Rules Rule! November 2023
by Dan Horner, National Rules Commissioner
National Rules Commissioner Dan Horner welcomes questions from members and will respond timely along with occasionally featuring a few each month in USAR’s Serving Up the News. Write to Dan at email@example.com, and you may see your questions in a future issue of this newsletter! Speaking of question from members, here are a few that arrived in my inbox recently.
Q1. Can a rubber grip hang over the end of the handle? The grip isn't part of the racquet frame. If it cannot, what advantage, disadvantage or safety issues do you see?
A1. The total length of the racquet cannot exceed 22 inches including the grip. The penalty for violating this rule is different depending on whether: (1) the racquet frame itself is discovered to be over 22 inches long or (2) the racquet frame plus any overhanging grip is discovered to be over 22 inches long.
Personally, I do not see a great advantage in having a 22-inch-long racquet with a grip that hangs over by a small amount, but we have to have a maximum length otherwise players could push the limits to no end.
As far as I am aware, all current model name-brand racquets today are 22 inches long to begin with, so adding a grip that does not line up flush with the end of the handle would cause the racquet to be over the length limit.
I have cited all of the applicable rules below and bolded applicable points.
Rule 2.4(b) --The racquet frame, including the bumper guard and all solid parts of the handle, may not exceed 22 inches in length. The racquet frame may be any material deemed safe.
Rule 2.4(c) -- Using a racquet frame that exceeds 22 inches will result in forfeiture of the game in progress or, if discovered between games, forfeiture of the preceding game.
Rule 2.4(d) --The penalty for playing with a racquet frame that does not exceed 22 inches, but has a grip extending beyond the 22-inch limit, if noted during the course of a game, shall be a technical foul and a timeout to correct the problem. Subsequent violations will result in the loss of the game in progress. If a player challenges a racquet during a game that is found to be within the 22-inch limit, then a timeout is charged to the player who made the challenge. There is no penalty if the grip issue is noted and corrected before or between games.
Q2. I need clarification on the serving process. When a server enters the service box ready for service, the server must call the score to signify being ready for service. If his partner is calling the score in doubles, do they both need to be in the service area before calling the score?
Can the server step into the service box and serve without pausing after retrieving the ball with only one foot in the box on a drive serve? Is this serve legal or does he loose his first serve in this case?
A2. The server is the one who should call the score in a self-refereed game, and he/she should do so early enough to allow the opponent to speak up if they disagree (Rule D.1). No, both players do not need to be in the box yet when the score is called. If it is helpful, you can ask the opponent to repeat the score after the server says it each time.
See Rule 3.3 below where it explains that yes, the server (and their partner in doubles) needs to come to a set position prior to serving the ball. The penalty for not complying is a Foot Fault, which is a Fault Serve. If it was first serve, then it would be second serve. If it was second serve, then it would be a side out.
Rule 3.3 Manner -- After taking a set position inside the service zone, a player may begin the service motion. The service motion is defined as any continuous movement that results in the ball being served. Once the service motion begins, after the ball leaves the hand, it must bounce on the floor in the service zone and then, without the ball touching anything else, be struck by the racquet before the ball bounces on the floor a second time. After being struck, the ball must hit the front wall first and, on the rebound, be capable of hitting the floor beyond the back edge of the short line, either with or without touching one of the side walls. However, the receiver may return the ball “on the fly” before those things happen as long as Rule 3.11 is followed.
Q3. The ball is bounced in the service box, and the ball breaks the front line vertical plane (not touching the floor) before being struck with a racquet. Is this considered a legal serve?
A3. Yes, this would be a legal serve as long as the ball was bounced inside the Service Zone to begin with.
To view/download the Official Rules of Racquetball, visit