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Just like the other racket sports, racquetball is a fairly easy and inexpensive game to get started with because it does not require a ton of equipment.
The equipment that you do have, though, matters greatly. The quality of your equipment can either enhance or hinder your game, either leading you to victory or a sad defeat.
Because of this, it is important to know both how long your equipment will last and how to identify when it is time to replace it.
So with that being said, how long do racquetballs last?
This actually depends on several different variables which we will explore in detail.
By the end of this article, you should be able to identify what type of ball you use (or would like to use) and how to know when it is time to replace it.
A brief look at your racquetball ball
Racquetball is played with either singles or doubles on an enclosed court.
There is no net to hit over, but instead players hit the ball against the surrounding surfaces. All surfaces, including the walls, ceiling, and floor, are legal to play on.
During the game, the opposing players alternate hitting the ball against the front wall, volleying it until one player is unable to return it.
The object of the game is to hit the ball in such a way that the opposing player cannot return it before it bounces twice.
The first player to make it to 15 points with a two-point margin wins the game, and the best 2 out of 3 games wins the match.
Because racquetball is played in a relatively small, enclosed space, it is played with a small ball.
A standard racquetball is 2.25 inches (approximately 6 centimeters) in diameter and weighs approximately 1.4 ounces.
It is a hollow rubber ball that bounces really well; according to the regulation standard, the ball should bounce 68-72 inches from 100 inch drop at a temperature of 70-74 degrees Fahrenheit.
These regulations are set by the USA Racquetball Association.
While there is a set standard for the size, there are several different types of racquetballs that can be used.
Types of Racquetballs
Racquetballs come in a variety of different colors. While these colors make the balls more aesthetically pleasing, there is actually a purpose behind the different colors.
Each different color ball has different properties, and players choose what color ball to use based on their skill level and level of comfort.
In addition to setting apart the various ball properties, the colors are also beneficial when it comes to visibility during a game.
The main colors you can choose from are black, blue, purple, green, red, pink, and multicolored.
The black racquetballs are the slowest and are designed for long rallies.
They also tend to last longer since they are a slower-paced ball and usually don’t get hit as hard.
This type of ball is great for beginners, seniors, or anyone else that needs a little more response time.
The blue racquetballs are the most common.
They are built for medium speed, which makes them popular with recreational players or players who are still inexperienced.
The bounce and trajectory of this ball is extremely predictable, and the ball does not wear out very quickly.
The purple balls are professional level and used in tournaments. These balls are the fastest option for indoor courts.
They are not very durable, though, because the fast pace and hard hits of a professional game wear them down quickly.
Green balls have the same predictability of the blue racquetballs but have a greater speed.
They are not quite as fast as the purple balls, but they are much more durable, making them a great middle ground between the blue and purple.
Green balls are also good for outdoor courts.
The red racquetballs are great outdoor balls because they are easy to see in any lighting and against any background.
They are very fast which makes them great for fast-paced games.
Pink balls are not as common and were developed as part of the Hope line to benefit breast cancer research.
These balls are just as fast as the red balls and actually provide better visibility inside.
Multicolored racquetballs are also not very common.
They have incredible visibility because of the two colors; the side-by-side colors also help you see the spin of the ball.
Choosing what color ball you want to use depends on what level of experience and skill you have and whether you will be playing on an indoor or outdoor court.
When to replace a racquetball ball
Some players do not replace their racquetballs until they break, and this is a mistake.
If a racquetball gets to the point of breaking during a game, it was likely not a good quality ball to be playing with in the first place.
A brand new racquetball has texture to it, which is key for gameplay.
This texture allows the ball to consistently grip to the walls and the floor.
Once a ball has been played with for a while, the texture starts to wear off.
As this happens, the ball gets smooth and loses the ability to grip the wall; instead, it slides off of the surface that it comes in contact with, making it more slippery and inconsistent.
Because of this, players should replace their racquetball when more than 50 percent of the texture has worn off.
Following this guideline will ensure that your equipment is benefiting you rather than becoming a hindrance to your game.
In addition, players should also replace their racquetballs if they are no longer bouncing as well as they used to.
Racquetballs typically come in packs of 2 or 3 balls to a can or in a jar that contains 12 balls.
In both instances, the balls are packaged in a sealed container under pressure.
While racquetballs are not pressurized, being sealed this way helps keep their form and hardness.
Once you remove them from the container, they will immediately lose a small amount of the hardness that they had in the container.
This is normal and will not be very noticeable during play.
Since the balls are not pressurized, the air will not leak out and make the ball go flat.
However, constant use and impact can change the hardness and bounciness of the ball over time.
If you feel like your racquetball is not bouncing as well as it used to, you can drop it from shoulder height and see how high it bounces; it should bounce back up to your waist or higher.
You can also test it by dropping an old ball and a new ball at the same time and watching how much both of them bounce.
If the old ball has significantly less bounce, it is time to replace it.
How long do racquetball balls last?
How long a racquetball will last depends on several different variables.
First, it depends on how often you play.
If you play several times a week for a few hours a day, then a racquetball will likely not last you very long before it starts to wear out.
If you play less frequently, then it will last longer since it is not getting worn out by more frequent impact.
Second, the longevity of a racquetball also depends on your level of experience and the amount of power behind your hit.
If you are an experienced player than hits really hard, your racquetball will wear out faster than one being used by a beginner who has not yet built up the proper technique when hitting.
Finally, the amount of life in your racquetball also depends on the type of ball that you have.
As previously discussed, the different colors of racquetballs have different properties, one of which is the level of durability.
If you are using a purple racquetball, you will likely need to replace your ball after every game or every couple of games because these balls are not very durable.
If you play with a green or black ball, on the other hand, you will be able to use the same ball for quite a while because they are built to last longer.
How much play you get out of each ball really comes down to personal preference.
If you are a serious player who can tell when the bounce is starting to fade, you will probably want a new ball every 3 to 5 games.
If you are a beginner or are not wanting to constantly purchase new balls, then you can use the same ball until the texture has worn off of it and it is close to breaking.
If you cannot quite tell by texture if the ball needs replaced, a good rule of thumb is to look at the logo.
If the logo has rubbed off or is barely visible anymore, it is time to get a new racquetball.
No matter what your preference is, it is a good idea to have a couple of spare racquetballs with you for every practice and game so that you are prepared should one need to be replaced.
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