Racquetball for Kids
Everyone knows that encouraging our kids to lead active lifestyles yields great short-term and long-term benefits. From combating obesity to building healthy habits that can last the rest of their lives, active children are more likely to grow into healthy adults.
And not just physically healthy. Regular exercise has been shown to improve the body’s production of dopamine—meaning that if your child struggles with depression or anxiety, a physically active lifestyle can help augment their treatment plans.
There are a lot of fun hobbies for kids out there that involve physical activity, but one of the best sports to introduce kids to is racquetball. With a racquetball racquet in hand, your kid will be ready to embark on a journey of fitness and fun.
Again, there are a lot of hobbies for kids out there, so what makes racquetball such a great choice as a sport for your child?
Racquetball offers the developmental benefits of team sports through doubles and individual sports through singles play. Compared to some other sports, the amount of equipment a person needs to play is low. The rules and mechanics of the game are simple enough to learn quickly but nuanced enough to provide challenges as your child improves. And the pace of racquetball is quick and exciting—ensuring your child won’t get bored of it.
We’ll expand on each of those points shortly, but first, let’s take a quick look at how racquetball came to exist as the sport it is today.
A Brief History of a Great Game
The history of racket sports like tennis goes all the way back to France somewhere around the 15th Century! Racquetball, however, is a far more modern invention. A man named Joseph Sobek is credited with creating the sport as we know it today in the 1950s.
Sobek took several games that he liked—including handball, paddleball, and squash—and combined the best parts of them to make something new. Thanks to the simplified rules, fast rubber ball, and enjoyable gameplay, racquetball spread across the USA and then the world in the ensuing decades.
Incorporating sports into your kids’ lives brings many benefits. They are more likely to develop stronger, denser bones and a stronger resilience against getting injured when compared to less active peers.
Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and lighten moods thanks to the increased release of endorphins. Additionally, the benefits to your child’s social development should not be ignored.
Team sports help teach the value of teamwork and communication in service of a common goal, while individual sports put in-game decision making and strategy in your kid’s hands. Both kinds of sport also reinforce ideas of healthy competition, taking responsibility for and learning from mistakes, and understanding the value of sportsmanship.
Racquetball provides team and individual benefits thanks to the options to play as singles or doubles, all while providing an aerobic workout that improves hand-eye coordination, balance, and spatial awareness.
Simple Rules, Simple Supply List
Racquetball does not require much from new players. The rules are simple, and a beginner does not need much equipment to get started. In fact, many companies sell kits with racquetball equipment for beginners that are specifically made for young players!
A few racquetballs, a racquetball racquet, and, ideally, shoes that won’t leave streaks on the court are almost everything you’ll need. The final piece of equipment is eye protection. Racquetballs go fast—even when hit by inexperienced players. So it’s very important to make sure your child gets into the habit of always protecting their eyes when out on the court.
But that’s all the gear you need! It’s a simple list. Racquetball rules are also simple, especially when compared to some other racquet sports.
With racquetball, there are no out-of-bounds lines. The court is 20 feet wide, 40 feet long, and 20 feet high. Instead of hitting the ball over the net like you do in tennis, you hit the ball off the front wall. Each player alternates hitting the ball after it bounces off the floor. You need to hit the ball before it bounces twice.
Matches are best-2-out-of-3. The first two games in a match are played to 15 points, the third to 11. Only the serving player can score. If the serving player loses a rally, it’s a sideout, and the other player gets to serve.
Some people feel like the racquetball serving rules can be confusing, but they aren’t too bad. In the middle of the court, there’s a big rectangle called the service zone. The ball is served by bouncing it on the ground and hitting it at the front wall. The serving player can’t step ahead of the front line when serving, and the ball has to pass the back line of the zone (called the short line) before it bounces.
There’s also a dotted line on the court. The player receiving the serve has to stand behind that line until the ball is served.
As your child learns more of the ins and outs of the game, they will learn more about the nuances of the rules and how they affect play. But in a nutshell, that’s the entire list of simple racquetball rules.
Racquetball Tips for Beginners
Once your kid has expressed interest in racquetball and you have the necessary equipment, the fun really starts. Here are a few tips to help you get your child started out on the right foot.
Allow for Unstructured Play
There’s no need to jump straight into tournament play. Let them run around the court and get used to the dimensions of it. Give them some racquetballs to hit as they see fit. Let them discover how the ball flies off their racquet and experiment with hitting the ball against whichever walls they like.
Once they have a feel for the court and the equipment, then you can start teaching technique.
The point at which most beginners really start to see their play rise to a higher level is when they learn the importance of footwork. How a player steps into a shot makes a big difference in the power and accuracy of that shot.
The first thing to do when teaching racquetball footwork is getting your young player accustomed to moving side-to-side on the court without crossing their feet. You can have races where the goal is to go the length of the court sideways, almost like a crab.
When your child has gotten used to moving laterally without crossing their feet, you can incorporate the lunge step toward the ball. When hitting with your forearm, you want to step in with your opposite leg. When using your backhand, you want to step in with the leg that’s the same side as the racquet.
Hitting the Ball
The thing to remember about racquetball is that the ball springs off the racquet much faster than the balls in other racquet sports. Because of this, you want your racquet head to be practically straight up and down when you make contact with the ball.
By using good footwork to lunge into the ball and keeping the racquet straight, your kid will have much more control over where the ball goes when they hit it.
A Lifetime of Fun
Learning racquetball at a young age is great for a child. It’s a game that takes an afternoon to learn and a lifetime to master. It can be played year-round. And it’s FUN.
Racquetball is a game of speed, strategy, and skill. It improves balance, agility, flexibility, strength, and coordination. The amount of equipment needed to start playing the game is low, and the rules are easy for players of all ages to pick up.
Look for racquetball courts in your area and see if there are any youth camps that you can sign your little ones up for, or take the tips in this piece as a starting point and jump into the sport right alongside them—after all, racquetball is for everyone!