Three Person Racquetball Rules

By Shawn Candela

Racquetball is typically played between two opponents or teams of two, according to USA Racquetball, but another version of the game--which is not sanctioned for tournament play--is cutthroat. Cutthroat games are played by three players who fend for themselves when serving but play as a pair when receiving serve and trying to stop the server from scoring.


The serving player stands anywhere within the serving zone, which is delineated by two parallel lines: the short line and the service line. The short line is midway between the front and back walls and the service line is 5 feet from the short in the direction of the front wall. The other two players must stand behind the receiving line, which is 5 feet from the short line in the direction of the back wall. Once the ball has been legally served, players may move about the court at will.


Any method can be used to determine serving order, but many players stand at the back wall, bounce the ball once and strike it against the front wall in order to get it to bounce back as close to the short line as possible. The player who is closest with his hit serves first, followed by the next closest and finally by the farthest.

Only the server may score a point in racquetball, but instead of facing one opponent, in cutthroat he is facing two. Although the two players receiving the serve are not a team--it's every man for himself in cutthroat--they act as a team throughout a point, trying to win a rally and take the serve away from the server. Either player may hit the ball, but the player who served must be allowed to hit the ball on every alternating hit. For example, player A serves the ball and player B returns it. It is now player A's turn to hit the ball again. After he does so, either player B or C may hit it, followed again by player A. This continues until either the server loses a rally or wins the game.


Regardless of who hit the winning shot in a rally, players follow serve rotation if the point was not won by the player who served. In other words, if serve rotation--which was determined earlier--player A serves first, player B serves second and player C serves third, then that is the order in which service changes are made throughout the game. For example, player A serves and loses the rally. He now joins player C to receive player B's serve. When player B loses a rally, he joins player A for player C's serve.


Another unsanctioned three-person racquetball game is two-versus-one. In this game, the same basic rules of cutthroat apply, but one player plays against the other two throughout the game. If she loses serve, the doubles team gets two service opportunities. That is, even after winning a rally, the single player does not gain serve again until after the other doubles partner loses her serve.

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