The Difference Between Racquetball & Tennis

The Difference Between Racquetball & Tennis

Despite the obvious similarities between racquetball and tennis, there are many differences in the sports. The most noticeable is the fact that in racquetball the game is played in an enclosed room and that both players hit the ball against the same wall, as opposed to in tennis, where the players hit the ball back and forth directly to each other. The two sports have a lot in common, but slight variations in the two make both games unique.


The roots of tennis can be traced back thousands of years. It began as a simple game played without rackets, the ball being hit back and forth using the hand. It developed slowly to include nets, rackets, lines and a progressive set of rules. Essentially, tennis gave birth to all of the racket games we know today, such as squash, table tennis and, of course, racquetball. Racquetball is said to have originated during the Korean War (1950-53), when a man named Joe Sebek conceived the original technology and aesthetics of the game as a means to be able to play a racket sport in considerably tighter quarters.

The Courts

Tennis ball image by Kavita from <a href=''></a>

A tennis court can be either indoors or outdoors, the playing surface being made of either clay, grass or cement. The dimensions of the court are 78 feet by 39 feet, and there is a net that extends across the entire width of the court and stands roughly 3 feet high. Any ball that is hit and lands outside of the court is considered out of bounds and a point is conceded. A racquetball court has four 20-foot high walls, which are all part of the game-play. The court is typically 40 feet long by 20 feet wide. The ball is served against the opposing wall and any surface that it may bounce off of is considered legal and taken into effect.

The Rackets

Tennis ball image by Kavita from <a href=''></a>

Both sports use a similar racket, with a head, face, handle and butt. In tennis the rackets are considerably larger, often around 28 inches from end to end. In contrast, official USRA rules dictate that a racquetball racket cannot be longer than 22 inches. In both sports the modern racket is most commonly made of a graphite frame, a rubber grip, and the string mesh that stretches across the face is usually a synthetic nylon.

Rubber Balls

Tennis ball image by Kavita from <a href=''></a>

Tennis and racquetball both use a hollow ball. A tennis ball is made of rubber and is covered in a fuzzy wool. These are typically fluorescent yellow in color and 2.7 inches in diameter. Racquetballs are also made of bouncy rubber, but are smaller (2.25 inches in diameter) and are not covered with any type of wool or nylon. They range in colors but the most common is blue.


Racquetball scoring is comparatively simple. A player can only score on the serve and each success is one point. Matches are played as best of three sets, the first two being the first to reach 15 points and the last being the first to reach eleven. In tennis, both players can score no matter who serves, a single success being worth 15 points. The first to reach 60 points wins the game. A player must win six games to take the set, and three sets (two for women) to win the match.