May 272013

A rubber grip provides a tacky and non-slipping surface to grip your racquet. The unique v-shaped tire-tread like pattern on a Python grip provides a sure grip that will last longer than a traditional grip.

It only takes a few minutes to replace a worn-out grip. Many players will immediately replace a brand new original manufacturers grip with a rubber grip.

In this video, Ben Croft shows how to put a rubber grip on a racquet. Make sure the new rubber grip is warm and pliable. Use a hair dryer to get the grip warm before sliding it on your racquet handle.

May 192013

Championship RacquetballIf you like to learn and to process information by reading, then Championship Racquetball by Fran Davis and Jason Mannino is the newest and smartest racquetball instruction book out there. As former top-level pros themselves, these two authors are able bring you the most current racquetball techniques and tactics.

The following excerpt is from an excellent discussion on how to generate forehand power:

More About Power

One of the most important areas where power is created is the lower body. The step, pivot, and hip rotation are the core of lower-body power creation and release. Before you step, your weight begins even at approximately 50/50, and then you transfer your weight an additional 5 to 10 percent, depending on your level of play, toward your front leg, using the groin, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf to transfer weight both forward and backward simultaneously between both legs to create energy at point of contact. As this is happening, your hips twist and turn to add to this explosion of energy, creating maximum power. The higher the level of player, the more violent each energy transfer is.

Championship Racquetball is especially suited to advanced players who would like to learn more about high-level tactics from which to build a highly competitive over-all game.

May 182013
The Racquetball Screen Serve FAQ

What exactly does the rule say?
Rule 3.9 (h) Fault Serves Screen Serve – “A served ball that first hits the front wall and on the rebound passes so closely to the server, or server’s partner in doubles, that it prevents the receiver from having a clear view of the ball. The receiver is obligated to take up good court position, near center court, to obtain that view.”

When Does a Screen Serve Occur?
Screen serves normally occur during fast serves, since slower serves allow the receiver a view and time to see where the ball is moving. With rare exceptions, screen serves may also occur after hitting a side wall.

Who Makes a Screen Serve Call?
Only the “receiver” (or referee) may call a screen serve. The receiver, or referee, may make a slow or no call if the serve becomes playable off the back wall. The receiver may not play a serve, then because of a poor return shot, ask for a “screen serve” call.

The Ball Must Be How Far Away From the Server?
There is no designated distance the ball must pass the server by, since it is difficult to measure while playing.

What Determines a Screen Serve?
The server is allowed to hide the ball from the receiver during contact to and from the front wall. But the ball must be in clear view to the receiver as the ball passes next to the server inside the service zone. Good serves are sometimes hit so fast that the receiver may not have time to react and argue for a screen call. Situations may be resolved by determining the path of the ball between the front and the back wall in relation to the server’s position.

How Does One Make a Screen Serve Call?
The receiver should “signal” by raising their non racquet hand above their head during the
serve return, but still attempt a return, if possible, unless they believe they may hit the opponent.The signal tells the server (referee) that you will be requesting a screen serve, or any other service rule call like a foot fault, short or long serve. Screen serves are faults.

good serveGood Serve (Fig 1) This serve is from the center area and away from the server. It could be a screen serve if ball path was closer to the server and further from the side back wall corner. Figure 2 shows the same player positions with the serve passing too close to the server.
possible screen serveScreen Serve (Fig 2) This ball passes too close to the server. Only the receiver may call a screen serve. The receiver may play the serve, especially if the serve is playable after rebounding off of the back wall. The receiver is not allowed to play a serve, then wait to see if they hit a good shot before calling a Screen Serve.
screen serveScreen Serve (Fig 3) Server is left of center court. The red shade shows possible screen serve area. Notice that the ball is hit from the center of the court while the server is positioned just left of center court. This explains the greater chance for a screen to occur at the left side.
screen serveScreen Serve (Fig 4) The server is in center court. The serve is actually hit just right of center court. Red shade shows possible screen serves. The angle of the ball will likely pass closer to the server on the left side, since the ball was hit slightly right of center court.
screen serveScreen Serve (Fig 5) Server is at left side of court. Any serve to the left side that does not go directly to the left back corner will be a screen serve. Any serve hit to the right of the server’s body will not be a screen serve, but could result in a Penalty Hinder (side-out) if the server is blocking a straight-in or cross court return by the receiver.
screen serveScreen Serve (fig 6) Server is at right side of court. Any serve to the right side that does not go directly to the right back corner will be a screen serve. Because the serve is hit at the right side of the server’s body, the angle is slightly different from what occurs in Figure 4 above. This slight angle increase will occur when a right-handed server positions right of center
and serves left.
serve violationScreen Serve (Fig 7) Server is at left side wall and must serve to the right side. Server is violating Drive Serve Zone and may not serve a drive serve down the left side wall.
screen serveScreen Serve (Fig 8) Server is at right side wall and must serve to the left side. Server is violating Drive Serve Zone and may not serve a drive serve down the right side wall.

Special thanks to WEB Racquetball for the screen serve diagrams.

May 122013

game plan
The things that you decide you have to do to win a competition or succeed in achieving a goal.

You will have a better chance of winning your racquetball matches if you adopt a game plan. A game plan is a style of play and a set of racquetball tactics.

First, base your game plan on your current skill set. Adopting a difficult plan will lead to frustration and loss of focus during your match.

Second, stay faithful to your plan during your match. Trust that it will give you the winning advantage, allowing you to stay calm and assertive while hitting your shots.

The following game plans are listed in order of difficulty and level of attack.

Ceiling Ball Game Plan

This plan involves hitting only ceiling ball shots if the ball is within five feet of the back wall. This includes returning almost all serves with a ceiling ball. Hit passing shots if the ball is waist-high or below. Anything hit above waist-high will go back up to the ceiling. This style of play has the least level of attacking shots, but it also keeps you in control of center court and prevents you from hitting skip shots.

Ball Height Game Plan

In this plan, base your shot selection on the height of the ball. All shots hit above the waist should go to the ceiling. If the ball is between knee and waist-high, then hit down-the-line and wide-angle passing shots. If the ball is at knee level or below, and your opponent is behind you, then hit pinch or down-the-line kill shots. This game plan cuts down on the number of shots hit from above the waist which will then rebound off the back wall.

Side-In vs Side-out Game Plan

If you are side-in and serving, then play an attacking game in the front of the court using pinch and kill shots. In the back court, hit passing shots. However, when side-out, you do not want to hit any aggressive shots from the back of the court, and especially no skip shots. This means returning most serves with a ceiling ball. The advantage of this style of play is that you can “go for it” when you are side-in.

Opponent Position Game Plan

In this plan, base your shot selection entirely on the court position of your opponent. Before taking your shot, be aware of your opponent’s position. If your opponent is behind you, and you can hit the ball at knee height or lower, then make a pinch or kill shot. If your opponent is in front of you, hit passing shots. Cut off all serves early with passing shots.

Game Score Difference Game Plan

When ahead in the game by 3 to 5 points, play as aggressively as possible with attacking passing shots and kill shots, and hit drive or hard z serves on your second serve. If the score is very close or even, play attacking passing shots, but keep your opponent pinned in the back court and keep the ball off the back wall. If you are behind in the score by 3 to 5 points, then slow the game down with lob serves and ceiling ball shots from the back court. In this case, force your opponent to take the high risk shots from the back court.

Shooters Game Plan

Ok, this is not really a game plan, but it is the maximum attacking level used by professionals. This game style relies on serving hard drive and jam serves on both first and second serves. All shots are attacking passing shots. All serve returns are hard passing shots. Short balls are killed and opponent errors are re-killed. Splat shots are hit as often as kill shots. Achieve this  style of game in 10 years or 10,000 hours of play and practice.

So, develop your own game plan that matches your abilities on the racquetball court. Evaluate your opponent’s weaknesses and then modify your plan accordingly. Remember, the odds are that your opponent doesn’t even have a plan!