History of racquetball
Racquetball is an active indoor sport played using a hollow rubber ball on a court that can be indoor or outdoor. In general, the sport is seen as similar to tennis and handball, as almost all the rules of those games are incorporated into racquetball. However, the facts are that this sport is unmatched. How did it come about?
Joe Sobeck, a US-based professional handball and tennis player, is credited with inventing the game in 1950. He introduced the game initially while at the Greenwich YMCA. At that time, Mr. Sobek had yet to think of a catchy name for the sport. The development of racquetball resulted from his search for a fast-paced sport that was easy to both learn and play. During this time, racquetball was created as an option to the popular game of tennis.
Two years later, in February 1952, he founded the NPRA, or National Paddle Rackets Association. At the same time, Mr. Sobek codified the game’s mechanics and printed them in a sort of booklet. This new sport was quickly adopted to become a popular indoor sport. Through continuous promotion, the popularity of racquetball increased even more. The new game was then supported by up to 40,000 handball courts at national JCCs and YMCAs where racquetball could be played formally and appropriately.
In 1969, the International Racquetball Association was established. The group uses a name coined by professional tennis player Bob McInerney. That year, the group assumed the role of the National Rowing Racket Association. In 1973, USA Handball Association president and founder Robert W. Candler had a dispute with IRA directors. Mr. Candler then started two other racquetball organizations. The IRA remained the dominant establishment promoting the sport.
The IRA was recognized by no less than the US Olympic Committee as the national governing body for racquetball in the country. The sport reached its peak in popularity in 1974. In that year, it was estimated that there were as many as three million racquetball players in the country alone. In the same year, the IRA organized the first professional racquetball tournament. The organization then became a founding member of the International Racquetball Federation. He noted the spread of the sport’s popularity from the US to other parts of the planet.
Thanks to the growing popularity of racquetball, clubs and courts for the sport were built and founded. Many sporting goods manufacturers have begun commercial production of racquetball-specific equipment. The rise and popularity of racquetball continued into the early 1980s. However, its prestige declined in the later step of this decade when racquet clubs began to transform into fitness clubs due to people’s changing preferences and changing demands.
Before the early 1990s, the total number of racquetball players in the United States alone reached approximately 5.6 million. The sport was warmly received by sports fanatics, especially those based in the UK. Thus, in a very short time, racquetball became a popular ball sport not only for American citizens, but also for British sports lovers.