The serve is the most important aspect of racquetball. You have complete control of the speed, angle, height and direction of your serve. Your goal is to either ace the serve or force a weak return of serve.
The backhand’s engine is in your upper body, especially in your hips and shoulders. Watch this video a few times and watch how Anthony unwinds his hips and shoulders throughout the swing. The hitting arm just goes along for the ride.
Are you often getting hit by the ball in the back of your legs or in your back?
Do you often have large red circular raised welts in your skin which slowly turn into black bruises?
Are you are standing directly in front of your opponent while they are hitting the ball?
Do you look at the front wall while your opponent is shooting the ball?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are playing bruiseball instead of racquetball.
And, you are breaking a fundamental rule of racquetball in which you must allow your opponent to hit directly to the front wall or cross court:
3.15 – Penalty Hinders
(a) Failure to Move. A player does not move sufficiently to allow an opponent a shot straight to the front wall as well a cross-court shot which is a shot directly to the front wall at an angle that would cause the ball to rebound directly to the rear corner farthest from the player hitting the ball. In addition, when a player moves in such a direction that it prevents an opponent from taking either of these shots.
Your opponent has the right to stop his swing and call a penalty hinder if you violate the Failure to Move rule. A penalty hinder results in the loss of the rally.
So how do you stop playing bruiseball?
- Never take you eyes off the ball. And especially watch the ball when it is moving behind you. You should be able to watch your opponent hit the ball.
- You cannot stand in center court if it interferes with your opponent in any way.
So get out of the way! You are not allowed to take away your opponent’s offensive shot after you have hit a terrible shot that rebounds to the center court. If you get hit standing in your opponent’s hitting lane, it is a penalty hinder and you should lose the point!
Note — the many benefits of watching the ball were discussed in this post.
This tip from RacquetWorld Pats Tip of the Month discusses the importance of keeping your shots from rebounding off the back wall. The No Back Wall tactic is especially important when serving:
I often tell players simply “no back wall”. In short, this means that no ball you hit, drive serve, passing shot, ceiling ball, cross court or even the round-the-world ball, should rebound off the back wall, resulting in a setup shot for your opponent.
In addition, the “no back wall” tactic insures all passing shots (once past your opponent) are winners with no second chance of retrieval via a rebound off the back wall. Passing shots also have a far less chance of skipping compared to other shot choices.
So by adjusting your game towards passing shots, you are also drastically cutting down on your unforced errors. Plus, you put enormous pressure on your opponent when they realize that they must cut off each shot before it goes by them because there is no second chance. A hard hit passing shot is one of the hardest shots for an opponent to redirect accurately which also results in more easy setups for you.
The second bounce of a properly struck ceiling ball should land deep in the court at 39 feet (the back wall is at 40 feet). A ceiling ball which is moving away from the front wall is much more difficult for your opponent to return. Inversely, a ceiling ball that comes off the back wall is easier to handle and allows your opponent to hit a passing shot at knee level.
A well struck ceiling ball should pin your opponent in a back corner with no shot off the back wall. If they attempt to hit a passing shot or kill shot, it is much more likely that they will will skip the ball.
I saved the most important point for last. No back wall on any serve…EVER! Drive serves should be short or aces—bouncing twice before the back wall. Lob serves should never come off the back wall.
So keep the “no back wall” strategy in mind when you play your practice matches. Try to reduce the number of times your shots rebound off the back wall, and especially commit to the idea that drive serves should be short or aces.
More great tips and advice can be found at Pat’s Racquetball Tips.