Feb 012011
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He is intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two-dimensional thinking.
Spock – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Racquetball is a 3-dimensional game. Most beginner and intermediate players are completely focused on hitting the ball directly to the front wall. But, there are four alternative walls to which you can hit the ball: the two side walls, the back wall, and the ceiling. What causes this obsession with only hitting to the front wall?

Through repetition, most of us develop patterns of play. These patterns help us make quick decisions during a rally. However, these patterns can quickly limit our ability to improve.

For example, if you notice that opponent always returns the ball directly to the front wall of the court, then you could deduce that they are stuck in a pattern of play. So you could try hitting your shots into the side walls (around the wall shots) and see what happens. Most likely, your opponent will be completely confused and unable to return these shots.

At each skill level, more complicated patterns of play are required. For instance, beginner players tend to defend the back wall, ie, they volley the ball and try to keep it from getting past them. They have not yet learned how to hit the ball off the back wall.

Advanced patterns require advanced levels of skills. For example, hitting ceiling balls when your opponent is in center court, and pinch shots, when they are behind you, is an advanced pattern of play. This level of play maximizes the use of all three dimensions of the court.

So to improve your game, learn how to recognize your opponents patterns of play. To really improve your game, learn how to recognize your own patterns of play.

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