Enjoying your first tournament

I had a long time player in my local league ask if they should play in a tournament coming up in two weeks. One of the things I thought about after that discussion was what would have made my tournament experience better if I had known it before the first one.

1) Read the full USA Racquetball rules. Lots of things here that you might be dismissing or replaying that have a different official rule than you are observing locally. Case in point: crotch shots. i.e. a ball that hits a wall and the floor, or two walls at the same time. In the case of crotch shots, the floor wins, then the side wall wins. So on a serve that hits the side and the front at the same time, it is an out serve, because it did not hit the front wall only first. So on a serve that goes to the back wall and hits the floor and the back wall at the same time, is a good serve, because it did not hit the back wall first.
Rules PDF
Online Rules

2) Watch the referee rules clinic to understand things like replay hinders and penalty hinders. No one explains it quite as well as Otto Dietrich.
Access the rules clinic videos

3) Enter more than one division, as you may think you are the big fish locally, but you’re about to find out how small that pond actually is. 🙂 One match and done can be a difficult investment to make repeatedly, so ensure that you get more than one match. I recommend playing in a skill division and an age + skill division, if offered.

4) Bring a 32 oz Gatorade or PowerAde or water bottle and consume the whole thing during each match. (Refill it ASAP!) You will need the energy and rehydration as the extra mental energy you are exerting in your first event will take its toll.

5) Take protein bars or bananas or other portable snacks that are high in nutrition (and not just calories) so that you don’t have to wonder if the tournament will be providing them.

6) If you ever cramp up after playing, eat spicy things! Add some hot mustard or tabasco or sriracha sauce to any meal that you have. It is surprisingly effective at staving off cramps. (The PowerAde & bananas may help too.)

7) Stretch after every match. The best time to do static stretching is just after exertion.

8) Show up early, be well rested, and play hard!


In 2022, there was a thread on Reddit asking mostly the same question.

Others in the community contributed to that thread, so definitely consider going to take a look at the comments there.

I also posted the question in the three biggest FB discussion groups and collected some of the responses that are now listed below:

  • Show up early and warm up, coming on to the court cold is never good.
  • Get there early and jump on the courts between matches to warm up and learn the walls, especially on plaster or wood courts.
  • Bring a friend to tell you to calm the F*** down when the tourney jitters attack!!
  • Play your game, don’t look at the seed or the name. Good luck.
  • Enter enough events so that you get more than 1 or 2 matches.
  • Stay as long as you can to spectate. Meet great people and learn more.
  • Enjoy every minute of your event, talk with new friends, talk with front desk and club staff, and basically enjoy every minute of the event.
  • First know that actual rules of racquetball and don’t allow the etiquette and club rules you play at dictate your game play.
  • Get to location EARLY. If having to travel/drive long distance best to stay at hotel night before first match. Check in 2 hrs minimum before your scheduled match so you can get to know the feel of the facilities and start warming up (stretch, light cardio) 30 min prior to match.
  • Pack MORE CLOTHES than you think you will need. Pack a towel and shower stuff. I have my tournament bag and then a separate bag/small check in luggage for my clothes and stuff.
    Bring sandals and a separate showershoes.
  • Last but not least network with as many people as you can and have fun.
  • Play to have a lot of fun and the rest will work itself out. This is why you play the game in the first place.
  • Relax, have fun, and do the best you can. Don’t over think it.

What would you add? Reach out to me via the Contact page if you want me to add your thoughts to this collection.