Mar 252013

circling movementIt is the tendency of racquetball players to move in a direction straight at the ball. This is normal because during the rally, your goal is to get to the ball quickly before it bounces twice.

However, your first step towards the ball may actually limit the type of shot you can hit.

Take a look at the first illustration on the left.

This shows a player at position A moving in a straight line to hit a ball at position B. There are several bad consequences from moving directly at the ball:

  • Most likely you will be moving  too close to the ball.
  • You have no time to pivot and set-up facing the side wall.
  • You cannot hit the ball down the line.
  • You cannot hit a pinch shot into the right corner.
  • You can only hit the ball cross court directly towards your opponents position.
  • You cannot see your opponent’s position.

Whenever I see someone running straight into the ball, I pretty much know where they will have to hit it – cross court! They will not be able to hit a winner down the line or a pinch shot. And on top of that, they will be completely blind to my current position.

So how do we fix this awful situation?

Take a look at the second illustration.

The proper way to move towards the ball  is to circle or to flank the ball. This movement will allow you to get to the side of the ball.

Here are the advantages of circling the ball:

  • From the side position, you can hit all three important shots: down the line, pinch, and cross court.
  • From this side position, you can take a quick glance and see your opponents position.
  • You can now play the correct shot based on your opponents position.
  • You are less likely to jam yourself by getting too close to the ball.

So if you have a lot of trouble hitting clean, down the line shots, most likely it is a consequence of taking that first step straight towards the ball instead of circling the ball.

Mar 212013

According to Ben Croft, the most important shot in racquetball is the serve. He also talks about changing his pattern of serving straight-in drive and lob serves by mixing in Z-drive and high Z-lob serves.

Mar 062013

In racquetball your main goal is play in a manner which enables you to win the majority of the rallies. The following five strategies are all used simultaneously to help control and win your match.

  1. Maintain Center Court Position It’s the position near or just behind the 5 ft line (dotted line). All mishits by your opponent will pass within a step or two from center court. Also, from this position you should be able to retrieve all passing shots.
  2. Hit to Your Opponent’s Weakness.  Often this means hitting exclusively to your opponent’s backhand, or perhaps finding their weakness in returning ceiling balls. When serving, find the serve that your opponent has trouble returning!
  3. Hit Away From Your Opponent Hit pinch shots and kill shots when your opponent is deep in the backcourt and you can hit the ball at knee level or lower. Hit passing shots and ceiling ball shots when your opponent is in front of you in center court. Hit to the right side if your opponent is to your left, and vice versa. Constantly keep your opponent on the run and make his shots more difficult to execute.
  4. Keep Your Opponent on the Back Wall.  Hit down the line shots and ceiling balls deep into the back corners. This is the farthest back you can pin your opponent. Returns from 38 ft must travel a greater distance and are difficult to make without error.
  5. Keep the Ball from Rebounding off the Back Wall. If all of your drive serves, passing shots, and ceiling balls rebound off the back wall, then you are giving your opponent easy setup shots. If this is the case, then resolve to hit your shots with LESS speed and/or at a LOWER height. The lower you can hit your passing shots, the more likely they will bounce twice before reaching the back wall. So, whenever you can’t hit the ball at knee level, hit a ceiling ball instead.

Thanks to Larry Peterson for the basis for this tip.