May 032013
 
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Do you have a case of the skips? Are you hitting more than 5 skip shots per game? If so, then you will also be losing many more matches than you should. And, having a case of the skips can become deeply problematic.

By definition, a skip ball shot is the worst played shot in racquetball. You managed to miss hitting the entire front wall and hit the ball directly into the floor. So clearly, all skip shots are unforced errors on your part.

Psychologically, skip shots start off as slightly annoying. But soon after hitting 4 or 5 in a game, players then are thinking only about not hitting another skip. So now their focus shifts from the ball and position of their opponent, to being anxious and fearful about hitting another skip ball. This is especially perilous for aggressive players who are unwisely always attempting kill shots.

Curing a case of the skips usually involves modifying a player’s hitting technique combined with improving the player’s tactics and shot selections.

Some people have basic stroke mechanic problems which can corrected by encouraging them to have a long, flat, level and relaxed follow through. You do not ever want to hit down on the ball.

Another common cause of a skip occurs when a player is too far in front of the ball. It is difficult to hit a ball which is dropping down behind your back leg. So in this case, the player has made a positioning error in relation to the ball. Proper movement with the ball will aid in hitting the ball off the leading leg.

There are two basic types of skip shots: front court and back court.

Front court skips occur when a player feels rushed to hit the ball. So to hit a low shot, they get too close to the ball and are forced to hit downwards. The floor is now the target. In all cases, a player can choose to hit either a low kill shot, and maybe win the rally, or choose a tactically smarter shot such as a passing shot. The passing shot may not win the rally, but it accomplishes your overall strategy of keeping center court position.

Back court skip shots are hit from within 5 feet of the back wall. Your distance from the front wall magnifies poor shot shot selections and swing imperfections. This territory is where most skip shots occur. The simple cure is to adopt a style of back court shots that entirely remove the chance to skip the ball, such as hitting ceiling balls and passing shots.

Fun practice games can help to develop the correct shot making skills. For instance, you could play a game where both players must hit a ceiling ball if the ball is within 5 feet of the back wall. Other ways to discourage and penalize skip balls is to deduct a point from your score for a skipped ball.

And I sometimes have our high school players do 10 push-ups for every skip shot. Not only do they commit less skips, but they quickly learn to hit shots that may get their opponent into skipping trouble.

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