RacquetWorld's Newsletter Racquetball Tip of the Month


What is a Screen Serve?

Flow Chart (pdf) to Print and Post at your Club

The ball must do one of two things (not necessarily both) for a server to be guilty of a screen serve. A screen serve is a fault. In the case of a 1 serve game (Open/Pro Levels) the server is given one more opportunity to put the ball in play.

The screen serve line is 3 feet away from the side wall inside the service zone. If any part of your body or racquet breaks the plane created by this line during any part of your service motion and you serve a hard drive serve to that side of the court...it’s an automatic screen serve.

This infraction occurs by many players who use a walking service motion...You can’t start the service motion with your feet or butt breaking that plane and then start walking across the service box and hit a drive serve behind you.

The other instance of a screen serve is a served ball that passes within a certain distance of the server’s body. While the distance is not defined...it is usually agreed that a racquet length (22”) is a good measure of the minimum required distance.

You’ll notice there is no mention in either instance of the receiver’s ability to actually see the served ball. Just because a receiver doesn’t see the ball does not make it a screen. If the server does not break the plane and the ball doesn’t pass close to the server as it passes through the service zone, it is the receiver’s responsibility to move to be able to see the ball. His movement or lack there of, that results in him not seeing the ball is not a right to a screen serve call if the before mentioned infractions do not also occur.

Footnote #1...in general you can’t call a screen on a Z-Serve...the receiver always sees the ball enough with all the angles involved.

Footnote#2...You can break the screen line plane and hit a lob serve...in general...something higher than your height.

Footnote#3...When a serve passes close to a server but the receiver sees the ball and elects to play the ball…he has the right to do so. A referee should allow the receiver to make this call. The server made the mistake and the receiver should not have an obvious setup advantage taken away. However, once a player takes the shot they no longer have the right to call a screen serve. A player who wants a screen call should raise his hand immediately and continue to play the ball in this case. Once a referee sees the hand up and he agrees that it was a screen serve...the referee should stop play and make the screen call.

Questions or comment…Pat@Racquetworld.com

You can forward any rules questions to me at Pat@Racquetworld.com