The Rules of Racketlon
Racketlon is the sport in which you play your opponent in each of the four racket sports table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis. A Racketlon match takes about an hour and contains four sets, one in each sport. Most points in total is the winner and the best all round racket player.
This document contains the official rules of Racketlon according to the International Racketlon Federation.
1.1 Definition of Racketlon
The following three principles need to be fulfilled in order for a sport to qualify for the term Racketlon:
a) The game must include the following four sports: table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis
b) The game must be built on the concept of a Racketlon match involving the same two individuals (pairs in doubles) playing each other in all four sports - with identically formatted sets being played in each sport.
c) Each rally must count. The player (pair) who wins most rallies in total is the winner of the Racketlon match.
Any sport that fulfills the three principles above is Racketlon. Any other sport involving the combination of several racket sports might be termed "multi racket sport" - but is not Racketlon.
1.2 The Rules of the Four Sports
With the exception of the rules provided in this document Racketlon is regulated by the rules of each of the four individual sports. See the following links:
Rules of Table Tennis
The Rules of Squash
The Rules of Badminton
The Rules of Tennis
If any of the direct links above have become outdated, please refer to the websites of the corresponding international federations:
International Table Tennis
World Squash Federation
Badminton World Federation
International Tennis Federation
2. Singles Rules
2.1 Set Order
From smaller to larger rackets.
The four sets shall be played in the following order:
table tennis, badminton, squash, tennis
a) Running score to 21. Margin of two points.
Every rally results in a point to the winner of the rally - i.e. "running score" is applied - and the winner of each set is the player who first reaches 21 points. Except at 20-20 when the set is extended until there is a margin of two points. A set can thus end e.g. 22-20 or 25-23 but never 21-20.
b) Total points count.
The winner of a Racketlon match is not the one that wins most sets but the one that scores the most points in total. This means that it is possible to lose three out of the four sets and still win the match.
c) Early interruption.
If any of the players so wishes the match shall be stopped as soon as (a) the winner has enough points for the match to be decided - AND (b) the rest of the points have no other significance. (Note that group play is sometimes decided through counting total points difference. In that case (b) might apply and the rest of the points might still have significance for the result of the group, in which case each match shall be played to the end.).
If, after all 4 sets, both players have exactly the same number of points the Gummiarm Tiebreak applies, see below.
2.3 Serving & Ends of Court
a) The toss.
The initial order of serving, receiving and ends in each of the four sets shall be decided by one single toss before the match starts, according to the following procedure:
The winner of the toss decides whether to start serving or receiving in table tennis. The player, who starts serving in table tennis, starts receiving in badminton, starts serving in squash and starts receiving in tennis.
In each set (except in squash, of course) the player who starts receiving decides what end to start the set from.
b) Two serves each.
After every two points the serve goes to the other player. At the first of these two serves the server always serves from the right (except in table tennis, of course). The second serve is from the left side.
c) Switch at 11.
Ends are switched at the time when 11 points are first reached by any of the players.
d) One serve each after 20-20.
After 20-20 the serve switches hand after every point until the set is decided. The two first serves are from the right, the two next serves are from the left and so on.
e) Second serve in tennis.
In the tennis set, the server has two chances - first and second service - just as in normal tennis. This is not, however, valid at Gummiarm Tiebreak, see below.
2.4 The Gummiarm Tiebreak
a) One single point in tennis breaks a tie.
If, after all 4 sets, both players have exactly the same number of points, then one extra point is played in tennis, known as the "Gummiarm Tiebreak". The winner of this single point tie-break is also the winner of the full match.
b) A toss decides server and end of court..
Server is decided by the drawing of lots. The winner of the lot chooses whether to decide who gets to serve or what end to play at. The loser gets the remaining choice. The server decides from which side (left or right) to serve.
c) One serve only.
To off-set the server's advantage there is no second service in the Gummiarm Tiebreak.
2.5 Time Intervals & Continuous Play
a) One minute at 11.
A maximum break of one minute shall be allowed at 11 (i.e. when 11 points is first reached by any of the players) in each set.
b) 3+3 minutes between sets.
The break between sets shall be maximised at "3+3" minutes meaning: (a) Warming up at the next sport has to commence within 3 minutes after the end of the previous set. (b) The next set has to commence within 6 minutes after the end of the previous set
c) Continuous play.
Play must be continuous at all times (as far as can be reasonably expected). Umpires and referees have the right to penalise players under the misconduct rule should they breach this.
2.6 No Coaching During Play
Coaching of players is permitted only during the breaks between sets and at the half time break within each set. Coaching does not include brief comments of encouragement between rallies that clearly have no effect on the continuity of play. The Referee shall decide whether comments are permissible encouragement or improper coaching. The use of external communication aids is prohibited. The Referee may penalise coaching in any form during play by applying the misconduct rule to the player being coached.
2.7 Conduct on Court
2.7.1 Misconduct penalties.
For any act of misconduct (as judged by the umpire) such as swearing, threatening behaviour, racket abuse, delaying or dangerous play, etc, the player shall be penalised as follows (on a per match basis):
a) 1st incident - warning
b) 2nd incident - player loses a point
c) 3rd incident - player loses the set
d) 4th incident - player loses the match and is disqualified from the tournament.
2.7.2 Line Calls Stand.
If a call is challenged and no judge or referee is present then the call stands and the challenger has to accept the call. The challenger may, of course, request a referee to preside for the rest of that set, if available.
a) 5 minutes once.
Each player is allowed one injury time-out per match of 5 minutes.
b) Stop bleeding.
In the event of bleeding the same rule as above applies, as long as bandages/plasters are readily available of course.
c) Extension at collision.
If any injury is the result of a collision with the opponent, the umpire may allow the player as much time as he needs, and if necessary, penalise either player.
Organisers should require that protective glasses are worn in the squash set in all classes but Elite.
3. Doubles Specific Rules
The rules of each sport and the singles rules above regulate most aspects of a doubles match. But some additions are necessary. These are the rules specific to doubles:
3.1 Players on Court
Both players of each pair must be on court for the table tennis, badminton and tennis. The exception is squash, which is played as singles.
3.2 Serving and Ends of Court.
The examples below refer to a match between Pair A (containing players A1 and A2) and Pair B (containing players B1 and B2), where the digit 1 denotes the players serving and receiving first (in the set) respectively.
b) The toss.
As in singles there is one single toss done before the match deciding which team starts to serve in each set and which team gets to decide what end to start playing at. Specific to doubles it is the team that starts serving that, in each set, decides which of the two players shall start serving. Likewise, it is the receiving side that decides which of the two players starts receiving. The receiving side may make their choice after they know who will serve. (This rule (b) regarding serving, receiving and ends of court apply to all sets except squash, see below.)
c) 2 serves each.
As in singles each serve game contains 2 serves, meaning that each server gets to serve twice before the right to serve moves over to the next server. With the exception of the extension after 20-20, where the serve switches hand after every point.
d) Right then left.
As in singles the first serve in each serve game is always from the right and the second from the left. Except in table tennis where the serves are always from the right as in standard table tennis doubles.
e) Table tennis.
The order of serving/receiving rotation in table tennis starts with A1 to B1, B1 to A2, A2 to B2, B2 to A1 and this cycle repeats itself until 11 is reached. At that stage the two players that are about to receive switch positions with each other and the cycle changes into A1 to B2, B2 to A2, A2 to B1, B1 to A1. (Note that the regular position switches only occur after each serve game and only on the side which has just been serving.)
The cycle for badminton serving is simply A1 - B1 - A2 - B2 throughout the set. The receiving is guided by the badminton rules that suggests that the players keep their positions except the serving side when the server moves to serve from the left side after having served from the right. This gives the following cycle: A1 to B1 then A1 to B2, B1 to A2 then B1 to A1, A2 to B2 then A2 to B1, B2 to A1 then B2 to A2. Which repeats itself without change until the end of the set.
As in badminton the cycle for serving in tennis is simply A1 - B1 - A2 - B2 throughout the set. As regards the receiving each team choose, at the beginning of the set, which player returns on the deuce court (i.e. forehand side for right handers) and ad court (i.e. backhand side for right handers) and this shall stay the same until the half time break at 11, at which time each of the teams has the option to switch or leave it unchanged. This shall then stay the same until the end of the set.
3.3 The Squash Set.
3.3.1 Switch players at 11.
The squash is played as one singles set to 21 in two parts. In the first part player A1 (from team A) faces player B1 (from team B). When 11 is reached the players are switched so that A2 faces B2 in the second part of the set. The scoring is kept at the switch so that A2 takes over A1's score while B2 takes over B1's score. The serving is handled in the same continuous way (e.g: A2 starts serving from the left if his partner (A1) served from the right in the previous point).
3.3.3 Player Order in Mixed Doubles
In Mixed Doubles, the women play each other first and then the men take over to finish the set.
3.4 Gummiarm Tiebreak
As in singles there is a Gummiarm tiebreak if the pairs have exactly the same number of points after four sets. Specific to doubles the serving side shall decide who will serve within the pair. Similarily, the receiving side shall decide who will receive within the pair.
4. Team Specific Rules
For example at World Championships a team event for national teams has traditionally taken place for three men and one woman. These are the rules specific to team events:
AW = The woman of Team A
AM1 = The best man in Team A
AM2 = The second best man in Team A
AM3 = The third best man in Team A
The corresponding notations are used for Team B (BW, BM1, BM2 and BM3)
4.2 Order of Play
A team match shall consist of four individual Racketlon matches started in the following order:
AM1 vs BM1
AW vs BW
AM2 vs BM2
AM3 vs BM3
a) In line with the fundamental principle of "each rally counts" the winner of the team match is not the team that wins most individual matches but the team that wins most points in total.
b) The individual matches may optionally, in order to e.g. save time, be played to 15 or 11 instead of the standard 21.
4.4 The Team
a) Line-up commitment.
Before a team match begins each team shall commit to their line-up; i.e. to which 4 team members will be active in it and in what positions. Each of the teams has the right to hide their line-up from their opponents until their opponents have committed to their line-up.
b) Max 2 + 1 reserves.
In the context of a team tournament a team may contain a maximum of 3 reserves; max 2 men and max 1 woman. This means that a tournament team can be max 7 players.
c) Reserves may be deployed during a tournament but never during a team match. If a player needs to interrupt a match due to injury he may not be replaced and loses the remaining points.
a) Strength order.
Care shall be taken so that the male players (M1, M2, M3) are ranked according to strength in order to provide for the best men, the second best men and the third best men of each team to face each other respectively. (Organisers are recommended to specify a relevant ranking that regulates this.)
b) Within a tournament the ranking within a team may not change.
2001-06-17: first version
2002-05-17: margin-of-two (22-20) counting introduced (see discussion); links added to rules
2002-12-03: gummiarm tiebreak introduced (see discussion)
Clarified that this document contains the official rules of the IRF.
Added a definition of Racketlon.
Added a note to clarify that group play might require that matches are played to the end eventhough they are already decided.
Modified the description of the single point tie-break to clarify that the winner of the lot might also choose which side to play on. (Same thing clarified for the tossing at the beginning of each set).
Added rules about breaks (at 11 and between sports) according to IRF decisions.
Added a recommendation about protective glasses according to an IRF decision.
Added rules on Time Intervals, Conduct on Court, Injury and Line Judging according to IRF suggestions (see analysis.doc)
Changed the order of sports so that squash and badminton switched place into tt-ba-sq-te - according to an IRF decision. (see analysis)
Two format changes according to AGM decisions in Vienna 2006-11-25 (see newsitem):
-The serve games shortened from 5 to 2 serves.
-A single toss rule introduced implying alternating "start-to-serve" advantages.
Updated the links to the rules of the individual sports
Clarified the rule on the "Gummiarm Tiebreak"
Polishing of wording and structure for clarification purposes.
Updated according to decisions taken (see proposal for details and analysis) at the Rotterdam AGM (2007-12-28). As follows:
- Incorporated the doubles rules into this document.
- Added rules for the team event.
- Other minor changes for clarification purposes.
Updated according to decisions taken (see proposals for details and analysis) at the Fürth AGM (2008-11-28). As follows:
- The order of play in squash doubles modified so that each pair chooses themselves who plays first and last (rather than letting the world ranking decide).
- Paragraph 2.5d on "Restricted Pausing" (every five points only) removed.
- A rule regulating coaching added.
- The option to switch receiver side (forehand/backhand) in tennis doubles at 11 introduced.