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Doubles: partner of person hitting the ball must yield court space to opposite team

General doubles strategy

Doubles shot selection chart

Avoidable hinders in general

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When your doubles opponent is about to return the ball, his partner MUST yield court space to you, and let you receive wherever you want, WHILE your opponent is winding up to hit the ball, that is, before the ball is hit. For example, if you want to cover your cross court opponent's splat, his partner has to let you get to, and stand in front court. Then, when you're hitting, your partner must let the opponents take any position (that's not a hinder) that they want.

From the official rules page: http://www.usra.org/usra/pub&ref/rules/rule3.htm#3.15

Rule 3.15 AVOIDABLE HINDERS
An avoidable hinder results in the loss of the rally. An avoidable hinder does not necessarily have to be an intentional act. Dead-ball hinders are described in Rule 3.14. Any of the following results in an avoidable hinder:
(a) Failure to Move. A player does not move sufficiently to allow an opponent a shot straight to the front wall as well as a cross-court shot which is a shot directly to the front wall at an angle that would cause the ball to rebound directly to the rear corner farthest from the player hitting the ball. Also when a player moves in such a direction that it prevents an opponent from taking either of these shots.
(b) Stroke Interference. This occurs when a player moves, or fails to move, so that the opponent returning the ball does not have a free, unimpeded swing. This includes unintentionally moving in a direction which prevents the opponent from making an open, offensive shot.
(c) Blocking. Moves into a position which blocks the opponent from getting to, or returning, the ball; or in doubles, a player moves in front of an opponent as the player's partner is returning the ball.

[Underscore and bold emphasis added by editor.]

From: Otto Dietrich (ottod@worldnet.att.net)
Subject: Re: Defending in Doubles - Rules Q.
Newsgroups: alt.sport.racquetball
Date: 2001-02-12 14:34:10 PST


Hi Barry

You stated and asked (in part) the following about doubles:

"I was playing a doubles match, and was setting up to hit the ball. My
partner was jockeying for position while I did. One of the defenders got
a little miffed and tried to call a hinder on my partner - before I hit
the ball. I assured the opponent that there is no rule in the book that
says anything about providing the defenders the ability to move freely."

Of course, the player/team on offense cannot push the defender(s), but
other than that, the defenders must yield to the offense.

Ideally, once a person hits the ball (goes on defense) he would become
invisible. Since that's not possible, the next best thing is that the
defender must make every effort to stay out of the offense's way. And
sometimes, even the best effort may not be enough and could be declared
an avoidable for failure to move.

That being said, there are a few other finer points to make here! In
doubles, both players are entitled to try to hit the ball, but once it
becomes apparent which of the two partners is going to hit the ball,
then the other cannot block or screen the defenders and must basically
yield position to the defense. Such blocking or screening can also be
called an avoidable hinder. Be sure to read that carefully to make sure
that you understand that because it is a little complex!

"Anyway - this started me thinking that there is no rule that prevents
even actual and purposeful blocking of the opponents by my partner when
I am taking a shot. Doing so surely would not make you any friends, and
you would risk a hinder once the ball was hit - depending on where it
goes."

Whoops!! That's NOT true!! In fact, that's almost exactly what Rule
3.15(c) prevents the team on offense from doing! That's clearly an
avoidable hinder, but one that's very subtle and hard to detect since it
is away from where the focus of the play is--the ball and the player
hitting it!

And yes, it does happen!

At your service,

Otto

OTTO E. DIETRICH
President, United States Racquetball Association 1998-Present
National Rules Commissioner 1988-1998
Member of National Rules Committee 1982-Present

"Barry wrote in message

I had a situation come up a while back and was wondering if anyone had
input on it...
I was playing a doubles match, and was setting up to hit the ball. My
partner was jockeying for position while I did.

One of the defenders got a little miffed and tried to call a hinder on
my partner - before I hit the ball. I assured the opponent that there is
no rule in the book that says anything about providing the defenders the
ability to move freely. It was a relatively (at least up until then)
friendly match with no ref, so we replayed... but they started calling a
spew of very questionable hinders after that..... ahhh, life with no
ref.

Anyway - this started me thinking that there is no rule that prevents
even actual and purposeful blocking of the opponents by my partner when
I am taking a shot. Doing so surely would not make you any friends, and
you would risk a hinder once the ball was hit - depending on where it
goes.

For the record, this is nothing I am considering doing.

So my question is - do I read the rules correctly here? Does this
ever happen?

Barry


Note from Alex Glaros:

The purpose of the rules is to eliminate jockeying for that front court space, instead, the rules allow for an orderly process of taking of turns for that spot. I recognize some players' concern about being left in the back court if they yield that spot, but we account for that problem by asking after the rally is over: "did the ball stay up?" "would you have been able to get to it if you had access to that spot?" If "yes", then we play it over. That's how we protect your rights.

 

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