "appeals" to line judges to reverse the referee's decision.
Around-the-wall shot -- A shot that hits a side wall, front wall, and then the other side wall, before touching the floor.

Backhand -- One of two basic strokes hit across the body, starting on the side opposite the racquet hand.
Back wall -- The rear wall.
Bottom board -- The lowest point on the front wall; the target for kill shots.
Bye -- When a player does not have to play a match in the first round of a tournament in order to advance to the second round.

Ceiling shot -- A defensive shot that hits the ceiling before the front wall. It should land deep in the back court.
Center court -- The area of the court directly behind the short line and in the middle of the court. Position in this area gives the greatest control of the game.
Cross-court pass -- A shot from one side of the court that passes the opponent on the opposite side. A passing shot hit from the left side of the court to the right, or from the right to the left.
Cut-throat -- A variation of the game played by three players. The server plays against the other two players, with each player serving in turn.

Dead ball -- A ball no longer in play.
Defensive shot -- Any shot designed to maintain the rally, such as ceiling, around-the-wall, and "Z" shots. A shot that attempts to maneuver an opponent out of the center court position.
Donut -- A 15-0 game. The loser is said to have received the "donut" or zero.
Doubles -- A variation of the game with two teams of two players each who oppose each other.
Down-the-line shot -- A shot hit near a side wall that hits the front wall directly and then rebounds back along the same side wall.
Draw -- The process of selecting the starting positions of players in a tournament. Also refers to the "drawsheets" or brackets posted to indicate winners of each round.
Drive -- A powerfully hit ball that travels in a straight line. Drive serve A hard-hit, low serve.
Drive service zone -- Area in the service zone between a side wall and the three-foot line.

Eyeguards -- Protective eyewear manufactured specifically for racquet sports, required equipment for all sanctioned play.

Fault -- An illegal serve or infraction of the rules while serving. Two faults result in a side-out. An illegal serve, such as: short, long, ceiling, three-wall, out-of-court, foot fault, screen or serving when the receiver is signalling "not ready." Two consecutive faults result in loss of serve.
Five-foot line -- The broken line 5 feet behind and parallel to the short line. Also called the receiving line, and marks the boundary of the safety area on return of serve.
Foot fault -- Illegal serve in which a server's foot touches the area outside of the service area during serve, or, in doubles, when the server's partner is not in the service box during the serve.
Forehand -- A shot hit on the racquet-hand side of the body. A fundamental stroke hit across the body from the same side as the racquet hand. A right hander's forehand stroke is from the right to left across his or her body.
Forfeit -- A loss for a player who does not appear for a tournament game.
Front court -- The first 15 feet of the court. The part of the court from the front wall to the service line.

Garbage serve -- A half-lob serve that reaches the opponent at shoulder height.
Grip -- Position of the hand on the racquet. Also the way in which the racquet handle is grasped or the cover material of the racquet handle.

Half-out -- Loss of service by the first server on a doubles team, indicates that "half" of a side-out has occurred.
Hand-Out -- same as above
Hinder -- Interference or screen of a ball so that the opponent does not have a fair chance to make a shot. If a hinder is called, the point is replayed.

Jam serve -- A serve that is directed into the opponent's body; forcing the opponent to move.

Killshot -- An offensive shot hit hard and low, which should bounce twice before the opponent has a chance to return it.

Line judge -- Helps decide appeal calls. Two line judges can overrule the referee on appealable calls.
Lob serve -- A high serve that rebounds in a high arc, landing just short of the back wall.
Long serve -- A fault serve that hits the back wall before hitting the floor.

Match -- A complete racquetball contest made up of two or three games, with one player winning the best two of three. The first two games are played to 15, with a tiebreaker to 11.
Match point -- When the serving player or team is going for the point that will win the match.
Mid-court -- The area between the service line and the receiving line/the area of the court between the service line and the short serve line.

Novice -- A beginning player.

Offensive shot -- A shot designed to end a rally.
Out of court ball -- A ball that leaves the playing area.
Out serve -- Results in loss of service; includes non-front wall serve, touched serve, crotch serve, illegal hit, out-of-order serve, safety zone violation, or fake serve.
Overhead shot -- Shot hit above one's head at shoulder level or higher.

Pass shot -- A knee-high shot hit out of an opponent's reach but short of the back wall. May be cross-court or down-the-wall.
Pinch shot -- A low shot aimed into a corner, hitting first the side wall then the front wall.
Plum -- A promising set up or offensive opportunity.

Rally -- An alternating exchange of shots after the serve that is continued until play ends, through either a point or sideout.
Ranking -- The relative ability of competitors in tournament play, or position in official USRA published rankings.
Receiver -- Player awaiting the serve.
Receiving line -- A line five feet behind the short line. The receiver must play the ball behind this line. The 5-foot line.
Referee -- Makes all decision during the match with regard to the rules. The person who makes all the judgment calls in tournament play.
Reverse pinch shot -- A low shot that hits into the opposite corner of the stoke, such as a forehand shot to the left corner for a right-handed player.
Roll out -- A perfect kill shot that hits the front-wall floor so close to the floor that it rebounds without a bounce by rolling back into the court. A sure point because it is impossible to retrieve.

Safety hinder -- Occurs when a player holds up the shot in order to avoid hitting an opponent with a racquet or ball. In such cases, the point is replayed. The interruption of a rally when continued play could cause an injury.
Safety zone -- The five-foot area bounded by the back of the short line and the dashed receiving line. This zone is observed only during the serve.
Safety zone violation -- Occurs when the receiver crosses the dashed receiving line before the ball either bounces in front of the receiving line or crosses the receiving line on the fly. Also if the server's partner enters the safety zone before the serve has crossed the short line.
Screen -- Serve or shot that passes so close to the shooter that the receiver's view of the ball is obstructed by the hitter. During a rally it is replayed without penalty and on a serve is considered a fault.
Serve -- Shot used to begin play. The act of putting the ball in play at the 3 foot service line.
Server -- The player who initiates a rally by putting the ball into play. Only the server can score a point.
Service box -- The 18-inch box at each end of the service area. In doubles, the server's partner must stand in this area until the serve has crossed the short line.
Service line -- Front line of the service area positioned 15 feet from the front wall.
Service return -- The shot used to return the ball after the serve.
Service zone -- The 5-foot by 20-foot area between the service line and the short line. The server must remain in this zone during the serve. The court area between the short line and the service line, from side wall to side wall.
Set up -- A shot during the rally that should be an easy scoring opportunity for the hitter.
Short serve -- Fault serve that bounces before passing the short line.
Short hop -- A shot or return of serve where the player contacts the ball on the rise immediately after it has bounced. Requires excellent timing and hand speed to execute.
Short line -- The back line of the service zone that divides the court into equal halves. Back line of service zone positioned at mid-point of the court (20 feet from front wall). A legal serve must rebound past this line.
Side-out -- Loss of service by a player or doubles team; usually simply referred to as an out in singles.
Singles -- A racquetball game with two players, in which one player opposes the other.
Skip ball -- Any low shot attempt that hits the floor before it hits the front wall, or any shot that hits the floor before reaching the front wall.
Splat -- An offensive shot hit from close to the side wall directly to the side wall at high speed. Named for the sound of the shot when it rebounds to the front wall and caroms at a sharp angle.

Thong -- The nylon strap that is attached to the butt of the racquet and must be wrapped around the player's wrist.
Three-foot line -- A line in the service zone, parallel to the side wall, which limits the direction a straight drive serve may be hit.
Three-wall serve -- A fault serve that touches three walls before it bounces on the floor; a serve striking the front wall, side wall, and opposite wall; counts as one service fault
Tiebreaker -- A game played to 11 points; used after a different player or team wins each of the first two games of a match.
Time out -- Each player is allowed three 30-second time outs per 15-point game, and two 30-second time outs per 11-point tiebreaker.
Tournament -- A formal, organized system of play to determine a champion.
Twinkie -- A game in which the losing player scores only one point.

USRA -- (United States Racquetball Association) The official national governing body for racquetball, based in Colorado Springs.

Wallpaper serve -- A serve that hugs the side wall; difficult to return.
Wallpaper shot -- A shot that hugs the side wall, making it difficult to get a good free swing at the ball.

"Z" ball -- A shot that hits the front wall, then each side wall, and then hits the floor near the back wall.
"Z" serve -- A serve that hits the front wall near the side wall junction, then hits the side wall, the floor and then the other side wall near the back wall. Variations are a "z lob" which is hit high and soft, or "half z" hit at mid-height, or "drive z" hit with power.

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