Oct 192013
 

There are many ways to increase your skills and knowledge of racquetball. To learn a new skill, you need to first understand the concepts behind the skill and then correctly practice the technique for the skill.

Learning occurs thru different and multiple mechanisms but the ones which have the greatest impact require direct participation and immediate feedback.

Lets look at the top 5 ways to learn to play racquetball:

  1. by doing repetitions during individual practice
  2. by example from watching live demonstrations (at clinics or private lessons)
  3. by watching live matches of high level players
  4. by watching instructional videos (also see below)
  5. by reading instructional books

There is no single magic bullet to learning to play racquetball. If you want to improve your talents, then there is no substitute for practice. Remember to always keep this formula in mind:

Talent = Practice x Motivation

However, take advantage of private or group lessons, watch live pro matches whenever possible, and attend clinics by local pros. If these events are not available, then watch instructional DVDs or get some books on the game.

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Oct 172013
 

The racquetball pinch shot is the most efficient way to end a rally. If you have a shot in the middle or front of the court and your opponent is behind you,  then hit the ball below knee level into one of the front corners.

A well hit pinch shot hits the side wall first, then will bounce twice on the floor before it reaches the opposite side wall. If there is one shot that really elevates your game to the next level, it is the pinch shot. So before every match, spend a few minutes warming-up with pinches.

To practice your pinches, stand several feet behind the 5 ft encroachment line and drop and hit to the right corner. Allow the ball to rebound back to you and then hit a pinch to the opposite corner pinch. Try to hit the ball low enough so it will bounce twice before reaching the opposite side wall.

You can continue hitting alternating forehand and backhand pinches for several minutes or until you reach 20 points (1 pt for good pinches, 0 pt for a high pinch, -1 pt for a skip). Do not skip the ball! You are not trying to kill the ball.

The following video with Ben Croft shows a very easy way to practice your pinch shots.

Follow this link more videos on how and when to hit the pinch shot.

Aug 172013
 

The wide-angle passing shot is more effective than a standard cross-court passing shot. The wide-angle pass hits the front wall slightly higher and closer to the side wall. Then ball then travels deep to the side wall, hitting the side wall 1-2 feet above the floor and 4-5 feet behind the dotted 5-ft receiving line.  It then hits the floor and angles towards the center of the back wall. A well placed wide-angle passing shot may not rebound off the back wall and be an outright winner.

Your opponent will have a very hard time racing after this shot as it first caroms off the side wall at the farthest distance from them. Then the ball changes direction towards the back wall causing the chasing player to spin 180 degrees to play the ball off the back wall (if possible).

For instructions on hitting the wide-angle shot, review this video by John Ellis:

Next, watch the following video in which Ben Croft demonstrates some effective wide-angle practice drills:

Jun 192013
 

The racquetball drop shot is very difficult to execute. A successful drop shot will be hit with enough momentum to barely reach the front wall. It should hit the front wall no higher than about 16″ and then quickly bounce twice. The drop shot is exactly like a golf putt which drops the ball into the cup on its last revolution.

The drop shot is hit with very short push with the racquet. There is no arm swing. The trick is to use a loose wrist to brake the ball’s impact on the racquet face. Blocking the ball will absorb its energy and speed.

In addition, hit the ball between waist and knee level. If a drop shot is hit above waist-high, it is not likely to die in the front court. In most cases, hit the drop shot down-the-line.

If you opponent has the center court position and is watching you hit the ball, then it is foolish to attempt to hit a drop shot. The ball is much too lively and will stay up long enough to be easily re-killed by an attentive opponent.

But there are three cases when the drop shot can be very effective:

  1. The No-Looking-Back Player – If you play against someone who focuses exclusively on the front wall, then it is likely that they will not see you hit a drop shot from the back court. And, when they do finally see the ball hit low on the front wall, it will be too late for them to retrieve it.
  2. The Fading Quarterback – Often after serving, some players rapidly drop back too far into the back court. So a good opportunity to hit a drop shot is when your opponent is backing up.
  3. The Blast Shot – If your opponent has hit you a blast shot, then you are racing to the very front of the court. If you can, get to the side of the ball, wait for the ball to drop below knee level, and hit a very soft drop shot down-the-line.

If you can think of other situations where it is advisable to hit a drop shot, then share it in the comments!