The Complete Guide to Racquetball Court and Important FAQs
Here's the deal:
If you’re looking to have a racquetball court set up in your gym, school, or another facility. You’ll want to make sure that you’re doing it the right way.
This complete guide to racquetball courts can help you figure out what you need to do just that.
Types of Racquetball Courts
Racquetball courts are pretty standard regarding type. There are only slight variations between indoor and outdoor courts. Outdoor courts are not as common as the indoor ones, but they’re becoming more popular nowadays.
All in all, racquetball courts are pretty standard, but there are some slight variations in outdoor court markings. Indoor courts have the service line, service zone, service boxes, the short line, receiving lines, the back wall out-of-bounds line, the screen lines, and the line edges. Outdoor courts have most of the same lines but add sidelines, a back line, and singles service lines. There is also no receiving line on the outdoor courts. Instead, the service box is used as the receiving line.
Indoor courts also have more specifics regarding how they’re set up, but it seems like outdoor courts can vary in formats and size. Since outdoor courts can be different sizes, the placement of the lines can also vary. With these variations, there is a chance that the rules of play for outdoor courts may also be different. If you’re setting up your own indoor or outdoor court, it’s important to know what markings you need and what markings you don’t need.
Racquetball Court Dimensions
A standard indoor racquetball court is 20 feet (6 meters) wide by 40 feet (12 meters) long and has a 20-foot (6-meter) high ceiling. The dimensions for international competitive play have been set by the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) and are followed by most, if not all, court designers and builders. This is done so there is a comparable standard from one court to another. If you’re looking for your court to be used in competitions, these standards will have to be inspected, too, so it’s best to follow them.
On all courts, there must be a clear height (the underside of the lowest obstruction) can’t be less than 20 feet (6 meters) while the rear wall has to be at least 12 feet (3.66 meters) high above the court floor with a maximum of 20 feet (6 meters).All of the walls should be made of the same material, but there are allowances made for windows so people can see into the court. These are to be placed within the rear wall of the court and must be made of safety material and flush with the wall.
The door to the court must also be flush with the wall (should be located on the rear wall), so there are no obstructions to the court. It should open inward to the court. The interior of the door should have no designs or other marks. The handle should be flush, and there should be a device on the door to stop the door from hitting the court walls when it is opened. There should also be some latch mechanism, so the door doesn’t open when it is impacted during play. Finally, the door should be no bigger than 42 inches (1,067mm) by 84 inches (2,134mm) in size.
There should be no indentations, holes, open joints, or protruding parts of the walls. The walls can be made of whatever material is suitable for construction as long as the same material is used throughout.
The walls of the court must be strong enough to withstand stress from different impacts. These include effects from the ball, racquets, and from players. They shouldn’t be damaged by such impacts and should not deflect the ball heavily. In terms of the ball rebound, it should be consistent across the surfaces so the rebound is always true.
If you choose to use glass walls they have to meet the standards set by the 2009 International Building Code, Section 2408. You must submit to a testing report by a licensed and independent testing lab to make sure that these standards are met.
If you are not using glass, the walls should be the same color across the court. The surface should be smooth and should have the same reflectance throughout as well. The average reflectance of the walls should not be lower than 80 percent when clean.
There should be no protrusions or indentations where the ceiling and walls meet either. The only joiner allowed should be caulking which should match the same color as the court’s walls and ceiling to create a seamless (or close to seamless) look.
Regarding the floor, it must be level across the court and free of obstructions. Joints must be as flush with the floor as possible, and open joints shouldn’t be larger than 3/32 of an inch (2mm) wide if possible. When it comes to the materials of the floor, a lot of developers choose to go with wood as it’s durable and manageable, but as long as the same material is used for the whole floor, any material is suitable as long as it provides a firm footing for regular play.
The final flooring should be finished with polyurethane to ensure footing for permanently standing courts. Bare or sanded wood is fine for convertible courts. The color of the floor should be uniform (aside from the markings) in color if not using hardwood.
The line markings on a racquetball court should be colored red and about 1-and-a-half inches (38mm) wide. If you’re using a glass back wall or another type of convertible court design, the lines should be either bright blue or black. These lines should be as straight as possible and should be laid out properly.
The lines should be as follows:
- The short line: this is midway between the front and back walls in a parallel fashion. This means that the back edge (side of the line closes to the back wall) of the short line should be 20 feet (6 meters) from the rear wall.
- The service line: this runs parallel between the short line and the front wall. It should be 5 feet (1.5 meters) from the back of the short line.
- The service zone: this is the space within the edges of the short line and the service line.
- The service boxes: these are located at both ends of the service zone. The lines should be parallel to the side walls and 5 feet (1.5 meters) long from the short line to the service line. They should also be 18 inches (457mm) from the side walls. This will create a rectangular box on the floor.
- The receiving line: this line should be 5 feet (1.524 meters) from the back of the short line and 15 feet (4.572 meters) from the rear wall. This is a segmented line, not a solid line. The first segment from the wall should be 21 inches (533mm) long followed by a 6-inch (152mm) space and then 16 6-inch (152mm) segments. Those will be followed by a final 21-inch (533mm) segment that will attach to the opposite wall. All spaces between the segments should be 6 inches (152mm).
- The back wall out-of-bounds line: this line is located on the rear wall of the court. It should be 144 inches (3.658) above the floor.
- Screen lines: These lines are three feet (0.9144 meters) from the side wall inside of the service box. They are the innermost lines on the court and should be 18 inches (457mm) from the other interior line. It should stretch 5 feet (1.524 meters) from the short line to the service line.
Lighting, Heating, Ventilation
An indoor racquetball court should be lit with artificial lighting that will be appropriate for normal play. The recommendation is at least 100 foot-candles consistently used across the court. If you’re using glass 150 foot-candles is the minimum recommendation. This should be shadow-free lighting without any stroboscopic effect. All of the fixtures should be flush in the ceiling.
Regarding heating and ventilation, the court should be set up in a way where the court will be condensation-free when the court is in use. The relative humidity of the court should be between 40 percent and 60 percent. The vents and cuts should be in the ceiling and 24 feet (7.3 meters) or more from the front wall of the court.
All of these recommendations and standards should be met for your court if you’re looking to create a comparable racquetball court that will hold up to international regulations.
Racquetball Court FAQs
Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding racquetball courts. Hopefully, these will clear up any confusion or concerns you may have.
1. How do you maintain the court panels?
The best thing to use when cleaning the walls is a non-abrasive cleaner making sure to keep it free from stains. You should also try to keep the walls free from scratches. If you notice any that need repairing, do so immediately so the damage doesn’t get worse. You might want to talk to your contractor about any specific concerns regarding your walls.
2. How do you maintain the floors?
You should sweep the floor regularly with a soft broom or a dust mop (untreated) to get rid of dust and debris. Never use a cleaner with rags or a mop on wood floors as the chemicals might damage the floor or cause a sticky or slippery playing surface. Any spills should be wiped up immediately to avoid permanent damage.
Weekly maintenance is recommended with a mixture of one pint of white vinegar in three gallons of water. Dampen a rag and use a push broom to mop the floor with the rag. If there are scuff marks from shoes, mineral spirits can be used to remove them. If there is gum on the floor, scrape it with a plastic scraper then rub the area with mineral spirits. Talk to the contractor who installed your floors for specific care instructions beyond this.
3. How much does it take to build a racquetball court?
Of course, the cost of an indoor racquetball court can vary depending on what you’re looking for and on the contractor you use. There are also turnkey designs available. There, you’ll be provided with the materials and a blueprint so you can install the court yourself.
The average cost for an indoor court takes into account the walls, floor, ceiling, doors, lighting, and installations. This average is about $30 to $40 (US) per square foot if you’re looking for a simple design made of steel and concrete. Using this and the standard size of courts it can cost close to $100,000 (US) when all extras are taken into account. That being said, some designs have cost people as little as $2,000. It all depends on your specifications and choices.
If you’re looking for an outdoor court, the cost can fluctuate based on other factors including the clearing of the land and permits that might be required. Installing lighting for this and other features (bleachers, storage, etc.) can also affect the final cost.
When working with a contractor and architect, your cost can be higher, too. There are fees involved for everyone involved, and you’ll be paying for labor as well as materials. That being said, working with a contractor is recommended because it will ensure a quality product and will usually come with guarantees or warranties.
4. What else can racquetball courts be used for?
A racquetball court can be used for other paddle-based sports including squash, wallyball, and pickleball. These sports use similar court dimensions and can be played properly on a racquetball court.
Racquetball courts are pretty standard with little variation from court to court. Hopefully, this guide provided you with all of the information that you need to understand the different courts and to help you if you’re looking to build your own.
Standard Specifications for Racquetball Court Construction - Team USA (PDF)