Mar 032011

It is crucial to learn that your shot selection should be based on your opponents court position. Your goal is to play your opponent, not the ball.

This means that during your backswing, you must expand your awareness to include both the ball and your opponent. If you swing and don’t know the location your opponent, you might as well be playing blindfolded.

Awareness of opponent during backswing

Don’t look at your opponent before you set up or while you are approaching the ball. Your opponent is making up his mind on where to go by watching how you set up.  So start by selecting the most logical shot to hit, set up for it, then look for your opponent. Practice keeping your eye on the ball, while using your peripheral vision to track your opponent.

Plan B from outer space

If you have a set up¹ in front of your opponent, you need to immediately hit a rally ending shot. From this advantageous position, you have two or more winning shots—covering them all is an impossibility for your opponent.

For example, if you are in the front court in the middle left side with an easy forehand, then set up for a pinch shot to the right front corner. If your opponent moves up to cover the pinch, hit a wide angle pass to the left wall, otherwise, if they stay back, hit the pinch shot.

Here is another scenario. Let’s say you are in front court with a set up very close to the left side wall. Your opponent is up front far enough to get passed. Simply set up for a down the line pass along the left wall. If you can see him behind you, do not hit a pinch shot because he may not to stay there. He might get your pinch shot by running past you at the moment you turn your head to hit the ball. Instead, hit a wide angle passing shot to the right side wall. A passing shot is much safer and cannot be covered at the same time as the down the left line or pinch shots.

This post was inspired by this helpful webpage of racquetball drills and tips.

1.  Set up — An aggressive offensive shot hit at knee level or below, eg,  a killshot.

Feb 272011

The following edited article by Coach Dave from California reviews four crucial keys to consider when hitting the ball.

As soon as you can determine whether you will be hitting a forehand or backhand – get your racquet up and get your elbow up.

First, you pivot and coil by turning your shoulders parallel to the sidewall. At the same time, raise your racquet up higher than your wrist.  Raise your hitting arm and elbow parallel to and level with your shoulder. This will position your racquet and shoulders to properly strike the ball.  Early racquet preparation is simple to do, but it takes many conscious repetitions before it becomes totally automatic.

During a rally, we often get tense and tight. To relax during competition we must train ourselves to breath.  Without tension, we are fluid and are able to generate more racquet head speed and power. Plus, when we relax, we fatigue less rapidly. The racquet in our hand should be treated as if it were a bird. Hold it just tight enough so that the bird does not fly away! So relax during your racquetball match and your proficiency will greatly increase!

Balance is a result of good foot work. We need to shuffle-step with our feet as we set up and prepare for our shots. With balance, we have a stable base when we swing. Stability in our legs enables us to swing with a level stroke while keeping our head still.

Consciously strive to complete a full follow through of your swing. On forehands, as you rotate your shoulders, let the racquet wrap completely around your opposite shoulder upon completion of the swing. Give the racquet as much time to decelerate as possible. Your backhand swing follow through should be complete as well, finishing parallel to the floor, on the opposite side of your body from where you hit the ball. A complete follow through will not only provide more power, but will help you to avoid injury! A full follow through will release the energy of your swing into your upper body instead of your elbow or shoulder. So if you want full power and fewer injuries—then always follow through!

Feb 252011

There are two main points in this video by Jo Shattuck:

  1. You need a variety of racquetball serves. Change your serve height, speed, or angle so it does not become predictable.
  2. After hitting your serve, relocate out of the service box into center court position. Maintaining control of center court position will enable you to win the rally. This position is 1 to 2 feet behind the 5 ft service encroachment line.

Feb 232011

There are many ways to add more speed to your racquetball shots. And some methods are counterintuitive. Remember, ball speed is directly tied to racquet head speed at contact.

However, you don’t want swing your racquet faster by using  just your arm strength.

Here are four ways to increase your racquet speed:

1. Relax! Tension is your enemy. Any tension in your wrist, arm, and upper body will slow down your swing.

2. Swing with tempo. You don’t swing at a constant speed. Start slow and deliberate, then accelerate your swing through the hitting zone. Your swing will be at maximum speed after hitting the ball.

3. Follow through. At the swing finish, your arm should wrap completely across your chest and you should be facing  the front wall.

4. Start the swing with the rotation of  your hips, upper body and shoulders. Your arm follows this rotation. The ball just gets in the way of your swing. The entire forehand swing is similar to throwing a ball sidearm (or throwing a submarine pitch).