Racketlon 101: What is Racketlon? (Racket Sports Quadrathlon)

Ever wondered how your favorite tennis pro would fare in badminton, squash, and table tennis? If you have, there is a way to find out… let us introduce you to the world of Racketlon!

Racketlon is a sport where players compete in four different racquet sports – Table Tennis, Badminton, Squash, and Tennis; one after another, in that same order. A Racketlon match consists of four sets (of either 21 or 11 points); each set is played in each racquet sport. The player/team that scores the most points (not sets) wins.

If you’re more into watching YouTube videos than reading blogs, check the following Racketlon clip.

Video Source: Wall Street Journal / YouTube

If you are a fan or avid player of racquet sports, then you know the ultimate test for true racquet sports skills is Racketlon! Just as triathlons and decathlons are made to test the endurance and skills across different sports, so, too, does Racketlon. As mentioned before this sport tests mastery of, arguably, the four main racquet sports; table tennis, squash, badminton, and tennis.

Racket + Athlon (contest) = Racketlon

This fun sport was the brainchild of someone with the same curiosity as yours, and he realized his dreams by creating the sport. Although it is widely known in Scandinavian countries, where it originated, it has managed to, slowly, capture the interest of sports fans across the world.

If you’re curious about Racketlon – the history, rules, scoring, and professional championships, read on to find out.

A Brief History of Racketlon

1980 -The Origins, Finland

Racketlon traces its origins to Finland in the mid-1980s. It was an idea conceived by four racquet sports fans, each who played a sport that is now included in Racketlon. Their idea was to put together a sport that will be the ultimate racquet sport. They called it racket games, “Mailapelit” in Finnish.

After successfully hosting the First Finnish Mailapelit Championships in 1986, neighboring countries grew curious and wanted to join in on the fun.

Spreads to Sweden

As the sport grew in popularity and gained the backing of a winner of the Mailapelit Championships, the Swedish Peter Landberg. His love for the game led him to establish the first competition in his home country. Within two years of the first championship, the sport saw more than 200 players join in.

The surge of growth was momentous in turning the sport from a small-scale pass-time sport to a serious, organized racquet sport.

An Evolving Sport

Throughout this time, the sport had not been given its current name, yet. In fact, the sport was undergoing numerous changes in the rules and evolving to create its own identity.

Given that the sport was a blend of pre-established sports with their own rules and regulations, the question that spurred the changes was whether to keep the individual sports’ rules or to modify them and integrate them differently in the new sport.

Some questions included whether tennis games should consist of six games and three sets? Or should it be less, given time constrictions?

Players and officials grew frustrated by the complex calculations and conversion of points from individual sports. The process was lengthy, and players often went home without knowing who had won the tournament due to that.

1994 – Consolidation of the Sport

In 1994, the sport was dubbed, the name, Racketlon and the rules and regulations surrounding it were standardized. This was thanks to the efforts of the organizing body, the Swedish Racketlon Championship. Not only did they redefine the scoring system, but they also gave the sport its name. As a result, Racketlon as a sport was now born. The sport is currently regulated internationally by the Federation Internationale de Racketlon (FIR).

2000’s – International Attention

The sport grew internationally, as it spread throughout Scandinavian countries and as more professional tournaments were organized. The Racketlon World Open series that took place in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2001 was the first-ever international tournament. It signaled the growth of the sport as numerous elite players from Finland and Sweden took part.

In addition to the native Scandinavian, the tournament saw other players from six other countries, including France, Germany, Scotland, and Bulgaria.

Two years later, the sport moved out of its birthplace, to Scotland, where the first tournament outside a Scandinavian country was held, and in the same year, the Racketlon World Tour kicked off.

Racketlon Today

At the moment, the FIR has about 30 member countries and hosts the Racketlon World Tour in more than 20 countries across the globe.

The Basics of Racketlon

The rules in Racketlon vary across singles and doubles, as well as, across the four sports played.

Generally, a Racketlon game involves playing four different racquet sports: table tennis, squash, badminton, and tennis; played between the same players. The game consists of four sets, one in each racquet sport. They are played in the order of the size of the racquet, meaning players battle it out in table tennis first, and finish with tennis.

All About the Points, Not Sets!

In each sport, competitors play one set.

Each set consists of 21 points for singles; and either 11, 15, or 21 points for doubles. The winner is the player/team with the highest number of points, not sets; unlike most racquet sports, where the winner is the player/team that wins the most sets.

As a result, this makes it possible for players, who lost the first 3 sets, to be still able to win the competitions if they manage to score the highest amount points at the end. For instance, when a team/player loses the first 3 sets by a small difference of points and wins the last set by a high margin of points.

Win by a Margin of Two

Each set can be won by the player(team) who reaches 21 (11) points first and has a winning margin of two points. So, although a player may reach the 21st point first, they have not yet won the set if they do not have a two-point margin against their opponent.

In the case that there isn’t a two-point margin and the scores are above 21, the players must play until one side gains a two-point lead.

Early Interruption

In singles, if a player has enough points to be declared the winner of the game, the match is over, and the remaining points and sets are not played. However, in doubles, the game (all four sets) must be played to completion, even if a team has already won.

Racketlon: How-to-Play

Rules pertaining to each individual racquet sport

Individual sports within Racketlon are still regulated by the sports’ rules and regulations. Albeit the rules are slightly different in Racketlon due to the scoring system and serving rules, all other rules of each individual sport are standard.

Rally points in table tennis, squash, badminton, and tennis are won as they would be in the individual games.

Serving

  • A coin toss is made to determine who starts serving; the winning player/team of the coin toss will decide whether to start serving or returning.
  • Each player (in singles, as well as in doubles) gets two serve to points in a row, before handing over to the opponent.
  • The first serve (of the two serving points of each player) must be served from the right to left side; with the exception of table tennis.
  • Each player/team will alternate in serving at the beginning of each set so that each serves first at the start of two sets. For instance, in singles, the player, who serves first in table tennis, will receive in badminton, serve first in squash, and, finally, receive in tennis.
  • In table tennis, each player gets two serves regardless of gaining or losing a rally score.
  • In case of a tie at 20-20, players serve only once before giving the service to the opponent.

Singles vs. Doubles

The rules of serving apply uniformly across singles and doubles.

For doubles, in the rule book, players on the same team are identified by either the letter A or B, and the player with the service is indicated by the number 1. Therefore, on one side of the court will be A1 and A2, while on the other side of the court will be B1 and B1.

Each player gets two serves before handing over to the opponent. Once the ball is back to the side that served first, the other player in that double team gets to serve from the appropriate side.

On the following link, you can find more information about the specific when playing doubles.

Switching Sides

In singles, the sets are played up to 21 points, so players will switch sides halfway through the set, at the 11th point in table tennis, badminton, and tennis.

Gummiarm One Point Tie-Breaker

In the case players/teams have accumulated an equal number of points across all four sets, a one tennis point tie-breaker will be played to determine the winner.

The Gummiarm tie-break, played on the tennis court, is begun by a coin toss to decided the player/team who gets to serve. To offset the advantage of serving, the server doesn’t get a second serve.

This is a high-stakes tie-breaker, where the winner of the point is the winner of the entire match.

Other Important Information about Racketlon

Time and Breaks

Players receive a one-minute break when one side gets to 11.

Also, players get a maximum of a 6-minute break between sets.

  • This includes the 3 minute warm-up for the next sport; which means that players, actually, get 3 minutes to rest between sets. Each set is played six minutes apart.

Apart from the, already, mentioned breaks, the rules require continuous gameplay without significantly long delays.

Conduct and Warnings

All players are expected to conduct themselves fairly and decently in all the games. Swearing, threatening other players, or abusing racquets and/or paddles are code violations that may result in warnings and further action from the umpire. Warmings are issued within a match, meaning they carry on through the four different sets of play.

The progression of penalties is as follows:

  1. Warning: on the first incident the umpire issues a verbal warning against the infraction
  2. Loss of a point: upon a second warning from the umpire, the player will lose a point.
  3. Loss of a set: a third incident brings a loss of the entire set regardless of the player’s status in the set.
  4. Loss of the match: the final incident is met with a loss of the entire match, and the player/team gets disqualified from the tournament.

So, Are You Ready to Take on the Challenge?

If you are a prospective player, do know that going into Racketlon means joining a community of supportive players at various levels of mastery of sports all willing to help in improving skills. Whether you are great at one sport or none, it is easy to find other players who are good at other Racketlon sports to help you build skills through practice.

With time also, players and fans have been expanding the sport by creating clubs in their local areas. This generally entails getting in touch with the closest certified Racketlon organizing body and expressing interest in opening a club in your area of residence.

Following a series of correspondence to ensure you have the tools and equipment to support the formation of the club and sustain its growth, you will be given a go-ahead.

Playing Tournaments

Tournaments are committed to fostering fair and just opportunities for players to measure up their skills against others. They do this by matching up against opponents from similar abilities – beginners and intermediates who have some experience to elite players who have competed internationally.

Players are able to play and enjoy their games, grow their skills, and get exposure to professional playing standards by entering tournaments.

If you’ll like to find more about where to play Racketlon, check the Racketlon International Federation (FIR) website.

Overall, it may be said…

Racketlon is a fun sport! Played seriously and competitively, it requires top-notch playing strategy, stamina, and skills across all four sports in addition to a keen ability to stay mentally focused.

It is a game where every point counts and there is not much room for error. Players must be highly focused and trained to stay calm under pressure in order to maintain a lead or to catch up to the opponent.

For players, the foremost focus is developing a consistent level of mastery across all four sports. It is often the case that players are well-versed with one of the sports before going into Racketlon. However, to succeed, mastery of just one sport is unlikely to help a player win the match.

Related Questions

  • How can I get started with Racketlon?

The best way to get started as a player is to find a Racketlon club near you and make arrangements to become a member. By going to the FIR website, you can find information on your local federation. Once you are a member, you will be able to access the club’s facilities for practice and be on the roster for chances to compete in tournaments.

  • What equipment do I need to play Racketlon?

To play Racketlon, you will need one or two rackets for each sport. A table tennis paddle, a squash, badminton, and tennis racquets. Regular sports apparel should be fine.

If you have been playing racquet sports for some time, you may have a good idea of the type of rackets will suit you best. If you’re new to racquet sports, it’s quite crucial that you choose racquets and paddle that feels comfortable and gives you good control of the ball.

  • How do I know which Racketlon tournament level to play?

There are four levels in Racketlon; elite (A), advanced (B), intermediate (C), and beginners or social players (D).

It’s a good idea to frequent tournaments in which you are not participating and observe the caliber of games in all the different groups to give you an idea of where you might fall. The level of training you have also played a role in determining where you could be placed.