Jan 282011
Speed vs Control

The equivalent to yin and yang in racquetball is speed and control. If you increase your hitting speed, you lose some control. If you want to gain more ball control, you need to give up some speed. But is that really true?

In racquetball, ball speed really, really matters. I can think back over years of playing, and cannot remember many times where I got beat by a control player. The fact is, the power player does not need to hit great shots. As long as the power player does not skip the ball, they are going to keep the control player off-balance and feeling rushed (ie, not in control!).

Power players are relentless. They hit blindingly fast drive serves or drive Z’s or jam serves on their first AND second serves. They hit hard wide-angle passing shots that you are constantly trying to chase down. They hit 5 or 6 aces per game. They get ahead in the game and never let you can catch up.

Sequential Summation of Movement

So work on your swing technique so you can increase the speed which you hit the ball. Watch this video on baseball pitching mechanics a few times and think about how to swing where the largest body masses move first  (back leg drive, then hip and shoulder turn)  followed by smaller ones (arm and wrist action).

Jan 262011

Download PDF version of How_to_Play_Racquetball


Racquetball is played by two (singles) or four players (doubles). A variation of the game that is played by three players is called cut-throat. In cut-throat, one player serves and the other two players are his/her opponents. If the server wins the rally, they score a point. If they lose the rally, one of the other players becomes the server. The players take turns being the server as each player serving loses a rally.


The objective is to win each rally by serving or returning the ball so the opponent is unable to keep the ball in play. A rally is over when a hinder is called or when a player (or team in doubles): 1) is unable to hit the ball before it bounces twice, or 2) is unable to return the ball in such a way that it touches the front wall before it touches the floor.


Points are scored only by the serving side when it serves an irretrievable server (an ace) or wins a rally. In doubles, when the first server loses the serve, the second server then serves. After the second server loses the serve, it is a side out.


A match is won by the first side winning two games. The first two games of a match are played to 15 points (win by one point). If each side wins one game, a tiebreaker game is played to 11 points (win by one point).

Continue reading »

Jan 252011

First, I need to debunk a myth about playing ceiling shots. This myth says that ceiling balls are only defensive shots to move your opponent into the back of the court.

First, I prefer to think of using ceiling balls to move me into an offensive position in center court.  Second, in any given game, I will probably win 1 or 2 points outright with a tight, steeply dropping, ceiling ball into a back corner. Third, my opponent will probably skip 2 or 3 return shots from my back court ceiling balls.

So ceiling balls are attacking defensive shots which will put you in offensive position. At minimum, a good ceiling game can win you 3 to 5 points per game.

And good technique helps as well. Remember to use your biggest muscles, which means using your hips and shoulders as the engines to power the shot. Your wrist is mostly locked. Your arm contributes about 20% to the swing, while the remaining 80% is hip and shoulder turn.

And one more tip — don’t hit your ceiling ball too hard. Hit it just hard enough to reach the back wall crack on the second bounce.

How do you improve your ceiling game? In one word, practice!

  • Before every match, warm up with ceiling balls
  • Practice hitting 15 minutes of ceiling balls alone on the court each week
  • Warm up with a partner by playing a ceiling ball game to 11  (only lob serves and ceiling balls allowed)
Jan 252011

The backhand pinch shot is slightly more difficult than the forehand pinch. Practice hitting the ball back in your stance and at knee level or below. Hit the pinch when your opponent is behind you!

In the second video, Kris Odegard demonstrates how he practices a shot by slowly increasing the difficulty of each successive drill. By the last drill, he hits the pinch shot under nearly game conditions.