Rules Rule - September 2021
by Dan Horner, USAR Rules Commissioner
In May, the USA Racquetball Board of Directors approved Dan Horner of Ankeny, Iowa, as USAR’s National Rules Commissioner. Dan has served on the National Rules Committee for several years and has now become its Chair.
With a deep knowledge and understanding of the rules of the game, Dan welcomes questions from members and will respond timely along with featuring a few each month in this USAR Serving Up the News resurrection of the well-read “What’s the Call” that Otto Dietrich made popular in Racquetball magazine over many years.
I am getting excited about the granddaddy of all tournaments coming up October 6-10: the UnitedHealthcare US OPEN 25thAnniversary tournament in Minneapolis. If you have not attended before, I encourage you to do it this time even if you are unable to play. There’s so much to do and see, and I will be there and would enjoy talking to you regarding any rules questions as well as suggestions for rules changes.
Let’s look at a few of the questions I answered recently.
Q1. I have a question concerning a crotch shot that's made during play (not the serve). So the opposing side hit a weak ball to the front wall and in my opinion was a crotch shot. The ball didn't hit the front wall first or it would have bounced back towards the middle of the court. When it did hit, it basically hit the crotch and bounced straight up a few inches. I called it a crotch shot. The opposing player said it was a good shot. I know from the rules that the only crotch shot that is good is off the back wall and floor.
I didn't see this scenario about a crotch shot during play in the rules...only about crotch serves. Any help would be appreciated.
A1. The rule you are referring to on crotch serves is found in Rule 3.10(g), and it says, “Any served ball that hits the crotch of the front wall and floor, front wall and side wall, or front wall and ceiling is an out serve (because it did not hit the front wall first). This includes the ball touching two intersecting surfaces at virtually the same time -- such that which one it touches first cannot be ascertained. However, a service into the crotch formed by the back wall and floor, as well as the crotch formed by either sidewall beyond the short line, is a good serve and in play.”
Crotch shots on the front wall are always viewed the same, which is not a good shot. However, crotch shots on the back wall are always a good shot regardless of if it is on the serve or during the rally. Finally, crotch shots on the side walls are always considered good if during the rally, but if on the serve it depends on if the ball is landing in the crotch between the short line and the back wall or not. If it is on or in front of the short line then the serve is short, otherwise the serve is good.
Hopefully, this answers the question. Unfortunately, there is no way for me to "make the call" for you on your specific rally without seeing the play.
Q2. While receiving a serve, can you hit a ball in the air that is obviously going to be long/hit the back wall?
A2. Yes, a serve is not considered a long serve until it hits the back wall on the fly, i.e., before bouncing first. So it can be a successful surprise for the offensive player to hit it when the server is not expecting that. Of course, it would not be a good idea if it were already 2nd serve.
Q3. Is a timeout always 30 seconds long or is length determined by the player who called the timeout? In a singles match with a referee, Player A calls timeout "quietly" and walks off the court. Player B picks up the loose ball and moves to the server's box as always, not noticing his opponent has called timeout. Player B then realizes what is going on and steps off the court for the timeout. Player A steps back on the court immediately announcing, "Time out is over - I called it - I'm ready to play."
A3. Yes, a timeout is always 30 seconds long and when you have a referee, they should make sure to announce when they have accepted the request for a timeout. That would be when the timeout begins. The timeout doesn't end until 30 seconds has elapsed or when both parties are ready to play, if earlier. The referee should make an announcement when there is 10 seconds left of the timeout.
Let me also mention that if a player takes more than 30 seconds for a single timeout, the referee may automatically charge any remaining timeouts, as needed, for any extra time taken. Once all time allowed has expired, a delay of game technical warning or technical foul may be assessed.
Please send rules questions, including stories from the court that beg rules interpretations, to National Rules Commissioner Dan Horner at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You might see your question in a future issue of Serving Up The News!
View/download the Official Rules of Racquetball.