Rules Rule! September 2023
by Dan Horner, National Rules Commissioner
Welcome to the 2023-2024 Racquetball Season! The summer is winding down and the courts are about to start heating up with autumn tournaments, leagues, and ladders. I took the summer off from writing articles and received a lot of inquiries as to when I was going to start them up again. So here we go!
This month will be a little different, but next month we will get back into Q & A from you, our racquetball players of all skill levels. If you have any questions, I’m always an e-mail away at email@example.com.
This month I want to go over the newly revised USAR Rulebook that takes effect this month. It is located on the USAR website at https://www.usaracquetball.com/. Once there, click on the menu and select “Play.”
This is the first revision to the Rulebook since 2020 and includes the seven rule changes passed by USA Racquetball’s Board of Directors in July 2023. The racquetball public was given the chance to vote on proposals back in May 2023 via an email survey.
Additionally, up-to-date rules modifications from the IRT, LPRT, NMRA, and WOR are included in their applicable sections in the middle of the Rulebook.
USA Racquetball changes effective September 2023:
- Timeouts, length, and number -- Rule 3.16(a) - The number of timeouts has decreased to 2 per game including the tiebreaker, however the length of each timeout has increased to 1 minute each. Previously, each player/team was awarded 3 timeouts in games 1 and 2, and 2 timeouts in game 3, but each timeout was only 30 seconds in length. This brings all allied organizations consistently into line using 1-minute timeouts. The IRF and IRT award one 1-minute timeout per game and USA Racquetball now matches the LPRT with two 1-minute timeouts each game.
- Time between games, length -- Rule 3.16(d) - The time between games 2 and 3 has been decreased to 2 minutes. Previously, it was 5 minutes in length. The time between games 1 and 2 remains at 2 minutes. This will speed up the game and also align USAR with all three of the allied organizations mentioned above. For anyone who thinks more time is needed to rest, take consolation in the fact that now you will get an extra minute’s worth of timeouts to use in game 3. You could even use one of your timeouts at the beginning of game 3 to basically extend your time between games.
- Screen Serves, clarifying language -- Rule 3.9(i) - Language was added to this rule to match Rule 3.14(a)(4), Screen Ball. This shouldn’t impact the game as this is the intended interpretation already. It simply is being added for clarity.
- Racquet Terminology -- Rule 2.4 - The parts of a racquet are now listed with definitions of each. This is important especially for beginners to understand what the terms are as they look through the Rulebook.
- Doubles Cross-Reference -- Rule 4.6 - This list of rules cited in the Doubles section of the Rulebook will help readers know where else to find rules that impact doubles play.
- Receiving Line/Encroachment -- Rule 2.1(b)(6) and 3.11(a) - Language was added to this rule to provide clarity as to when a violation occurs involving encroachment by the receiver on a serve. This shouldn’t impact the game since this is the intended interpretation already.
- Penalty Hinders, jumping -- Rule 3.15(a) - For the first time ever, jumping was added to the USAR Rulebook’s main sections. It has already been present in the IRT Rule Modifications in section 10 for some time, but this only applied to players in the men’s professional division. It was important to finally add this popular maneuver to the USAR Rulebook for amateur play to provide some clarity to how jumping impacts hinder calls. Unlike the IRT, amateurs do not have a set height that they must jump to be in the clear from being assessed a penalty hinder since there are vast arrays of skill levels at play. There are two concepts that need to be understood: (1) even if a defensive player jumps, a penalty hinder can still be called, and (2) a penalty hinder can still be called regardless of the type of shot that is being taken.
Download a PDF copy here: USAR Rulebook (Adobe PDF)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and you may see your questions in a future issue of this newsletter!