C – E
3 C’s: concern; cause; correct —> everything in sport or virtually anything comes down to defining what just happened or what you want to have happen, the cause of it (or cause for it) and how to either correct it with action or reflect it, as in repeat it. Looking at it with ultra positivity, do you want to repeat what just happened, maybe this time with just a little wrinkle? Do you correct to improve it or do you maintain your best, with a little minor flare or personal touch? For instance, you just flicked or I should say flinched back a ball as a re-kill. Although it was softly hit and just 6″ high vs. lower, it was a kill-shot because it didn’t come back far from the front wall or no more than 11 feet, which is far too forward to routinely be defended. Now the concern or what happened there was passable. Although next time you’ll probably have to do even better because the opponent will be ready to dash forward were it to appear to be happening again. Addressing the cause and turning it into corrections, next time, to hit the ball lower and more stiffly … depend on your basics starting with getting sideways facing sidewall. Next get racquet back. Prep to take the ball deep just barely in front of your racquet shoulder. Bear down with your eyes and in your effort. Add a little tumble or Top when swinging thru as your minor correction or key to technical, future success. As another exhibit, if you were to hit a serve that bounces, deflects off a sidewall and then caroms off the back wall, both your sideways and up and down angling require correcting. There often just an image does it like, “Short is better than long”. Or “swing THRU the ball”. There adding Topspin will work, as well. Define your correctable concern. If you struck a serve behind you that struck the front wall and then amazingly angled right back along that sidewall, what you want is to carbon copy that one. To do that determine its cause and do it to repeat your effort, while seeking to reach your optimal performance consistently. For that cross-court serve, angling the ball so it hits (just under) halfway over between contact and the far sidewall, a pulling swing motion, outside of the ball contact and pulling the ball in on your strings all contribute to that ball nearly paralleling the far sidewall. As you play, define “concern, cause and correction”, as keys to your skill consistency. Focus on how to correct it or how to repeat it. Then don’t second think it. Enact causal effects you define. That is bring it about… or correct it until it’s golden. Of course, on the training court, for the concern or skill, that’s where its cause or method, any required corrections, helpful swing thoughts, and any actions that work for you are found and forged. Then the place to use the skill is easily recognized, aimed for and performed competitively at your reliable, attained level of performance.
Call the score —> rule:”it is important for the server to announce and for both players or doubles teams to agree on both the server’s AND the receiver’s score BEFORE…” before the server begins their service motion to serve. That is the rule in “USA Racquetball Official Rules of Racquetball” for self officiating play. Settling on the score helps keep the score right for this time and for the next rally, too. Also, again, calling the score means calling both scores or call both the server’s score and the receiver’s score, as that’s important were there to be a side out. And it’s simply more respectful to acknowledge the opponent’s points. Also, if the game is to 15 and the server has 14, it’s not “Point” serves X; it’s 14 serves the receiver’s score or 10 serves X in a tiebreaker. Calling “Point” is editorializing and placing undue pressure on the receiver when there’s pressure enough on them already. Anyway literally it’d be “possible game point serves X” because it’s not game or match point until the point is actually scored. As server in self-officiated play, “call the score”. In competitive play YOU can’t serve until the score is called by the referee. Make sure it’s right or the score will most likely stay wrong after that rally. Make sure after a timeout is called when you’ve scored that you confirm the score. Sometimes refs forget to mark down that last score before the break.
Can-do —> have a “can-do” attitude that you have can-do skills in your tool bag. Those can-do skills you can count on from your arsenal of shots, out of your repertoire of court moves, and from ace serves you can pull out of your magic top hat of serves. Can-do first means you can do the skills. Second, it means you can do them when the score is called.
Camaraderie —> doubles is a teamwork sport. For example, basically defensively no ball should bounce twice when you’re both teaming to cover the court. Trust between the partners makes it “camaraderie” at its best. Doubles gives you a sense of belonging. You’re part of a team. Your two is one. Ideally give the partner with the best option the shot. You communicate together deciding who should take 50/50. You encourage. You say good shot, good serve or you got this one. You play for your partner AND your partner plays for you. Although it’s okay to play for yourself, too. Don’t let them carry you. Carry your load.
Carbo load —> in racquetball going without eating is rampant in competitions where the matches are clumped so close together, especially when 2 or more events are often entered. A major concern is eating and then soon after playing which is just unhealthy. Blood goes to your stomach to digest when it’s much more useful then in your brain and out in your extremities (arms and legs). So, like a marathoner or a boxer, eat for days in advance of the event. “Carbo load” carbohydrates, as well as take in proteins. Also sip lots of fluids to hydrate, which is very important for those long Saturdays and Sundays in tournaments and, in big national events, for the weekdays, too. If the club serves lunches or dinners cubby hole aside some food to eat later. After playing eat at the end of your playing day. That’s why local pancake houses are so popular, as well as Italian pasta restaurants, around clubs. Also, after playing, fuel those muscles with proteins. Figure out what you eat that works best for you and load up on it before events and during events after you play. Find out whether things like quickly digested goo’s, bananas, sliced oranges and protein bars work for you during especially prolonged playing days. Sip water throughout the day. Know you store a lot in your blood, in your fat, and in your training base; so you can go without eating and play a long, long, long time.
Cardinal rules of racquetball —> there are things you just can’t do and successful play racquetball. Here are the “cardinal rules” don’ts of racquetball plus what to do instead and a few do’s, too: (1) don’t look at your wall target when you’re hitting your shot–>then watch the ball; (2) don’t move over to one side in back when you return serve because that leaves open too much court to cover and it’s raising a flag saying “I don’t hit this stroke well, attack me THERE!”;
(3) don’t take off to cover a shot when the opposing shooter has the racquet up because they can easily change their shot and leave you stranded–>instead wait until their arm first starts swinging forward, and then move; (4) don’t start playing without warming up first and then either use that as an excuse for your lackluster play or chance injury when, for example, you pull a calf muscle; (5) if you leave the ball off the back wall and you’re caught back there with the ball, don’t hide the back wall setup ball from the opponent as it passes by you–>move to cover and pressure their rollout attempt; (6) don’t serve when standing on top of one the drive serve lines, as that would eliminate drive serves down that wall and it would signal to the receiver that the serve is going over THERE–>unless you were to have a drive Z you can lean on or you have a monster cross-court drive or jam off the far sidewall or a wicked up through the middle jammer; (7) don’t hit a short drive second serve; unless that’s your regular deal and it’s your best attack mode 2nd serve play to crush a drive serve that reliably works for you; (8) don’t serve a short lob second serve, as that’s a mental unforced error followed up by a physical error; (9) don’t save the ball to the back wall when it’s going pop off the back wall and you can move to get behind the ball and hit it that-away toward the front wall; (10) don’t rush your service motion so you hit a bad serve–>instead take your time; (11) don’t let the opponent get on a big run of points without calling a timeout unless you’re out of timeouts or you have a plane to catch; (12) don’t play mad at yourself or anyone–> hit the ground running starting every new rally afresh, clear headed and driven, as you can’t change the past, but you can definitely affect the future; (13) don’t be lapse in getting ready by not timing getting your racquet back for each stroke, which means wind back every time matching the ball bounce and your optimal self positioning; (14) don’t face the front wall when you can turn and face a sidewall to swing most proficiently; (15) don’t get quick served by a player serving you before you’re feet are set or before they even finish calling the score or, in self officiated play, don’t let them serve while they’re in the midst of calling the score which is a major distraction; (16) don’t get caught in the box after serving or be caught on the sidewall as the non hitting doubles partner when your partner is serving (or in rallies when your partner is shooting); and finally, as do’s … do watch the ball; do move your feet; do bend your knees; do pick and hit shots you take and routinely make; do stay strong; and do self call 2 bounce gets, skips you know you hit, short serves you see, as well as penalty hinders when you get struck by the opponent’s backswing…or when you block their cross-court…or when you’re blocking the straight in angle…or when you block the opponent’s run to a front court setup…or when you hide the ball popping off the back wall as a setup for the opponent…or when you leave your feet and you keep the ball in play, but you can’t get out of the way in time before the opponent’s move to cover the ball that’s just too close for comfort, as all those calls and the practice of self calling shows your sportsmanship, how you play fairly, and you’re not tainted by the urge to win at all costs.
Carom reading —> synonymous with a rebound off a wall is a carom. A carom is when a ball strikes and rebounds off a surface, like the front wall, back wall, one or 2 sidewalls or even the ceiling above. “Reading how a ball caroms” off the back wall after first caroming off the front wall and bouncing on the way back helps a player be very aggressive when attacking with their low contact stroke and attacking shot options by capitalizing on this very attackable back wall setup pattern. Note that a ball that strikes the front wall and then sidewall usually doesn’t carom off that sidewall quite as forcefully as a ball caroming directly off the front wall. However a well struck front wall-sidewall carom can be quite fast. Here are front wall-sidewall caroms…
(1) a ball that strikes the front wall and then right away caroms off the sidewall to quickly diagonal toward the catty corner rear corner as a Z serve, a low Z shot or High Z shot. Those well Z balls can be struck extremely hard making them go diagonally opposite rear corner very quickly;
(2) a wraparound serve or wraparound shot rebounds off the front wall to angle wide and carom deep off one sidewall to bounce, angle to the center of the back wall and then wide angle out toward the other sidewall challenging the covering player to catch up with it. Wraparound type balls go just a little slower than a more directly angled ball off the front wall angling directly into a back corner, but not by much;
(3) a wide angle pass (WAP) is struck from one side to the other to rebound off the front wall and carom off the far sidewall in the middle of the court ideally next to the opponent so the WAP then bounces and heads toward the center in back where a WAP optimally takes its second bounce right before the back wall;
(4) a ball hit low into a front corner front wall first so the ball then hits low on the sidewall causes the ball to carom off the sidewall going very fast into the center of the front court. This front wall first pinch shot must be hit very low or it will pin ball around up in the front court or even end up in the middle of the court very vulnerable to being re-killed by the defending cover player;
–> A ball that caroms off the front wall that bounces and then caroms off a sidewall goes slower than a ball caroming off the front wall and angling directly to a sidewall. A ball that bounces, pops off the sidewall and then caroms off the back wall goes even slower. That front wall, bounce, sidewall carom and back wall carom pops off as a back wall setup. The idea is that the more direct the angle off the front wall into the sidewall the faster the carom off the sidewall. Although a higher and wider angling ball caroming off the sidewall deeper than up in the front court or deeper than about 5 feet out from the front corner causes the ball to bounce and carom off the back wall causing the cover player to back up or to turn with the ball to pursue it toward the other sidewall. A ball striking a sidewall 5 feet or less from the front wall angles out through the middle of the court where it may be very vulnerable to attack by the challenger. The deeper the carom off the sidewall and the lower the ball, the tougher they are to return, as exhibited by…(a) the crack-out serve that catches the sidewall just past the short line and very low to squirt off challengingly; (b) the low jam serve that caroms off the sidewall halfway between the short line and the back wall; and (c) the deeper crack-out serve caroming off the sidewall at 25 feet or more from the front wall.
–> All of those low caroms are tough when the ball hits low on the sidewall where they’re often difficult to do much more than just reflex the ball back to the front wall, while the player hitting the jam better clear or jump.
Ceiling ball —> there’s 3 types of ceiling balls. There’s 2 where you lift the ball up to the ceiling and 1 where you strike the front wall first and then the ball ricochets up into the ceiling. All ceilings then drop in the front court to bounce and rise up to optimally drop right at the back wall or very low on it. First, there’s the touch ceiling where you slice the ball up to a target within a few feet of the front wall intending for the ball to bounce up and ideally drop on the back wall within a foot of the floor. There the objective is to force a very difficult return of a high ceiling ball by the opponent with their back right up against the back wall. Usually when returning a good lob serve in deep court or another deep ceiling ball a touch ceiling ball is the most likely response. Second, there’s a ceiling where you look for your ceiling ball to strike the ceiling further away from the front wall as a deep target ceiling ball. There when targeting behind the row lights in an indoor court or 6 feet or further back from the front wall causes a faster moving, faster retreating deep target ceiling ball that creates more difficulties covering it for the receiver. The deep target ceiling angles down lower on the front wall, bounces hard further out and drops back going faster. If a see target ceiling does contact the back wall, it drops down like a rock at a more acute angle where it’s not so much a setup as it is a challenge just to keep it in play. Third, the front wall first ceiling ball strikes way up high on the front wall to then carry up and contact the ceiling. Especially when the front wall first ceiling is struck from deep court it’s one of those, “I meant to do that” shots. If it were intentionally attempted from deep court the ball could entirely miss the ceiling. However, as a improv shot from in the front court, a front wall first ceiling ball is very good tactical shot that pulls the opponent back very quickly and often much faster than they’re ready to retreat. Ceiling balls in general are defensive in nature where your objective is to retake center court. Also ideally the opponent is pulled back or forced to drop back and defend your ceiling ball deep in the backcourt with one of their own. On the run, deep target ceiling balls are possible, but dropping one exactly in a rear corner is not easy, so a bigger target is better. Go for the back corner but don’t aim directly for the rear corner where the sidewall and back wall meet because a miss causes a back wall back corner setup. When you set up to hit a ceiling ball and you see the opponent sneaking up to take it after the bounce, try to hit a deep target ceiling that bounces harder further out from the front wall and it’s much tougher to take on the rise.
Front wall first Ceiling ball —> from the front part of the court from the service box on into the front court, one on the run tactical shot is to lift up a front wall first ceiling ball. The target is about 16-18 feet high on the front wall, so very high. Your steep upwards shot path makes the ball hit high on the front wall and ricochet up into the ceiling to then angle sharply down in the front court to bounce up very high, very fast where it’s too quick to field right after the ceiling taking its first bounce. The front wall first ceiling then retreats deep in the backcourt dropping very quickly, like a rock, in the backcourt. The front wall first ceiling wouldn’t be attempted from the deep court or even as a return of a lob serve when stepping up to cutoff the lob at the dashed line because it’s so difficult to angle the ball up to hit that high front wall target spot and get the ball to angle up into ceiling and then to carom off to bounce and head deep into the backcourt. However, in the front half of the court, when you’re on the run and you judge a low shot would be hard to angle past your opponent or you determine that even angling a High Z would be tough to achieve and not see it cutoff in the middle, THEN the front wall first ceiling target is tactically best, as long as you don’t angle the ball to drop on you! If the front wall drops on your opponent who has followed you forward, that’s okay. After you lift the front wall first ceiling, drop back into center court to pick up the scraps left you by the retreating opponent’s likely very weak return, when they’re able to get the ball at all.
Your Center —> your “center” of gravity or your center mass or your middle is a little bit below your belly button. That center is what you work to keep on balance as you move about the court tracking down a ball to get to it and to ideally hit it and then get into coverage position in center court. Your center is what you slow down with your legs to shoot. It’s also just ahead of your center or middle where you make your most powerful and controlled contact when you swing and strike the ball.
Center court —> the commonly understood term for the area about a yard behind the line in the middle of the court ideally a full stride off each sidewall is “center court”. The concept is that from center court you can better cover more of your challenger’s rally shots. See “floating center court” and “home base” for more insights into how to play in the FLEXIBLE, highly effective floating center court. As an example, a full yard beyond the dashed line isn’t always the best spot to be in for all cases when optimally positioning yourself to cover all shots about to be hit by your challenger. See the examples under floating center court. Also do note the inherent difficulty in tasking yourself with getting out of the service box after serving to get a full stride behind the dashed line after hitting your drive serve when the receiver has to return the serve if they get to it forestalling it reaching the back corner before you could possibly get out of the box and that far past the dashed line. Instead, in that case, get NEAR the dashed line and hedge over to cover the down the wall return which is THE return of serve that can get by you the fastest. Center court in a rally is a temp home base as you start from there after hitting and moving there. Then you must leave home to cover the next shot by anticipating or seeing by studying their prep or literally spying the ball passing by the opponent to read where the opponent is placing their shot. There the objective is to cutoff the serve before the ball can bounce twice or ideally before it reaches the back corner unless a back wall setup is expected based on its pace or being miss angled. You can’t expect all misses to come right to you in the center of center court. That’s why you must be ready to make a return of serve cutoff. Here the point is to be prepared to extend your center court from the dashed line up to that step behind the dashed line and also extending in front of the line so it, the center of the court is a versatile coverage span area versus one depth in the the court.
Don’t be a basket hanger or door guard; Center up —> don’t play defense too far forward when positioning yourself and dropping anchor tooooo close to the short line. Also don’t play too far back while being a virtual door guard where only a deep passing shot or ceiling ball would be within your coverage range. Often players return serve in deep court and then they remain there because they fail to follow their shot forward into center court. After you hit every ball, make it habit to “center up”. Also after you serve, habitually drop back into the spot you judge is the best spot in center court to cover for your serve based on what you see and expect from the receiver or where you see the ball is headed.
Centrifugal —> when you swing out away from your body and make contact at full arm extension, you can create great “centrifugal” outward bound flowing force. It’s like if you were to spin around while holding onto a half full bucket of water where as you swing around faster and faster the bucket will rise up on its own and float on its side as the liquid still stays inside of the bucket because of the great centrifugal force pulling the water out away from you toward the bottom of the bucket. When you reach out to full arm extension as you make contact with a ball, you create and maximize the advantage of the pulling away from you centrifugal force. Follow-through first flowing after the ball; then flow on to target. Then finish pulling in toward yourself as you complete every swing with pulling in toward your center force that’s…
Centripetal —> swinging toward your center is part of all swings, as they all conclude in that pulling in action. That “centripetal” pulling in force is more emphasized on an outside in cross-court shot and its swing which is also your hardest drive serve or across the court passing shot action. That action for a cross-court passing shot is potentially very powerful because of the many forces involved. Inwards pulling in force is present in your leg drive. And it’s part of your body pivot and it climaxes in your arm swing for all strokes, as you snap arm and wrist thru contact. And it’s present in all follow-throughs. That out to it swing recruits more forces. Finish pulling in for all of your arm swings, even when you swing inside to out when flowing the ball out away from you in the direction of the sidewall or when hitting into the side of the court you face to placed it in that side’s rear corner, or as near front punch in the front corner faced with an in to out racquet flow that continues on into your initial sidewall target and then follow-through continuing into still a pulling in finish.
Challenge —> embrace the “challenge”. Playing is opportunity. Wanting the opportunity is taking on the challenge. Take on the challenge as a call to action. A challenge is a test of your ability or skills. When you meet a challenge, you give proof to your suitable plan, its tactics and your adjustability. Expose your skills to the challenge. Step up. Play the next point hard. Challenge up.
Challenge court —> many clubs reserve one court (or more) where players can sign up on a waiting list or queue up their racquets against the back wall on the outside of course. After one game to either 15 (or 11 if there’s a good crowd) the winner remains and the next waiting player in line starts usually serving first on the “challenge court”. The winning player usually plays no more than 3 opponents or 3 games. When that winning player wins his third game, then 2 players take his place to play the next game so that way more players get a chance to play, especially when there’s that big a crowd waiting to play.
Challenger —> your fellow competitor or opponent or foe or even your practice sparring partner is your “challenger”. Always keep in mind you couldn’t play without that challenger. And only in play should they be your enemy.
Change-up —> just as a baseball pitcher winds up and then throws a powder puff slow pitch it’s very effective every once in a while to have an enormous, exaggeratedly large, though routine and normally big backswing and then produce an off speed serve delivery just when it looks like you’re going to cream another one of your hardest photon drive serves. As the server, you’re just dialing down your forward swing. Keeping the backswing big disguises your plans. One thing that helps the server with their off speed delivery is a little higher front wall target because you still have to surmount the short line or pass it on the fly with your powder puff “drive” serve. Also the “change-up” is usually a singles serve because there the receiver must still cover both rear corners. For the locked in doubles receiver it’d be batting practice or a chance to just tee off on your slower delivery because the ball still comes to their covered side undisguised. Another wrinkle is to serve your off-speed delivery so it will bounce and deflects off the sidewall very deep in the court so it will then die right up against the back wall. As receiver, first get over the natural, gulp “Uh oh!” response and very quickly step out to the side to cutoff the change-up serve early while usually lifting your return up to the ceiling into intentionally running the server back. When the change-up gets to that sidewall, after it pops off be prepared to mash the ball backwards into the back wall just to save the ball and pull the tricky server back deep in the backcourt. Usually, if you effectively return their change-up, the server will shelve it and save for the next, more hapless receiver.
Charity —> give players your old racquets. Give players, who are sponges, the benefits of your past experiences. Give the USA team and aspiring Pro players help when you can afford to do so. Those are all examples of good “charity” or giving back to the game. Having a makable passing shot and leaving it off the back wall or having a setup you should stay down on and sweep your racquet effectively thru with your routine swing, when you should hit your low wall target, and you hit the real estate between contact and the front wall or sidewall are examples of bad charity. When you catch splinters or you’re “chopping broccoli” and you skip the ball in, you’re being way to charitable to your opposition. Let your charity be only intentional. Let the ball drop low. Do what you practice because you know how.
Check em (twice) —> as server, after the score is called by the ref or after you or your challenger calls the score in self-officiated play, its optimum to right away turn and “check em”, which means look directly at the receiver (or, as the receiver, look at the server to see if they’re looking at you. When the receiver is not signaling “not ready”, which is when they’re neither raising their racquet ABOVE their head nor are they turning their back completely to to the server, then the server may completely focus on their serve. Then it’s totally up to the server whether to use all or part of the allotted 10 seconds both sides share before the ball must be put in play by striking it with their racquet head. Both players don’t get their own 10 seconds, as the rule is often misinterpreted. You share it. If when you check ’em when you’re holding the ball and they are signaling not ready, still begin your service ritual. At about 6 seconds in or with about 4 seconds left of the 10 you should be able to start your service motion with a couple dribbles, a breath, your ball toss, and Kaboom! Any more delay than that 4 count by the receiver and your motion would have to be a very, very short one. If that occurs in organized, officiated play, let the ref know that you need a little more time just to drop and serve the ball. Finally, right before you serve sneak one last peak. That second peak is NOT to check their readiness (because you already know they’re ready having checked them before and knowing they can’t signal again). This time you’re checking to see if the receiver has cheated over to cover one back corner to shade over to more cover say their backhand side or one serve you’ve hit before. If they do cheat over, you can attack the corner they’ve left wide open. Also, when you regularly hit say a Z drive serve this can often happen where they start cheating over to step up and cutoff your Z before it gets to their backhand sidewall. Then you can expose their lack of defense in the other rear corner. Or you could even attack a different part of the corner they’re no longer centered in, meaning you could serve more straight back and actually partially screen serve them by hitting your serve more up thru the middle the court. That’s because a screen serve call may not be made when the receiver isn’t in their normal central guarding return position. Were you to serve more up the center having caught the receiver decidedly off to one side after you serve make sure to quickly move to allow a straight in return and a cross-court angle just in case they are able to move behind you quickly and return your more centrally placed serve. If you don’t move and you block their straight or cross-court, it’s penalty hinder time.
Cheer yourself on —> be self propelled as you play and remember, participate. Self inflicted unaroused play when say you’re mad at a call or mad at yourself or miffed at the challenger or incensed at the world in general; well, that just can’t happen and it shouldn’t happen. Repair every past rally. This isn’t basketball when you play with virtually no break between possessions. You’ve got to say alright and move on when YOU are done with that last rally. Say to yourself, “Alrighty then”, when you got this or even say alright alright alright where you’re fully in sync with what you need to do now. Usually the mental repairs you make are silent, but deadly, for them. Sometimes very sporadically you might vocalize, “Come on!”. Although note that even shouting out that can be tiring. It saps your energy and burns adrenaline, and it may reveal your unquiet desperation. Say nice things usually to yourself or in your inner dialogue. “Cheer yourself on to victory”.
Chess in tennis shoes —> racquetball is a multifaceted game analogous with “playing chess in tennis shoes”. Sometimes it is check mate for them. That’s when you’ve got a bunny, like a setup off the back wall. Sometimes you’re a few moves away from even putting them in check. If you’re not set up, pick a side and hit a forcing pass or lift a deep target ceiling or stroke an overhead with eyes or improvise an inside out cross-court slice shot that you cut with your off stroke that hits the front wall well over on the far side of the front wall to rebound out and almost wallpaper the far sidewall (you can picture it, right?). You’re objective when you’re not going for a rollout is to pick a shot that gets you back to completely bossing the rally. Optimally wait until it’s so easy it’s butter because you’ve made the right moves to get them on the wrong square and you’re about to be kinged (is that checkers?). Like the pieces on the chess board and how they have certain moves from where they are, you have certain moves from wherever YOU are on the court. Try to play like a Queen and have any move you want at your disposal. But that means practice practice practice and then even more practice. Even if you’re very versatile, you must know there are limitations. First, ask yourself if you’ve seen a situation like this one before. You have to sometimes be a rook and just be a straight shooter. Other times you’re hitting all the angles while playing as a bishop. Sometimes you’re a knight and a 3-wall kill-shot is then your shot. Usually don’t be a pawn able to just take one little step where you can only attack going forward at an angle, a 45 degree angle. But definitely infrequently be a King unless you’ve got the kill-shot that’ll roll right to your feet because, if you’re in check and you (can) move, your shot has to be a rollout. Can YOU see the tactics of chess in tennies? Racquetball is thought provoking and a game of thinking ahead and strategic moves and tactical attacks and defense that promotes your strategy.
Chin music —> when you find yourself having to hit the ball cross-court either in singles or to attack the opposite side doubles defender, heat or pace and a little directional control may be all you can muster, especially, for example, when attempting an early cutoff return of a drive serve or Z drive serve. Then a higher pass that’s basically hit toward the far, rear corner or directly at the far side doubles defender can be your plan A. That’s hitting “chin music” or a high V cross-court ball that’s angled into the front wall and rebounds out, for instance, right at the opposite side doubles partner just below head high. Or it can be when sending your return around the singles server before they have had time to spin and get back to defend the far side. Instead of hitting higher, you may also aim a jam ball a little lower at their hips when looking to generate a weak return or ideally no return at all. The return rifled cross-court is an especially good tactic when it can be done before the non-serving doubles partner is able to get out of the service box and solidly establish themselves to guard their side of center court. Once a rally kicks off, after both the serve and return are both good, this cross-court shot tactic is less effective when trying chin music unless you were to catch the defender far up in the center way ahead of the dashed line or in the forecourt after they make a good get of your front court shot, but they lift their return temptingly toward you. Optionally, when the defender is in center court in front of the dashed line, you may cross them up by bouncing your cross-court pass right at their feet to make it extremely tough for them to effectively reflex back the ball to the front wall. Again, chin music is for when hitting lower is tougher. It’s used when it’s easy to mash the ball cross-court to hit the ball into the opponent’s body, while looking to rush their reaction time and effect their swing timing.
Choice —> other than your actual stroking form you use for your drive serves and lob serves the rest of the time your game is based on “choice” from among a vast array of choices that you parse thru, consider and make your realtime choice once a serve is put in play. Even with your routine serves, you control your serve’s pace, angle and spin. The duplicate serving form (and even ideally replicate rally stroking form) provides consistency and the quality of being unreadable when switching targets. Choose which serve starts your attack when the ball is in hand, right before the rally is about to begin. See in your mind where you’re going to place it before you make contact. On the other side of the ball, pick your return of serve as a choice reacting to the serve you see vs. ever predetermining a return and then being caught unable to execute THAT return just that way that you had decided prematurely in advance. Make shot choices constantly making good keep-away choices which helps keep up your chances of success. That means don’t hit the ball to them. Make choices to defend by moving into center court after hitting. Then, from there in center court, choose to move to one part of the court that you anticipate is their choice for shooting their shot; while noting open areas or an uncovered angle is one option to move to. Ultimately make good choices of defensive position and shot plus its stroke and you’ll play successfully, consistently.
Clear and cover —> after you hit a ball, especially when your shot could come back nearby where you hit it, Clear! Move to avoid a racquet attack or collision with your opponent while you focus on repositioning to cover their next possible shot. Don’t focus on making it tougher for the opponent to get to your ball. After serving to a rear corner, clear the short line. As you retreat it’s smart to cover your head if you’re concerned about being beaned by their return. Also constantly reposition into center court to cover the receiver’s return which is the opponent’s rally return shot, while protecting yourself by looking over your back shoulder while optionally covering your head to look through your strings, if you sense the need, like when you see the hitter about to strike the ball from a wide open, front wall facing stance. For all balls, strike your shot and clear from there, unless you’re shooting from center court and hitting the ball out of center court. Tactically cover the opponent’s next shot by positioning defensively according to your shot placement, the opponent’s position, their possible shot options and factoring in shots they’ve previously leaned on before from THAT spot. So “clear and cover” consistently. It significantly raises your level of play.
Close in quickly —> herky-jerky moves usually mean bad shots. Take time to get set up properly for each offensive shooting situation whenever you can. Make time by getting to each ball early. Use cross steps to cover more court efficiently. “Close in quickly” to play each ball. Usually there’s more time than you may think to prep and swing WHEN you get there early, prep on time verses prematurely, with rhythm, and then swing on time, as you, by habit, let the ball drop as low as you can as you swing. Move there the most efficient way you can. Shuffling sideways is NOT the best way to move more than a couple short steps. Use cross steps for moves requiring more than 4 feet of movement. See cross steps crossovers and crisscrosses to learn nuanced ways to move off the ball and get to the ball most efficiently.
Closed racquet face —> subliminally or subconsciously, as you swing thru the ball, you close your racquet face right as you’re swinging thru and making contact with the ball. The swing thru to make contact with the ball from ankle bone low all the way up to shoulder high contact sees your racquet face closing more and more as you make higher contact and turn over both your forearm and interlock and join turning over your wrist, which closes your racquet face. That occurs when making contact from almost floor board low when going for a shin high kill-shot up to waist high up to chest high up to shooting from shoulder high down to no more than a couple feet high to go for a passing shot or to go for a tough kill-shot. Ideally the low passing shot angle will cause the ball to ideally take its second bounce right before the back wall. The “closed racquet face” means beveling the strings or pointing them down slightly lower on the front wall as you’re swinging thru making contact. That beveling encourages a declining, downwards shot angle. Also the act of closing your racquet face often imparts ball spin, too, in the form of Topspin. That Top keeps the ball down lower coming off the front wall. Then the retained Top makes the ball takes its first bounce sooner. And a topped ball retains its Top to take its second bounce sooner, too. Top also makes your shot more difficult to get for the challenger to return the low, over spinning ball when they attempt to get their racquet down to spatula the ball up often just trying to keep the low ball in play even in the front court or the middle of the court. Note that it’s not a stiff mechanical closing of the racquet face thru contact. It’s very fluid and flowing. It’s done by feel and as part of extending your arm, as you’re turning over your forearm, spinning your elbow and smoothly rolling your wrist right before contact when swinging with either your forehand OR your backhand in your forward swing thru out your contact zone. Perfecting that swing motion and learning how to proprioceptively close your racquet face for the downward angle is why you drill, visualize your targets and feel your swings to shape your shots to very low targets on your target wall.
Overly Closed stance —> taking a front foot stride directly out to the sidewall so your feet are in a 45 degree angle (or an even greater angle) prevents your legs and waist from efficiently turning in that hastily set, lunging, “overly closed stance”. That closed leg position limits your cross-court shot options. Being too closed hurts your ability to turn your knees, hips and core. Avoid an overly closed stance by stepping more forward setting your front foot so you may swing more freely and not place undue pressure on your knees, hips, lower back and cross-court shot options. A half a tennis shoe out closer to the sidewall you face with the front foot slightly ahead of the back foot out to the sidewall faced is an optimal partial closed stance.
Closer —> have a few favorite serves you save for key points, like the penultimate rally of a game. That penultimate rally is the one that when you win it gets you to possible game point when you can serve to WIN the game! It’s the serve looking to win the second to last point of a game. For that big point have an extra special, well-practiced, well worn, well-traveled “closer” serve to take the point. For example, go for a crack-out back just past the short line on the sidewall or one a little deeper near the dashed line, with that sidewall spot as your target. Even if that deeper serve doesn’t crack-out, the ball angling into them still places intense pressure on the receiver just to keep the ball in play. The deep cracker is so difficult to return because, even if it’s up, it angles so quickly, unexpectedly off the sidewall right in to the receiver. It often jams their stroke. Wherever it cracks out, it’s tough to successfully return any crack-out (back) to the front wall and avoid it becoming dead meat for the server to howitzer with shot #3 of their ideal rally goal: a 3-shot rally of serve-return-kill.
Be Clutch —> when the game is winding down or I should say when it’s really ratcheting up and say you’re down and the challenger is at game point, that’s time for you to “be clutch”. Let go that they’re one point short of game point, as even at 14-14 it’s not game point; it’s POSSIBLE game point. Switching roles right now imagine you’re serving, not them. Know they’re going to be very aggressive. Let them be. Think how you’d attack them with your best Robin Hood drive serve to your picked back corner or you’d lift up a deep nick lob because neither of those are tactically, wisely attackable with their return, as long as the back wall isn’t in your serve’s equation. When they dart the down the wall, step out and hit your own drive down the wall return. When they nick lob you, back off and attack any missed ones and lift up any good ones. Rally-wise keep them moving when you can’t shoot low. Although, when you can shoot low, go low. Watch the ball like a hawk. Taking your eye off the ball under pressure is often rampant. Patiently let the ball drop low, as you coil up. Take and make your go-to shots so you’re familiar with everything about them. On either side of the ball each rally shot pattern is it’s own mini competition. Believe you’re gonna make your shots. If you quickly see a rollout isn’t in this shot’s future, hit a keep-away pass, deep target ceiling, or High Z. As server, if they get to serve again, you could care less because you’re going to play the same way with grit and un-reckless abandon because YOU are going to be clutch. Draw them back, dart into center court, anticipate where they’re hitting their shot and make your move. Your mentality is nothing bounces twice. If you drop your serve, let it go. Reload and battle again. If you get a setup, see yourself making it, and go low with your sweeping low contact stroke. Being clutch is executing your constant best.
Comeback —> after getting down in a game or when you’re behind by a few or many points, an attempt to catch up in the game is called a “comeback”. Racquetball is tailor-made for big comebacks or small ones. You can score a series of points in a row, as a result of the game’s make-it-take-it scoring format. When you serve is when you score. Then a run of points is easy to get started and often very hard to stop once the momentum shifts your way. Have a series of well practiced serves that complement each other and look identical to your best so that before they’re struck you can keep the receiver guessing and off balance. Even if you can’t get a big run of points, chip away. Be stingy with your returns by placing the ball where they aren’t. Stay the course and battle tooth and nail while believing in the comeback, in yourself and in your game.
Wait for opponent to Commit —> by taking your time as you’re playing each shot, when time is your ally in a rally, the challenger often moves too early. That premature move easily opens up one angle for many shots that will wrong-foot the challenger and leave them stranded in a part of the court they’re moving into and away from the spot where you’re tactically placing your ball. As you focus on the ball when shooting, out of the corner of your eye watch to see if the defender moves, while you still have the “ball on your racquet”. If they dart too early, factor in the option of your keep-away shot angling into the open court. There decide whether to go with your original plan and hit say your original kill-shot even when you may be shooting into their cover run angle or do you solidly place your keeping-away passing shot angle when choosing to wrong-foot ’em and hit ’em where they ain’t. When the opponent moves too early and they “commit”, consider and decide whether the play is take it to ’em and hit it where they ain’t by wrong footing them hitting behind them where they just were.
Compensation theory —> when you learn something and you sense you need to make a correction, you don’t need to make a big adjustment or big correction unless you’re way, way off. For example, if your backswing is being under developed or you sense you’re taking back the racquet too low, that would AND should be exchanged by a bigger, higher elbow loop for a bent arm racquet lift prep position. When your stroke is solid, next work on your shotmaking. Here minor corrections get you to your Goldie Locks just right way form to produce your shot accuracy. To compensate, when your shot is a little high, slightly drop your shot trajectory down just a little. If your shot is a little too low, go for a slightly higher wall target, elevating your shot path slightly. For instance, if you barely skip in your reverse pinch, raise your sidewall target only a little.there actually hit higher than may seem logical because the reverse pinch will dive down into the front wall after sidewall targeting. Make minor corrections. Demonstrate patience. Be analytical AND creative. Use every element of your form and mind, with both your left side analytical brain and right side creative brain. The “compensation theory” of making minor, constructive corrections builds strong muscle memories and images of your form for shots when shooting anywhere in the court to shoot anywhere you choose (save through the opponent). Form training also ranges from your return of serve feetwork, to your special stroking form returning serve, to recentering your balance, to moving into center court, to tracking down, approaching and dialing up your rally hitting form, to shaping the shot you image, as your moving and stroking form muscle memories rule. Then realtime, even if you’re slightly off, you can compensate right then and there to produce your best in artful shooting in your racquet game with the most shots, hands down, racquet down, ball down. Use compensation theory to hit more shots and build great confidence in your acquired knowledge that you can make them with your mindless, on autopilot form. This also includes when developing your serving accuracy with compensation theory in drilling and even when fixing your serving and shooting accuracy in matches, when necessary, to, again, make minor, subtle modifications or angle disguising variations.
Competition —> part of playing a game is the interaction of the competing parties. It’s a contest where one side is trying to score points and the other is side is trying to prevent points from being scored against them. If the receiving defender prevents the server from scoring, they can get to serve and look to point themselves. The rules of the game try to make the game as level a playing field as possible where both participants give one another a fair chance to see, move to, swing fully thru any hit the ball straight in front of them or into and off the front wall toward the cross-court rear corner. There’s honor in admitting your errors and playing fairly in any “competition” where the score is called and you’re playing to achieve victory. You’re honor bound to not block the opponent from shooting, including allowing them to make THEIR straight line run to play the ball you just hit vs. trying to make them make a curving run around you. Once you swing, including your full follow-through, you’ve got to clear.
Competition interludes —> what you do before you start to play each day or in the many breaks during play is huge. Being prepared is so important BEFORE you play or before you re-enter the-fray after any interlude or break in the competition. The amount of time is yours to use effectively before you play, in game timeouts, in between rallies, in between games, and before you play your next competitive match. As an example, as soon as you step foot in a facility for any event the tournament desk may try to scoop you up, as an unsuspecting player, so they can start their matches early and ahead of schedule to ensure they’ll stay on time for the day by getting out ahead of the tightly scheduled matches. Your readiness or needs aren’t factored into that. Either avoid the tournament desk by finding another route to the locker room or court. If you do get asked, say you’ve got to get dressed and promise you’ll be back before match time offering 15 minutes if they press you, which is realistic. Before the first match of the day it’s of paramount importance you be ready. You must be very warmed up, stretched out and both mentally and emotionally ready to play. First, do some form of inner body temperature warmup with a treadmill, stationary bike or just simply walking or jogging in place. Then stretch, from head to toe your neck, shoulders, back, abs, racquet arm, wrist, hips, thighs, calves, shins and feet. Also review your game plan for today or your plan to take on THIS particular opponent. Then, before you play, get the mandated 5 minute or ideally even more on court warm up. Split the warmup in 1/2 on each side of the court to warm up your legs, hit with both strokes, practice shots, and make sure to hit a few serves you expect to use, too. In breaks you cause, like timeouts, inspect your equipment and review your game plan and how well you’re sticking to your strategy and its action tactics. Review their serves and how you’re returning them, as well as the opponent’s shot selections and how your cover play moving to and out of center court is adapting to their shots. In between games, consider unused serves and shots and what could be improved upon realtime. Never settle or mail it in. Time-wise know the duration of all of the “competition interludes” in play. First, it’s match time plus 10 minutes or you risk being forfeited. Again, there’s a minimum of 5 minutes of warmup per match you should ALWAYS optimize. You have available 3 timeouts of 30 seconds each in the first 2 games to 15. If there’s a tie in games, there’s an an 11 point tiebreaker, with 2 timeouts available. Between games 1 and 2 there’s a 2 minute break. There’s a 5 minute break between games 2 and 3, when there is a breaker. Fill those intervals with getting yourself ready for the next active play. During play you share with your opponent a maximum of 10 seconds between the score being called and when the service motion by the server must be started. All of the in game and between game time is yours to use reviewing your notes (mentally) so you play your game, use your form and stick to your tactical action plan just how you trained it, how you planned it and how it’s familiarly effective for you. Use those interludes to keep you on point, engaged, immersed and highly adaptive. Everything about racquetball’s competition is organic. When the elements fit together in harmony, they include perceiving each pattern of play, parsing through optional responses, picking your body placement and shot. As a result of seeking that harmony, playing your very best is seen in ultimately executing your technique in the moment. After each rally let it go and use the interlude time to plan and reload for the next… coverage; to moving pursuing the ball to prep and take the next hit to the next serve or to the next return… or to move on into the next game or next match or the next day.
Competitive literacy —> your competence and knowledge of how to compete in so many individual parts of the game is your “competitive literacy”. Becoming competitively fully literate is your goal of learning to compete in all facets of the game. If you’re competitively literate…(a) you can return serves ranging from drive serves (both direct and Z) to lobs to jams to crack-outs; (b) you can rally on both sides of the court when hitting with either stroke, with no weak link; (c) you possess anticipation that is 2nd nature where you know when to go get what your educated guess says, “They’re hitting it right THERE–>”, as you head there to play the ball; and (d) you have a set of commanding serves of different kinds ideally requiring the challenger to call timeout just to stop the bleeding. Learning all of the skills competently and mastering the broad brush of skills required is the optimal mentality of “the player”, the racquetballer who possesses competitive literacy.
Complementary shots —> you may have the most amazing forehand pinch where you can spin, point your stance at your forehand corner and shoot into your forehand near corner and make 80% of your near corner pinches as irretrievable kill-shots. But what do you do if your challenger sees that and moves to camp our on that exact shot taking it away from you by how they circle around you just as you set yourself to deliver it one more time? First, don’t point your feet at the corner. Second, you have a complementary shot option that looks just like you’re going for your major weapon, but instead go for say a cut, inside out down the wall pass with eyes where you’re looking to place the ball deep along that near sidewall in the backcourt on the same side as that front corner. Then you place the defender in a no-win situation. They can take away your pinch, but they can’t cover both the pinch AND your touch down the wall pass. Do that especially when you see them moving early. Here the point is to develop and have “complementary shots” all over the court that make each other better AND you have an element of disguise because your shots look identical and then you have a bunch of backup plans in your hip pocket game. Then, when you see them bite on one shot, simply go with Plan B from your it looks straight in shot-disguising striking stance.
The Complete Player —> the “complete player” is by far the hardest player to play. They are fit and fast. Their deep court passes are extremely solid. They attack well when given any kind of an opening. Their ceilings are deep and high and they back them up with movement into good central court positioning. They play good shots from anywhere in the court and consequently they provide the greatest tactical challenges for their opponent. You keep the ball tight in along the wall and they splat. Keep in mind, though, that even a player who is complete still executes some shots better than others or they prefer some shots over others that they might choose from in their arsenal. Also EVERY player struggles in some positions location-wise or in certain body positions on the court. It is just a matter of maneuvering THIS opponent into THEIR most difficult positions. As usual, it’s valuable to note, “What do they like to do most?”. Then look to take away THAT shot (or tactic) by breaking early (after they start to swing) to cover it. Or avoid leaving the ball THERE, in that spot, next time where they like it. Timing-wise make a break and run down their shot when the complete player commits with their arm flying forward. Avoid this: Do not sit idly by and let the complete player use their strengths throughout the match, even if those strengths play into your own stronger parts of your game. Do not be lured into going for quick winners. Be patient. Waist for real opportunities to present themselves to you. Take only calculated risks to shoot. For instance, only go for high to low with shots that you own. Do NOT show any outward signs of frustration. You will need all your mental fortitude and strength to overcome such a talented and experienced competitor. This sort of player feeds off of frustration, which makes them grow even stronger and work even harder to break you down when you show any outward signs of vulnerability. Vary your style of play. Attack when you identify a weak point and keep hitting the ball to THAT area to exploit it as much as possible, although vary it ever so slightly to avoid their becoming comfortable with your tactic. That’s because comfort = figuring it out by the complete player. Use your attacking serves. Serve your best drive serves into the rear corners. Also go for crack-outs just past the short line on both sides and jam serves off the sidewalls into their body, as good bets. A lob that wallpapers the sidewall is the best slow serve option, especially when it’s lofted along their backhand side, if that serve is in your repertoire. Return serve with your most advanced keep-away placements. Go down the line early. Or, if you can’t hit a good down the wall pass, lift a hard struck, deep target ceiling ball. In rallies, it’s not a coincidence that the opponent you’re facing is also going to keep their choices down to what would create the most makes and the fewest misses. So that means you should also keep it simple, smart (KISS). Taking wild-hair chances, one off shots you invent on the spot or trying to hit a shot in the midst of jumping up or when hitting off your back foot aren’t positions when you should try for winners. When imbalanced and shooting, even passes aren’t the percentage play. A ceiling ball, High Z or even a high lob beats a wishful kill-shot or weak, highly attackable passing shot. Left up balls in the middle of the court or setups off the back wall need to definitely be avoided. The point is to play conservatively and do what’s in your tactical, technical and shotmaking wheelhouse. The complete player will. Note that up until now no mention was made of how to play AS the complete player. If YOU are a complete player, deliver your best decisions in coverage positioning, court movement techniques, shot selecting and executing, and serves tighter in to the sidewalls and into the rear corners. Routinely take the shot that is your best shot available. Via your on court drilling, off-court cross training, pre-match game planning your strategy and picking tactics for this match, and how you prepare to play with spirit and driven emotion, prepare yourself to stay in the moment and play great-late in rallies, games and matches. Adapt to what THEY do. Do what you do best. Learn what’s working today and focus on that, as you adapt and play a little bit the chameleon and a lot the adaptive savant. Stick to responding to the situation and shelve thoughts of pity for the local hero. He wants your best. They want to see your best. Give it to ’em.
Concentration —> an invaluable skill is your best ability to maintain uninterrupted focus on the moment at hand while not fretting over being watched or a previous situation or hinder call or watching the opponent (when you’re swinging) or even a player making sounds while you play the ball, like when one doubles player says to their partner, “Nice” when their partner has just hit a shot that isn’t a rollout, but it’s a good shot that you, as defender, must deal with quickly say deep in the backcourt with only a back wall save your chance to extend the point. But upon hearing the distracting comment it makes your getter’s job just that much tougher and really tougher than it needs to be; but you concentrate and make the save, and tell um, “Shhhh” afterwards. Other distractions include when the opponent may stomp their feet, squeak their tennis shoes on the floor, verbally tell their doubles partner where to move to cover as you’re shooting. Or they make an off color comment when they miss and set you up. Or the challenger may hide a ball popping off the back wall, as they lean in just enough for the ball off the back wall to barely miss hitting them, as they’re still obscuring the ball from you so you go from having an easy setup to being barely able to keep the ball in play, but you say to yourself, “I got this” and you make the shot despite their antics. “Concentration” keeps you playing in the moment and blocking out all but your shot, while focusing on your court moves and shotmaking. Or you concentrate on watching the challenger and reading and predicting their intentions as they shoot or serve, instead of letting your mind drift to the score, recent rally results or the opponent’s overt gamesmanship.
Confidence —> “confidence” is that magic elixir. It’s your belief that you can rely on yourself which makes your confidence a major strength. Also being self assured that your playing ability and personal qualities are solid and consistent makes you a tough out and allows you to be calm in pressure situations, like when you close out games or when making tough shots or even when the challenger is far up in center court, lurking, looming and you still know you can take and make the shot which will render their defense meaningless or your placement can move them so they’ll have to have to hit on the run and off balance.
Conflict resolution —> there’s bound to be some conflicts with your challenger or even your own partner in a contest played in tight conditions when vying for control over center court positioning, chasing down and playing a very bouncy little ball with long, tightly strung racquets, while aiming to strike a shared target zone front wall, and picking from among a vast array of shot options in constantly changing ball bounce patterns where the challenger may be there in between the ball and your deserved shot straight in or cross-court angles, as you prep to play THIS ball. If there’s shot blockage or differences of opinions on ball bounces, replays are often just necessary. If one player saw it, but the other party didn’t, trust must be given to the player who saw the bounce of the ball, including skips, 2-bounce gets, crotch serves, short serves and even hinders. Attempt to keep the conflict to determining who can return the little orb to the front wall longer. If you possibly can, “resolve conflicts amicably”. Play rallies over when there’s any difference of opinion. The only unilateral call is the screen serve call by the receiver and it must only be made by the receiver, not by the server. Then, when a screen is called, it’s almost universally accepted by the server. Also, a safety hinder call is the prerogative of the ball striker to hold up and ask for a replay in self officiating play and it can be posed to the ref that you or your competitor held up for safety, and the it’s up to the ref to confirm the safety hinder call.
Connect —> a concept in racquetball that’s extremely significant is how you connect. To connect is ubiquitous or ever present in everything in the game. Of course it means how you connect with the ball, as you strike the ball with only your racquet head. How well you connect with the ball determines your shot or serve’s accuracy and effectiveness. There the quality of the connect between your consistently well developed prep and your building to a peak body and arm flowing forward swing creates productive ball contact. There how you connect the links in a chain of lower body leg drive, connected hip pop and core crunch very much sets up the upper body shoulder turn connecting to your climaxing arm and wrist whip that defines your racquet work for your shot-shaping ball contact. The key, crucial connect between the forearm and wrist produces the racquet head loop that arcs out, around and consistently thru the ball dynamically turning the racquet head back to front, as it spirals over closing the racquet face thru contact. THAT is offensive swinging. How you play each day begins with how you connect your pre-play preparation to shift from your work (training or earning) to play setting you up for how you’ll initially perform and ideally how you’ll play strategically, as well. How you connect plan to action defines how well your defined strategy and its implementing tactics are adhered to in live play, as well as adapting it to today’s actual playing conditions. Plus there’s a connect between demonstrating your belief as reflected in your confident performance. Finally it bears mentioning that how you connect with the court with how you move against the court surface and how you set your feet to hit develops energy pressing down into the court, as groundl up you build to peak your stroke thru contact on a balanced, force producing striking stance, with leg drive, hip pop and core spin.
Contact zone —> the back to front flat plane where you sweep your racquet head thru the ball in your downswing is your “contact zone”. The downswing flows from…first, cast your racquet head back, as you begin to drive your elbow forward. Then begin to arc your racquet and elbow out on the flat plane, with a curving outwards loop. As you swing out, thru and after impact THAT is your contact zone. Ball contact is made in the middle of that contact zone. After contact the swing initially continues on line directly toward your wall target which completes the total contact zone. The contact zone for the forehand is longer than the contact zone for the backhand, but not by much. With your Top grip and the backhand backswing (now) pulled way back in preparation until the racquet head is drawn back even with your non racquet arm shoulder, its contact zone is now very sizable, too, which adds potentially greater oomph to your forward swing and faster racquet head speed, especially for backhand drive serves and backhand cross-court passes.
Contact zone full swing —> it’s big to know where your contact point is. Then it’s key to line up behind that contact point as you get your feet under you for your forehand or backhand stroke. Then you can move strongly into the ball thru contact. Yet it’s important to understand that, although there’s a spot where the racquet contacts the ball, before reaching that contact point the racquet head flows back to front thru your extended “contact zone full swing”. And very importantly there’s a protracted racquet flow AFTER contact on toward your target in the balance of the contact zone which adds extra punch to your stroke. Before, thru and after contact it’s optimal to drive on a straight line directly toward your target or pointing n target line, which adds power potential and significantly increases consistency in your shooting. Building up through your contact zone, peaking strong contact calls upon body swing that peaks in arm whip, with forearm turnover and wrist multiplying force snapping your racquet head before contact and thru the ball with force for the range of touch shots up to great force for power shots when swinging back to front faster. In all cases, flow smoothly thru contact and make sure to NOT slow your stroke down. ACCELERATE thru contact beginning before contact, hurtling the racquet head thru the ball and after contact flow on to target to ensure solid contact, the best placement of your racquet strings on the ball, the best placement of the ball on its wall target and ultimately your pictured placement of your shot in the part of the court you pick.
Contact point —> at the very moment your strings contact the ball, the racquet face points in the direction your ball will head. As the arm straightens, the wrist turns the racquet head from pointing back to pointing forward in the blink of an eye and the strings turn from pointing to the sidewall to pointing at your target spot and on to point at the floorboards out in front of you and then on to point behind you. Also the arm from the top down is turning over, as is the wrist, hand, racquet handle and racquet face. Right at your “contact point” the racquet face angles directing the ball into its sideward and generally downward angle for THIS shot. How much the wrist and forearm rolls depends on the downwards angle required for your ball placement. Through repetitions you find that racquet angle at contact to produce your passing shot down to your kill-shot angles. When allowing the ball to drop very low, you close less or point the strings down less, although a slightly declining angle often results in Topspin from just minor, though instrumental racquet face tilt or bevel or slope as you swing thru your contact point.
Don’t RUN through Contact —> as you play each ball, especially when you’re moving forward to play the ball on the move, tap on your brakes or slow down right as you approach the ball. That allows you to better and more smoothly swing thru the ball. Still moving hard as you hit causes major perception issues. Don’t rush and “don’t just walk through your shot”. As you slow down (almost imperceptibly), turn to face the ball and make solid, sure back to front swinging contact, with a level head, a level turning lower body, and a level racquet head stroking motion. Tap on the brakes by bending your knees and then swing thru the ball with smooth your swing thought.
Control —> there’s several meanings for control in the game of racquetball. One is the type of player being a “control” player. A control player places their shots strategically and they use pace to place their shots vs. mindlessly blasting the ball around the court. A control player’s mindset is that placement wins out over sheer force. Necessarily a control player must be able to defend and protract the rally to get their chance to shoot their tactically placed winning shot usually very low on the front wall or cracking out on the sidewall. Another form of control is control over yourself. You must keep your temper, maintain steady effort, and manage where you move and how you move off the ball when you’re not shooting the ball. You control your effort and your attitude. Your spirit is always under your own control, no one else’s. No one may control what you think or feel or the spirit with which YOU play and compete.
Control center court —> from center court make THEM do the running. Keep it simple. Pull the opponent back, with a passing shot or ceiling ball, when you can’t place a winner in the front court. Also make the move into center court post contact after striking all balls. From there, move to cover the ball where you think or see it’s going and place the ball to either pull the opponent back in the back court or hit a put-away shot for a ball you deem you can place out of their reach in the front court. Sometimes you may hit a forcing shot at them that will jam up their strokes or be just too hot to handle. When needed, defend to consciously place the ball out of center court so YOU can repair to center and then they’ll have to contact the ball out of center court while they’re ideally hitting on the move. When you “control center court”, you boss the rallies. Then your odds go way up of winning the rally and by consistently doing so, you control the game.
Coping —> dealing effectively with what is difficult is “coping”. Your “playing system” allows you to deal and cope with stress and any spiritual, emotional or mental challenges you may face. You must be able to deal successfully with difficult situations by having the technical skills and the attitude to absorb pressures, while you stay focused and remain driven to play-your-game; as you play and cope.
Corner —> an area of the court where 2 walls meet is a “corner”, as in the 2 front corners and the 2 rear corners of the court. The front corner is also where low shots by the ball hitter can strike the sidewall first or the front wall first to ideally hit winning kill-shots that bounce twice before the opponent can scoop it up. Those corner shots are called pinch shots when the ball hits the initial wall (front or side) low enough, again, where the ball then bounces twice before the challenger can scrape it back into play. Ideally the pinch won’t bounce twice past the service line vs. the short line where it’s more gettable. The back corner is the routine target for most serves and many rally shots struck toward that corner where the ball will bounce twice. If the ball doesn’t bounce twice before the corner, it can crack-out when it hits that sidewall and back wall crotch at the same time causing it to take a funny or bad bounce that routinely makes it tougher for the opponent to return that corner serve or corner shot. Also, a served ball that bounces and glances off the sidewall to then pop off the back wall is a rear corner back wall setup situation, which is good news for you when you’re the offensive player, in those times when the ball pops off the back wall, with their active feetwork, efficient stance setting, racquet prep, and aggressive shooting into your low sidewall or front wall target spot. On the other side of the ball, a back wall setup is alert time for you. As the defensive player, you must be prepared to move into the front court to get to a low shot or scurry into a back corner to cover a passing shot. Of course, avoiding leaving the ball off the back wall when you hit the ball into a back corner is a major objective when serving, striking passing shots, or lifting up ceiling balls.
Corner; front corner game —> your “front corner game” decides a lot about how you perform in match play. In the 2 front corners is where drive Z serves, off speed Z’s and lob Z’s serves are aimed front wall first. A Z drive serve is hit into one front corner going into that front wall first. The drive Z hits on the front wall as close as a half a foot out to 4 feet from the corner causing the Z to quickly ricochet off the near sidewall and diagonal into the opposite rear corner, while bouncing along the way, as a return challenge for the service receiver. Many times receivers attempt to attack Z serves after the bounce by stepping up to cutoff the Z. Like the back corners, the front corners extend the length or width of a quadrant or one 1/4 of the court. The goal for a pinch shot is 2 bounces very close to the front wall and no further out than the 1st line, which is the service line. The front corner is where you shoot tight near corner pinch shots (with stroke to its corner) and reverse pinch shots, when the ball is contacted 4-5 feet or more from the sidewall. Reverse pinches are struck with your off stroke or other side of court’s stroke into other stroke’s corner, like forehand pinches into your backhand front corner. A setup ball that bounces and caroms off the back wall to angle out and veer directly toward one front corner is tailor-made for a near corner pinch shot into that front corner where it’s usually aimed to hit sidewall first, like a forehand near corner pinch into your forehand front corner. Or, when you can angle off and point both feet into the cross front corner, a reverse pinch with your off stroke is a viable winning shot into that corner. A reverse pinch is usually aimed to hit sidewall first, like a backhand reverse pinch into the forehand front corner, sidewall first. Also high in the front corner is your target for High Z shots lifted front wall first and looking to zig the ball into the close sidewall so the ball then zags way back diagonally to the far sidewall way back deep in the backcourt to ideally parallel the back wall. Two more corner shots are the 3-wall boasts and Twooze shots that are struck up ahead of you into the near sidewall to compress the ball so it springs out diagonally into the opposite front corner usually striking the sidewall first (or directly into the corner) and low enough so the ball barely makes it to the front wall to bounce twice or roll oozing out of the front corner.
Corner flyer —> a hard hit overhead serve or crushed waist high contact serve that bounces almost right in the back corner can cause the ball to then jet out of that rear corner as a “corner flyer”, as the ball rockets way out along that sidewall. The corner flyer is a major challenge for the receiver to return while in the midst of a dash out along that sidewall to successfully run down and return this corner flyer while on the move. Getting off to a rolling start with a crossover step with the far foot is one way to catch up to the corner flyer. This corner flyer is a tactical serve used in doubles. As receiver, taking that rolling step up into the court or forward and tending your run out along the sidewall as the ball is being served makes this tough delivery a containable one. Often a running ceiling ball is the Plan A return. If the ball bounces, catches the sidewall early and ricochets out off the sidewall toward the back wall to pin-ball out of that back corner, the other side’s doubles partner receiver needs to be ready to possibly back up the corner flyer sidewall running receiving partner. Of course, if it’s singles, the corner corner flyer is a tall order returning.
Make small Corrections —> employ the compensation theory. Make “small corrections”, as you learn to control your shots by adjusting and finding your optimum ball striking and shot placement combination. For example, if a shot you’re drilling is a too high, initially go for just a little bit lower wall target. No big changes. If your shot is too low, raise your target only slightly toward finding your sought after low, but not too low target. Make small corrections until you find the muscle memory stroke that shapes the shot angle you feel is optimal that you choose from as you pick your contact height at your off shoulder contact point, with your best stance and prep, and shot that you narrow it down to so you can make a wide array of shots from many contact heights. Compensation theory is primarily done in a practice environment, but it could even be done in competitive play out of necessity and to a reasonable degree. Plus, as a auto-fix, generally letting the ball drop low works better in all shotmaking. Small corrections in any case.
Counter —> to “counter” has a couple of meanings. First, as you finish striking the ball with your follow-through, make sure to counter back. There press from your more weighted front front toward your less weighted back foot. That will rebalance you to move as you regain your balance and you can get back into center court or immediately take off to track down the ball where you see or read the challenger is placing their shot. Another counter example is when you counter a tactic, like when the server is going with a challenging drive Z serve. Then your counter play can be to step up and cutoff the Z serve right after it bounces before it reaches the sidewall, which places the onus right back on the attacking server to deal with your early return placement and allowing them to hit their return. There spinning and using the off stroke, like a forehand on your backhand side, as you face the ball when it pops off the far sidewall is a cutoff counter.
Intensity of Counterproductive thoughts and emotions —> it’s not always easy to be a world beater. It’s inevitable to stray at times away from your focal point of being driven by purpose to match your game aims to tactics you pick and use which will achieve your strategy. Focus on keeping those off-kilter passages short and not intense while you monitor your good intuitive feelings which is the antithesis of “counterproductive thoughts”. Those thoughts can be against your playing philosophy or system of ideas. Ensure that you perform with an intensity level demonstrating confidence and energy. Stick to ideas you’ve thought on as you think through all of your actions which you do purposefully, tactically and technically ideally just how you train them and plan them and how you test and succeed when contesting with them. If you do the off kilter thing, keep it to a strict minimum. When a counterproductive thought or emotion slips in, that’s less damaging; but minimize it and return to productive thoughts. An example example is controlling you power so you don’t overhit.
Counter pusher —> you are the human backboard. You use the pace of your opponent’s shots and serves to push back your responding shots. You play a game of attrition and endurance. You’re a “Counter Pusher”. When the opponent gives you more softly struck balls generating your own pace is less effective for you. You wear the opponent down by bunting, flicking and reflexing the ball back. You place the ball consistently away from the opponent so they’re made to hit on the run, as you center up to field their next ball or run ’em some more. You use serves like junk lobs and off speed Z’s to tempt pacy returns and you bunt back passes off their serves as you recenter up to counter push once again.
Courage —> like the lion in the movie the Wizard of Oz, you must pluck up your “courage” to do what may seem frightening. Funnily it’s often the inherently doable thing that’s your challenge and just because of fear of failure, fear of losing or fear underachieving it can be tough to do what you can do. In the now it should be all about performing or executing and sort of showing off your skills or wares. Find that happy medium where you balance your belief in your skills with meeting your every challenge or task. There see the task as imminently doable. You have a very real need for intestinal fortitude to do what you can do based on past successes and repetitions, with courage knowing you’re often only fearing fear itself. Act on your beliefs and screw up the courage to do the job you know how to do. It’s actually only really beyond courage when you exceed your known skills and you do something truly extraordinary. In fact the key is to consistently do the ordinary extraordinarily well, with courageous conviction and deep self belief. When you have to do something extraordinary, believe you can, and then give your all. Then even the impossible shot becomes possible.
Court hinder —> …a serve or shot that takes an irregular bounce because it hit a wet spot on the floor and the ball hydroplanes sliding in the court is an example of a “court hinder”. Also, when the ball strikes an irregular surface on the court (like a uneven door jam or a light cover edge) to take an unnatural bounce, that is a dead-ball court hinder. In the wet ball serve instance, when the ball hits a wet spot, it may slide taking off going faster and lower than it was moving before it hit that wet spot. Upon seeing the ball hydroplane stop immediately and call a court hinder. Repeat the rally. In officiated play, ask the ref for a replay. If the ball hits the door and veers off at a bizarre, unplayable angle, as the offensive player hold fire and replay the rally. If a ball gets sucked up into the lights and then it projects back out taking a bad angle, like dropping short, replay the rally. In officiated play, the referee must agree that the ball took a bad bounce so it’s often best to raise your off hand to point out right then it occurred, as you also hustle to try to play the bad bounce or D-up while the opponent may be taking advantage of the good bad bounce for them. If it is the opponent running it down, THEY may gobble up the light hinder ceiling ball that drops way short of where it should giving them a setup, with no remorse, as the ref gives you the universal, “What?” look, with their palms up. When the ceiling sucks in and drops the ball short, it’s hard to fathom why that’s not intuitively obvious, but that’s about viewpoints. If a ball catches an edge on the lights or a part of the door and the ball veers off at a bizarre angle, all you can do is point and hustle and hope the ref (and line judges if you wisely drafted some) is paying rapt attention. Their putting themselves in your shoes hopefully helps you when they see a bizarre bounce. If they don’t see it, let it go.
Court sense —> an invaluable faculty to develop is knowing where you are in the court and what the best shot is based on using a combo of the walls and your adaptive form. There your form versatility on either side of the court hitting either with your forehand or your backhand, plus a rapid-fire QuickDraw form or an in a blink flick form produces your shot. Getting to the point where you move WITH the ball and when it drops in your pocket you can then light it up to ricochet the ball around the walls shaping splat, pinch, boast, Twooze or direct shot endings then gives the power to render moot an opponent’s get. And yet, when you misplay a shot, you quickly figure out how to do it next time so you have a better solution and ideally an auto-pattern from your shotmaker wheelhouse. That court sense becomes preternatural as the intersection of ball and you as shooter leads you to an apropos choice of a kill-shot put-away or WAP circling the competitor or high Z sending them scurrying deep in vane hoping to extend the rally. “Court sense” gives you adaptive versatility and great confidence to be the great improv shooter. Keep working on your bounce read and your moves to capitalize on your elevated court sense by being an inventive keep-away shoot artist leaning toward lots of rally ending put-aways because every ball is a clean slate and a chance to be brilliant.
Coverage —> after you strike your serve, return their serve, or shoot your rally shot, make your move into the best area you can to cover more possible return shots by the challenger. There you are moving into “coverage” to best defend your shot’s placement against the challenger’s possible moves and response shot.
Coverage; partially face front corner and near sidewall in front court in front of deep ball —> in coverage, as the receiver fields a ball that you’ve hit deep along a sidewall into the backcourt (back 10 feet), point the trail foot at the forecourt sidewall in the front court. The other foot should point at the front wall; so you basically face the corner. That places you in position to cover THE most dangerous shot which is a down along the sidewall shot. From deep court, especially early as their return of serve, the challenger’s down the wall shot angle is a real and present danger challenge for you as server when you’re anything but well choreographed to be ball side, ready and you step out, like dance steps, to cutoff the shot along the sidewall. There first jab step out to the wall with your back foot. Then follow up with a cross step or crossover step with your front foot. When you’re in “coverage facing the front corner”, that front foot starts further from the sidewall. Be ready to cross step to get into tiptop position to aggressively play their straight in return. That DTL can jet by you in a heartbeat. If the toes of both feet were to point at the front wall you’d be in poor position to go to the side, in hopes doing the jab and cross choreographed maneuver. A sideways lunge with the near or stance’s back foot would do little to position you effectively to cover the wall. That’s why your feet point at the front corner with the back foot pointed out from the front corner. From that feet configuration you can move your feet efficiently to cover the line. Also, from there, you can move to cover a sidewall shot by taking a crossover step with the trail foot to start your run into the front court. Or you can even change up and cover the other side of the court, if there’s a cross-court shot. Were the challenger to hit a cross-court return your first move is to drop step away from the sidewall with the lead foot that’s already further away. Then body pivot toward facing the far sidewall as you crossover with your trail foot to step into the cross-court passing lane to cover that far side of the court. That sounds simple, but that and all of these moves must be done very, very quickly. These choreographed moves need to be well drilled, well understood and efficiently done. That’s accomplished by doing your feetwork moves over and over in practice, like how you practice your strokes and shotmaking. Start with simple drop, cross step and hit and build up to feed and speed, by feeding yourself balls where you must move to the ball
and then turn and hit.
Coverage range —> as you approach each ball to play your ideally offensive shot or even to flick or bunt your well-placed defensive shot, it’s critical to peripherally pick up the opponent out of the corner of your eye. Quickly calculate where they could be IF they move. That sizing of their coverage capability is their “coverage range”. That range gives you important insight into how (or where) to place your shot outside that range. Note that the opponent could move if you haven’t squeezed them down into a back corner or your follow-through won’t dissuade their move along one side as you swing forward. Otherwise they could go anywhere their foot-speed and hustle can motor them. Therefore select your shot placement based on where they could be vs. where you initially pick them up, as you approach and begin to play THIS ball. Look to consistently hit the ball out of the opponent’s coverage range.
Cover player —> when one player is shooting a rally shot or that same player is the receiver returning the challenger’s serve, the rally non hitting player or the player who just served is the “cover player”. While the challenger hits or the server serves (and after the shot is away or moving), the cover player is the defender ideally moving to track and hit the ball assertively. That cover player initially plays defense, as they get in position and they look to cover the shot the hitting player takes. While moving into center court and then when moving out from center court, as you prep-to-step and move in your role as cover player, optimally study the shooting player for any hints as to where they’re placing the ball. Look for… feet point; contact height; racquet lift height; judged contact point; and even the shooter’s intensity level as they stalk the ball, which tells you loads about what kind of shot they’re about to hit. With those observations, you get a jump start on where to move next to track down and shoot your next ball. Or alternatively you’re ready to make a darting run to get to the ball and make a stab get return. Although it’s a more defensive response, it’s necessary to play cover player to set you up to shoot the next ball in the rally in your active cover player, wannabe shooter role.
Cover responsibility —> make it a priority to occupy center court in the middle in between each shot you hit. First, as part of your “cover responsibility”, make sure center court is empty when you’re covering after hitting. If center court is empty, that means your shots aren’t ending up in the middle AND your shots aren’t going through the center of the court. That empty center means leave no low shots up that reach the middle of the court. That means ideally don’t leave up pinches or splats, which, when left up, are usually due to attempting them from too high contact height or from a poor or moving striking stance (or when forcing a ball into an angle where the ball doesn’t want to go). But still go for sidewall shots when you read you can make um. Also avoid hitting your shot thru the center with your passing shots. Next your cover responsibility goes to your positioning in center court. Move there quickly and from center court keep your eye on the ball until it’s almost contacted by the opponent. That way you know you’re not in the way. And you know better where they appear to be hitting their return shot. When you know by reading their swing or when you see the ball, then your cover move is to track down the ball as it rebounds off the front wall by moving with it toward where you read its best intersect point. Factor in its angle, walls it’s contacting, its accumulated spin and its pace. Your cover responsibilities don’t end until you track down and approach the ball ideally to play it offensively or, at the very least, defensively placing the ball to make them cover your shot placement.
Cover skills —> from where you move after you serve or where you return serve or where you hit your rally shot, after your untethered swing’s follow-through, your next move should be to move into center court, but only as a very brief stopover. The time when you move after hitting should be ASAP and always. How you move should be using quick feet, skillful feetwork, like cross steps, short darting runs for longer distances and knee braking stops (lead knee then trail) to get yourself between ball and opposite front corner when the ball is in deep court or by spotting up close to dashed line when the ball is being struck by the opponent further forward or as your ball is popping off the back wall as a setup. From center court, heavily lean or tend toward covering the line or straight in shot because that shot angle can get by you so fast. From center court, be ready to move to attack every opportunity you have to shoot the ball or even keep the ball in play for one more hit by the opponent that they may leave up or miss with a skip or setup for you. From your stopover spot in center, read where to go to cover the opponent’s shot ideally based on their stance angle, contact point and shot history from there. If reading them and anticipating doesn’t reveal their shot, watch the ball and start to move to rebound it as it’s coming back off the front wall. When you’ve picked your cover run, gauge how best to get behind each ball. For balls you’re covering that are being hit along the sidewall, have your trained up 2-step back foot jab 1/2 step out to the sidewall and front foot crossover step to intercept that straight in shot. For a cross-court ball, drop step with the frontmost foot and then pivot and cross step with the trailing foot to cutoff any 45 degree angled pass. For easier balls just outside of center court, flick your feet out to face the sidewall or flick your feet to move forward and attack left up kill-shots at the front of the middle of the court or crossover to move into deepest part of the front court near the first line. If the ball is just a little bit behind you, back up with a skipping back maneuver, brake, set and shoot. To move larger distances to cover the ball in the backcourt or in the front court, use cross steps. Cross in front or behind the lead foot to move sideways. To go father fastest, cross in front as you also turn and face the direction you’re heading now and get low while taking off in a short sprint. For these longer runs starting with cross steps, preface the cover move by first popping both feet in the direction you’re headed so the toes point that-away. Then when crossing the trail foot as you turn you’re able to drive your legs into a sprint. After making your cover run or sideways glide across the court, as you’re arriving, power down by bending the lead leg’s knee and then the trail leg. There you’re applying the brakes to ready your feet for your final approach on the ball to slow down to shoot. Your objective is to optimally set your feet to swing from a familiar, balanced stance so you can either attack the ball very offensively or shape a well-placed defensive shot, when you must. To keep the ball in play, ideally move the opponent back and out of center court so you can move into center to re-boss the rally. This off the ball movement and your “cover skill” is critical to what you like to do best which is shoot the ball and serve. Instead of swooping in to a jump stop right in front of the ball with your racquet prematurely up, move at your speed. Develop, perfect, train up, drill and then shake down cruise feetwork moves customized to where you need to go to get there quickly still with your racquet down until you read where to make contact, with which stroke, at what contact height and best shot. Then step in first setting your back foot as you begin readying your racquet and upper body to play the ball. There you’re looking to optimize each situation, especially when you can either hit a passing shot or a kill-shot. From there your cover skill shifts to attack mode, as you set your front foot and complete your backswing loop into shotmaking where you’re all about shaping your selected, visualized shot before you clear and get into your cover skills again, in hopes of shooting again when you don’t let down a winner.
Go for the Crack! —> there’s a time and a passing place and a way to end the rally with ONE strike of the ball. For example, as you serve, you can go for the drive serve that bounces and cracks out right in the back corner. Or you can “go for the crack” just past the short line and up to 5 feet further back at the dashed receiving line. Those 3 are the primary crack-out serve targets. Once a serve is in play then there’s many more cracks on the sidewall or directly in the front corner that can be attacked when returning serve or in rally play. For instance, make your V cross-court pass or DTL pass an intended “squash shot”. That shot, like the corner drive serve, zips directly into a back corner to crack-out right in the corner crotch. Also, from off the sidewall 4 feet or more when you shoot from deep court all the way up to when you shoot at the short line, you can go for your tight pinch intending to Robin Hood or William Tell the front corner crotch. Then, even when you’re slightly off target, a low front wall first pinch can crack-out within inches or feet of the corner on the sidewall or sidewall first tight pinch can be irretrievable. Another situation is when you’re 5 feet from the back wall all the way in to the short line out close in along the sidewall or out closer to the center. There you may hit across your body into your front wall-sidewall target, as a deliberate crack-out winning reverse pinch shot option into the cross front corner. There pick your contact point while selecting BOTH your front wall and sidewall target simultaneously. Hit the double wall option while going for your front wall target 4 feet out and going for the crack up to 10 feet out from the far corner. There you’re looking for the ball to rebound out and strike your far sidewall target from 3-4 feet out to even as far out as 20 feet from the front corner. Once you practice up going for these dual wall targets it becomes a matter of selecting the front wall target that works best for THIS ball from this court position. To hit the crack-out, contact the outside of the ball and swing decidedly across your body to generate the front wall-sidewall combo. Super bottom board low isn’t as big as its angle off the front wall into the side wall where a ball veering off the sidewall can jam up the opponent. As you prep to swing, mentally model your stroke, your shot angle and then use your crack-out shot shaping swing form. Lots of body rotation makes the crack-out stroke motion most doable. Stepping to the side and then swinging across your body is one method. Also, when a ball comes at you off the near, faced non target sidewall, that’s a way where the incoming ball encourages the inwards pulling swing motion that makes the dual wall combo most achievable. To perfect the crack-out shot, face one sidewall and drop and hit by making contact on the outside of the ball to replicate the outside in swing action for the dual wall shot. By drilling the sidewall cracks, your front wall-sidewall crack-out shots will become a viable return of serve or mid rally option worthy of selecting in key situations. Also drill your serves going for your mid court sidewall targets. In rally play, don’t force it or go for the crack too often when the ball or your balance isn’t optimal. Also practice your serve rear corner crack-out along with that sidewall targeting. Also, from along one sidewall, feed yourself a ball off the front wall or as a front wall-sidewall and answer with your front wall-sidewall rally crack-out up the wall where you pick and decide to curtail the rally with one strike. For the cross-court sidewall rally crack, first picture the shot. For instance, make contact from say the receiving line off to one side. Pick a front wall target just over halfway over on the front wall when seeking a crack-out at the far short line by creating a frozen rope ball to your foot high spot into the front wall. That makes the ball rebound out and zip into the sidewall at 20 feet back just above floor level seeking that sidewall crack-out rollout. As another crack-out pattern when returning serve in the back corner, select a tight cross front corner front wall->sidewall target within about 4 feet of the corner going for a low sidewall target up front target to end the rally right after it has barely become a rally! That’s finality and it makes a statement. That shot goes around a centrally positioned server and it can be especially effective returning say a lefty drive serve to your righty backhand or a Z drive serve where you step out to return early it into the diagonally opposite front corner. There the opponent’s expectation is worse case you’re going cross-court to attack the far side of the court. Instead you’re going for your front wall first-sidewall crack-out rollout winner in the cross front corner. Selectively chosen crack-outs capture momentum and score points, too, by playing very assertively, in attack mode.
Crack-out —> a drive serve that goes directly back to just barely crosses the short line to hit the crotch of the sidewall-floor juncture ideally causes the ball to squirt out unpredictably, even rolling out, to be very tough to successfully return for the receiver. A deeper “crack-out” drive serve can be very challenging to return, too. As opposed to the crack-out just past the line that you serve from just inside the short line, the deeper crack-out serve is usually contacted from further over toward the center of the box by the server, even when serving from on the far side of the box. The serve is angled to carry back deeper along the sidewall to crack-out at the dashed line or all the way to about halfway between the short line and the back wall about 5 feet behind the dashed line. There even a left up crack-out can angle quickly into the receiver’s body making them have to return a very hot potato. But, if they get a bead on your crack-out and it’s popping far off the sidewall, you’d better move quickly toward the far side or be ready to elevate (jump) to avoid being popped by their cross-court return or risk being called for a penalty hinder which may hurt emotionally even more than being peppered. If you do get hit, just admit the penalty. Note that a crack-out can also occur in a rally when a ball hit down the wall or crosscourt WAP strikes the front and then sidewall to then crack-out making the ball roll harmfully off the sidewall for the bummed defending opponent.
Crack-out back behind you —> the serve that creates the most per capita hinders is when the receiver’s return is blocked. It occurs when you face the far sidewall and you drop and go for the crack the other way behind you past the short line and up to five feet back at the dashed line. The crack-out is often attempted from the direct center of the box and the crack-out serve can create even more hinders when it’s struck from over closer with your back to the 3 foot drive serve line by targeting right behind you. The “crack-out back behind you” serve motion is similar to the cross-court drive serve that you use to hit from off center when serving to the far, rear corner (or, for example, from left of center when serving to the right rear corner with your left forehand or your right backhand canon). So it’s struck with an outside in swing motion contacting the outside of the ball or the part furthest from you. To routinely make the ball crack-out, pull strongly across your body as you swing, use an extremely low ball toss, low contact and lots of practice reps. Select a front wall target definitely over halfway to the sidewall behind you from where you make racquet to ball contact. Like most serves, train up this crack-out serve going for the crack an inch past the line. Also, to disguise it, drill and have a serve that Robin Hoods the rear corner along that same sidewall and also go for the rear corner on the side you face with an inside out serve, too. For the crack-out behind you, it depends on your agility level how you’ll move IF or WHEN your crack-out angles behind you and the served ball stays up. There you have to either bail and move over to the far sidewall or you must get ready to time your jump over the receiver’s return underneath you. If you take away their cross-court return, you’re penalty hindering the receiver. If you happen to be in the way of their straight in shot, you’re stuck in cement because you should definitely avoid THAT! So there is a risk in going for the crack, especially when you’re closer in along the sidewall you target, but it’s worth it when you hit pay-dirt and the ball rolls off the sidewall or it bounces twice way up in front of the frustrated, stranded in deep court receiver. It’s sheer joy for the server when the serve cracks out and rolls off the sidewall. It’s also good when it just cracks out and bounces funnily. It’s a perfect game point type of serve. Going for the deeper crack-out when it’s a little too high can still cause the ball to spring off the sidewall to jam the receiver’s stroke giving them fits just trying to get the ball back to the front wall. Yet go low for the crack-out primarily and don’t jam serve and hinder by not planning and following through with a tactical move to clear.
Crack-out past the short line —> from just inside one drive serve line in the service box and facing that sidewall, hit an inside out crack-out just over the short line that’s in front of you as a major serving weapon. It’s a finesse serve. It’s best done along with another threatening serve disguising it, like your also-often-used cut motion drive up the wall you’re facing when sending the ball all the way back intending to Robin Hood that sidewall’s rear corner. The oft chance that the other corner serve is coming conceals the actually coming “crack-out past the short line”. The crack-out is struck by focusing your contact on the part of the ball closest to you. To conceptually understand what part of the ball that is, pretend there’s a big cutout clock sliced through your ball at the equator parallel with the floor. 12 o’clock is closest to the front wall. 6 o’clock is closest to the back wall. 3 o’clock is closest to you when you’re along the left wall and 9 o’clock is closest to you on the right wall. The key is to place your racquet head on the part of the ball closest to you so the center of your sweet spot contacts that part of the ball nearest to you, as you swing thru and on toward your front wall target just about halfway to the sidewall. Here by making your front wall target just a smidgen under halfway between ball contact and that sidewall then the ball will rebound out and angle to catch the crack just past the short line to optimally roll flat off the sidewall. For the faced wall crack-out, the 1-step drive serve motion works best. Cut the ball with your swing motion as you drill your crack-out. Also drill and have an up the wall drive serve to the rear corner and a drive Z serve from the same stance, prep, ball toss, and swing motion to substitute either, which keeps the receiver honest. For instance, in case you see them moving up quickly, you could go with your Plan B DTL drive serve or your Plan C Z drive serve. Or you could even hit a cross-court drive serve. That’s unless you decide to stick to your guns with, “I’m going for the crack!”. After serving the crack-out, especially when it doesn’t roll off the sidewall, MOVE! Don’t be struck by the receiver’s return or you’d be penalty hindering them; even if they hold up (take note refs). Of course, the incentive there is to hit the crack and make the ball roll off the sidewall or hit the sidewall crotch and make the ball bounce very erratically. To perform the crack-out competitively, get ready with your service ritual. Visualize the ball cracking out. Then set your feet as you prep, toss and then swing smoothly thru the nearest part of the ball and on to your front wall target shaping the angle making the ball crack-out just past the short line. With practice, it’ll become one of YOUR major and most feared (by the receiver) weapons.
Crash course —> for a “crash course” in racquetball, enter a tournament before you have the requisite skills. Or just queue up at the challenge court to hit a few balls with better competition. Another crash course is trying out an undrilled skill with your buds and seeing how hard it is to try the untried skill under the pressure of stiff competition. The moral of the story is…train up what will bring you fame.
Creative license —> with your shotmaking, serving, and even your court movement you should allow yourself a certain amount of “creative license” or the agency to demonstrate your creativity, especially when time is stolen from you or it’s an unusual bounce you’re fielding (or defending) when, at that moment, a less than conventional method may be required by going for all you have at your disposal. For instance, from off to one side an off stroke inside out cut shot where angling the ball out away from you into a target way over on the far front wall to send the cut shot down the far sidewall quickly transfers the pressure directly right back onto your challenger. At times like those you must be able to improvise and feel free to be creative. Of course practicing specialty shots like these makes this skill available when the situation to hit THAT shot crops up. That’s one among many shots hit with creative license.
Creativity —> in your shotmaking and serving it’s important to be an artist with your racquet and your ball contact, as you perform your shot shaping. By drilling you learn how to apply spins, find angles, select wall targets including sidewall targets (on the ball’s way in to your front wall target), and to add or remove pace to balls going different speeds coming at you off the front wall. Drilling opens up possibilities for you when you’re left little option and you have to show “creativity”, as you improvise creatively shaping shots artistically, with imagery, touch, feel, and imagery to placement.
Crisscross —> a cross step where your first step with the trail foot or foot furthest from the direction you’re heading with as a step behind the lead foot with that trail foot is the start of a “crisscross”. That starts the move that finishes with a cross step with what was the lead foot that was being stepped behind to cross with it to complete one full crisscross step. That 2-step move places your feet again in a balanced stance facing the same way so you may move more, with either another crisscross or a short sidestep or you may stroke right there. With the first step behind cross step (and cross step in front follow up step) you are able to crisscross and gobble up more court than you could with a first step sidestep to the side with the lead foot and trail foot sidestep toward where you’re headed. When needed, taking a second crisscross step with the trail foot behind and cross step in front with the lead foot moves you even further in that same direction in the court and sets your legs in a wound up mode, in this double crisscross grapevine maneuver. A sidestep or shuffle step is much slower, it covers far less ground, and it doesn’t naturally wind up your legs like the combo crisscross step does. Get up and try it and see for yourself.
Cross-court —> a ball hit from one side of the court to the other side of the court into the far, rear corner striking the front wall about halfway over is a “cross-court” shot. The ball strikes the front wall and it rebounds out going going across the court to bounce first on the other side of the court of an imaginary line down thru the center of the court. When the cross-court shot is hit very low, it’s a kill-shot that ideally bounces twice BEFORE the first line on the far side of the court away from where the ball was contacted. From where the player hitting the ball is located to the front wall, that hitter must be permitted to hit the ball directly to the front wall at about a 45 degree angle so the ball can rebound out at another 45 angle to go directly to the farthest rear corner. That cross-court angle must be given at all times by the defending player, as stated in the USA Racquetball rules. That includes when the receiver’s return of your serve is being struck or when you’re striking and returning their serve or when you’re in deep court fielding a passing shot or ceiling ball. That cross-court angle, along with a straight in angle, and angles in-between them, must be given at all times in a rally or with a ROS, too.
Cross-court serve, with cut in to out motion —> as a example of the uncommon effect of spin on serves, when striking the ball with your primary stroke, like when you stroke with your forehand on your forehand side, and you swing with a slight in to out swing motion while also flowing your racquet cross-court, the ball reacts very unusually. That uncommon bounce is especially the case after the ball rebounds off the front wall to bounce and catch the unfaced sidewall behind you. First, the spin appears to pop off the front wall still spinning in toward that far sidewall. The ball spins in toward you going in to the front wall and then, as the ball caroms back out, it’s still spinning out toward the far sidewall. Then, when the ball heads back toward the far rear corner (with or without bouncing), after the ball contacts the far sidewall the serve angles strangely spinning out away from you staying in tight along that sidewall as it’s going backwards seaming to almost parallel the wall as it retreats. If it catches the far sidewall, it curls back IN to that wall staying in much tighter along that far sidewall. That reaction is different than what’s expected with the normal outside cross-court swing motion where the ball pops out off the sidewall toward the cover player. The “in to out spinning cross-court drive serve” can be very difficult to effectively return for the thrown-for-a-loop cross-court drive serve receiver.
Cross front corner —> when you’re on one side of the court and you’re shooting or serving into the diagonally opposite front corner that corner you’re targeting is your “cross front corner”. When shooting with the other side’s stroke and shooting into that cross front corner that is a “reverse pinch” shot. For example, when shooting with your forehand and pinching the ball into your backhand cross front corner that’s the diagonally opposite front corner when shooting on the forehand side or it could be shot from over closer to that backhand corner. When shooting with the primary stroke for that side of the court into that stroke’s front corner, that’s a near corner pinch. That’s like when you shoot with your forehand into your forehand front corner, as a “near corner pinch”, even when you’re shooting on your backhand side in the far, backhand rear corner. So you may hit that near corner pinch when you’re all the way up in that stroke’s corner and hitting with your forehand into your forehand corner. A near corner pinch comes out low and more centrally. Due to the across your body swing action and the spin added a reverse pinch, when struck low enough, hugs even more to the front wall as the reverse pops out off the front wall. That’s like when hitting with your backhand into your cross front forehand corner. Lesson: don’t give up the reverse pinch angle OR the long near corner angle to the challenger when they’re taking the shot from deep in either rear corner and going for the diagonally opposite front corner. In coverage, get in-between before they address the ball. Get in-between ball and caddy corner or cater-corner front corner which is the diagonally opposite front corner before the challenger can get set to pinch into that cross front corner. Then the hitter must improvise another angle, like a V cross-court or a down the wall angle. Also, when serving from one side of the box into the cross front corner, that Z serve that may be struck as a hard hit Z drive serve, a softer lob Z serve or a medium speed or off-speed Z serve.
Crossover —> a cross step with the trail foot in front and crossing over the lead foot covers maximum court moving sideways or turning as you cross to bolt in the direction you’ve pivoted to face. If you intend to face the same direction as you glide sideways, that “crossover” step is followed up by cross step behind the crossing foot with the trail foot to return to your original leg position. Recall the crisscross is a 2-step move starting with a step behind the lead foot. When your intent is to instead of going sideways is to turn and take off to run in the direction you’re heading, first pivot both feet as you take the in front crossover first step while you turn to face your chest to dash in a short sprint. After the first crossover step, drive with leg of original lead foot that was crossed over, as it reaches for court; as now you’re running. Again, with the crossover step you’re taking a step with the trail foot which is the foot furthest away from the direction you’re heading. A double foot pivot and first step crossover step is by far THE fastest way to get from point A to go to point B on the lead foot side in the court, especially for longer court sprints to get to the ball or to play the ball, like when you start in one quadrant of the court and you need to move into a completely different quadrant, like a cater corner diagonal run, when you move from left front quad to right rear quad. Also, as an example of taking the crossover step with frontmost foot, when serving in front of yourself from the middle of the box into the back corner on the side you face, cross the trail foot that was the front of your serving stance over the lead (back) foot in front and follow up with the foot you stepped over crossing behind to complete the crossover. That cross with the other foot behind gets you into center court facing in part the sidewall served, as you’re ready to cover. That’s THE quickest way to…”Get out of the box!”, which is coach-speak for always hustle after you serve to retreat and D-up in center court. A disclaimer or suggestion NOT to use the crossover is when facing the sidewall that you’re serving from a position close along the wall and you’re in too tight along that sidewall. Then a crossover step would get you too close to the sidewall as you angle back moving in too tight in along that sidewall exposing you to blocking the cross-court or even straight in return of serve. Then, when you’re closer in along the sidewall, the cross first step to take is a crisscross step behind the lead foot to move more centrally and get in-between served ball and diagonally opposite corner or cross front corner by moving much more efficiently. Note that a sidestep retreat would be too slow when you’re drive serving because the receiver will get to your serve before you have time to shuffle along backwards much past the short line before the receiver could be making contact jetting their return right by you. When serving in along a wall, after the step behind follow up with a cross step in front to partially face the wall ball side and study the hitter for shot clues from your vantage point on the dashed line.
Cross step —> when covering larger distances on the court to move quickest, a first step “cross step” gets you going fastest AND farthest. A trail or far foot first step passing the lead or near foot moves you much farther much faster than you would be able to move when taking a lead foot sidestep or shuffle step. Usually the first step cross step is in front with trail foot over the lead foot because that crossover cross step covers more court. Taking the first step behind the lead foot with the trail foot, as a crisscross step, is a great way to wind up your legs with 2 steps, but it’s not potentially going to cover as much court as the cross step in front. Although, like the crossover, the crisscross also covers more ground than a sidestep. The in back crisscross step finishes off with a cross step in front setting you facing the sidewall, like would a sidestep, but more quickly and with wound up legs. So after the first step of the crisscross behind the trail foot, the original lead foot then takes a balancing crossing step in front and past the behind crossing trail foot as a finishing crossing over step. When you step in front with the crossover step you can face the same way or you can turn and face the new direction you’re heading, as you may take off in a short, quick sprint either zigging back in the court or zagging forward toward the front court to make a get. The cross step in front ideally begins with a double foot pivot in that new direction right as you’re pushing off the trail foot and starting that cross step in the direction you’re heading. For the crossover in front cross step running start, stay low and drive with the trail leg knee, pump both arms and drop down into a dash. So after the in front cross step, you may pivot and drive with the other leg to sprint in the direction you’re facing, like running a football receiver route. Practice cross steps and use them as you drill. Then they’ll become a big part of your tool set of feetwork skills in your court movement and repositioning skill set. They make a major difference in your court coverage. They are a demonstration of versatile, productive feetwork.
Cross training —> other sports and off court workouts including, for example, cycling, lifting weights, swimming, and Pilates exercises on a machine or on a mat are all examples of “cross training”. Cross training make a player fitter and it also works on special needs things, like core strengthening which addresses a big facet of racquetball strength when you’re moving, swinging and recovering after swinging and moving, too, and then repeating.
Crotch; back wall crotch —> when a ball hits the floor and back wall at the very same time or the “back wall crotch”, it’s a good serve and not a long serve. It makes that sticky sound and it often pops up a little. If the ball rolls off the back wall, it hit the back wall first and it’s a long serve and a fault serve and it’s pretty obvious. Not unusually the back wall crotch call is reluctantly admitted to by the wannabe receiver in part because the call is frequently misunderstood and also because self calling a penalty on yourself is outside the norms of rally play, as is calling skips and 2-bounce gets that are very reluctantly called by many players on themselves and that, in part, is one of the reasons it’s tough to draw in the rational man to a sport where it’s the Marques of Queensberry rules or protect yourself at all times. Altogether it could change. Currently players defend their interests at all times which makes racquetball such a pugnacious, contentious sport, unfortunately. It could be its aggression and power contact and its adrenaline rush, but it’s also that calls are just not made that often by the player on themselves, in an integrity, internal consistency way. I digress. Save racquetball.
Crotch; front corner crotch —> a served ball that strikes both sidewall and front wall at the same time in the front corner and makes that familiar sticky sound is a crotch serve. It also often angles unusually across the front court not crossing the first line. A “front corner crotch” serve is a side out in singles or loss of serve for that server in doubles and a side out when that crotch occurred when it was the second doubles server. Note the corner crotch shot as a return of serve is a good thing almost in every situation for the offensive player hitting the ball and a bummer for the cover player because the ball comes out funny and when low it may come out just few feet at most to take two quick bounces.
Crotch; sidewall crotch —> a drive Z serve that hits the front wall, the close sidewall and then diagonals across to strike, at the same time, the sidewall and the floor is a “sidewall crotch serve”. It’s a legal Z drive serve or even legal lob Z serve. A Z serve that rolls off the sidewall is a three-wall serve and a fault serve because it struck the sidewall first. When the Z serve hits the crotch it makes that sticky sound and it takes a bad, off kilter bounce. Of course, striking just above floor level the ball potentially will rollout off the sidewall, when it strikes just that right spot just above floor level. When the ball is on the fly and without bouncing first or being cutoff, if it hits above floor level and it zips out quickly off the 2nd sidewall, it’s a 3 wall serve and a fault serve.
Cut —> action placed on a ball that spins the ball out away from you or away from the shooter’s position out toward the faced sidewall, as the ball flows forward, carries with it that imparted in to out or “cut” spin from the inside out swing motion. There the inside of the ball is also contacted or the part closest to you. It’s done when flowing the racquet head decidedly out tending toward the faced sidewall. For a simple down the wall ball, the sidewall target is halfway between contact and the sidewall faced. Still, at the end, the follow-through flows in toward you as you finish. Note that all inside out cut swings don’t send the ball into the sidewall, literally. A down the wall shot and especially a down the line shot or serve or shot angles like a cursive letter “i” curves in to the front wall and then it curves coming back out from the front wall. The ball heads back ideally directly toward the near, rear corner. That cursive “i” double curve makes it a DTL angling passing shot or serve that is big challenge returning because of the proximity of the sidewall as the ball retreats pressuring the cover players swing.
Cutoff —> the classic time to make a preemptive strike is when returning serve. There by cutting off the ball right after, for example, a lob serve bounces in the safety zone between the short line and the dashed receiving line requires a short hop move be initiated. It also may be when taking the ball out of the midair past the broken line when the ball would bounce past the dashed line, as you hit your “cutoff” return. Now these cutoff ploys are a defensive situation as well as an offensive one. As server, if your off speed lob up the wall or your off speed Z or your high lob or high lob Z bounces further up in front of the dashed line, the difficulties of stepping in to short hop the ball by the receiver are much greater because then contact must be made much higher as the ball bounds up off the floor very high before the receiver can step in. So then a very far overhead motion is required by the assertive cutoff receiver. As receiver, placing the front foot close to the dashed line, but behind it, and timing sliding your front foot in after the bounce gives you an opportunity to take the ball on the rise and attack lob serves. Getting there early and gliding your front foot into the zone AFTER the bounce sets you up to hit a cutoff shot cross-court or straight in as either a pass or ceiling ball. Or you could blast up a High Z or you may even train up and select a far sidewall target, for a reverse pinch into the cross front corner. As receiver, you’ll value the deeper bounce because a bounce near the dashed line is very vulnerable to being attacked by a low contact cutoff. As server, you see value in a further up bounce so the cutoff is more challenging for the receiver, at a higher, very challenging contact point. Of course not hitting a short serve is the reason you drill hitting your high lobs and junk lobs that will accurately bounce past the line ideally well short of the dashed line. When making contact on balls that are going to bounce deeper or past the dashed line, it’s easier and it begs aggressive returns. The only liability is setting your feet so you don’t get too close to the dashed line or you don’t lean in too early where you’d be called for encroachment which is passing the dashed line before the serve bounces or before the serve in midair passes the line. Practice short hopping the deeper bouncers in the zone. Take the lower ones as a short-hop with your low contact strokes, even experimenting with your off stroke turning and taking the ball with your back to the sidewall swinging out toward the close behind you sidewall. Take the higher ones as an overhead, High Z or slice up a touch ceiling ball. Work on timing sliding in to take the ball on the rise right after the ball bounces in the zone. Also, drill taking the ball out of midair by setting yourself behind the line to swing volley at about thigh to waist high thru the ball as it passes the dashed line when it’s going to bounce past the line. Like anything, practice reps builds muscle memories and trusted skills.
Cutoff artist —> you are a perpetual poacher. You are an extremely aggressive type of player who rushes forward, as often as possible, to put heavy pressure on your competitor. You reflect a frenetic playing style. You are very agile and great in the middle. Your “cutoff artist” game style that you play is used more and more because of the evolution of highly aggressive styles of play designed to shorten rallies and give players a better chance to hit balls low, hard (or dinking softly) and often; mistakes be darned. The cutoff is a difficult playing style to play against by other types of players. It’s an especially effective strategy against counter pushers and aggressors. It makes it difficult for counter pushers to pass you and you’re better at dinks than counter pushers. It’s also hard for aggressors to get their hard hit passing shot ball by you, as you play the perpetual poacher, volleyer, re-kill artist and even ceiling short-hop cutoff specialist. You shoot and then charge forward when returning serves or when shooting from deep court. You time your run up to the front of the middle of the court at the short line to play cutoff ball often hanging out on your side in front of the dashed line usually on your backhand side. You keep the competitor constantly chasing down balls, allowing them no time to set up for their own offense. (That no time for offense is ideally a quality of all of the game styles as implemented thru their shots and serves. It’s invaluable to take a little from each game style and make it your own, like the -give them no time for offense- tactic or rush ’em play. Against the cutoff artist nick lobs and tight to the wall drives serves pressure the cutoff artist’s returns. Wide angle passing shots and deep target ceilings can pass them in the center. Always taking note of their positioning which gives you insight into your best keep-away shot you can select from, picture and then perform.
Cutthroat —> a game with 3 players playing on the court at one time is “cutthroat”. One player serves and plays against the other 2 players who return and play like a doubles team. When that player serving hits their serve the other 2 are receivers returning and playing like doubles partners should blanketing the court defensively and running the single player in this 2 on 1 game of cutthroat. If the server loses the rally, they take the place of the player who was returning in back but whose turn it is next to serve, as you 3 take turns. Then, after that player drops their serve, that player is replaced by the third server, as the 2nd server takes the 3rd server’s receiving position in back. That way you keep rotating positions and you don’t face the same formation, as they switch sides each time when you serve. In cutthroat, keep your own score; although it’s not unusual to hear the server call all 3 players’ scores. You can serve to either side. But often in rec play the server alternates serving to the 2 back players. That follows the rule where you only serve to your side in doubles rec play rules. Then, in doubles, you’re serving only to your side and not serving behind your partner because it could expose your partner to blocking the required straight in and cross-court shot angles by the receiver returning your serve from behind them and so causing a penalty hinder. With the one cutthroat player serving and playing against the 2 other players in each rally that is enough of a disadvantage. The cutthroat server should be able to serve to either side to more level the playing field. The 2-man team playing the server should communicate who should hit any questionable 50/50 balls, like any good doubles team would do.
The dance —> as you approach each and every hittable ball, go in with lively feet ready to move them to set them well, as you read the ball and optimally set your stance to be an offensive shooter. Ideally, with optimum timing or ample time to prepare, you can get your best footing. Set your feet in a little choreography of both feet in rhythmic “dance” step that get you positioned to swing in a key leg drive assisted, balanced, force producing striking stance. By setting your stance, you’re able to swing from a superlative base, with your momentum building lower body’s lateral and turning forces feeding the core, shoulders and arm turning force. Setting your feet and hitting from a repeatable stance means your dance steps are effective. That good base allows your shot shaping to be consistently productive. Refer to stance setting for the suggested dance steps.
Dead step —> when you face the direction you’re heading and as you take off on either your right foot or left foot, optimally you step immediately forward with either foot, as your first step forward, to move off the mark atyour quickest. However, players often take an initial step back with one foot or they “dead step” backwards away from the direction they’re heading. THEN they step forward. They usually step forward off that same foot that had stepped back, which is just a little quicker than trying to step forward after the dead step with the one foot by stepping up with the other foot. Like all of your feetwork skills, practice stepping forward. Do that by drilling and taking first steps when taking off with either foot first so you can move going forward by taking your first step with either your right or left foot going forward first. If you feel yourself taking the dead step back, put both heels against the back wall and practice your step forward. You’ll know not to kick back into the wall. Avoid stepping back with one foot before going forward with that foot or stepping back with one foot and going forward with the other foot. Do neither. In either case, that dead step slows down your start and you run (or move) by going backwards before you’re going forwards. Only retreat when getting out of the box after serving, as you turn and retreat going sideways with cross steps. Only do a step back for a ball going back overhead when you sense you can’t drop back going sideways because you don’t have time. Then back up as you reach back with either foot and hook overhead the ball before it gets back behind you. If the ball will carry to catch the back wall, allow it to go on by you as you move back while turning sideways with the ball to play the ball off the back wall, as an ideal back wall setup.
Deception —> often you have many more shot options than just the one. Know that (often) your opponent can only cover one angle or one shot. Try to wait until your opponent commits by moving off into 1 direction. If they move, then factor into your shot picking immediately taking and making the shot into the angle they leave uncovered, the one back behind them
(or the one they leave least covered). Your holding the ball on your racquet a beat longer offers you that “deception”. Also, looking like you’re shooting straight in and instead of hitting straight in you optionally select sideways angles offers good deception, too.
Deception; activate your own capacity for self-deception —> sometimes players look you off by turning their head in one direction and hitting in another. Sometimes players intentionally swing at a ball and miss on purpose or they feint taking their swing. Then they drop the racquet low to hit a drop shot or they may let the high ball fly by to contact it when it pops off the back wall as a setup for this deceptive player who is employing “deception”. In those cases, the intent is to throw the challenger off by throwing them a curve where they’ll freeze where they are or it may cause them to flow in the wrong direction due to the feint. Now another point is that it’s actually useful to activate your own capacity for deception. There are times when you must convince yourself that the big run of points by the opponent or their large lead is definitely surmountable. You have to almost suspend your sense of reality. Convince yourself by actually isolating both your response to what they’ve been serving so well and also divine ways to chip away at the scoreboard by scoring yourself with your serve arsenal to mount your comeback. This is a form of “self deception” and it’s good to look for and factor in ways to outplay even the superior athlete or even the superior player or the treeing opponent by creating situations where THEY are uncomfortable and you are comfortable with the unconventional tactic you’re employing. An example would be hitting a rash of deep target ceiling balls and High Z’s to throw off even the machine-like shooter. Convincing yourself is half the battle. The other half is picking from among your tactics ones that optimize your skills and place great pressure on theirs. That’s why, from the warmup on in the contest, your powers of perception allow you to see what’s happening. Then match what’s happening with both what you’ve prepared for plan-wise with your own skills, which allows you to adjust your approach in the rallies so you can neutralize what they’re doing, surprise them with some of your own actions and give you winnable situations that you are familiar with. You’re not so much fooling yourself as you’re reasoning your way thru to overcome and be the comeback artist or the player who has the ability to manufacture points with pattern responses that give you more winning odds possibilities. An example of serves would be a nick lob that is lofted up to catch the sidewall very deep near the back corner. Another more aggressive serve would be to hit a cut drive serve tight in along one sidewall to get the ball to suck in to that sidewall and make it an adventure for the receiver to return the serve at all let alone offensively. Even though there’s pressure; even though you might’ve struggled up until now, allow a minor deception by saying to yourself, “I can do this”, and then execute what you know you can do, like you know you can do it.
Deep target ceiling ball —> a ceiling ball struck so the ball you lift up contacts the ceiling much further back from the front wall than a touch ceiling ball which strikes closer to the front wall is a “deep target ceiling ball”. The usually harder hit, (sliced) deep target ceiling ball strikes the roof well behind the first row of lights on most indoor courts. Then the ball angles down to a spot lower on the front wall than a touch, tighter to the front wall targeted ceiling ball. That lower front wall contact causes the deep target ceiling ball to bounce out further from the front wall and rise up quicker to take a deeper, steeper drop in the backcourt. That deeper, hard bounce thwarts the short-hop plans of the touch ceiling ball short-hopper, as the deep target ceiling ball zips back quicker. And they’d better be zipping back quicker, too. A touch ceiling ball strikes the ceiling closer to the front wall. Then the ball angles to carom off a higher spot on the front wall. The touch ceiling then bounces up in the front court relatively softly to be vulnerable to being short hopped at about 15 feet from the front wall. The harder hit usually under spun or sliced deep target ceiling comes out hotter and after bouncing further out from the front wall it retains that same greater ball pace all the way back into the backcourt. If a deep target ceiling is a little long, its physics makes that ceiling ball actually drop off the back wall at a very steep and challenging angle for the cover player. The challenger (or, if it’s you on defense) had better be on their horse and hustling back; i.e, when the deep target ceiling is seen being struck by the challenger. Drop back quicker. From your perspective, hustle back hard to defend deep target ceiling balls, like they’re passing shots so you may deal with their angle-produced passing shot pace. As alluded to, an offensive benefit of the deep target ceiling is it’s harder to move forward and take it on the rise like you see aggressive players do to cutoff and shoot regular touch ceiling balls when looking to take them on the rise and flick the ceiling ball into a low front wall or sidewall target. Note that the deep target ceiling ball is tougher to place exactly in a rear corner. So allow for some margin and leave the ceiling ball well off the sidewall by a controllable margin to avoid sidewall contact and a possible setup, as the ball bounces and catches the sidewall to check up short of the back wall or to carry to the back wall as a possible setup.
Defense —> when you’ve served the ball or when you’re returning serve or when you’ve hit your rally shot, right after making contact and completing your follow-through, you’re now on “defense”. Defense starts by paying rapt attention to the ball you just hit and the moves, positioning and prep of the other player who is now on offense while they’re pursuing and playing your ball. Your first move on defense is ideally into center court or moving toward (or through) center court. From the center of the court you are able to cover more shots. Also positioned properly there before they’re swinging, you may legally block diagonal shots that are being taken from deep court into the cross front corner or diagonally opposite corner from where the ball is about be struck, again, when you beat the offensive player in their move to attack the ball. From coverage, as soon as you anticipate by picking up their feet point or revelatory contact point or as soon as you guess where they’re hitting based on a mental flash of what they’ve hit there before or just as soon as you see the direction of their shot by picking up sight of the ball, defense turns to offense. Then offensively attempt to track down, approach and set yourself to optimally shape your keep-away shot, as now you’re attacking their defense and you’re attacking targets by shooting shots you take and reliably make and have trained up.
Pick something Defensively to give up —> your defensive moves where and how you position yourself and ready there to play “defensively” is focused at key times on your decision to “pick what you’re going to give up on the defensive side of the ball”. Certainly, in-between stroking, you’ll tend toward the center of the court. From where you initially D-up, you’re defending while the challenger returns your shot. That can mean you transition right away to defense immediately after you hit the ball when your ball is vulnerable to their offensive shot. Normally ceiling balls, passing shots, and left up kill-shots are all going to be within your personal coverage area when starting in or near center court. Although you have to tailor your game adjusting to your specific opponent and your placements. Sometimes you might decide “No kill-shots!”. Then you’ll make the move to cover the front court by moving early, as they swing forward. Or you may even initially position yourself further forward in center court right from the get go in or slightly in front of the dashed line. There you’d be giving up something else. Your defense would be set to give up a passing shot or possibly a ceiling ball unless perhaps you plan to short hop their expected touch ceiling ball. That forward positioning would be the tactic you’d use when playing the lethal shooter who shoots virtually everything very low. In addition to where you spot up in coverage and where you’re geared to move from there to bolt to cover their shot, another facet of playing against the perpetual shooter is where in the court you assess it’s best for you to place both your shots and serves. Where you place the ball is indicative of where you want them to make contact and what you’re willing to give up. For instance, you may nick lob the perpetual shooter. Or you may serve up drives where you want the high aggression player to compete with the sidewall to take their then attempted tougher low board shots. Rally shots are placed to make them hit on the run or take shots from very deep in the court. Then, as a defensive tactician, you decide how to position yourself and what shot to cover. Your coverage and what you’re deciding to take away is intended to affect the play of your opponent, too. If you spot up further forward you could take away their low shot game, but you’d balance that with making it tough for you to return all of their passes and maybe their ceiling balls. You balance that positioning with shooting what you want while playing to your strengths, especially when going for winners you routinely take and make. When your plan for adjusting your shot placement and negating their placements is put into action, you have a good recipe for success. As you note where the opponent takes and makes shots and you formulate how to avoid those spots, also find and locate where they’re weaker or not as adept at shooting or not as aggressive. For example, a running backhand is often a hole in a player’s attack game. Then your tactic is finding ways to make them move and hit when running wide on their backhand side usually ideally at higher contact heights, too.
Deficiencies; correct your own deficiencies —> on your side of the ball, constantly self-monitor your own tendencies, skills and tactical actions in live play. When needed, make small, smart corrections so you move more efficiently, track down the ball more economically, and imagine and shape keep-away shots more effectively. Tactically choose your shot (or serve) placement, its pace and spin, as you constantly monitor and reinforce your stroking skills and shot choosing. When needed, improvise. Prep matching the time you make with your efficient movement to get to every ball as quickly as you possibly can. Yet don’t rush getting ready. Swing matching your own personal swing tempo; i.e., don’t rush or get your racquet up too soon and then have a delay. With too early racquet lift, you program in that delay or hitch before you swing forward. Match your feet to your arms so they work in concert, as you set feet as you wind back and then push off with strong leg turn and core drive, while swinging down with a long, fluid, untethered form flowing back and then, with great purpose, inexorably thru with both your racquet head and your plans. When you note something done incompletely, undone, not followed through with, done incorrectly, or not according to your game plan, “correct your deficiency”. Don’t get mad. Improve. Correct. Keep track and tweak. Evaluate where you’re placing your shots, too. If you’re reading for angle, correct.
Deflect —> a ball close in along and shot into a sidewall as a splat “deflects” off that sidewall to veer into its low front wall splat target. A ball heading toward a back corner that bounces and then deflects off the sidewall may carry and pop off the back wall with extra spin while providing a semi challenging carom off the back wall as very often an attackable back wall setup ball. There an efficiently moving cover player can advantageously return this back wall setup to shape a very low front wall target. The spin of the ball coming off the back wall helps often with your sidewall targeting. By using repeatable feetwork movements and well-timed racquet work, back wall setups become money. The key is for you to read how the deflecting ball will react after it ultimately caroms off the back wall. Learn how you move best with the ball in this and all deflection situations. Similarly on the other side of the ball, when the opponent’s splat stays up and you can leg it out after it bounces but before it reaches the second sidewall sidewall, an answering trickle splat into a target just up ahead on the far sidewall can be the response that re-kills the left up splat or pinch ball. By using tactical drills it makes it easier and more reliable for you to capitalize on these shotmaking chances with attackable balls where you may shoot either a kill-shot or send an error forcing keep-away, deeply placed passing shot.
De-inhibitor —> have several ways that you put on a show for mostly yourself so you relax in this virtual and actual performance where you play unembarrassed or unself-consciously freewheeling racquetball. Stick to your routines. Keep the same encouraging thoughts churning through your mind. Between points both take your time and take deep breaths to keep you immersed in the moment. All of your little techniques are “de-inhibitors” which allow you to play with a uninhibited, free flowing style that suits you and is familiar, routine, and successful. Find those personal de-inhibitors that work for you, like little ritual moves or centering, calming belief-filled thoughts. And, of course, do the same physical rituals that work and are meaningful and effective for you.
Delusions of adequacy —> it’s better to delude yourself into thinking you’re playing adequately than to have delusions of grandeur and to think you’re all that. But adequate usually isn’t going to be good enough. It’s better to do much more than to just be adequate. Don’t settle. Be the type of player who wants to have very advanced skills that are more than satisfactory. With skills, you can impose your will on the game. And, even more importantly, it’s huge to play better than adequately so you win the ones you should and also win when you may not be playing at your peak level, and you “have no delusions of adequacy or of grandeur”.
“Toe the Diagonal” —> whenever the ball is back behind you in either rear corner, “toe the diagonal” or assume the diagonal line between ball and diagonally opposite front corner. That means when you toe the imaginary diagonal line formed between ball and cross front corner you’re in tiptop position. That means by how you stand directly on that diagonal line you first take away the diagonal angle into the opposite front corner from the shooter behind you eliminate the long, tough to cover pinch, you’d allow if you were to be stuck further back. When you get there in-between BEFORE the challenger can address the ball back behind you, as you legally block that long diagonal angle. There you take away both the reverse pinch with their primary stroke for that side of the court and you prevent the spinning near corner pinch with the off stroke which is the primary stroke used when shooting on the other side of the court. The near corner pinch with the off stroke or the far side’s stroke would be, for instance, when you shoot with your backhand from your rear forehand corner when shooting a long pinch into your backhand cross front corner. The reverse pinch is like when shooting with your backhand from your backhand rear and going for a placement in your forehand cross front corner. Also, when you get there first and you’re there in-between, you give up the rule required straight in and cross-court angles that you must allow. Also toeing the diagonal you’re blocking the wide angle pass (WAP) angle that could get around you if the ball strikes the front wall OVER halfway over to the far sidewall so the ball would rebound out to deflect off the far sidewall beside you, which would be very difficult to cover. If you give up that WAP angle, you’re either too far over on the far side of center court or you’re too deep in the court, but you’re not in-between ball and corner. From either of those defensive stands not on the diagonal you are giving up way too much court and too many angles, like that dangerous diagonal into the opposite front corner. Defensively “toe the diagonal” facing the front corner there in front of the ball. There you’re ultra ready to cover their shortest, fastest shot down the wall. From the diagonal feet position, you can cover the down the wall shot with two steps. First, jab step out to the sidewall and cross step along the sidewall. As the shooter commits by beginning their forward swing, jab step with your back foot out directly at the sidewall. Then crossover step with your front foot to fill the lane and cutoff or intercept their straight in shot angle. After stepping there, swing if you can or reflex back your best improv shot. Practice the jab and cross and you’ll do very well covering their passing shot down the wall lane or “the line”. Open up your shot choices all the way to sending the ball into the sidewall just up ahead of your racquet arm shoulder as a 3-wall boast kill-shot, which adapts to the fast paced passing shot that (almost) got by you.
Diagonal defensive drop —> as you’re defending in center court and you read the ball is hooking by you going very fast toward one of the rear corners, you have a binary cover choice. You could go directly to the sidewall and try to intercept the ball. That’d be toughest because THERE…(1) it’s harder to see the ball; (2) it’s tougher to prep in the squeezed down time; and (3) there’s that looming, immovable sidewall waiting for you, too, even when you cover the pass. When you sense you can instead motor back and catch up to the ball back in the backcourt, do it with your efficient feetwork. Make it a “diagonal defensive drop”. First pivot both feet backwards. Crossover step with farthest foot from the backcourt, turn to face the back corner and diagonally angle your quick run back. Then there’s 3 things going for you…(1) you get longer to prep as you diagonally drop back; (2) the ball goes slower and slower the further back you intercept it; and (3) you get more time to take in everything going on in front of you while you choose your best shot on-the-drop to optimize the situation.
Dictating play —> it’s ideal to be bossing the rallies with your tough to neutralize serves and your assertive, well-placed keep-away returns of serve and rally shots. When beginning rallies with your serve or your assertive return, “dictating play” is a big goal. It’s better to be the one who dictates play, with aggressive moves, tactical positioning and aggressive shooting than to be the player who is having to counter the player who is dictating play when you’re having to play defense with your shot placements and tough gets.
Dinker don’ts —> there are “dinker don’ts” you want to avoid that feed the dinker’s game. The dinker likes left up kill-shots and shots you hit at them. They actually like searing heat from your shots because they get to use your pace agin you. One quality of the dinker’s dinking is they usually shoot straight or cross-court angles, but they infrequently dink super low pinches. That’s because dinking often involves imparting slice or under spin on the ball. And slice pinches can skip after popping off the sidewall into the floor before they can make it to the front wall. Combating a dinker also includes playing keep-away, by angling the ball completely away from them whenever possible. Note that dinkers often play D from closer up where they can depend on their fast hands to cutoff many passing shot angles and depend on their ability to cover left up kill-shots and dink away their re-kills. Drive serve dinkers angling your ball out toward the sidewall where you widen the angle to make the ball bounce, carom off the sidewall deep in the backcourt to angle back and die right up against the back wall where the dinker must struggle to get in behind the ball as they must to return it their way forward when their back is right up against the back wall. That puts the dinker in the toughest position returning the serve with a 39 foot dunk shot. Nick lobs also work because it places the dinker deep, contacting a high, slow moving ball when they still will most likely be tempted to dink their return. The deep target ceiling balls are THE return to combat a dinker’s better serves. They can’t short-hop them, but they’ll want to. Also, when they realize they can’t cut the deep target ceiling (DTC) off, it makes the dinker have to get on their horse to sprint back to cover them way back deep in the backcourt; while still inclined to dink or place their return very low when they’re on the dead run.
Discerning play —> discern truth from untruth. By always being fully engaged you’re simply fooled less and surprised hardly ever. The server is trying to fool you sometimes with tricky deliveries. They may try look offs, like where they look at one rear corner like they’re going to place the served ball in that corner, and then they may end up serving into the complete opposite rear corner. Ignore the fake and watch the ball. Similarly, in rallies, when a player may appear to point their feet and therefore their shot in that one direction, it’s important for you to “be discerning in how you play by reading the situation”. First, don’t take off too early when their racquet is still aloft where then they could still change their shot angle and strand you. Also, know that when they’re looking off or appearing to place the ball in one direction instead they may deflect the ball off in a different direction which can cause you both angst and require you to be better discerning in your ball read in future rallies. Ultimately you do want to show good judgment on what you do with the ball. Also seek to be very perceptive and dependable in your recognition of patterns so you react with your familiar, productive, well judged responses. To play discerning ball you must be mentally focused and use your ability to relate to similar past patterns so you have several options and then you can make a quick, best call that answers what you discern is vulnerable or worthy of being capitalized upon.
Discipline —> doing a familiar skill with control and by habit your individual way in a highly effective way is easy “discipline”. Having a more limited skill set and trying to do functions that are lesser known to you or outside your skill set shows a lack of discipline. It’s ideal to divine rules you play by. It’s big to know how you conduct yourself as a player when calling upon your vast experiences. It’s optimal to have a wide ranging code of behavior that gives you versatility and the ability to improvise successfully in many, many patterns of play. Develop your own code of behavior. Keep an inventory of your skills and add to them as you develop your fundamentals. That behavior as an adaptor to patterns and, in concert, disciplined control of your skill set makes your game become more and more sophisticated, well-rounded and automatic just when it needs to be.
Disguise —> I always find it entertaining to watch a group who usually plays doubs that must play a game of cutthroat because they’re short one player. There’s the lone server alternating serving from one side to the other so that each time the player on that side knows in advance they’re about to be served to. Isn’t it enough of an advantage for the virtual doubles team that they’re playing against the lone server? The reason they’re doing that is because of the rec doubs unwritten rule that you serve only to your side, like right side serving player serves to right side receiver. (Although sometimes you’ll see the other left side defending doubs player cutting off serves to the right, especially jams and sometimes even drive Z’s that are aimed at their “weaker” right side partner). There’s been talk at times about quadrant serving in singles where a player would alternate serving to the different sides in back. In both of those cases, in doubles or singles or cutthroat what the server would be giving up is “disguise”. In singles or in doubles or in 2 on 1, appearing like you could serve into either back quadrant makes it tougher for the receiver or receiving team to camp on one particular serve or side. That’s why service motions shouldn’t have tells. How servers point their feet or the line they form with their feet shouldn’t point into the angle they’re placing their serve (or their shot in rallies either). And they shouldn’t toss the ball way out front when they’re serving cross-court where only an across the court angle could possibly be coming. Avoid those or other tells that identify your serve’s angle. Start all of the serves out identically so the receiver doesn’t have an inkling what’s about to come. Toss the ball identically. Also, for how you set yourself to stroke rally shots, it’s invaluable to set a stance where it’s unrecognizable where your shot could possibly be going. Look like you’re shooting straight in. Also, have a full backswing. Then you’ll be able to dial it down or ramp it up and swing at different swing speeds which makes your challenger have to honor your power potential. Then they can’t position themselves closer to the front court to influence your touch shot or low shot. That’s because you could be ripping a passing shot by them. Then it’s up to you to choose where you’re placing the ball and how low. Back to serving… you can disguise your intentions with some obvious tactics. In singles you can look back at one particular back corner and then either serve toward that corner or use your look back as a fake and serve to the complete opposite rear corner. You could do a walking serve and pause your walk as you serve in front of yourself along the sidewall you face or you could serve behind you into the space you just vacated. Disguising where you’re hitting the ball when you serve or rally shoot or how you are hitting each ball power-wise and spin-wise and basically concealing your angle intentions is invaluable disguise or deceit that makes the challenger have to play you straight up when they must…
(a) stay in the middle in back to return your serve;
(b) stay in center court behind the dashed line in rallies.
–> When they are serving and you’re the receiver, you may appear to be staying home in the center in back, but at the very last second, after the server commits with their elbow flying forward, you may begin to flow off to one side to cutoff say the server’s usually very productive Z drive serve with your preemptive, well-disguised, well-timed cutoff return attack. Build your skills how to disguise your own serves, your rally shots, your moves to receive serve, and your timing when you’ll vacate center court to run down their rally shot. Generally hide or disguise your intentions. Even a simple appearance that you’re lofting up another ceiling ball can be switched out by instead going for an overhead reverse pinch into the cross front corner which can catch the challenger retreating prematurely and making it almost impossible for them to reverse their field or change directions and dash up into the front court to offensively or even defensively cover your surprise reverse overhead. Another form of disguise is spin. When you hit what looks like a vanilla down the wall serve, but you add just a little inside out or cut spin, it makes the receiver have to counter that in to out spin turning into the sidewall as the ball angles back. As a result, they might struggle to pluck the ball off the sidewall or they may mishit their return. In your tactical game, continuously design more of your own forms so you become a master of disguise.
Dive —> a full out commitment move by a player to keep the ball in play by leaving their feet and normally projecting themselves out across the court floor by extending themselves to get to a ball they couldn’t reach with a long lunge is a “dive”. Also, as you dive, it is possible to wind back and swing at a ball as you dive to shoot your return very low which accounts for the fact that it’s hard to get back up and cover when you dive and it’s not a kill-shot. Or you may dive just to make a hustling flick to keep the ball in play by flicking it into a back corner. Note too that saving a ball with a dive when that ball the diver hits goes over the diving player, as the opponent holds up, is universally accepted and understood as a penalty hinder and loss of rally, even at times in recreational play. Learn on a mat how to dive. Dive judiciously or safely. Also place a high priority on moving your feet to hit the ball after getting there on balance whenever possible by taking extra steps. While you train to dive, train to get back up, too. Train to take that extra step, to lunge and swing.
Dive housekeeping —> after you or your challenger dives and the rally is over, first recall where the floor was touched or slid on. Then check for and dry up all of the wet spots or the one slick with a dry, cotton towel. Also squeak your gum rubber shoes on the floor to make sure there’s no residual moisture. Even a small slick can send you sprawling, which risks injury to all participants. Always check their work when the challenger cleans up their own wet spot. It’s much, much better to be safe than sorry. Check the wet spot yourself. Make it part of your “dive housekeeping” to check the court, TWICE.
Dominant eye —> your “dominant eye” starts your visual triangle formed by your 2 eyes and the focus of your rapt attention, the ball. The dominant eye initially picks out the point in the distance. That point (in this case is the ball) and it is also picked up by your other eye which completes your visual triangle. Then looking thru both eyes you have depth perception or you know how far the ball is away, if it has spin on it and where it’s headed. To find your dominant eye…full on face the upper left front corner with your chin and both eyes fixed on the upper corner. Point up at that corner with your right index finger. Look over the forefinger tip directly at the upper left corner with BOTH eyes simultaneously fixed on your finger and the corner at the same time. Then alternate covering one eye with the palm of your left hand. When your dominant eye is covered, the finger seems to magically float away from the corner by a few feet even when your eyes aren’t moving. In play, always ensure your dominant eye is on the ball. For instance, turn your chin into the back corner on the side where, as you face the sidewall for that side’s stroke, your dominant eye is furthest from the back corner or it’s the eye closer to the front wall. Then you won’t be off when making contact by about the width of a ball from hitting the dead center of your sweet spot on the part of the ball you choose to shape your chosen shot for the ball back in that rear corner.
Dominate center court —> in rally play, the more you place the ball out of center court, while moving the opponent to chase down your shots, the more you “dominate center court”. Also, while you initially D-up in center court, get ready and time when you’ll leave center court to cover your challenger’s shot. After every offensive shot, make a move to get back into center court. Look to dominate the middle and the chances are you’ll be dominating the scoreboard, too.
Double fault —> getting one fault on your first serve and then serving up a mess of a second serve with your second delivery for a second serve fault serve is a “double fault” which gifts the receiver the ball and the serve. For your second serve, pick a winner. Use a very familiar, reliable delivery. Take your time before you put ANY serve in play, especially the second one. Internally see yourself hitting your serve well, as you mentally see your serve’s placement and picture the swing you’ll employ to make it happen. See yourself performing a flowing swing and placing the ball as you imagine it back very deep in the backcourt corner for each penetrating serve, or see your serve circling around the receiver as a wraparound serve.
Doubles —> a 2 on two 2 team game is called “doubles”. When one partner serves, the partner of the server stands with their back to one sidewall in the box. It’s not necessary for that partner to actually lean right up against that sidewall. That non serving partner must stand with their back to the sidewall until their partner’s serve completely crosses the short line. When the first server at the beginning of a game loses a rally, the other team takes over for their first server to serve until they lose a rally. Then partner of that gets their chance, too. From then on for both teams both servers can get their chance to serve. From that first server on, as a side-outs occur, the serving team effectively must have lost 2 rallies, which means both partners had their chance to serve and they both lost their serve. If one doubles partner keeps pointing, that server retains the serve until that doubles pair doesn’t score a point. After the first server kicks off the game and the other team takes over, either partner may serve first, as there is no mandated order of serve. It is often a norm in doubles that you serve to the opposing player on your side of the court and your partner does the same, as does the opposing team. Serving a ball into the rear corner behind where your partner stands on the wall endangers your partner, as they may be struck with the return by the player on your partner’s side. Now, if your serve angles into the sidewall and veers out off that far sidewall into the center, that opposing player gets the straight in shot that the rules mandate. As long as your partner stays close in along that sidewall, they’re giving up that straight shot. If the rec rule of serve to your side is enforced, the other side player should also not cutoff serves going to their partner unless they’re ready for the rule to be broken and for them to be served, too. Offensively, when one partner in deep court or in the middle of the court is hitting their shot, their partner must defer to the other two defensive players to allow the 2 defenders to be in front or the offensive non hitting partner who can’t block the opponents from defensing the hitting player’s shot.
Back up your partner in Doubles —> there are several instances when your movements are specifically designed to “backup or support your doubles partner” in rallies or when returning serve in doubles. One prime example is when you see your partner sliding forward on one side and you see the opposing shooter is going to pass your partner or hit a ceiling your partner can’t retreat to cover because they’ve slid up so far to cover the expected low shot they’ve read. Then your move is to slide over to cover the side behind your partner, while it’s also good to be yelling out “Mine” or “Me” at the same time so your partner knows you’ve got their back. Then you should switch sides where your partner slides over to your side. Other partner backup situations include…(a) when your partner is in a rear corner shooting, you should center up behind and between the opposing defensive players to be ready to move up to cover if your partner leaves up a low shot; (b) when your partner hustles up to make a good get on a low shot, you should follow them forward so you can cover in case they leave up their get, but, again, the opposing pair gets the most forward position if they take it. So get into the middle of the court as close to the center without getting in the way of the 2 opposing defensive players; (c) when your partner is returning serve and the serve bounces, ricochets off the sidewall and then caroms off the back wall circling around them, be ready to return the serve by staying alert and being ready to play the tough bounce; and (d) when your partner makes a tactical or technical error, make sure to back them up with encouragement or an idea of what to optionally do differently next time.
Best team shot or best team Doubles shot —> in doubles, it’s good teaming to always be aware of your partner’s position. Also have an inventory of their shotmaking skill set so you know when to let the ball funnel around to them or back to them, especially when they have a jump on a ball dropping back behind you to take an offensive shot. Allow balls angling off the far sidewall (the one next to you) to go across toward your far-side partner and they should let balls off the sidewall next to them to angle toward you. Attempting to play a ball angling off the sidewall closest to you with a reflex shot which is usually just a stab volley with your off stroke often ends up in poor shots. That is poor partnering. Work together to take the “best team shot”. One partner shouldn’t be making overhead pokey saves (as overhead drop shots) or trying for some Herculean overhead kill-shot or just trying to keep the ball in play with a stab when their partner has their back and a better shot behind them. Let those high ones go and they’ll often pop off the back wall as juicy setups for your partner OR you. Communicate who should take each even questionable shot, when there’s even the remotest chance of uncertainty. Be offensively connected, as well as make sure you 2 combine to blanket the court defensively. When you serve, a subliminal objective should for be you to set up your partner with your serve so the receiver’s return heads to your partner and they can put the ball away ideally attacking the opposing team’s weak return that they’re trying to keep away from you!
Exchanging center court in Doubles —> there should be a natural exchange of positions by the opposing far side player in doubles when the hitting player is playing the ball on the far side of the court. Simply stated the far side defensive partner gets to be up front. The offensive player, who isn’t shooting, by rule, must allow BOTH opposing defensive players to be up front in center court. What that means defensively is when you are in coverage on one side and the opposing far side offensive player is deeper in the court hitting the ball, you must be allowed to be up front to cover both far sidewall shots and cross-court shots angling toward the rear corner behind you. If you’re being boxed out by the hitter’s partner who is not playing the ball, first try to pick a side and step around them. Then back up into center court into your rightful position. If they don’t wanna budge to give up the spot or if they wanna block you out like you’re rebounding a basketball under the boards, it’s a hinder and you should immediately call it. Of course this occurs when the opposing team is returning serve, in a ceiling ball rally, exchanging passing shots or the hitter is taking a ball of the back wall in that far rear corner, when you as the defensive player should be allowed to be in front (where you want) in center court. As the defensive player, your position needs to be further up while watching the far side opposing shooting partner, while not having to joust for position with the shooter’s non hitting partner. They should be out of your way. The opposing offensive team’s non hitter should be “exchanging spots in center court with the opposing cover players”. If it’s your partner shooting in the far, rear corner, as their offensive partner, give way and optimally queue-up behind and between the 2 defenders. From there you’re ready to dash up and cover should your partner’s low shot be left up in the forecourt and you need to cover the opposing player’s attempted re-kill. And logically once one of the 2 NOW offensive players is playing your partner’s left up shot the non hitting partner should give way for your team to defend the hitting partner’s possible shots.
The forehand rules in Doubles —> In doubles, in a righty-righty pairing, the left side player should usually take balls down through the middle of the court with their forehand, (unless the right side player has an awesome backhand!). That team tactic should be agreed to prior to play. That’s not only because the left side player is often the strongest of the 2 partners. It’s because backhands can be jammed more easily. Also right side player’s backhands are often weaker due to their reliance on their forehand or their poor backhand grip, form, or belief system or less swing speed. Also, in doubles, with 4 right handers competing, the ball often funnels to the left rear side of the court to the partner on that side and their forehand (or backhand) much more regularly than it angles to the right side partner. So a ball breaking away from the right side player shouldn’t be stabbed at with their backhand just so they get in their hits. “The forehand rules in doubles” and also best team shot rules should be the basic team strategy.
Doubles formation —> there’s lots of ways 2 teammates can D-up as the opposing team shoots. One player could be up and the other back. One could be a little deeper ball side while the other could be farther up
dangerously up in front of the dashed line. There the up player could cover up and the back player could cover back. When the ball is more central, the two defenders could station themselves just off either sidewall negating many sidewall shots and making the opposing shooter hit at them or up the gut between them. As a general premise, if you get side by side in center court when the opposing shooter is anywhere from deep court to mid court along the wall you cover much more court as a pair. Also have assigned coverage areas. When the opposing hitter is deep on one sidewall, the far side cover defender player takes the shooter’s sidewall shots and the V cross-court shot. The near side defender has everything down the line and a WAP all the way around their far side partner. Importantly move as a team and make it a point of emphasis to not let balls bounce twice or get between you by designating a central cover player. Evolve your doubles formation and adjust to your shot placements and each other’s coverage capacities AND communicate yours and mine in rallies and between points discuss how to adjust your team defense.
Doubles receivers —> when one server on a doubles team is serving, the opposing team returning has 2 receivers who should both be all in to return THAT serve and every serve being sent back by the serving team. For instance, when the partner on one side in the backcourt is being served and it’s a drive serve going into their back corner that bounces on the floor, deflects off the sidewall, and then carries to ricochet off the back wall out into the center in back BETWEEN the two receivers, the opposite side receiver should be ready to be the backup plan to return that tough angling ball. When the original receiver recognizes their difficulty with this ball circling around them, they should call out “You!” or “Yours”
and they should let their partner return that ball. The two partners or “doubles receivers” should both stand at the ready facing front a good stride off the back wall and both about 5 feet from each sidewall. One receiver should NOT be positioned way up near the dashed line while their partner is being served. That’s because that forward receiver might be jammed by a serve coming at them right off the front wall or off the front wall and the sidewall on their side and then into them in their way too far forward position. Note that the player moving up like that may be trying to squeeze down the non serving partner’s ability to drop back into defensive position in center court right AFTER their partner’s serve passes the short line. That’s not according to Hoyle or in tune with the rules. After the serve is hit, the serving side becomes two defenders who get center court position when the offensive team’s one shooter is returning serve in the backcourt. That same logic goes for when one player on one team is hitting any rally ball from outside of center court. Trying to crowd out the defenders and especially the far side defender from getting into defensive position is not fair play, when done by the non hitting partner. When the 2 defenders have made their move toward center court, the non returning partner should give way. That non returning player may get behind and between the two defenders ready to dash forward to backup their shooting partner’s return, when their partner leaves up a low shot attempt. That’s the rule that the defending pair get to move into center when one player on the other team is shooting. An exchange of center court should be the routine and not a struggle where the defenders must battle for center with the one offensive non returning partner while the defenders are trying to cover the hitting partner’s shot. While one player shoots, the 2 defenders have the right of way to move into center court to cover the pending shot by the shooter, except when those defenders left up the ball they hit IN the center. The rules specifically call out that it is penalty hinder called blocking when the non returning partner “Moves into a position which blocks the opponent from getting to, or returning, the ball; or in doubles, (when) the offensive player who is not returning the ball hinders or impedes either defensive player’s ability to move into a position to cover the pending shot that comes into play.”
Do what YOU do best —> of course figuring out what you do best happens in competitive environments, as well as it’s developed on the training ground in drilling and consistently routine practices. Then a big objective when playing your game is that you “do what YOU do best”. If an opponent is able to disallow your ability to play your game, you’re being highly challenged. Then you’ll have to find serves that force returns by the receiver that are attackable. Similarly you’ll need to find ways to neutralize their serves so you can become the lead sled dog and steer the rally toward hitting shots you take and reliably make. If you’re not doing what you do best, quickly figure out why. Make sure to keep uppermost in mind what you do very well. Then return there to that comfort zone, as soon and as often as you possibly can. If a challenger’s serves, tactics, coverage or even their aura is affecting your play where you can’t be yourself out there, take copious mental notes of what you need to work on to fill the gaps in your game so you can broaden your skills to have more things you do at your best where fewer opposition actions will affect your playing effectiveness.
Down the line (DTL) —> a ball contacted along one sidewall that’s struck down along that wall so the ball will strike the front wall about halfway between ball contact and the near sidewall so the ball caroms back out to angle directly into that near, rear corner is a “down the line” (DTL) shot. The DTL trajectory goes in and comes back out like a cursive letter “i”, with two graceful curves, one going in and one coming back out off the front wall curling out toward that sidewall on the way back directly into that rear corner. As the DTL ball curves in to the front wall, it carries with it inside out sidespin or “cut” that revolves into the sidewall going forward. An inside out swing, when making contact with the part of the ball closest to you, when angling your racquet face slightly out to the sidewall as you strike the ball all combines to create the inside out spin spinning in to toward the sidewall as the ball goes forward. After contacting that front wall target just under halfway between contact and the near sidewall, the ball curves coming back out seemingly switching its spin to turn out into the sidewall as the DTL angles back. That causes the DTL action and shot angle veering back into the rear corner. Shape the DTL when facing the sidewall and striking the ball with that side’s primary stroke. For example, strike the ball with your backhand to shoot (or serve) from along your backhand sidewall into that near, rear backhand corner. Accentuate your in to out sidespin swing motion, as you strike that under halfway to sidewall target on the front wall. That in to out motion puts cut on the ball as the DTL ideally zips back directly along the sidewall and right into that near, rear corner which is in this case is your backhand corner.
Downswing —> at the onset of the forward swing, simultaneous with pushing off with your rear foot (and drawing in your off hand to your side), loop your racquet and racquet arm down in an initial little “c” loop. In the c loop, first cast your racquet head back in an arc just as the “downswing” (or looping throwing motion) begins by pointing the racquet head back. Then drive your elbow forward, as your arm is just about to arc out. As the ball nears flow your racquet hand out, roll the arm turning it over as it begins to straighten. Your downswing begins to climax right before contact. Milliseconds before contact overlap the turning arm with wrist turning over WITH your arm. Snap them together spiraling the racquet head thru the ball. That snap continues on thru impact into the initial follow-through directly toward the wall target. The racquet then turns around in front of you until the racquet head points behind your back at the end of the downswing in your full thru phase or forward stroke.
Drastic means governor —> …you must have one… when you’re on the run and hitting or when you’re running forwards and hitting on the move or when you’re running to the side and hitting in a stretch or when you’re back peddling quickly and hitting or when you’re leaning way back and hitting off your back foot… well, you get the theme. Those are all times NOT to do anything drastic. D-up with a ceiling ball, even lift up a lob, or, at best, stroke a pass into your best keep-away passing shot angle. When the server is making hay with a certain serve like a drive serve to one rear corner or a drive Z angling back into one rear corner, don’t step up and hit a cutoff to drastically go for a rollout kill-shot return in hopes you’ll somehow magically recapture the box. Ideally move them with a bigger target passing shot or lift up a hard-hit deeper targeted ceiling ball that will also move them back quickly where they have to decide whether to do something drastic themselves. When the ball is moving you to the side toward a sidewall, do not take a drastic dive into the sidewall. Take the little extra steps and finish with a lunge, if necessary, to hit a passing shot or flick the ball forward, and then move and D-up. If you’re having to reach back just to flick the ball forward to keep the ball in play, instead you may crush the ball backwards into the back wall to get the ball to rebound hard off the front wall and make THEM retreat. In these difficult situations you’re looking to extend the rally the best way you can. When you’re struggling for points and you’re relegated to your second serve, don’t do anything drastic like go for another 1st serve drive serve as your second serve unless that is your trusted method and you have it on autopilot. So there don’t hit a drive serve unless you regularly do that and it consistently works for you. As a example of a routine second serve, hit a super high nick lob or an off speed quicker paced lob angled to catch the sidewall way back deep in the backcourt about 37 feet back where it’ll deflect off, bounce and crawl up the back wall and stick in that back corner. If you were to choose a high lob, the key is to bounce the ball well short of the receiving line closer to the short line; hence that’s a tougher target. If it’s your 2nd serve choice, it had better be well practiced and hugely successful. As another option, consider the key for all off speed lobs is enough pace where the “junk lob” can’t be short-hopped and crushed when cutting it off making the receiver deal with a faster moving higher ball while they’re on the move. Also, when a half lob serve is high enough, a high to low cutoff shot would be a very low percentage return option and indicative of a drastic tactic on their part. But that’s NOT something done by you were you to be receiving, right? You’d carve up a good ceiling ball or hit a good defensive return. Have your own “drastic means governor” for your shots, serves and returns.
Drill —> training for fitness and to practice your movements and to “drill” or sharpen your serves and shots is great use of your valuable court time. It can elevate your level of play and build strong, trustworthy confidence in all of your skills. When you practice…
(a) drop and hit shots… then;
(b) feed yourself balls off the front wall, ceiling and back wall;
(c) also hit a series of the exact same shot right in a row to perfect it;
(d) also hit a series of the same serve with your stance setting service motion and (starting) retreating after sending back your serve;
(e) as you drill serves, repeat your feetwork moves for getting out of the box;
(f) drill your moves returning serve, with your feetwork, as you drop and simulate your jab and cross to hit your return;
(g) drill moving from out of center court to track down and hit your rally-like replies;
(h) toss and hit balls out of midair while practicing both of your strokes, while swinging rhythmically back and thru; or
(i) take swings without the ball called skeleton swings.
–> All of those drill your skills. Design moving drills to go along with your stationary ones to keep your court movements sharp and better simulate live play when you must move effectively to hit each ball you field. Drilling sharpens your existing skills, allows you to learn brand new skills, and it adds new curves to your shot placements and serves, with angle, pace and spin twists. Add to that moving to hit the ball with the strong side or primary stroke on that side. Also drill hitting with the off stroke or stroke primarily used on the other side of the court. Just playing pickup games leaves you on a playing plateau that’s hard to cross to a higher plane. Although playing games does sharpen your competitive instincts and your play under pressure, it only keeps sharp with what you already know and can do well or passably. There needs to be a balance between drilling your skills in practice, while you add in new skills (and curves) to executing like clockwork your routine skills. Then make sure to unveil your new skills in competition. Plus, in post play evaluation, develop your training plans to fine tune and hone your new skills and those that are already owned. Set your improvement and enhancement performance goals that should be recorded (written), monitored (checked off), adjusted and met or exceeded, but never unmet, unevaluated or un-evolved.
Drills for skills —> to learn where to stand to defend in center court when the opponent is shooting or where to start when returning serve takes playing rallies and competing. To learn the bounce of the ball and how to hit the ball your way takes solo court time and experimentation. There start with a basic skill set to move and hit and develop more sophisticated skills with smart drilling. The drop-n-hit drill is a good starting point, but only when you serve does that situation replicate itself come score calling time; so move on from that quickly. Feed yourself balls off the walls simulating rally play. Rally play is moving. It’s reading the bounce of the ball and being drawn toward it. It’s optimizing your spacing. It’s tracking down, approaching and hitting the ball from your set, productive, repeatable striking stance. You’ve got to do lots of ball feeds or partner training to build your moving and hitting, as well as your hitting and then moving skills. It’s “drills for skills” where you become a potential champion. In training you evolve into a player capable of getting in the zone to be all that when reaching for your potential on the racquetball court.
Drive serve —> a low very hard hit serve ideally angled for one of the rear corners with the goal for the ball to bounce twice before the back wall is a “drive serve”. A change-up on a drive serve is getting the serve to bounce and catch the sidewall very deep along the sidewall so the ball then deflects off the sidewall to angle back and bounce its second time right up against the back wall, as a very difficult return situation for any receiver. Another form of a drive serve is a Z drive serve that is struck into one front corner striking the front wall first so the ball then angles directly into the adjacent sidewall causing the ball to Z or ricochet out diagonally across the whole court into the cater corner, which is the diagonally opposite rear corner. A drive Z serve’s ideal goal is for the ball to bounce, carom off the far sidewall (without being cut off) and then diagonally angle back and ideally bounce right up against the back wall where it’s tough to get in behind it and have an uncrowded swing to return. Then maybe only a whack save into the back wall is all that’s left for the receiver, if they didn’t already commit with that side’s primary stroke. Another drive serve is a crack-out serve where the serve is targeted to strike right at floor level on the sidewall just past the short line or a little further back along the sidewall. A drive serve that is angled off the front wall at a wide angle so the ball angles into one sidewall so it then veers into the body of the receiver is a jam serve. Finally the wraparound drive serve that is hit into a very wide angle off one sidewall so that it bounces and pops of the back wall, as it circles around the backcourt to challenge the receiver to track it down as it angles out to the far sidewall or even to contact that far sidewall often very challengingly.
Combating dominating Drive serve —> first, when having to deal with howitzers into the back corners, look for tells from the server about their serve’s direction. Also, when they get on a roll, you may interrupt the server’s rhythm by signaling “not ready”. That’s when lifting your racquet above your head or when you turn and face the back wall between rallies. You may change positions in back and make sure the server sees you moving. Move over to position yourself on either the left or right side in back. Then, just as the server begins their service motion, move back to center. Get in THEIR head. If they’re hitting both corners consistently, it’s okay sometimes to guess and pick a side and move as they start their arm swing. Make a 45 degree angle cutoff move. If you guess wrong, it’s still okay. You’ve planted a seed of doubt in their mind that you’re going to guess sometimes so now they have to also guess, “Which way will they go?”. If you can’t possibly pick up the ball as it passes by them (even though it’s not a screen) and you want to get a head start on playing their serve, bend over at the waist getting your head down lower and try to see where their drive serve strikes the front wall. If you pick it up early, pop up, pop both feet to point ball side. Then back foot jab 1/2 step out to the sidewall and front foot crossover to cutoff the howitzer’s angle into the rear corner under siege. Pick the return that you judge is best when looking to change positions so you can move up, including lifting a ceiling ball. Battle. Do all you can to “combat their dominating serve”.
Drive serve line —> on either side of the service zone or service box the second line in from the sidewall is the “3 foot drive serve line”, as discussed in the USA racquetball rules. (The first line denotes the doubles partner area where they stand while their partner serves.) That second line out is the demarcation for how close the server’s foot, body, the ball they toss, plus their racquet swing can be to the sidewall when the server is striking a drive serve out along that sidewall. Simply none of those may touch or cross that 3 foot drive serve line when serving a drive serve along that sidewall. If a player faces the line, the possibility of hitting a screen serve down along that sidewall is less than when that server is facing the other sidewall and serving back behind themselves. Then a screen serve is more likely to be called unless the server’s arrow finds its mark directly as the ball Robin Hood’s or zips directly into that near, rear corner or the ball strikes the sidewall before the back wall. Note that a serve that’s within a couple feet of the sidewall is less likely to be called as a screen serve, while a ball more than 2 feet out or closer to and passing over that 3 foot line is more likely to be called a screen serve. Simply put a screen serve passes by the server at the short line where the receiver is “screened” when they’re unable to clearly see the ball as it is passing by the server. Also note that when the server near the drive serve line strikes a ball that contacts the front wall and then angles back about 3 feet from the sidewall or passing right over the 3 foot line that server is also in the crosshairs of the receiver and that server may occlude or block the cross-court return angle completely causing a penalty hinder situation. In refereed play a ball over the 3 foot drive serve line should be called as a “Screen” or a “Duck!” meaning the server better be moving.
2-Step Drive serve —> the one step drive serve motion or the no step drive serve motion where you plant and rip the serve are 2 ways players set their striking stance to stroke the ball to serve a drive serve. A very popular method used by players is the 2-step drive serve motion where they serve by starting at the back of the service box with both feet initially on the short line. There, as they face one sidewall, their back foot of their eventual serving stance starts behind what will be the front foot of their stance, as the back side of both feet paint the short line. The back foot starts a little distance behind the front foot at address for balance. A little knee bend is sufficient. Too much knee and back bend and you’re down too low where you’ll have to come up and then you’d have to still go back down low where it’s often hard to get back down low enough again as you swing forward. That address position, with back foot behind front foot, allows you to move into your striking stance with 2 steps in this “2-step drive serve”. First, that back foot steps up to just behind the front foot’s heel, front wall side or the width of your foot closer to the front wall. As the back foot steps up, lift your racquet beginning the backswing, as that motion balances you and gets you started n into struck your backswing. As the back foot lands, toss the ball forward in the box, with a sideways flick. Then move forward into the ball. There your front foot takes a crossover step toward the front of the box. That front foot may even pass the front line in long server strides, as long as the heel doesn’t pass the line. At an optimal level, as the front foot alights, engage the legs. There land the front foot and immediately press back to the rear foot. That serves to connect the 2 legs together so there may be progressive weight transfer and body turn into the ball that builds off of knee turn, hip flip and core spin; all before your peaking arm motion. All that lower body work combines and feeds the simultaneously turning upper body which is also capitalized on by the climaxing arm arc. As the ball moves forward and the stride and full body swing catches up, make contact ideally at the very same spot every single time when you’re serving to the left side of the court or to the right. Your racquet flow and racquet face angle at contact determines your serve angle, not your dual feet point or changing your contact point in relationship to your feet or legs, as those clearly reveal your serve angle to an alert receiver. Also changing depth of contact in relation to the upper body is tough to do. Stick to off shoulder contact. After swinging thru violently, turn ball side and push from back to front foot as you crossover with the forward-most foot to get back into center court.
Drive thru ball on your Drive serves —> as you “drive thru the ball on ALL serves”, it prevents short serves and it adds extra oomph to your direct drive serve or drive Z serve and it even ensures your lobs pass the short line. Flow thru the ball on a flat plane, for your drives, swinging hard toward your front wall target spot (without looking at that front wall target). Feel your front wall target and flow your racquet head right toward it.
Drive Z serve: see Z drive serve and the different drive Z serves under letter Z.
Drive shot —> for a ball that is just sitting there saying, “Smack me!”, it’s time to hit a “drive shot”. That drive may be a power passing shot. Or you could be going for a bottom board kill-shot drive. But pure pace needs to be balanced with invaluable accuracy. A drive shot comes with a quick approach on the ball, a high backswing, intense focus on the ball, a super solid stance, aggressive shot picking and full, flowing arcing swing to produce your artful shot shaping shotmaking.
Drop-n-hit —> a drill where you bounce the ball with a dribble or toss as you also start your racquet lift or prep or racquet loop or backswing and then you set your feet and begin to forward swing thru allows you to work on both your rally strokes and that’s also how you serve where you practice and repeatedly drill the accuracy of placement of your (stationary) shots and drive serves. Of course expand the drop and hit or “drop-n-hit” to bouncing the ball into the floor so the ball caroms off the sidewall to bounce again. Or take it after it bounces into the sidewall and it pops off the sidewall. Or toss the ball so it bounces into the floor and off the back wall to bounce. Or bounce it into the back wall so it pops off the back wall to shoot. Adjusting to these bounces better approximates rally patterns you see in competitive games. While working on the drop-n-hit drill, along with tossing the ball into the walls also add in feeding yourself balls… off the front wall; off the front wall and one sidewall; off the ceiling and front wall; and off the front wall to bounce and pop off the back wall. Then you’re working on both your stationary stroking and you’re working on your moving and hitting shotmaking. Really importantly move your feet and set your stance efficiently for your ball toss and feed setups. That moving and attacking drivable balls will make your game a very formidable one. That way you build your skills as you drill your moving and shooting and dealing with incoming shot angles and producing a broad range of responding shot angles to place the ball anywhere throughout the court.
Drop shot —> for a ball that hits very high on the front wall so the ball carries in the air to fly off the back wall to then bounce in the middle of the court or to even travel further forward taking its first bounce in the front court, one shotmaking skill, when you sprint super fast is to catch up to the ball, slow down and softly control the ball with a “drop shot” low into the front wall. To hit the dropper, place the ball on your racquet face as if you’re holding the racquet like it’s a serving platter and the ball is resting on it and then, as you close in on the front wall, drop the ball off the platter and lay the ball in extremely low on the front wall. Note that when you try a drop shot your challenger will often follow you in to the front court. So, when that’s your shot, you must hit your drop shot extremely low. Although, as other options instead of a drop shot, you could change up and hit a low passing shot around them, as a wide angle pass, or you could strike a very low, very tight near corner pinch that’s too low to get; while you pop up over the top of the ball as it zips underneath your feet (which means you jump). Therefore, as in all shotmaking cases, pick the best shot you think you can take and make and critically they can’t get.
Drop step —> to move away from the sidewall when you’re being jammed up by a ball popping off that sidewall in to you, step back with your back foot (or deeper foot as you face the sidewall) first as a “drop step” away from the sidewall. There you drop step with the foot that’s deepest in the court. That’s the foot you always adjust with first to take just one more step to quickly set your hitting stance. After the drop step, then you only need to step in with your front foot to fully set your striking stance and shoot. If you were to step back with your front foot first, you’d still have to step back with your back foot and THEN you’d still want to step up with the front foot, which would be taking an additional step to set your stance and swing. A different drop step occurs when you’re in center court partially facing the sidewall in the middle of the court ball side as the ball is back behind you on that side you partially face. There you’re primary cover is the down the wall shot by the shooting challenger who is positioned back behind you along that near sidewall. But, when the shot angle is changed from straight to across the court, you must expand your coverage to cover their cross-court shot by moving to occupy the far side of the court. Then the move is to drop step back away from ball side with the lead foot that is the foot closest to the front wall and furthest from the ball and its sidewall. Then spin your body around to face the far sidewall. Subliminally follow up the lead foot drop step with an arcing partial step with the post, trailing foot that’s about to be the front foot of your far sidewall facing stance. As the ball is about to reach your contact point or about to pass by you, crossover step with that post, trail foot setting your front foot of your adjusting striking stance to cover even shots along that far sidewall. There look to hit your attacking shot from your movable striking stance. Or defend from your stance, if you must to flick your return or lift a deep target ceiling ball or control a cut, down the wall passing shot or mash the ball just up ahead of you into the sidewall as a 3-wall boast kill-shot to interrupt the ball about to get by you and kill it in the cross front corner.
Dry the ball —> when the ball is wet after striking you or after contacting the challenger or after the ball contacts a wet spot on the court, put the ball under your shoe and rub the ball on the court to dry it off. That’s the ONLY sure fire way to “dry moisture off the ball”. When you see a player slamming a ball into a sidewall over and over and over again, they’re just releasing some built up venom. It isn’t for certain they’re going to dry the ball and they might miss the wet spot over and over when they hit the ball over and over again into a sidewall. Drying the ball on someone’s shorts or on their shirt may actually add moisture vs. eliminate it. Instead rub the ball into the floor by placing the ball under the pad or ball of your foot. After rubbing and checking its dryness yourself, allow the challenger to check it if you’re serving or give it to them already dry to serve. If they’re the ones that initially dries it, ALWAYS check their work. If you serve a wet ball, the ref can call you on it and call an out serve, which means the receiver takes over with ball in hand to serve. If you let them serve a wet ball, you may be unable to return the ball, the ref may not call it a wet ball, and you’ll have no recourse or replay.
Duality of offense and defense —> it’s obvious that when you serve your mindset should be to be in attack mode because you want to score a point, and you want to keep on serving. Of course, fielding a ball when on the dead run going backwards in the court then a ceiling ball or a lob would be your more defensive tactical response, even when you’re serving. Now, on the other hand, as you receive serve your mindset is to defend and firstly get the ball back to the front wall. Secondly you want to avoid leaving the ball in the middle of the court right where the server drops back and they can attack your left up return. Serves that bounce in the middle and then carry to pop off the back wall should be very aggressively attacked by the receiving defender turned offensive player. Once the receiver returns the serve to the front wall the rally begins. For the receiver the keep-away strategy is intended to keep the server moving and unable to hit put-away shots. Re-kills of left up kill-shots attempts by the server is within the conservative approach to shoot only when you’re setup as the receiver. Chance taking by the server can be more tactically risky while the receiver must be careful to not hit skips when a passing shot would’ve been the much better play. It’s the “duality of being the server or receiver” and whether you play offense or defense in each shooting case and that duality in your decision making is reflected in your tactical and technical play in response to the recognized pattern. There you’re prepared with your backswing and mental prep, as you respond according to your prep for the pattern of play just how you practice your patterned responses.
Ego conscience —> as you play, there’s always a struggle inside where your ego is mediating between your conscious and unconscious mind to decide who is going to play this ball, your Dr. Jekyl or your Mr. Hyde. There the conscious analytical mind is wrestling with the emotions of the sometimes wild and crazy subconscious mind to see who plays this shot or who takes this movement. Understanding your “ego conscience” and what are the better angels of your play helps you understand when to go balls to the wall or when to place the ball tactically defensively. Racquetball is such an attacking game vs. a rally game. It encourages highly forceful play. With its kill-shot endings to most if not many rallies, aggression predominantly rules. But every effort should be made to keep control over your behavior so you don’t just crush every single ball, especially when you’re on the run, off balance or you’re forced to hit the ball from very high or from awkward contact behind you or way out in front of you. Playing with heart or energy needs to be balanced with keeping to your key response options to patterns where you’re familiar with YOUR options and you can react by rote with well-practiced response moves, positioning, prep and shot shaping what you see mentally. Ultimately your identity as an aggressive, but thoughtful and well-practiced player gives you margin for more shots and more viable options for your decision making choices.
Encroachment —> when returning serve, the receiver may not cross the 25 foot dashed or dotted or broken “receiving line” until the ball either crosses that line in the air or the ball first bounces past the short line. After the bounce, then the receiver may step in (or slide their foot in front of the dashed line) to cutoff the ball right after the bounce. So after the bounce, the receiver may move in past the dashed line to attack the serve. As receiver, after the bounce, it’s possible for you to slide your foot in and take the ball on the rise at different heights. But the timing of crossing the line is very delicate, as is timing short hopping any served ball when taking it right after its bounce. If you pass the dashed line before the bounce or before the served ball passes the line in the air, the call is “encroachment”. By moving in and past the broken line when stepping past or leaning in too soon or swinging past before the bounce or by beating the ball passing the line or breaking the plane at 25 feet before the ball crosses the dashed line in the air, the call in each case is the server gets a free point and, as a too aggressive receiver, you messed up. So it’s worthwhile practicing returning the ball after the bounce or in midair while not encroaching. Practice getting there a little bit behind the line before the bounce. Learn to take the ball on the rise as a short-hop right after the ball bounces and starts to rise up or on-the-rise after bouncing. After the sever commits to their lob with arm motion, slide up and first set your front foot a little behind the dashed line (about half a foot), as you time the bounce and as you ready to move into the ball you plan to make contact right at or just in front of the dashed line, while you initially position to NOT encroach. Draw the racquet back compactly and be ready to slide in or lean in to swing often with a slightly hooded angling down racquet face to keep your pass or kill-shot down and from coming off the back wall. When controlling the beveling or racquet face angling, avoid grounding the ball or skipping it in. The more reps, the better will be your results. Along with short hops or taking the ball low on the rise from low all the way up to overheads, work on taking the ball right out of midair at waist high as a swing volley.
Energy magnet —> the ball is an “energy magnet”. The more you go for it and hustle it’s like the ball senses your energy. It’s like the ball is drawn to the more energetic, active player. Draw the ball to you.
Enjoy —> relax and have fun. There’s always some pressure on you. You may expect to win or you may expect to lose, and either expectation can be pressuring. How you deal with that pressure gives you chances to perform optimally or it could cause you to give a suboptimal performance. Let go of the outcome completely. Make it your overarching concern playing well and tracking the performance of your skill set. It’s okay to be anxious. It’s counterproductive to feel anxiety. The more calm and relaxed you act and try to be, the better you handle stress and the better you perform your routine strokes, trained moves, trusted serves and well thought out processes. When you relax, you play optimally and you “enjoy playing”.
Equator clock —> one visual to use when you contact the ball which will assist you when developing your shot and serve angles, especially when you shoot at a slightly downwards angle or side to side, is to picture an oversized clock cut right through the middle or equator of the ball, with that oversized “equator clock” parallel to the court. Contacting the ball above the equator causes your ball to go high to low. The back of the ball facing the back wall is 6 o’clock on the clock. You hit the ball a little above 6 o’clock and swing straight forward and the ball goes straight forward and right back at you low (and you better move!). The front of the ball facing the front wall is at 12 o’clock; so hit thru the ball from 6 to 12 for a direct shot to the front wall. As a shooting example, when contacting the ball at about 5:30 as you’re making contact along the right sidewall and you’re flowing your swing across your body, that creates outside in spin and a cross-court angling shot toward the far, left side of the court. When you contact the ball at 6:30 and swing in to out away from you toward the sidewall you face, in this case the right sidewall, you add spin out into the right sidewall target ahead and a little lower as the ball flows forward into the angle you choose for your splat or pinch. That shot using that in to out swing motion causes the ball to spin inside to out as a sidewall shot which will keep the ball closer in to the front wall after the sidewall ball caroms back out. After the ball strikes the sidewall and ricochets toward its low front wall splat target spot. Then popping off the front wall it zags to the other sidewall. Likewise an in to out near corner pinch uses that in to out spin to make the ball disappear into that side of the court’s front corner, when making ball contact from off the sidewall 5 or more feet out and selecting a low, usually close to the corner sidewall or less frequently front wall pinch target spot.
Equipment —> shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, goggles, gloves, racquet, balls, sweat bands, leg and arm braces or pads, if necessary, towels, brains and brawn or anything else you might think you need is your list of playing “equipment”.
Equipment upgrade —> as you prepare to go to the club to play or as you pack up your bigger bag for a competitive event, go through your list of equipment. You must have playing equipment
from head to toe or toes to head, including a suggested item and quantity of…(1) shoes (2 pair);
(2) socks (2 pair);
(4) shirts (1 per game);
(5) warmup or sweatshirt for between matches;
(6) goggles (2 with one and as backup);
(7) gloves (lots);
(8) racquets (3 up to 5 frames for big events); (9) tournament balls (2 new ones);
(10) sweatbands (2 or more head bands and wrist bands);
(11) towels (game and shower);
(14) brawn; and
(15) braces (knee, elbow, calf muscle, as needed).
–> Going through that list should become commonplace or habit. Add to that replacing, repairing, or “upgrading your equipment” which should factor into your playing planning and game improvements, as you’re always seeking to raise your level of play by playing with the best skills and tactics AND the best equipment and with the best skills and tactics, as you develop both your game and equipment. For emphasis, have equipment backups or extras and skills to boot for those important times when you need them.
Errant down the wall pattern —> in this pattern, while overly influenced by coach-speak or just being a wishful thinker or passer, player A shoots the ball down the wall from contact way deep along one sidewall when fielding a ball caroming off the front wall coming back up that wall or a ball coming from an across-court angle. Here, in this first example, player A’s shot makes front wall contact and it angles up the wall to bounce, but catch the near sidewall in mid court about 22 feet back. As that “errant down the wall ball” deflects off the sidewall, cover player B steps in and makes a quick prep and quicker pattern assessment. Which shots are available to the initially centrally placed player B who is now closing in and scheming, while they’re shot selecting? How the ball bounces is key. For a ball coming more out from off the sidewall toward player B, a cross-court angle is where (the ball wants to go). If the ball is just drifting slightly into your body, the V cross-court kill-pass is plan A, with the wider the angle the better, but height control is critical because player A won’t usually just stay back deep spectating. When the ball off the sidewall veers more decidedly into player B’s lap, a reverse pinch into the cross front corner could be their plan B across the court option. If the ball checks up and it almost spins back in toward the near sidewall, plan A then is a near sidewall splat (NOT) a tight near corner pinch. The splat would strike the sidewall into (your) close proximity target slightly lower than ball contact, while swinging with an exaggerated in to out swing motion. If the ball hangs and its spin appears benign enough, an answering down the wall kill-pass may be attempted by drawing the ball in on your strings and adding inside out cut and topspin. For this DTL option, take great care or producing another errant left up down the wall ball may occur or skip. If the original pass by player A has extra juice, it may have enough momentum to start to get by player B. If player B moves extra-quick and they fully wind back, a 3-wall boast kill-shot striking the near sidewall just up ahead of your racquet arm shoulder and then rebounding off to diagonally angle into the opposite front corner is plan A, while ideally targeting the far sidewall first to leave the 3-wall ball the furthest up in the front court. If the down the wall ball is getting by you as player B, a quick pivot and a QuickDraw off stroke powers a crosscourt back wall save that hopes player A is moving around you, as they won’t want to be in the crosshairs of your back wall whack attack. Now, looking back, was player A’s initial attempted kill-pass down the line THE play when the covering opponent was so well situated in center court and a bounce and a ricochet off the sidewall could occur when other choices could have been tried? For one thing, it depends on the depth in the court of contact by player A and the proximity of player B to the line or near sidewall. Ball location, ball spin and ball height all factor in. A cross-court kill pass from deep court could maximally be a V cross angled toward the far, rear corner, when left untouched or not cutoff by player B. The far leg of that V could be shortened should the ball be gobbled up by player B when the V pass is not super low or lightening fast. It’s only the V angle because a wider angle pass doesn’t have to be given by defender player B, as they could position blocking the long diagonal angle into the opposite cross front corner from there in coverage in center court. Instead of the crosscourt or the straight in kill-pass shot, a higher down the wall pass could be played to place the ball deeper as it passes by player B buying player A time to move around and forward to defend ideally player B’s responding back wall shot. For player B, a higher contact response could be used to answer the down wall pass with a lifted deep target ceiling ball, if angle control sideways or vertically were to be at issue. Contact NOT in the back 5 feet of the court opens up many more shot angles. One option is a wide angle pass (WAP) circling around defensive player B. That would be the optimal choice to pass them by. Now all of this data feeds into the nanoseconds long calculations player A has to parse thru their known pattern response options to make their shot decision, as they approach and play each ball. Then, in response, an even more squeezed down window of opportunity to decide becomes available to the more forwardly positioned cover player B to pick their response to player A’s shot selection and placement. This actual pattern plays out over and over in rallies or when the receiver is returning serves throughout a game when player A fields balls in the back corners and player B ACTIVELY covers from center court. Player A is reading the ball’s action or its bounce, their estimate of player B’s coverage range, and player A scrolls through their own shot options, which all form the equation by player A. Then player B must solve the return pattern with shot pick plus shot shaping plus post shot moving. Get out there and drill this and other patterns in the back quadrants of the court (or mid court) so you’ll have more knowledge of your doable options as player A. Similarly train up the options as cover player B in response starting from your covering spot in center court. Pay particular attention to where does the ball want to go based on its angle to or away from the near sidewall, what spin it carries with it, and what contact level, matched by your prep height, your stance control and your versatility to take this ball and produce this side or that side angles, as well as vertical angle or shot height plus spin adding, which all factor into your shot decisions and then your shot shaping. Note that no pinch or splat response by player A was mentioned when factoring in the centrally positioned player B. However, if the ball being played were to pop off the back wall angling out along the sidewall, those sidewall options open up, as well as cross-court passing shot backup angles. Also, despite player A leaving up that original straight in shot, by following their shot forward they have a better chance to respond to player B’s response shot, with still a possible winning rally ending, by covering and pressuring player both A’s shot decision and shot execution. Defense matters, even when you leave your shot up.
Infrequency of Erring —> it’s important you keep your errors to a strict minimum by how your performance measures are being met. Those measures include how you optimally maneuver your racquet head to accommodate your current rally situation stimuli when shaping the trajectory of each of your imagined response shots. That means you pick and perform what you determine is the right shot at the time. And you quickly assess each shot to control its future quality. Additionally, with how you move your feet to most efficiently set your striking stance for balance, spacing from that ball and apropos swinging force ideally allows you to “keep your erring to a bare minimum”. That means very few skips, minimal off angle shots and definitely minimized bad shot decisions. Timing is everything until you are getting ready and then it’s all about executing effectively what you’ve dialed in, know well and do well at your own unique swing tempo.
Technical Error —> as you move your feet to make your final approach on each ball, upon reading your contact point, set your stable, loaded, attacking stance. Then swing with your own personal tempo and form. Hit out with a committed swing to hit your rapidly chosen shot that is designed either to end or extend the rally. It’s ideal to auto repeat your familiar, reliable swing motion. In each stroke iteration, monitor or witness your form. It’s always good to return to your practiced form that you’ve built with reps in training and forged in the intense heat of competition. When you recognize a “technical error”, assess, visualize and correct it for the next ball like this one. One performance goal is to “keep your technical errors to a minimum”. Redress your errors, as soon as you can. Skips, mishits, off angle shooting, especially when lifting your shot angle, lifting your head, and under hitting instead of hitting out
all need to be minimized and your confident form reemphasized and replicated whatever version of your full sized stroke you pick from and apply.
Ignore Errors —> don’t dwell on your own human errors. “Ignore errors”, although avoid exactly repeating especially bonehead
thoughtless plays from knowingly happening again in this game. Also avoid overcompensating or doing more things than you can do. For instance, a missed ceiling ball return of a lob serve shouldn’t be replaced by the next time an overhead skipped in return of the lob. Self correct to be sure, as you go. When you make an error or commit an error, that’s better than when you don’t do what you should have done or you omit a skill. One correction example is flowing back with a back wall setup so you read, get in rhythm with, and time the ball popping off the back wall so it’s right where it should be in your contact point. Not moving back and instead planting and waiting and trusting you’re predicting exactly where the ball will rebound out just doesn’t routinely work. Moving a little behind where you’re going to make contact, as you get into the tempo of the ball and then sliding forward right behind where you’ll attack sets you in position to take very aggressive back wall shots, like near corner pinches or splats. Another error of omission is not getting out of the service box after you serve. Then a passing shot will fly by you when it could’ve easily been covered. Instead spin ball side to spy the ball and crossover step in front of back foot or crisscross step behind back foot with the frontmost foot and drop back quickly. An error of commission means you acted, moved, and gave yourself agency or permission to ideally do your level best. In that case where you acted, if your action was off kilter, just self correct your form or shot choice or shot accuracy, and soldier on.
Escapism —> racquetball’s major diversion quality is that you must be all in to play heads up ball in our fast paced game that requires deep concentration, alert perceptions, quick or active feet, fast hands and a supple mind. Being able to move to shoot and hit the ball hard and low may even promote your killer instincts. Just make sure you direct that aggression onto the ball. Racquetball is “escapism”. Escape into it wholeheartedly. Be fully focused and be fully entertained. Be dedicated and be motivated. Play as you use your imagination, pre-shot imagery and visualize EVERYTHING you do.
Evolve —> a quality of racquetball is its evolutionary process where a player incrementally or in stages learns the game’s skills and tactics. A player learns the value of game planning and constant repetition of skills. Additionally, to keep up with your own current level and continue on your longitudinal upwards progress, “evolve” as a player so you know your own limitations or your ceilings which should be maximized by staying fit, keeping up with the nuances of the game, and always knowing what you do well, while pushing your own limits in your training sessions and while taking on challenging competition. For example, when you play players of equal ability, you push each other. But also get out there with higher level players so you can see what more there is to add to your repertoire and even what you could do better than what they do by imprinting your own personal touch on all skills you covet and grow to perfect as your very own.
Expand the court —> imagine you and your challenger are both closing in on the front court or you are both in the middle of the court or visualize you are back and they are up ahead of you in the center. Imagine that in none of those cases are you striking a setup where a rollout is plan A. Instead in those cases… (1) stroke a pass away from them when you’re both way up; (2) or when you’re both in the middle, hit a wide angle pass around them or contact the far sidewall or when you’ve got them pinned behind you, you can hit down the wall a passing shot; or (3) when you’re both deep, hit a pass to the least covered rear corner and move up. ALL of those responses serve to “expand the court” because you’re placing the ball away from the challenger. Importantly you are NOT going to be part of the play because normally you hit away from yourself, as well. You’re moving the challenger to a part of the court they are not currently in, nor where you will be either. You’re passing them by in the forecourt. You’re passing the ball all way around them in the middle with your WAP. You’re burying them and the ball in a deep corner you’re not in (or you’re not going to be in or anywhere near presently) because YOU are going to hit-and-move! That’s a totally refreshing concept that you hit and move because it’ll ensure you roll into center court where you can cover more of their responding shot angles and you can expand the court again or shrink it down to nothing when they can’t cover your winning pinch, kill-pass or splat shot.
Expectations —> accept that you’re going to have some expectations as you play and as you begin to play. Managing your own “expectations” is huge because you suit it up to play no matter what your seeding is or whatever past results you may have had before especially against this foe. The only things a player can expect of themselves are effort, hustle, focus and adaptability. And that’s a lot. Even after a less than optimal rally occurs or a bad call by the ref happens, how you quickly recover also goes to expecting that you will let it go, move on, and recoup to hit the ground running at the onset of the very next rally when you serve or when you return THEIR serve. That’s all you can ever expect; rededication and full effort.
Extension —> as you swing, using leverage or your ability to extend or reach out with your racquet arm extending fully as you make contact. That is “extension”. That extension maximizes your power potential. And, with racquet face knowledge, you’re able to control your shot shaping. Make swinging to full extension part of your drilling. Drill controlling your arm extension, while turning over your forearm by spinning at the elbow. And interlock your forearm with your wrist right before full extension, as they turn over in unison. In those last few key inches, turn the racquet from pointing back to pointing front and spiral the racquet, as you SNAP your arm AND wrist thru arm extension, leveraged ball contact.
Eye on the ball —> always keep your “eye on the ball”. That actually means keep both eyes on the ball. Point your chin at the ball as it nears. Lower your eyes to the ball at contact. Bear down hard on it seeing it. In your mind, see your shot, too, visualizing it from shot selection thru follow-through.
Keep your Eye on the prize… —> your targets are many when you play racquetball. First, your
#1 priority is to make productive contact with your #1 target, the ball. #2 is your initial wall target you’ve selected for your shot, as you imagine and prep for your shot or serve placement. #3 is the ultimate placement of your shot in the court which is where the ball will end up after it makes front wall contact. A tangential target to avoid is your challenger, as you want to miss them with your shot trajectory (or racquet swing circumference), as the challenger is part of your keep-away from them tactic. When THEY are taking away your straight in or cross-court angles right when either of those is THE shot you’re leaning toward, that is time to hold up on your shot unless they’re jumping over your shot or they’re clearly clearing out of the way (in time) as you prep, which they SHOULD be. Now back to the prize, the ball. Watch the ball at contact and don’t let your eyes drift to your wall target or to that pesky competitor, nor allow your mind to drift away from your shot shaping to thoughts of game score or crowd or dinner. Just “keep your eye on the prize”.
Eye switch —> the movement of your eyes from picking up the ball at a distance to quickly switching your eyes to where you’re going to hit the ball at your contact point gives you a far better view of where you’re going to be making contact with the ball with your maneuvering, adaptive racquet face than ever trying in vain to follow the ball all the way in with flying eyes. Pick up the ball at and distance and quickly switch your eyes allowing you to better maneuver your racquet face right at that key moment as you flow the racquet head thru impact. That contact is how you shape the shot you began imagining as you began reading both where you’d intersect with the ball at your contact point and defining what’s the best response shot you have. The crucial, final adjustments you make to adapt where you place your racquet head on the ball produces the angle or bevel of your racquet face. It defines the key placement of your racquet face on the ball where you choose to contact it. The racquet face angle and your racquet flow thru contact defines where the ball initially heads and how or its launch aspect. With your first look at the ball, you pick up on the action on the incoming ball, which includes its sideways and up and down angle, its pace or speed, and its spin or how the ball is turning as it’s angling. Then quickly “switch your eyes” immediately to your contact point which gives you the ability to join together your eye coordination, your shot shape image, and your hand eye coordinated body moves of your arm, wrist and racquet, as you make key pre-contact mods in your racquet head’s bevel which ensures optimal racquet face to ball contact and ideal shotmaking angling of the shot you pick and imagine. After you take in the action on the ball, you then prep for and execute your familiar stroking form to make what you mentally see. When striking the ball, focus on it completely thru contact.
Eyewear —> here in the Manual they’re referred to as goggles, but according to the rules “All players must wear lensed eyewear that has been warranted by its manufacturer or distributor as having: (1) Been designed for use in racquetball and
(2) Met or exceeded the then current and full ASTM F803 standard.” A key is you must wear them when you warmup or you’ll suffer a technical warning and, if it happens a second time, you can be assessed a technical and loss of point. Eyewear or eyeguards or goggles are meant to protect you should you hit the ball off a wall right at yourself, like a back wall save, or strange off angle shot by your opponent or should you get caught in front of them. Right when they’re making contact turning to face the front wall is suggested.