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Racquetball: Origins & History (Joe Sobek, CT, Paddle Racquet,…)

Although often confused with squash, racquetball is a simple, unique, fast-paced sport that is certainly worth a try. Whether you prefer watching or playing, racquetball is an exciting racquet sport to be enjoyed by everyone. But, have you ever wonder how did all started? Let’s find out!

The creation of racquetball is credited to Joe Sobek, a professional tennis and handball player, who, in the 1950s, aimed to develop a fast-paced, easy-to-play racquet game. Since its creation, racquetball has spread to millions of athletes and fans alike.

The game of racquetball has developed throughout the years, but Joe Sobek’s vision of a fun, fast game that anyone could learn and enjoy lives on to this day. The game has some history that continues to develop today. Want to give racquetball a try? Why not learn a bit about the history behind this energetic, fun-filled game first?

A Brief History of Racquetball

Racquetball dates back to around the 1950s, when professional tennis and handball player, Joseph Sobek invented the sport. Since then, the game has gained popularity in the United States and throughout the world.

Racquetball’s growth in popularity has given millions the opportunity to play and enjoy racquetball, as well as learn about its rich history. This has lead to local, national, and global championships that give fans and players lots of excitement. Since its creation, racquetball has developed into a well-known racquet sport in the United States and around the world.

This is a brief explanation of racquetball history.

Paddle Racquet

Paddle Racquet, as it was initially called, was developed between the 1940s and the 1950s by Joseph Sobek. Sobek, a professional tennis and handball player, wanted to create a simple yet invigorating game. Racquetball was created in a YMCA in Connecticut.

In 1951, Sobek founded the Paddle Racquet Association in order to officialize the rules and regulations of the sport. The rules of the game were spread to YMCAs throughout the United States, allowing the game to gain popularity.


The game soon became popular when the International Racquetball Association was formed in the late 1960s by Robert Kendler. The sport then became known as racquetball nationally and globally. Racquetball was beginning to gain the recognition it deserved as a high-energy yet simple sport.

Racketball & Squash 57

In Europe, Ian D.W. Wright coined the game racketball based upon Sobek’s racquet sport. The sport gained popularity in Europe. It was eventually renamed Squash 57 in order to differentiate it from Sobek’s game. However, the two games share similar rules and regulations.

Competitions and tournaments

Due to its growth in popularity, there are many competitive racquetball players in the United States and around the world. In 1969, the first racquetball championship was held, where players were given the opportunity to compete against each other in an official setting for the first time.

In the 1980s, the first world championship of racquetball was held. Since then, every two years, committed racquetball players have played against one another, competing for the championship. In the 1990s, racquetball was approved by the International Olympic Committee as a Pan American Games sport.

Racquetball Today

To this day, millions of players and fans continue to enjoy racquetball. The sport remains as fun and as intense as it was when Joseph Sobek created it more than half a century ago.

Devout players compete against one another, and casual players enjoy the game as a fun, challenging workout. Racquetball continues to be a game that anyone can appreciate, whether they would like to get in on the action or simply watch it.

How Racquetball Has Changed Over the Years

Since its development, racquetball has gone from a game that an individual created into a regulated and official sport that millions enjoy.

At the start, racquetball was called paddle racquet. Since Joe Sobek’s creation of racquetball, it has become a popular, fun sport that many individuals enjoy playing and watching. The game has captured the interest of those who love to get active in a fun, intense way. It has evolved over the years, inspired similar games, and risen in popularity.

The Racquet

Today, racquetball is played with a large, oversized racquet. However, the racquet itself has changed quite a bit since Sobek originally developed the game.

Initially, the racquet was often made out of aluminum, taking the shape of a small, hand-held mirror. Over the years, the racquetball racquet models grew larger.

Today, the racquetball racquet frame has a large, ovular shape and is made out of lighter and stronger materials. This modern design gives racquetball racquets a unique look that sets the game apart from other racquet games.

Racketball & Squash 57 (in the UK)

Racquetball’s popularity throughout the United States allowed it to become an international sport. When it became popular in Europe, Ian D.W. Wright was inspired by Sobek’s game. Wright developed racketball, a similar game that is played slightly differently.

The rules, regulations, and scoring are different in racketball, but the game is clearly inspired by the fun game that is racquetball. Recently, racketball has been renamed Squash 57 to differentiate the two games from one another. Still, the two games share the idea of a fast, fun-filled game for anyone to enjoy.


Racquetball is a relatively new sport still. The game only became official in 1952 when Joe Sobek founded the Paddle Racquet Association. Its novelty hasn’t stopped it from becoming a national and international sport that millions enjoy.

The game picked up popularity when it was spread to YMCAs around the United States. After that, racquetball became international.

Players from around the world compete against one another in tournaments, displaying their skills to fans everywhere. It has become a sport that anyone can enjoy.

Game variations

While racquetball is a newer game still, some variations have been developed so that more people can enjoy it. Generally, the game is played with two players or four players competing against each other. However, the game allows for some variation due to its simplicity.

A single person could play on their own, or three people could play at once for a challenging, fun competition. Individuals can try different rules and ideas to add to their game of racquetball. It is a very versatile game due to its simplicity, and it can be a fun workout or time out with friends.

Where is Racquetball Played?

Racquetball was developed in Connecticut, United States. Since its creation, the sport has spread nationally and globally. Today, there are millions of players and fans that enjoy this high-energy sport.

United States

Racquetball was originally created in the United States. It continues to attract American players from all over the country due to its high intensity. Professional players compete against one another and are ranked nationally. This sport is also played in a more casual setting by devoted racquetball players throughout the United States.

United Kingdom

Racquetball has also gained popularity in Europe since its creation. In the United Kingdom, a sport called “Squash 57” was created based on racquetball. The two sports share many similarities but have different rules and regulations. Professional and casual players enjoy both racquetball and Squash 57 in many countries.

Sports Clubs

Sports clubs have exposed many individuals to the game of racquetball. Many sports clubs and country clubs provide members with racquetball courts so that the sport can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to give it a try. Racquetball can be an intense and fun workout for fans of racquet sports.

National and global championships

National and global championships take place for players of racquetball to compete against one another. A racquetball world championship has taken place every year since the 1980s.

This racquetball championship has allowed dedicated racquetball players to show their skills to the world. Not only do the players get to enjoy this championship, but it has also given fans of the sport an intense competition to look forward to each year.

All in all

Racquetball is sometimes forgotten about in the world of sports since it’s relatively new and unknown. With the many racquet games available, players and fans opt for better-known games. Racquetball is different from many sports, but do not let that keep you away. The game continues to grow in popularity with tournaments, fans, and competition. Professionals compete against one another, and popular brands are developing better racquets for players to take advantage of.

Give racquetball a try. It is a simple, fun game that will get you energized. Even viewing a game of racquetball can be enough to get your heart pounding when you see how intense these games can be. Overall, racquetball is a fun-filled and lively sport that will bring joy to players and fans alike. With a history that continues to develop, racquetball is surely to attract newcomers.