“Practice as if you are the worst, perform as if you are the best.”
Most players avoid or don’t have the time for solo racquetball practice. They just want to play.
But, we all need practice to work on our weaknesses. However, when we play against someone, we always play in a conservative manner which tries to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses, ie, we play to win and not to improve our game.
So we never get any better because we never get to work on improving our existing skills or adding new ones.
The Tactical Game
One way to both practice AND play, is to use tactical games. You can play these games against a partner, with or without their knowledge. Or, you can both play a tactical game against each other.
Tactical games typically restrict the type of shots that you can hit during a rally. You can also decide to limit the types of serves you can use during the game. So here are four different tactical games that need concentration but can also be a lot of fun.
Ceiling Ball Game
This is my favorite tactical game which I use to warm up. Play one game to 11 pts. Alternate lob serves to the forehand and backhand sides. During the rally, the ball must hit the ceiling on every shot. If you miss the ceiling, you lose the point. Even sharply hit ceiling balls which come off the back wall must be returned to the ceiling (This game can be modified by adding down the line passing shots on short ceiling balls).
Down the Line Game
In this game, you must return every ball down the line as tight to the wall as possible. These can be kill shots, passing shots, or ceiling balls, but they all must be hit down the line. Normally, only attempt a kill shot if your opponent is behind you and you can hit the ball at knee level or below. Pinch and splat shots are not allowed.
This game works on your ability to know where your opponent is on the court, and then, play the correct shot. So in the passing game, if the ball is waist-high or below, and your opponent is in front of you, then you must hit a cross-court pass, or a wide-angle pass. If you are in front of your opponent, you must hit a down the line passing shot. Any ball above waist height is hit to the ceiling. No kill shots.
This game is restricted to just two shots, ceiling balls and pinch (or splat) shots. If your opponent is in front of you, you must hit a ceiling ball. If you can hit the ball at knee level or below, and you are in front of your opponent, then hit a pinch shot to the closest front corner.
3/4 Court Game
Get a roll of 1-1/2 wide red colored masking tape. Use the tape to run a dividing line in the middle of the court from the service line to the back wall.
Both players must play this game together. You can serve to just one side of the court for the entire game. The tape divides the back half of the court into two parts. One side is playable while the other side is out-of-bounds. So 3/4 of the court surface is available to play. Any ball that hits the 1/4 back court floor on the second bounce is out.
This is great practice game since it allows you to hit down the line passing shots, kills, and ceiling balls. Plus, if you are in front of your opponent, you can hit drop shots and pinch shots. However, if you hit your pinch shot, or splat shot too high, it will end up in the out-of-bounds 1/4 court.