RacquetWorld's Newsletter Racquetball Tip of the Month


The Safety Zone Revisitied 2012

What is the ruling in regards to the area behind the back solid line in the serving box and the dotted line approx. 3 feet behind that.... It is my understanding that this area is called the "safe" zone. 

So is it a foul if a player receiving the serve, if their racquet crosses the dotted line or their feet or any part of the body, or all of the above?

I’ve given you the exact written rule(s) concerning the “Safety Zone”, the Short Line and the Receiving Line below.  Then to make life easier I give you my Star Trek analogy to hopefully make it all as clear as possible.

The first thing that many players don’t realize about the safety zone is that it can be violated by the server or more frequently his partner while leaving the doubles service box.  When this happens, it’s not a fault.  It’s a complete loss of the point instantly.

The subtle difference between the server (or serving team) violating the Safety Zone and the receiving team violating the Safety Zone is the serving team can enter the area after the ball passes the Short Line (which is the back line of the service box) while the receiving team can’t enter the Safety Zone until the ball either bounces in the Safety Zone or passes through the dotted Receiving Line in the air.

3.10 (i) Safety Zone Violation.

An immediate loss of serve shall result if, after the serve has been struck, the server or doubles partner step into the safety zone before the served ball passes the short line.

3.11 (a) Receiving Position.

  1. The receiver may not break the plane of the receiving line with the racquet or body until the ball either bounces in the safety zone or else crosses the receiving line. For example, if the receiver steps on the dashed receiving line with either foot (with any part of the foot contacting the line) before either of the two preceding things happen, a point shall be called for the server.

  2. The follow through may carry the receiver or the racquet past the receiving line, but neither may break the plane of the short line unless the ball is struck after rebounding off the back wall.

  3. Any violation by the receiver results in a point for the server.

Here’s how Mr. Spock would describe it...

Basically, you have to think of the dotted line as a force field...you can't break the force field while its on...the only way the force field gets turned off is when one of two events take place. Event number one occurs when the served ball bounces on the floor before the dotted line...as soon as the ball hits the floor the force field comes down. You can't anticipate the force field coming down and enter early...if you do...you broke the plane and thus are guilty of an infraction and you lose the point. Once the field is down you can cross the dotted line with both feet and swing.

The other time the force field drops is when the ball passes through the field coming off the front wall in the air on a serve. Once again you cannot anticipate the ball coming through plane...it must actually pass through the plane of the dotted line for the force field to come down.

If a player tries to contact the ball and the force field is up....it's a point.

Live Long and Prosper!


Questions or comment…Pat@Racquetworld.com

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