Racquet Sports

When you think of a racquet, the sport of tennis probably comes to mind. Which makes sense, as tennis is the most popular racquet sport around. But it's not the only one. There are many sports that get athletes into the swing of things.

Racquetball: This is one of the fastest-paced racquet sports. Players use racquets that are a little smaller than tennis racquets to hit a hollow rubber ball around a small, enclosed court. The court is about half the size of a tennis court, and all four walls are in play. Although there are many rules to follow, players can hit the ball off any of the court's four walls. Because the ball is hollow, it zips around the court and can be very difficult to return. The point of the game is to hit a shot that your opponent is unable to return.

Squash: This game is very similar to racquetball. The games are typically played on the same court, but the racquets are a little thinner. Also, the ball is harder and doesn't have as much bounce to it. The biggest difference is in the way players swing their racquets. In racquetball, like tennis, players take full swings, complete with backswings and follow through. However, in squash, players slice their racquets through the air. One of the main reasons they do this is to put spin on the ball to make it harder for their opponents to return. Squash balls don't travel as much as racquetballs, so spin plays a bigger part in the game.

Badminton: Badminton, like tennis, is traditionally played outside, although there are indoor courts and competitions. This is a very popular game at backyard barbecues and at picnics in the park. Badminton racquets are very long, thin and light. Instead of hitting a ball back and forth over a net, players hit what is called a birdie, or shuttle. Unlike most racquet sports, the birdie isn't allowed to bounce before you can return it. Badminton has been an Olympic sport since 1992.

Next time you're at the sporting goods store, compare the different kinds of racquets they have and what sports they are used for. Chances are that if you love playing tennis, you'll enjoy other racquet sports as well!

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