By Ken Woodfin

Racquetball Encyclopedia

I – L

I

Imagined success

—> before you serve or as you’re making your final approach on each ball to shoot imagine shaping your ball’s flight, its wall target, and then internally you’ll begin to see and form your stroke you’re about to use to achieve your target so you ultimately place your shot in the part of the court where you see it would pressure the challenger most or where you can place it best. By “imagining success” first, it makes it a self fulfilling prophecy of success even before you contact a rally ball or serve. The theory is imagine success and you WILL have it!

Impart spin —> how you flow your racquet thru the ball front to back or in to out or out to in directly effects your shot angle. That racquet flow also is the way to “impart spin” on the ball. Angling the racquet face straight ahead, out, in, down or up as you make contact adds spin, as well. One more way spin is imparted is by where you place your strings on the ball, as you move the ball around on your sweet spot. That sweet spot is the optimum point on your racquet face, which provides the most effective contact to accurately shoot the ball. By moving the ball on the sweet spot you also impart spin. For example, by placing the sweet spot up slightly on the ball above direct center in back or by dropping the ball on your strings you angle the ball downwards into your lower than contact target height on your target wall. That action causes a declining shot angle. It also acts to impart spin that’s a tumbling over spin called Topspin on the ball. If you push the ball out away from you on your strings away from center sweet spot, you add inside out sidespin. If you draw or pull the ball in on your strings, you add outside in sidespin that causes the ball to spin in toward you. A combination of either inside out or outside in AND Topspin creates a combo corkscrewing or spiraling spin.

Improvise —> as you play and think on your feet or as you move your feet and swing AND chew gum, pick your intercept point and on the fly, select your shot, and then…”Improvise” your shot from whatever is available bounce-wise, feetwork-wise, prep-wise, and court and challenger position-wise. Racquetball is an extremely spontaneous sport. Other than how you’re ideally able to consistently produce your favorite serves, for every rally ball and every return of serve, you shouldn’t choose in advance and you won’t prepare exactly the same way except based on repetitions you’ve done in training and how you react to (almost) repeating very similar patterns that you’ve encountered in prior rallies. Prior experience can make your ability to improvise more effectively successful. Belief, your imagination, and your versatile, well-prepared responses to

the patterns brings your ability to improvise to life.

In and out —> a game played by 3 players, with one player sitting out each rally at the back of the court, as that player plays dodgeball along the back wall while moving, as the other 2 players play the point. Those 2 playing get to hit any ball, even those popping off the back wall and they may even save the ball into the back wall by how the dodging 3rd non player hustles and moves to get out of their way. Therefore it’s a game played by 2 players that parallels singles called “in and out”. After each rally, the loser of the rally takes the dodgeball player’s place at the back of the court to stay out of the way, too. The prior dodgeball player moves up to be the new receiver. The player who won the rally is the server. So the player who was out is now in and the player who lost the rally is out. For example the server could keep serving until they win the game while the other two players take turns returning that player’s serve. Each player keeps their own score. Also, when you’re the player playing dodgeball in back, stay central initially so the server can serve the ball into either rear corner instead of moving over to one side and just leaving open the other rear corner, even if you’re moving over to the receiver’s forehand side because you think you’re giving the server a better chance to attack the receiver’s backhand. That’s because it would then be telegraphed for the receiver and any surprise or disguise would be lost for the server. In and out preps players for singles events and it’s a great way for one player, who may be a little stronger, to play against 2 players so the 2 could stay stronger longer to give the 1 player more of a challenge.

The in-between —> all over the court there is the “in-between”…(1) with the ball behind you in a rear corner deep in the court, your tactical cover position is “in-between” the ball and the diagonally opposite from corner or cross front corner; as there your positioning prevents the challenger from hitting a reverse pinch or a long near corner pinch diagonally into the far, cross front corner where either of those would be extremely tough for you to cover if you were to start out behind that diagonal angle;

(2) positioning “in-between” ball in the rear corner you give up both the required straight in and cross-court angles, and you must actually allow the full angle range that’s “in-between” straight and cross-court, too;

(3) another “in-between” is the position you take up in the middle when the challenger’s back is to you and they’re along and facing one sidewall, while you’re defending their shot from behind them. You are “in-between” the shooter and the other sidewall occupying the wide side of the court, while standing in their blindspot. Although you don’t have to stay “in-between” behind them. You can bolt from there to cover the shot you read that the shooter is cranking. For example, you could make a mad dash to get “in-between” them and the back wall behind them when you decide to cover their anticipated down the wall passing shot;

(4) another “in-between” is your interim position you move to “in-between” where the ball is bouncing and going back to pop off the back wall. After moving back briefly with the ball, then, as the ball pops out off the back wall, flick your feet out away from the back wall. There move up just beating the ball and then, allow the back wall setup to pass your hitting shoulder and swing with everything you’ve got or apropos force to shoot your offensive low shot;

(5) an “in-between” rule is where when you serve you must start on or inside the first and second lines of the court or “in-between” the short line and service line as you initiate your service motion; although you can toss the ball passing the first line and step forward but you cannot completely pass the first line with your front foot, as part of your front foot must still remain on the service line at contact;

(6) “in-between” the time you strike the ball and you recover from your stroke to move and cover the challenger’s shot, your objective is to actively defend their shot by how you regain your balance and move off the ball into coverage and how you play with your high activity level from there to track down and play their ball ideally offensively. After the challenger’s shot is away, the “in-between” is how you play their ball by how you read, track down, approach and set yourself to aggressively play the ball or, when needed, to defensively play the ball by making a flick get, lifting a ceiling ball, whacking a back wall save, or even diving and floating your get to the front wall to ideally place the ball deep in the backcourt;

(7) when you return serve in singles, you start “in-between” the right and left sidewalls in the center of the backcourt so you don’t leave open one side;

(8) When you serve, to keep the receiver honest and needing to cover both rear corners, normally serve “in-between” the two 3 foot drive serve lines. If you’re outside one 3 foot drive serve line closer to that sidewall, you can’t hit a direct drive serve into the rear corner back behind that line, except as a drive Z serve. And a Z could be covered with effective feetwork even when the receiver starts shading over to the other side in back;

(9) the interim “in-between” rallies and “in-between” games is an invaluable time to recover by taking deep breaths, relaxing, reinforcing your swing thoughts, and reloading to start the next rally ready and excited to play your game your way;

(10) “in-between” events work on your fitness level, your basic skills, any new skills you’re developing, your tactics, and your mental game to be better prepared for the next event no matter how well you did in this one.

–> It’s an evolutionary process competing in racquetball and figuring out how to capitalize on all of the “in-betweens” to raise your level of play.

Inertia —> uniform motion epitomizes your game where you constantly move from getting your rhythm before you deliver your serve to flowing into your swing forward. Also you flow in your receiving shtick where you move ideally in concert with the server’s ball to hit your return and then you follow up by moving into center court. Then, when you pick where, you move out of the center to track down, approach, and set your feet to strike the rally ball with a uniform swing motion that is predicated on “inertia”. In constant motion as you prep and then flow into your forward swing, you build momentum and develop peaking force, with great inertia and ball control.

Inner dialogue —> it’s important to be open to self correcting yourself and self coaching and even a good self chewing out. Coach-speak of late has been more nurturing and less Vince Lombardi-like. Yet your own inner voice is often very loud and insistent. “You don’t do things right once in a while. You do things right all the time.” – Lombardi. Your inner voice is often an “inner dialogue” because you’re both talking to yourself and you may be answering yourself and formulating what you’ll do to raise your game, while looking to take your own advice. It’s not crazy to talk to yourself or to answer yourself. It’s crazy to not listen to yourself. You know YOU better than anyone else. Keep talkin’ and keep listening hard to your good thoughts, good ideas and good encouragements. Keep recalling your human, but keep to a minimum human errors and expect of yourself your level best or even better than your best.

Inside in —> when striking a ball with your off stroke (which is the stroke used primarily on the other side of the court) and shooting the ball along that other sidewall, you’re swinging with an in to in swing motion when you shoot into your front wall target while trying to hit the ball back to the rear corner behind you. Your objective is to strike the ball on the front wall so that it will carom out and angle back right along that sidewall into that corner back behind you. This “inside in” or in to in swing is powered by a very strong inwards pulling motion, with a follow-through initially straight in to your front wall target. With the inside in you’re using control over your racquet head to not close the racquet face to soon and to finish swinging in toward you. You’re looking to keep the ball from contacting the near sidewall that’s beside and behind you, as you face the other sidewall, while the ball flows on its way back into the backcourt ideally making a beeline into that near, rear corner. For example, with your back to your backhand sidewall, spin and shoot with your forehand straight in and straight back into your backhand rear corner behind you with your inside in or in to in stroke motion and flowing follow-through. Accentuate its special inwards pulling action on the ball with this swing, which is a much different one than the inside out swing motion that flows away from you for either a down the wall you face or to strike a sidewall shot. Also the in to in is different than the outside in or out to in motion across your body in front of you that you’d use for a wider angled cross-court shot. The in to in pull motion is a little across your body. 

Inside out —> when your swing is in to flowing out away from your position, along with the racquet head facing or pointing slightly out, and often making contact with the inside of the ball or the part closest to you, this “inside out” swing motion creates a lot of inside out sidespin on the ball that flows out toward the sidewall. The imparted sidespin turns the ball out into the sidewall ahead of you as the ball flows forward toward the front wall. That inside out spins to the right or clockwise when you face the right sidewall and it spins to the left or counterclockwise when you face the left sidewall. The inside out spin will continue the outward turning spin on the ball when it contacts the sidewall when you hit a sidewall shot, like a splat or pinch. An inside out sidewall shot, after making front wall contact, will carom off and flow out toward the other sidewall, as the ball now spins inwards toward the front wall as it moves toward the other sidewall. An inside out pinch shot or inside out splat shot stays closer to the front wall than a sidewall shot struck without any sidespin. The swing motion out toward the sidewall creates side spin for your sidewall shots. It also adds spin to your down the wall shots into the front wall that will contact the front wall and then veer back into the faced rear corner. Even when shooting from all the way over by the other sidewall the inside out spin imparted on a ball sent into the far front wall still causes the ball to more hug the far sidewall, as it caroms back out NOW spinning out into the sidewall as it angles backwards.

Intensity —> racquetball is by definition a very intense game. It requires a high concentration level to follow the ball well with your eyes as well as your feet, while also tracking the challenger’s racquet so that neither one will strike you. Also, by playing with a committed mind, your “intensity” makes you play harder and ideally, usually smarter. Bring intensity to your game and direct it in a good way where it’s geared toward playing with a optimism, energy, strong self belief and intensity of purpose.

Integrity —> have a moral compass that you play by that is your own personal way you play. It’s good karma to be consistently equitable and demonstrate your “integrity”. If, on the other hand, your opponent resorts to gamesmanship or they are outright unethical, don’t allow it to corrupt you or affect your style or cause you to do something against your own better judgment. Don’t let the opponent’s antics throw you off balance. Call hinders and especially safety hinders when their off the ball movement prevents you from making straight line runs to the ball or from getting a full view of the ball or from taking a full swing or from hitting toward your 2 shot range angle, from straight in to V cross-court.

Integrity duality —> the state of being whole or undivided in your game means you have both an offensive and a defensive game. That means you have an all-out game when you’re serving and a game when receiving that is a little different in that chance taking should be more keep-away than put-away when you defend from tougher positions so you don’t gift the server easy points with skips, back wall setups, and left up kill-shots when say you’re shooting from very high to very low or making contact when you’re off balance or when you’re on the run. Like that type of good judgment, your game integrity should be reflected in calling 2-bounce gets or skips on yourself rather than suffer the karmic consequences when playing without strong moral principles. Sure play balls to the wall when you’re serving with great aggression. But don’t jump up and shoot or take wild hair chances when a good, forcing shot will give you a kill-shot attempt on your very next chance, as you reflect your internal, tactical consistency and game integrity or “integrity duality”, play-wise and behavior-wise.

Familiarly breeds Intent —> a relationship saying goes that familiarity breeds contempt. In racquetball “familiarity with the situation and familiarity with your well-known answerable skill breeds intent to respond effectively”, with your moves, shot picking, stance setting, prepping and effective shot shaping swinging to optimally shoot each ball.

Internet info —> there’s an abundance of info on the World Wide Web or Internet about the sport of racquetball. The sport can be searched for by many topics like techniques and your research will increase your knowledge set and give you ideas to act on in training and when you play. There’s both archived past matches and live tournaments to watch for 3 Pro tours, international events, like the World Games and Pan Am Games, and USRA amateur national events for national team spots and juniors, as well. It’s like hypnosis watching the game being played, as you pick up new techniques, learn new tactics, consider new serves and visualize new shots galore. Surf for “Internet info” on racquetball and you’ll learn a lot. THEN don the garb, sport the glove, ensnare the racquet handle and flick yourself some balls. Learn all the bounces, the feetwork moves, the timing of flowing, looping swings, the massive selection of shots, the armada of serves, the plethora of tactics, the vast array of strategies (many univented, as of yet), and the level of play that will continue to rise in our still relatively new (only) 50 year-old sport.

Stay In-the-moment —> it is soooo easy to take your eye off the ball, figuratively, of course. It’s easy to think about winning or to fear losing. It’s easy to dwell on that tough last rally you just lost or the rally you, gasp, just barely eked out. All that doesn’t matter for what’s going to happen next. Those thoughts mean little going into this very next rally. What matters now is how you approach that next rally. By looking far ahead or looking back, you’re not in the now. If you’re serving, focus on what you want to do with THIS serve. Get into your rhythmic pre-serve ritual. Get comfortable. See your serve before you hit it. Imagine yourself repeating what YOU do well. If you’re returning serve, bear down. Don’t ever mail it in or bag it. As receiver, use your alertness to recognize    where their serve is headed and attack tactically by playing smartly and assertively. “Stay in the moment”.  If you ever go walkabout and your mind or technique takes a powder, get back to what you want to do and the way YOU want to do it. Make good decisions and follow thru with form you own. Stay strong and stay focused. Even if you do wander briefly, get back to what YOU do well. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel or paint another starry night. Play YOUR game, now. Relax your mind and charge up your will. Get ready to take on this very next challenge with a wide open mind. Play hard. And, oh, by the way, watch the ball.

In to in —> when you use your off stroke or the stroke primarily used on the other side of the court to shoot down along the other sidewall to hit the ball back into the back corner behind you on that side, that is an “in to in” or an inside in stroke motion. That off stroke is actually the primary stroke routinely used on the other side of the court when facing the sidewall where there it takes up more space when swinging, as the follow-through flows into the center of the court leaving the racquet and the shooter closer to the center of the court after shooting. An in to in stroke on the other side with the off stroke leaves you with a follow-through out toward the sidewall behind you and out of position especially if your down the wall shot isn’t as effective as you’d prefer when keeping the ball tight in along that sidewall to ideally Robin Hood or pierce the near, rear corner. Another in to in shot is to shoot a front wall-sidewall crack-out up in the front court with your off stroke from along that sidewall pinpointing a low target on the front wall and looking to make the ball rebound out and catch the sidewall very low and very close to the front wall for a crack-out winner. One more in to in swing motion works well for a shot down through the middle between the two challenger doubles players to take advantage of their positioning further over nearer the 2 sidewalls. The in to in is also the motion used to hit a drive serve down through the middle between lefty-righty doubles partners to attack their more jammable backhands.

Intrinsic reward —> why you play the game can be for exercise, a competitive fix, trophy hunting, or to release stress. It also derives brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) or let’s call it brain food. It keeps those neurons firing and your brain cells active and it’s a great reason why we need to SAVE RACQUETBALL. The sport has its own “intrinsic rewards”. The rewards are why the challenge, the nuance, the variety, the creativity, the artistic shot shaping, the great effort and the social interaction all are monstrously therapeutic and important.

Inwards —> to pull in toward yourself or inwardly as you swing with your legs and your arm drive is an “inwards pulling” swing motion that can be extremely powerful. An inwards swing motion can cause balls hit cross-court to be very pacy. That inwards pulling action is called centripetal force. It is the force ALL strokes finish with in the follow-through ending part of each and every low contact stroke forward swing.

J

Jab and cross —> like the basic 1-2 in boxing, the classic steps taken to return serve start with a 1/2 step jab step out toward the sidewall with the near or lead foot which is the foot starting closest to the side where the ball is being served. Then that jab step is followed up by a crossover step with the trail or far foot to cutoff direct drive serves and drive Z serves zipping into the rear corners. “Jab and cross” in practice and it becomes a habit you can count upon to return serve in match play. The jab step out and crossover also can be used covering a down the wall rally shot when you’re covering from the middle center of the court. After you serve and you’ve dropped back into center court, you can cover your receiver’s attempted DTL return of your serve with the jab and cross. But be ready, if it’s about to fly by you, to go for a 3-wall boast shot crushing the ball into the near sidewall you face targeting just up ahead of you so the ball zags into the diagonally opposite front corner ideally sidewall first for a serve-return-kill very happy ending.

Jab step —> as you return serve and move out from center court to the sidewall to field a down the wall passing shot angle, begin by taking your initial step out to the sidewall under attack with your rear foot of your on the move striking stance. Take that half step “jab step” after pivoting on the balls of both feet, as you turn both feet partially to point at the side where the ball is being served, while readying to jab step. Jab step with the near foot of your return “stance” out to the sidewall. After the jab step, ideally follow up with a crossover step with the far foot to cutoff the serve or passing shot before it gets to the challenger’s targeted rear corner for their serve (or pass). Also note that the crossover step foot may still be off the floor as you make contact; which means trust or have faith that you will STILL land on terra firma or solid ground, AFTER successfully returning the serve (or pass) after your jab and cross steps.

Jam a backhand —> of the 2 strokes the backhand is by far the more jammable when angling either a serve or low shot (or cross-court overhead) off the sidewall into the opponent to “jam the backhand hip”. It’s simple physiology. The backhand’s decidedly out front contact point and smaller contact zone, coupled often with poor grips for the backhands seen even in high level ball, makes the backhand the obvious target to jam when looking to generate a weak return or no return at all. On the contrary, the forehand contact zone is H-U-G-E and a player’s forehand swing is almost universally fast and usually highly aggressive, so jamming a forehand would seem to be a foolhardy ploy, except as a surprise move or if you’re fearless and unafraid of being both popped and called for blocking the cross-court V passing angle (or at times even the straight in return).

Jam serve —> a serve that is imagined and then executed where the server angles the ball into the front wall and then off one sidewall so the ball ricochets right into the lap of the service receiver, while intending to jam up the receiver’s stroke, can be a very effective “jam serve”.

This jam serve usually is accomplished from center box or from off to the far side way from the targeted sidewall. Different depths or different targets on the sidewall work to ricochet the ball off into the receiver’s position.

Near sidewall Jam —> There is one avant-garde jam serve off the near sidewall where the server strikes the ball off the sidewall behind them so the ball then quickly angles into the center. Using your off stroke from just inside that side’s 3 foot drive serve line by about a small stride angle the ball off the front wall so it catches the sidewall right behind you while you’re facing the far sidewall. The serve catches the sidewall to veer into the middle of the backcourt either angling right at the singles receiver or between the 2 doubles receivers. For example, it occurs when serving with your forehand over with your back to your backhand 3 foot drive serve line while pinpointing the backhand sidewall right behind you to send the ball around you into the center, as you turn quickly to look into the center as you watch the receiver(s) while keeping the straight in angle unblocked. This “near sidewall jam serve” goes in front of the singles receiver or between the doubles receivers and away from that side’s doubles receiver so fast and so unexpectedly and challengingly it’s a tall order to get the ball back to the front wall without it being a big control test from their return, either of them. This serve more replicates a rally pattern than most jam serves or for that matter drive serves. When the ball jams off the near sidewall and there’s that side’s doubles receiver right there, too, near sidewall shots are legally blocked by the server when the server stays in along that sidewall. Then, for example, a return by the receiver would require a more precise inside out shot angle to find the near, rear corner behind the server, which is the lone choice of return to strike around the server or really right thru them. In doubles if the near sidewall jam serve bounces and heads thru the center to the far side it bounces and ricochets around the far rear corner pressuring the far side receiver.

Doubles iso Jam fly serve —> one jam in doubles comes off the sidewall where the righty server is making contact from right of center or father for over near the 3 foot drive serve line in service box. For example, when a righty forehand is serving to the right side in doubles, this serve angles the ball off the front wall into the left sidewall right in front of their doubles partner who is standing on the sidewall close by the short line deep in the box. Then the ball angles at the doubles receiver on the right side behind the server toward their backhand. On the right side, it’s especially effective attacking the right side receiver’s right-handed backhand. Again, the ball strikes the front wall, ricochets off the left sidewall right in front of the server’s partner and then the ball veers directly toward the right side player in back. Untouched the ball bounces and caroms off the back wall toward the right sidewall. The objective is to either tempt a backhand return from the center or to turn the receiver around to try to return the jam fly ball as it ball pops off the back wall. If the receiver cuts it off early, the server had better be either moving to the sidewall or they’d better be serving from closer to the right 3 foot drive serve line or they’ll be in the way of a straight in shot, even when the receiver’s return may be several feet high. When the receiver spins with the ball to take the serve off the back wall, then a near sidewall shot into the right sidewall, as a splat, is often the best return shot. A cross-court angle is makable, too. The straight in shot is open, although it’s really not easy to control the jam’s ball spin to hit a straight shot down the right wall and not skip it in. That straight angle would require removing lots of the serve’s jam-based spin or that big skip could result. Drawing the ball in on your sweet spot can kill that spin, along with very solid contact. This “doubles so jam fly serve” isolates the right side receiver behind the server where it can attack that receiver’s backhand or make them spin with the serve to take it popping off the back wall. A similar serve could be served to the left side receiver, but the left side player had better be left handed. If they’re right handed, that serve off the right sidewall feeds right into their characteristically highly aggressive righty forehand.

Tournament Jam —> a serve that’s seen regularly in the zeitgeist of today’s highly aggressive tournament racquetball is going for a serve that cracks out directly behind their partner. The centrally positioned server’s short jam off the unfaced sidewall right behind their doubles partner who is up in the box when attacking the receiver on that side’s reactions and ability to hit either straight in low when returning the serve from just a few feet off the sidewall or to crank a cross-court around that centrally well-positioned jam server. For example, a righty server moves their partner up slightly in the box on the left wall. Then the server hits the “tournament jam” to the left sidewall wall so the serve ideally is almost a crack-out just past the short line. If it’s not a rollout, it deflects out off the sidewall away from the non serving  partner who is backing up straight back staying in tight along that left sidewall. The ball jams that left side receiver with a hot potato ball that puts them under immediate, heavy pressure. The server’s wall hugging partner is giving up the straight in return because the ball is returnable about 4 feet out from the sidewall, but it’s tough for the left side receiver not to hit that partner because the ball that’s ricocheting out is so challenging just to be able to return to the front wall at all. The receiver on the side that’s jammed has two shots that can turn the tables on the server and their partner. They are the WAP completely around the server to the far side or a jam off the sidewall into the non serving partner. This serve and others behind their partner often are banned by club rec play rules because of the concern about the non serving partner on the wall being struck by a straight in return when the server’s ball ends up directly behind that receiver. Yet both the Iso jam serve to the right side and even drive Z’s to the right side are often cutoff by the left side doubles receiver. There the left side receiver is covering for their weaker right side partner; so a logical conflict exists. If you must only serve to your side, why does the opposite side receiver get to step over and cutoff serves to your side which is the side away from that poaching receiver when you can’t serve jams off the sidewall into that poacher’s side? Some things just defy logic…

Play with Joy in your game —> enjoy every single moment. Every point is its own challenge. Relish in it. Every encounter is an opportunity to show your stuff. Every move you make is mental and physical therapy. It’s pure “joy” just to lace um up and play the game for its challenge and fun. If you have a tough point where things don’t go your way, let it go, refocus, get back the joy, and just have fun in the next point.   

Self-guided Judgment —> avoid a personal inwards self attack. T-r-y to save intense personal judgment for your post match performance breakdown. Know though that you WILL judge. Guide it toward your known standards of play. Avoid judging yourself harshly during play. Avoid judging your opponent in game (when in game means while you’re playing). While off court when watching others play, it’s okay to judge because you’re being a critical observer, and ideally you learn from others’ both good and bad tactics and techniques. However, in the hour before playing, it’s suggested you NOT watch others play because you vicariously play the points and that’s too mentally consuming and fatiguing an effort. On court when someone does something you don’t like, address it right away. Then let it completely go. Looking at your own game, in your inevitable introspection, ask yourself, “What AM I judging?”. Realtime focus on your own things versus hoping to change others. Help yourself. No self attacking. Help some part of yourself to let go of being hypercritical. As you compete, avoid dwelling on anything but implementing plans as you tactically play when taking on the next ball, next serve, next move, next return or next thought. Triumph in the end by working thru the struggle with minimum judgment and maximal physical and mental effort framed by a sense of personal composure. Rather than let yourself be mentally pounded make yours “self-guided judgment”, as you play. Effect what you can. Avoid self-doubt or minimize it. Avoid a negative belief system, like worrying over things you can’t change, like, for instance, your fitness level right now. You can’t make major improvements in your fitness level or skill set in the present moment, but you can make minor, intentional, familiar tweaks in your tactics, serves, shot angles and stroke mechanics. Get over immediate gratification of hoping you’ll accomplish new skills assimilation while playing. It’s unrealistic. Know that you’ll have to table improvements and some corrections, especially big improvements. Unless they were to be very minor, you’ll have to wait until you study and train. Post play do write down -goals for change-. Put a heavy emphasis on goal setting and action planning. Work at it. For example, add a new serve you saw or stretch better to be more supple and easy moving. Warm up better. As a tactical example, before play plan out your series of serves that you’ll kickoff your match using. Also preplan how to close out a game with special serves. Define shot placements according to this particular opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Looking ahead, concentrate your efforts on constantly growing your skill base and your ease of competitive flow. What is YOUR competitive flow? Competitive flow is your best mental, physical and emotional state when you play at your best.

Jump stop —> moving quickly and taking a little 2-footed forward leap into a 2-footed landing is called a “jump stop”. (It could be a backwards jump stop, too, which clears you out of the way of the ball you just hit and that’s perhaps its best use). If you were to do a jump stop when approaching a ball to strike it, you’d still have lots of work to do. You’d need to land, load back on your back foot and wind up your racquet before you could swing, while always focusing stroking with a modicum of a backswing. A jump stop is not an ideal final approach to swing on any ball with any more than just an arm-only whack attack and little, if any, leg drive and body turn. Only jump off 2 feet and land at the same time on both feet if you have very little time to whoosh in and land. Then you’ll land like Mighty Mouse, as if to say, “Here I am to save the day”, while you alight ideally softly with time to coil back to swing as best you can. Try to step in with 2 foot sequential stance set. Step in with your back foot, as you begin to loop your racquet back. Then step in with your front foot and wrap up your wind up. Press back off the front foot, as your loop completes. And then push off and hit with a full body swing. Dump the jump, stop.

Junk lob serve —> an off speed lob or half speed lob serve 5-8 feet high on the front wall that’s struck with either under spin or overspin is a “junk lob serve”. This off speed lob is pacy enough so it’s very difficult to short-hop or take on the rise right after its first bounce. The server’s objective for a chest high junk lob or “Texas lob” or “garbage lob” is an overzealous high to low cutoff shot by the receiver from in the back middle of the court at about 30 feet from the front wall. Encouraging that high to low return or looking to force a weak ceiling ball return off the pacy lob when on the run is what the server is planning when they send back a junk lob and it’s ideally returned from deep in the backcourt. As the receiver of a junk lob, when it’s not going to pop off the back wall, learn to either slice up a very delicate touch ceiling ball while planning to avoid a back wall setup. Optionally look to project up a stiffly struck deep target ceiling ball with your target behind the row of lights to run the junk lobber back to the back wall to deal with that power ceiling ball, while the server is on the move often going back faster than they may have expected they’d have to run. As the junk lob server, aim for the back corner and NO back wall setups! Try to catch the sidewall 3-4 feet from the back wall which adds angle difficulty for the receiver and cushions the serve so it bounces right up against the back wall for its second bounce and it doesn’t pop off the back wall, as a less than favorable result for the junk lob server and a time to attack for the receiver.

K

Keep-away —> THE primary shot selection strategy is based on the basic theory that you don’t hit the ball right to the challenger as you play “keep-away” with your shot choice, shot imagination, shot shaping and ultimately your shot placement. Some examples include…(a) pulling the challenger back with a ceiling ball; (b) passing them by aiming away from them with a passing shot into the back part of the court in the least covers back corner; or (c) shooting a put-away shot where you hit a super low pinch, an elusive splat, a sidewall crack-out, or a 3-wall kill-shot that sticks in the cross front corner, when each keep-away put-away is attempted off a ball you can let drop low, which is a very shootable ball. Keep-away shot selections also factor in where the challenger could move to from where you initially pick them up in your peripheral vision sideview mirror, as you make your final approach on the ball to hit your keep-away shot. One other facet of keep-away shot tactics is to either keep the ball away from yourself with your shot placement or be prepared to hit and quickly move to ideally center up after shooting a ball back by yourself so the ball can be returned by the challenger and optimally you’ll not be in the way of their shot or swing and you move to your best case defensive position in center court.

Keep ball off back wall —> “keep the ball off the back wall”, as part of your shot choosing and technique that’s geared toward striking your ceiling balls, nick lobs, high lob serves, off speed lob serves, junk lob serves and all passing shots by hitting with touch, finesse and spin to avoid leaving the ball off the back wall. All of your drive serves, straight in and cross-court passes, wide angle passes and overhead high to low shots must be controlled angle-wise vertically to avoid leaving the ball up off the back wall. That is especially true when the ball bounces first further out from the back wall because those will pop off the back wall as a nice back wall setup for the opponent. Also, for low contact drive serves and angled passes, look to add Topspin to keep the ball lower and minimize the chances of involving the back wall in the serve or passing shot. The overspin makes the ball stay lower coming off the front wall. It takes its first bounce earlier. Then it takes its second bounce before the back wall, when it’s struck with that Topspin. When you leave the ball off the back wall, you risk feeding the challenger a very easy back wall setup, which is very bad tactically. A hard hit ball that bounces closer to the back wall can cause a tougher bounce, as the ball pops off the back wall and flies further out toward the front wall. The close to the back wall bounce is often done intentionally and is used when hitting overhead serves toward the back corner by rec players to run less than fleet-footed receivers or it can be a drive with higher, mid level waist high contact drive serves.

Keep a level head —> “keep a level head” goes to keeping your composure, having good body balance and having a smooth, level swing. First, keep your wits about when all about you others may be losing theirs. Second, keep your head level as you move about the court or don’t bob up and down as you move. Bobbing up and down causes major perception issues and even balance difficulties. A level head allows your eyes do their visual acuity best work. Third, either a chop down stroke or an only looping over the top downward stroke creates vertical angle shot control problems. Swing thru with a long, arcing back to front section flowing a long ways on plane with the ball which promotes consistent contact and targeting and solid, power generating force.

Keep the play in front of you —> when your shot is intended to cross up the challenger and send them sprawling into either a front corner or back into a back corner, you get to watch them and get ready to pounce when they leave up their return. When the chance pops up, make them have to get to your intentionally irretrievable pinch or splat by having to hustle hard into the front court. Or send them back into a rear corner ideally making them dash into the back corner to make a back wall save. Optimally you’re shooting a back wall set up and depositing the ball very low up front and you’re fielding a ball that bounces and deflect off a sidewall where it falls right into your shooting pocket to go for your near corner pinch that’s gift wrapped for you. Or you’re flowing with a ball off the back wall that’s flowing out along a sidewall and you’re selecting and cranking a smooth trickle splat…in all one of those situations your shot deep in a corner or in a front corner acts to “keep the play in front of you” where you’re able to watch by way of your shot placement how the challenger must scurry after the ball you just hit, as you float into center court into the catbirds seat to potentially shoot what they leave up or defend what they return tactically well. Now the literal sense of keeping the play in front of you is placing a shot in the front court as a pinch, splat or very tight to the sidewall kill-pass that gives the opponent fits just to scrape the ball back into play. And, if they do get the attempted front court put-away ball back in play, but they pop it up, you get to shoot another shot into the front court unless the opponent never backs up, at which time, you’ll pull them back with an intentionally untouchable passing shot, dust them with a deep target ceiling ball, jerk them back with taunting High Z shot…or even place a nasty front wall first ceiling ball back deep dropping like a rock.

Keep your eye on the ball —> as the ball comes to you from off the front wall, move your feet AND move your eyes so they initially pick up on the ball’s incoming angle. From a distance read the ball’s pace and any spin it carries with it. As the ball makes its own final approach toward you, very quickly move your eyes or switch your eyes to move them from initially picking up the ball’s angle and action at a distance as it’s initially coming off the front wall to placing your eyes right where you will make contact at your planned contact point as you “keep your eye on the ball”. That eye shift significantly improves your racquet to ball meeting. There at contact you’re counting on your hand-eye coordination to take precedence as you move and position your racquet head on the exact part of the ball you read will work to effectively shape THIS shot you’ve been imagining since their ball was going to the front wall and you finalized on your shot with your read of its bounce and your moves while making your shot selection as the ball is rebounding off the front wall back toward you or off the back wall toward where you move with it. The better you see the ball at contact, the better your contact and the more often what shot you imagine you shape, as you visualize it from target (ball) acquisition to shotmaking.

Keep your feet alive in the back corners —> for a difficult ball ricocheting around in the back corner, “keep your feet alive or active in the corners” so you can adjust to the bounce of the ball and optimally play offense. By keeping your feet alive and your hands down they both combine to help you adjust with your feet, as you max out your balance and readiness to adjust. That alertness and flexibility gives you a great chance to prep and hit a very offensive shot by being able to adjust and set your feet, be on balance, allow the ball to drop low, and place the ball right where you want it just out in front of you as you prep and make contact at your routine, off shoulder point of contact. Or, when needed, by moving and adjusting your positioning, you can defend the tough bounce with a placement flick shot. Or, countering the toughest of bounces, you can quickly prep low, away from your new target to swing INTO the back wall as a back wall save. And you are able to make that back wall save because you didn’t prep too early with that side of the court’s  primary stroke when it turns out you needed to whack attack a back wall save with your off stroke or the other side’s stroke (backhand on backhand side), like when swinging with your forehand on your backhand side to save the ball back into the back wall. As another example, in your forehand rear corner what is routinely your primary stroke is your forehand. If the ball gets behind you in that corner, you’ll need your off stroke or what is the primary stroke for the other side of the court, which is in that case is your backhand. There you’d use your backhand to keep the ball in play by whacking it up high and hard into the back wall looking to get the save deep and even narrow it down to picking your target on the back wall to send the ball to the front wall so it angles into your chosen rear corner. As you keep your feet alive while you’re up on your toes, keep the racquet at your midline or out in front of you until you and the ball know where to play the ball, what stroke to use, and what shot to hit. Then the shooter in you will know how, as you prep and then shape your tactically well-chosen shot where it’ll do the most damage.

Keep your feet moving —> until you fully read the bounce of ANY ball and you’ve chosen where to make optimal contact the counterintuitive activity is actually active feet. Then stopping your feet early would leave you often desperate and imbalanced and the ball behind you or a stretch in front of you. Instead, when you “keep your feet moving”, you are able to set your feet into a workable, effective, familiar striking stance from which you can hit an optimal offensive shot or an ideal defensive flick or even an artful lob shot forward toward your high front wall target spot. In all of those cases you’re going to select or arrive at your optimal contact height. Or, by moving your feet well, you are able to back off and stroke a tactical save into the back wall to keep the ball in play ideally to get the ball back to the front wall with the intent to place it deep in the back corner of your choice. That keep your feet moving can boil down to little feet flicks or little skips until you pick where to make contact in your best spot where then you set your feet and prep to optimally shoot. It can be moving your feet while setting your back and then front foot, as you then coil and complete your build back to transition smoothly without missing a beat into your forward swing. Planting your feet too early hurts your shooting and shrinks your available shot options. Keep your feet alive.

Keys to success —> it’s an individual thing to define what works for you. Have, at a minimum, one dependable drive serve, one lob serve, one good return per opposing serve (which means many returns) and a major weapon for each stroke, as that would be a good starting point for you to build a broad, comprehensive set of skills and a way for you to play both offense and defense. Tactically playing thoughts like let the ball drop low, move your feet, turn and face sidewall, hold racquet in a backhand grip in between hits and usually go with your first choice (unless the conditions you observe change late) are all “keys to success”. Now design your own keys to success.

Kill-pass —> rally racquetball is very aggressive and a large number of shots attempted are meant to end the rally as kill-shots. Still the main objective when shooting the ball is to play basic keep-away with the ball placing it away from your challenger, as you don’t even want to rollout your kill-shot right to their feet. Ideally angle the ball sideways away from your opponent when shooting low. Your shot is then a “kill-pass”. If you leave the ball up a little, it’s still angling away from the opponent as a passing shot so they are getting beaten by a ball jetting to the back wall. More specifically, angle the ball away from where the opponent could be AFTER you make contact, as they could move. A final ingredient of the kill-pass is adding a little over the top action to the ball which will keep the ball down lower coming off the front wall and bouncing lower ensuring even a left up kill-pass will be tough to get under for the opponent just to keep your kill-pass in play.

Kill-shot —> a low shot 6 inches high down to bottom board low as a rollout is NOT returned by the challenger before it bounces twice is a winner and “kill-shot”. When going for a kill-shot, your goal is for the ball to bounce twice before the front line or within 15 feet of the front wall. A ball bouncing twice before the short line is a left up, vulnerable kill-shot attempt that the challenger probably can move to, cover and often re-kill with perfunctory aplomb, meaning it’ll often be easy-peasy or easy prey for the cover player. So drill hitting your tight best corner pinches, various sidewall targeted splats and direct to the front wall super low shots to perfect your 2-bouncers before the first line.

Kill-shot zone —> a ball that bounces twice no more than 15 feet from the front wall is in the area where it is less likely to be retrieved by any challenger. But, even inside the service line, hustling players make gets, especially when…(a) they move very early often discernibly; (b) they anticipate and take off just as the shooter commits to swinging forward; (c) they start so far forward in center court it’s obvious they’re covering the “kill-shot zone”; (d) the opponent shoots a planned put-away shot aimed unwisely right toward the challenger; or (e) the opponent leaves up a hovering hanging kill-shot and the challenger can dash into the forecourt to cover and attack the kill-shot attempt. That’s why, as shooter, always watch the challenger out of the corner of your eye. If they go too early or they’re positioned way too far forward ahead of the dashed line or they’re covering your (initial) shot angle by their positioning, reconsider your decision and go with your hip pocket backup plan passing shot, deep target ceiling ball, High Z or hit a differently angled shot. Optionally you may go ahead and hit your kill-shot away from their possible covering run. For instance, shoot into the corner on the side of the court where the opponent is hedging over when and positioning themselves close in along THAT sidewall. Aim for that sidewall up ahead of them. That’s pinching them out of the play. They’ll be unable to leave until after your ball hits the sidewall and if your ball bounces twice before reaching the other sidewall, your pinch shot is golden.

L

Language  —> for the lexicon of racquetball its…terms; words; phases, concepts; and thoughts really are the operating manual for a racquetball player to learn how to play the game. If you study the meaning of the words here or the “racquetball language” and the concepts of the game, you know what is important when, why it’s significant, and to a large degree you know how. But now you need to get out there on the court and move with the ball and hit some balls. Here imagine what the words mean. Do what you can to try out all of the forms for stroking the ball and moving or feetwork (even when climbing the walls). Try the tactics, as you replicate the bounce of the ball with first your drop and hit drill. Then feed yourself a ball off the front wall and with your own bounce or movement of your alive feet aggressively play each ball. As you practice and as you drill, you learn. You learn the bounce of the ball. You learn to initially track down each ball–>to tactically deciding on which stroke–>to where you’ll place the ball (shot selection)–>to moving to position your feet on final approach and lifting your racquet–>to making contact by full body stroking thru the ball–>to shaping your shot where both you see it should be placed AND importantly where the ball wants to go, too.

Lateral —> when facing a sidewall and going sideways and forward toward the front wall as you stroke, you transfer your weight in a lateral way from your loaded back foot toward your accepting front foot. That “lateral” sideways force is then compounded by rotational force when you also turn your feet and knees, flip your hips and spin your crunching torso as your laterally moving shoulders boost your arm swing out, around, and thru the ball in your arcing arm swing that peaks the lateral (and angular turning) force right as you make contact with the ball.

Lead —> your “lead” foot is the front foot of your swinging stance. After serving, that lead foot turns into your trail foot. Then to get back you step back with a cross step with that trail foot passing the lead foot that WAS the stance’s back foot, as you move to get back into center court to cover the receiver’s return. The foot that’s closest to the front wall when you’re in center court is your lead foot, as angle off setting yourself partially facing the near corner on the side THEY are on. You may go forward from there into the front court. There ideally cross over the lead foot with the trail foot as you dash into the front court. Or, you may retreat deeper in the court. There switch and cross step with that lead turned trail foot. Crossover in front of the lead, backmost foot as you pivot and run quickly backwards to cover a challenger shot deep in a back corner in the backcourt. Positionally the trail foot is the first foot you move whichever direction you’re heading more than just a few feet. Whenever you move sideways more than 6 feet or when you must turn and run use cross steps. The lead foot is the foot that trail foot crosses. Again, after serving, the (now) trail foot that was the front of your serving stance is now the farther trail foot which you cross step over (or behind) the lead foot, that was the back foot, to get out of the box quickest (after every single serve). When you return serve, the foot closest to the corner where the serve is headed is the lead or “near” foot. First pop or point both feet to serve’s side. Then, with that lead foot, jab 1/2 step out to the sidewall to cover balls zipping all the way directly into that rear corner. After the jab step, cross step with your trail or far foot to cover that serve angling directly into that rear corner you partially face. After you return, your next move is to follow your shot forward. Shift back and crossover step with the trail or back foot passing the lead foot to move to center court or to cover the shot you see the server is already placing. Also, the term lead is when you’re ahead in a game. It’s simple math to figure out by how much of a lead. For example, when they’re serving and they call the score 4, 2 they’re up 4 points to 2 points. Their lead is a slim 2 point margin or there’s a separation of just 2 points. So focus; you don’t want it to be 3.

Lead by example —> as you compete, you’re representing the game by how you conduct yourself both on and off the court. Calling penalties or penalty hinders on yourself is being a GREAT example. When you take away their offensive shot by how you (or your partner places the ball) or how you move to cover, just say, “Your serve”, and learn from it. When admitting skips and 2-bounce gets it goes without saying it’s a game YOU play fairly. Let it go when the challenger may make the mystery hinder call when it’s unclear how they were hindered (or how they could be hindered THAT far away from the ball). There let it go when the area code hinder is called when they weren’t even close or they didn’t even deign to make a move to play the ball that’s still a good ways away them. Even when a player calls a nonexistent screen serve or they make a short serve call when your serve obviously passed the shot line, just replay the rally. Notice I didn’t say give them the call when it was wrong. Just ask to play it over. Let go of arguments other than just a respectful clarification. Then just recall the previous score. Don’t go with their short serve call if it was incorrect. Don’t let the challenger add points to their score just because they miss remembered the prior tally. Also they can be so convinced of a shot you saw as a skip to take the point. If you saw it as not good, just ask to replay it. You’re playing as a good sports person, but you’re not a doormat. Try to be cordial and avoid being contentious, except towards the ball. It’s inevitable there’s aggression between fellow combatants. It’s a battle. Just keep a lid on it. Realize it looks very bad when players graphically display their animus towards one another by overacting when  people are watching or could be. Be highly competitive, but not bellicose, which means warlike. Play fairly. Hopefully it’ll be reflected in your challenger’s play. You BOTH “lead by example”.

Learn from losing —> it may seem counterintuitive but you actually “learn more from losing” than you do from winning. From what’s NOT working you see what you need to work on or you see what perhaps isn’t viable or you see what you can even change in the moment. You see what THEY are doing that you need to counter. You also see what you need to learn to do yourself that the challenger is able to do effectively. From your opponent you may also learn shot selection tricks, timing of making contact, when to make cuts to the ball, and game management, including playing tempo or what you need to do in-between rallies.

The learning curve —> a process where players develop a skill by learning from experience, from steady practice and even from their own mistakes is a “learning curve”. A less steep learning curve is one when you learn very quickly by doing the organized, efficient work when training. There you repetitively practice the skill in a drill with those multiple reps showing you what works and what needs tweaking. Your learning curve can be extremely steep in the midst of competition. That’s the least favorable venue, as that learning curve is nearly straight up. Your goal is to rise up your learning curve from where you initially start at the bottom when you start working on each brand new skill or tactic. You make an assault up the curve planning to reach your peak by perfecting the new skill, like, for instance, a new serve. You gauge your performance against your practice. For example, are you hitting your target? Can you do it twice consecutively? After practice success, roll out the newly learned skill, like a serve, in practice competition. It may take its lumps, but that tells you what more you need to work on or what tweaks to make. That live play gives you an appreciation for making angle, pace, and spin adjustments. Even a very good serve that’s become readable can be disguised and harder to camp on by the receiver when you add spin or impart English or you  make angle changes or you slightly change the pace. In the mindset of any learning curve, asking an elite player, an instructor, or a friend how’s the skill coming along is a great way to get to the top of the learning curve, but not to fall back down the bell shaped learning curve when you may not perfect the skill or you may lose interest or the skill may be getting spanked because of some little simple missing ingredient, like the racquet lift is too low or you’re giving it away because of say an obvious ball toss tell with out front contact. Ask and you will learn. Also do a little taping and you’ll develop new perspectives on how YOU move and how to improve your mechanics.

Learn “your” game, and keep learning —> Know your physical capacities, your technical prowess, and your strategy. Always evolve. “Always learn (and know) “your” game”.

Left up —> when a player attempts to shoot…(a) direct to the front wall low kill-shot and it’s not low enough and caroms into the middle; or (b) when the kill-shot caroms off the front wall to bounce and pop off a sidewall; or (c) when a kill-shot hits a sidewall, the front wall and then it bounces and catches the far sidewall; or (d) when a sidewall shot hits the front wall and then angles back into the middle to be coverable… those are all examples of a “left up” kill-shot (attempt). A left up kill-shot is very prone to being re-killed by the defending challenger. There cover player can close in and select their re-kill shot option of their choice. In your re-kill shot selecting decision making, a straight in kill-shot or a near corner pinch may or may not be open because it’s well covered by the challenger, but a cross-court kill-shot may be available. Or, when moving to play a left up ball, a target deeper on the near sidewall as a trickle splat that rebounds off the front wall and veers more across the front court could be a winning option. As another kind of left up ball, an overhit drive serve, drive Z serve, passing shot or over cooked ceiling ball bounces and then pops off the back wall can be a “left up” back wall setup. A back wall setup is an open invitation for the offensive challenger to shoot that back wall setup as a pure kill-shot winner direct to the front wall or into the sidewall as a pinch or splat or an ideal untouchable passing shot. Left up shots in the front, mid court or backcourt are unforced errors, like shots that skip in. When a kill-shot is not attempted and the shot is meant to pull the opponent back, the object is to make the opponent hit a low, deep shot on the run or field a touch or deep target ceiling ball. On your offensive side of the ball, when you play the opponent’s left up kill-shot, your objective is to leg out and respond with super low shot, as you let the ball drop super low and swing with your best sweeping swing for 15 foot or less kill-shot. That same 15 foot goal goes for shooting the opponent’s left up back wall setups that you move to shoot super low with the same low to low swing. That 15 foot barrier means low shots or kill-shots bounce ideally twice before the first line where they’re much more difficult to cover effectively.

Leg adjust —> for each ball you shoot, adjust to the ball height by how you set and bend your legs to take your shot. Your upper body and arm should do its swing motion identically no matter what height you make contact. That when includes when hitting the ball from waist high down to ankle bone low. “Leg adjust” setting your feet adapting to each ball contact height and stance mods you must make in high-paced play. Get down to lower balls by both expanding your stance width and by critically bending your knees to get down into the ball to adapt to its height as you make contact. Get down and stay down with knee bend, while keeping your upper body upright or not bending over at the waist so you may turn your body easily thru contact. When you bend at the waist, body rotation is very difficult. With your knees bent and by turning them as you swing, make sure your stance and feet are set so you CAN turn your knees AND hips when you rotate and swing into the ball. Make sure your stance is not a too closed 45 degree angle stance or more where you can’t turn your knees and hips, as you push off your loaded back foot to your accepting front foot. For each ball, “leg adjust”. That means adjust your legs, bend your knees as you swing. That promotes easy body swinging from your contact height tailored stance, with chest up routine body turn and arm swing.

Lessons learned —> there are strategies that give you a little edge and that can make a big difference between winning and losing. For instance, health-wise in recovery post play it’s good to have a protein drink or eat a protein meal immediately after each match (day) to aid considerably in your muscle recovery. Also, post play, stretch out lightly to actually increase your range of motion. Use gradually increasing duration interval training between events to prepare yourself to compete harder in the long rallies. Plan your event or even each match or playing day in minute detail. Due to that plan you will have a much more relaxed approach which will leave you mentally and physically readier to play. Develop and use detailed checklists to make sure you take all of your equipment, including your shoes and clothing, and you have the complete game plan that you will need, too. Immediately when a tournament is announced begin a written plan that will include…training schedule; divisions to enter; game ball so you drill with it; travel plans; dates; contact phone numbers, game plans, and begin studying other entrants. Begin hydrating several days in advance of an event. Carbo load, as well. When you get up, drink one glass of water each morning to replace overnight fluid loss. Have another glass of water BEFORE each meal. Don’t overdo hydrating, but do drink when you’re thirsty. Sip about 64 ounces per day ideally leaning in water as the primary hydration fluid. Those are “lessons learned”. Formulate your own lessons learned.

Let ball drop low —> one technique, as a patient, tactically aware player, is to let a preponderance of the balls that you track down drop as low as possible so you can make very low contact with your practiced, sweeping low contact stroke from your familiar knee-bending striking stance. Higher contact should be out of necessity or when rushed. Only intentionally make higher contact when you sense you can definitely rush the challenger more than they are prepared to effectively react. In drilling “let the ball drop extra low” to work on making low contact your really good habit. One drill is to make a straight in kill-shot. Then let the ball go on past you to pop off the back wall and keep bouncing. As the ball comes back your way off the back wall bouncing out, move and contact the ball very low again and go for another kill-shot. After repeating this and other shooting drills over and over, you can perform especially low contact in situations when you’re fielding a floating ball you let drop very low or a higher ball off the front wall that bounces and pops off the back wall as a back wall setup that you can let drop extremely low. Drill your back wall setups, hard. In match play, those back wall setups are prime put-away opportunities that should generally be banked on because of your drilling and confidence in your skills and form that is built and confirmed thru those repetitions. For any of the challenger’s left up kill-shots, look to re-kill them from a very low contact point. For any ball above knee level it’s a major effort to shoot the ball at the declining angle down to an extremely low wall target on the front wall or sidewall to make the ball bounce twice before the first line as a kill-shot. At below knee high contact that 2-bounce result far up in the court is much more doable. With reps, higher contact is possible with a flowing, over the top of the ball swing, along with smoothly imparted Topspin that helps keep the ball down lower coming off the front wall as a direct shot or as a sidewall shot struck with top and inside out spin.

Let it fly —> there’s times where you’ve got to just “let it fly” and go ahead and rip the ball. One scenario is when you have been Z drive served by your opponent and the server stays on the far side where they served and then the ball bounces and pops off that sidewall. There you fill in the spot where the ball tails off the far sidewall falling into your lap near the back wall. As you face the far sidewall, wind back and prepare to counterintuitively shoot an in to in kill-pass. THAT is the ticket for your “let it fly” shot. Crush it straight in pulling inwards in your stroke and then follow your return forward. Another situation is in doubles where you know a kill-shot isn’t in the cards and you just feel the the out to in cross-court at the far side opposing partner is your shot destiny. There throw in a visual mental wrinkle that’ll make that opponent struggle just to keep your ball in play. Play your shot to take its bounce right at their feet. Then let it fly, as you crush your pass a couple feet up on the front wall so it’ll arc out and land right at their feet putting the pressure directly on them to keep from being passed.

Lift racquet —> in cahoots with turning and facing the sidewall and setting your feet optimally in your striking stance for THIS ball and  stroke, also begin to get your racquet ready. That getting ready means get your racquet up AND back or “lift your racquet”. As you step back initially setting the back of your stance on your rear foot and as you post or balance on your front foot, ALSO begin to progressively lift your racquet up, as that racquet lift goes on throughout setting your striking stance. The actual looping of your racquet back, in tandem with setting your feet (with the front foot coming next while wrapping up this loop) gets your prep of your upper and lower body in sync. You must have your repeating lift racquet and leg load matching your swing tempo or swing rhythm. Ideally go directly from your front foot set and press back, with finishing your backswing, directly into transitioning right away into pushing off your back foot while swinging forward with your replicate, identical forward swing with your racquet. Match the situation you’re encountering with your stroke that you’re already imagining and simultaneously developing to shape the shot you scheme fits this particular game pattern to a “T”.

Let it go —> there is so much going on in racquetball competitions. For example, there’s going to be times when you make a human error and skip in a ball (you shouldn’t). Or you make a bad mental choice and you immediately know it was the wrong shot. Or you may experience a bad call that goes against you. Or you may get a bad ball bounce you have to react to. Say any one of those predicaments just seems to hound you because it happens more than once or you can’t let that one go. Or in a non play situation you may have an opponent who counts down the seconds of your timeout or the time between rallies. Or you’re facing a player who plays 2 bounce gets or a player who calls your good serve short. Or you may have a ref who doesn’t agree with your screen call… The point is you must “LET IT GO”. You have to move on from ANYTHING. Instead reload. Get ready to right the wrong by playing smart, playing hard, and demonstrating composed play. But do NOT try too hard or don’t-drive-angry…Also, let it go when a ball above chest high or higher is rocketing by you. That ball is tailor made for you to turn it into a back wall setup. Control your ire other than to let it inspire your effort and focus.

Lights; court lights —> there’s a first row of lights that line the ceiling extending back about 6 feet out from the front wall on most indoor lighted courts. Those lights can suck in the ball and project that ball back out going faster than it went in or slower and almost always to drop shorter in the court. Also a ceiling ball hitting an edge on the light frame can cause the ball to veer off at a very strange angle. After the ceiling ball catches an edge on the “court lights” cover the ball can veer off very at a bizarre angle laterally that’s totally different than how the ball should react based on how it went IN to the ceiling going north-south or more direct to the front wall. Those should be replays in amateur play, when it’s called or agreed upon by the parties involved. And, of course, it’s funny when it’s not seen by your challengers, especially when it’s an obvious curveball and a ball falls kindly for them. Those light hinders or door jam hinders like them are just tough toenails in the Pros where there are no court hinders on “bad” bounces on routine court surfaces. The only replays in televised matches occur when the ball hits a TV camera, a speaker, an added TV light or an electrical cord strung along at the base of the walls at floor level as the wire is laid right in the crack at the bottom of the walls. In unreffed play, watch the ball. If the ball hits the ceiling lights and takes a bad bounce, it’s up to you to make the call quickly or just play through it and let it go, and…play the unusual bounce. Of course, as the offensive player, if you see the ball drop short or angle bizarrely, your playing integrity should tell you a replay is in order.

The line —> a shot hit straight to the front wall that comes back out straight along that sidewall when the ball is taken from along that sidewall is a shot on the line. “The line” is also a coverage area for the cover player or defender who is in the center where their first priority is to defend that line because that line shot is THE shortest shot for the shooter and it’s

the shot that can get by the defender fastest. As the defender, the line shot can (and will) get by you quickest when you’re the defender and you’re not shading over covering or readying to cover the line. Now note that when you’re caught further forward or the shooter is not in the final about 8 feet of the court and they’re almost in middle of the court (from 30-15 feet up) the shooter can change up away from the line angle to hit into a cross-court angle that can rocket the ball around you when they’re attacking the ball further forward and away from the back wall and they see you hedging over to cover the line or you’re too far forward. As the player returning the ball slides up, it’s ok to straddle the dashed line, but don’t drift too far forward (too soon) hoping to cover low shots where a pass down the line or cross-court will strand you in the middle and unable to cover one or both passing shots.

Get this one Lined up —> for a ball where you must adjust to its bounce but you end up with a highly attackable ball, make sure to “get this one lined up” by moving quickly to adjust to its bounce and then really nail this ball placing it tactically out of your opponent’s reach or coverage range. It’s like you reload to smoke a ball that just checks up and says to you “Crush me!”.

Line judge —> in officiated play, a player may request 2 more sets of eyes to rule on the calls by the referee when both players appeal a call. After the 2 side judges are gathered and instructed on the call by the referee, each “line judge” should independently signal their call. To agree–>thumbs up …to disagree–>thumbs down…to signal

no opinion–>flat palm when the line judge didn’t see (or couldn’t judge) what is being appealed. If you request line judges, hopefully they’ll be objective or impartial. When asked, ideally the line judges won’t look at each other to sway one another with their call. Oh, by the way, if you see your challenger’s doubles partner volunteering to line, you might wanna discuss that with the ref. If you want to appeal a call both signal when in the rally it occurred by raising your free hand or off hand or non racquet holding hand. Then, if you want the call reviewed, give a thumbs (down) indication after the rally when you want to appeal. To make that signal, put your non racquet hand thumbs DOWN when you want to overturn the ref. Often you may need to clarify verbally to explain exactly what you want to appeal. Note that you don’t have to win the (whole) appeal to keep that appeal. You just need one line judge to “correctly” disagree with the referee for you to keep the appeal. For the call to be reversed you need 2 thumbs down and hopefully you hypnotized them with your thumbs down signal to get 2 more thumbs downs to replay the rally you need one thumbs down and one flat palm. Any thumbs up and the ref’s call stands.

Links in a chain —> the stroke forward swing or thru phase works like “links in a chain”. It starts as you work your feet and push and turn with your knees, as your arms (plural) have begun to downswing (yes, dual arm swing). Then the knee drive links with your hips pop. That links with your core crunching. That links with your upper body into your shoulders’ spin. And THEY ALL link to hurl your arm out. Your arm (and racquet) that initially arced back then shifts into arcing out. Your arm straightening and turning over links with your wrist to combo as they’re about to crack the racquet whip. To make contact, extend your arm, with the key forearm turnover marrying with the last to join wrist roll. The shoulder spinning and the wrist and arm link snaps thru catapulting your racquet head into colliding with and compressing the part of ball you choose for your string contact which shapes your shot path to target. That contact sends the ball off exactly how you set the racquet face angling and how your racquet flows which combine to define your shot trajectory on toward your target wall.

Load —> part of your backswing includes shifting your weight onto your back foot to “load the back of your stance”. That way you can call upon that “weight” to transfer forward into the ball where you peak your lateral force right at contact. Also, just the most subtle of hip cocks away from your target “loads up your hips” to make you even better prepared to uncoil into the ball with leg drive releasing a subtle hip flip or hip turn or hip spin after your knee drive starts and as your well set feet encourage the hip rotation right before you peak your arcing swing, while calling upon the resulting full body pivot into the ball, especially for your drive serves or for balls you can drive with great power as passing shots or even blasted kill-shots when time is yours to fill, as you spin and de-rotate as a body catapult to accentuate the peaking shoulder and arm trebuchet (trebuchet=catapult).

Lob serve —> there’s several types of ways to loft up a soft “lob serve” that strikes higher on the front wall to then cross the short line and head back deep in the backcourt. There’s a very, very high soft lob serve that’s lofted up well above 10 feet high on the front wall up to even about 17 feet high. There’s also a lower junk lob or half lob or garbage lob where the ball is lofted up only about 6-8 feet high or even a little lower. That junk lob is an off speed or medium speed service delivery. There’s also a Z lob that’s lofted from one side of the box up high into the cross front corner front wall first in that corner so the Z ball ricochets into the near, closest sidewall to then veer in the long diagonal angle back into the opposite rear corner bouncing high along the way and staying high all the way back into its targeted rear corner. Ideally bounce both YOUR high lob and high lob Z a couple feet inside the safety zone in FRONT of the dashed line. By bouncing the ball there it avoids the receiver’s easy short-hop low contact stroke return of any of your high lob serves. Instead it forces a very high contact point for the receiver’s aggressive overhead return. Another lob is with a high front wall target more than halfway to the sidewall that is part of the rear corner you’re targeting so your lob serve grazes the sidewall way back deep in the back wall about 4-7 feet out from the corner so the ball then deflects off and bounce up high to drop and bounce its second time right up against the back wall, as a toughly angled high “nick lob” or “grazing lob” serve.

Lob; junk lob serve —> an off speed lob or medium to 3/4’s speed serve that may be struck with either under spin or overspin that’s pacy enough where it’s very difficult to short-hop or contact the ball right after its first bounce is called a “junk lob serve”. The server’s objective for the chest high junk lob or “Texas lob” is an overzealous high to low cutoff shot taken from behind the dashed line when having to combat the relatively fast ball angling the rear corner. The varied heights and speeds of junk lobs may force a weak ceiling ball due to the lob’s faster pace when the challenging off speed lob is being returned from deep in the backcourt or in deep in the mid court. One tactic offensively for the server is for the junk lob to be aimed where it will bounce and then crawl up the sidewall deep 5-6 feet out in the backcourt so the ball will then drop back and bounce its second time right along the back wall. Defensively, as receiver, you can step up and slice up the junk lob with your deep target ceiling ball by flowing your swing up to strike your ceiling target 6 feet out or more away from the front wall to send the ball into either rear corner to quickly pull the server back. The advantage is the junk lob server’s, but you can contain the server with good returns, like deep target ceilings, of tough junk lobs and other serves that require improvising and not being too antsy nor or too much of a risk taker. The tradeoff for those earlier contacts is hoping to wait at 40 feet back to deal

with the higher contact and off speed delivery to hit your front wall, sidewall or ceiling return of serve target.

Lob; high lob serve —> a “high lob serve” is softly lofted up 10 to even as high as 18 feet up on the front wall so the ball then ideally bounces in front of the dashed line as far up as halfway between the short line and that broken line. There a short-hop return isn’t going to be at all easy for the receiver if they have designs on taking the lob right after the bounce. Angling the high lob so the ball bounces and goes directly into the rear corner so it won’t pop off the back wall is one objective. Optionally angling the exceedingly high lob so the ball bounces and veers deep toward the one sidewall just short of the back wall can make the lob very, very hard to return before it strikes the sidewall. Then the high lob may deflect off the sidewall and drop right up against the back wall for its second bounce pinning the receiver very deep in the back corner relegated to a very tough, reaching way up ceiling ball return or even a lob return. One of the serves of today, the high lob primarily along the server’s forehand side wall is in very much in vogue. This high lob serve is purposed so it bounces to then hug up right against the sidewall to make it very difficult to attack or even accurately return to the ceiling, without scraping the sidewall with racquet to peel it off the sidewall. Some servers do the high lob or off speed lob with their backhand right along their backhand sidewall. That backhand is seen less because it’s harder for many to get the ball to wallpaper their backhand sidewall, with the cut or inside out sidespin motion required when making contact with a ball bounced up to chest high for contact. One other option for a high lob serve is to fully pass the dash line even looking to hit a high lob that’s going to bounce and pop off the back wall as an intentional setup. That tactic is used when serving against an extremely aggressive, attacking, pirate, cutthroat receiver who is going to attack every lob, taking the ball even out of midair before the bounce. The receiver does it taking the ball out of the air when making contact about 30 feet back at chest high or even further back and even higher! These pirate receivers play as if they’re playing without a back wall, like they’re competing outdoors. Unpracticed, lower level players struggle with back wall setups because they haven’t gotten down the technique (to move back with the ball) where you actually move behind where you’ll make contact and then, as the ball arcs off the back wall, you move out ahead to set yourself behind and swing at a dropping ball as it passes your striking shoulder ideally at super low contact for these super easy setups. Those types of attacking players are struggling because they haven’t drilled back wall setups or figured out the drop back move when honoring the bounce to read, move with and capitalize on the setup.

Lob; nick lob —> a lob with a high front wall target (10-16 feet high) that’s more than halfway to the sidewall you’re targeting so your “nick lob serve” angles back and grazes the sidewall way back deep in the backcourt optimally about 4-7 feet from the corner causing the ball to deflect off, bounce up high and then take its second bounce right before contacting the back wall. These nick lobs ideally prevent even the most aggressive receiver from returning the ball until it’s way back deep in the backcourt. Optionally the nick can be swung at as it drops off the sidewall or right after its first bounce or after waiting for its curving bounce back toward the back wall; and NONE of those are easy, even if those swings are to lift a best case ceiling ball. Optimally the nick lob nicks the sidewall way back deep to bounce and rise up high and drop right at the back wall with the intent to force a weak receiver return to the ceiling or an overzealous high to low overhead shot. So drill your nick lob serves and your nick lob returns like you do shooting back wall setups, which is the best case for the receiver and a bad case for the nick lob server. 

Lob; high lob Z —> a serve from one side of the box where the ball is lofted up high diagonally into the cross-front-corner front wall first at 10 feet or much higher so the ball then caroms off the front wall to ricochet right away into the adjacent sidewall causing the ball to diagonal back toward the opposite rear corner behind the server to bounce along the way ideally well in front of the dotted line when heading for the rear corner is a high “lob Z serve”. Ideally the high lob Z bounces well inside the dashed line so it’s tougher to return even with an on the rise, reaching up overhead. Then the ball ideally rises up and deflects off the sidewall 5-7 out from the back corner and still 7-8 feet high so the serve then deflects off to diagonally angle back and bounce right up against the back wall. That placement, especially when it’s consistently done, places intense pressure on the high lob Z serve receiver to return the ball way back deep with their back against the back wall when the ball is still angling and high.

Lob; junk lob Z —> a lower, quicker retreating lob Z pressures an on the move return by the receiver. This serve is usually about 5 feet high to as high as 10 feet high and struck at half speed or with less than full speed and not with high lob touch speed. This off speed lob Z may be served from several spots in the box. One is slightly off center on targeted rear corner side. Another is from further over looking to bounce the ball short in the safety zone AND get the ball to crawl up the sidewall, carom off the sidewall and diagonal back to a spot right up against the back wall. The third spot is over by the front corner targeted with your back partially facing that corner which causes the ball to ricochet off the near sidewall to be hidden by the server as the Z ball angles back into the diagonal rear corner. As the off speed Z angles to the far rear corner expect that the receiver might step up and try to hit an overhead cross-court to the far, rear corner, which is their right angle-wise, along with straight in. Don’t get too close to risk being beaned and perhaps cover your head with your racquet head. If the receiver advances, be ready to motor back by dropping back diagonally to cover the crosscourt angle and ideally hit shot #3 as a tight to the wall along that sidewall winner. So the “junk lob Z” can also be taken on the rise as a high to low return shot or it may be carved up to the ceiling ball, where either are difficult to navigate as the receiver. The junk lob serve is tempting the receiver to be too aggressive and give you, as server, a return you can attack. This serve ups the volume and starts a running game for both the server and receiver.

That key L-o-n-g last foot —> there’s no part of the game that’s more crucial or  more important than the part of your racquet swing that starts right before contact, goes ripping thru contact and continues on right after contact which fulfills the task to contact the ball to place your shot or serve. The set up before that “long last foot” is the beginning of the downswing loop of your forward swing. The downswing starts with a racquet tossing motion. For the forehand it’s a sidearm throw. So take say a softball or a cantaloupe or a volleyball in your racquet hand and loop and reach back at just below shoulder high like you’re going to toss it on that level plane forward. There the fruit or racquet is up and then you toss it or cast it to point back. As you swing thru, your arm will be at about a 45 degree angle at the shoulder in a sideways throw like you’re going to skim a flat rock on water. Like skimming a rock, you’ll get to release point where you’ll spiral your wrist and arm thru rolling the racquet head Thur the ball. For the backhand, it’s a frisbee toss where you draw back the disc and you’re going to hurl it forward again with your tossing arm in a 45 degree angle at the shoulder. In your backswing prep for either stroke, as you step up with your front foot alighting, THEN fully complete your racquet loop up and back. Then right THERE, as the ball almost reaches your contact point out off shoulder (in front of your racquet arm shoulder), without a hitch flow into your looping downswing. To (throw) forward, first do the cast back of your racquet head pointing back in a very small “c” arc, which points the racquet head tip and forearm backwards, as you’ve also begun an arcing of your elbow driving forward and then it will arc out. After the elbow comes up just short of racquet arm shoulder, then curve your elbow in a small bent elbow arc (out) until contact almost arrives. Just about that KEY foot before contact, loop the racquet out by beginning extending AND turning over your arm, as the racquet is being positioned just right for contact. Right before reaching out to put strings to ball, the nuance is to turn “over” your forearm from where your racquet butt points forward. In the last part of the turning over reaching racquet head loop, overlap and interlock your turning over forearm WITH your joining rolling wrist leveraging its very quick turnover. THAT spirals the racquet head thru omnipotently. In a committed body, arm and wrist combination your body is preparing like you’re about to hurl a small tire on its side toward your target across the court on the front wall. Finish with the crack of a bullwhip as you let er budge and rip the racquet head thru in that last foot. Snap both your forearm AND wrist simultaneously, as one, spiraling the racquet head thru contact with the ball. Point your racquet face exactly where you choose to direct the ball on your line to the target wall. As you place your strings on the ball you’re turning over your racquet face, as you time the bevel of your racquet face, toward closing completely until your racquet strings point downwards to the court floor. Your string point at contact sets the flight path shaping the trajectory of your shot how you plan, imagine, feel, and loop thru your full downswing, including going on into your full, uninterrupted, consistency-ensuring follow-through. That full back to front motion guarantees the key, long last foot includes driving the racquet head thru contact on directly to target adding straight line force and providing very solid, reliable ball impact in the long swing zone thru contact.

Long serve —> when serving, an on the fly ball that is lifted softly or crushed into the front wall that goes untouched by the opponent to contact the back wall 40 feet away from the front wall is a “long serve” and a fault serve. If you sense you have served a long lob-type serve, still stay frosty or on your toes. Be alert because the challenger can cutoff your ball before it strikes the back wall and send their return away from you (or even at you when you’ve been caught unawares). As the receiver, YOU may cutoff their “long” serve, too, but this pattern happens less in highly competitive play, because it’s a tough contact height when still needing to not to leave the return shot off the back wall, too. If the server hits what would be a long serve and the receiver catches the ball with their hand before it strikes the back wall, that is a point for the server in officiated play and a indication of a lack of focus by the catcher/long serve literal and figurative receiver.

Look over your back shoulder —> as you turn ball side toward the corner where you just served the ball, while moving back out of the box, “use your back shoulder to look over” to study the hitting player behind you. That way you’re turning to look back with your body at an slight open angle partially facing ball side. Over your deeper shoulder watch the receiver, while trying to read or ascertain the receiver’s return intentions, as well as where you’ve left the ball. Ideally angle off with your feet. There toe an imaginary diagonal line between ball and cross front corner. Do that vs. full on facing the front wall or facing the sidewall when the ball is in the rear corner. Full on facing the front wall you’re only really ready for a ball coming right back at you. Even forward moving first takes a straight ahead sprint. Facing the sidewall you cover the wall and you can go up and back on the wall, but behind you on the far side of the court is a tough cover. Instead there on that diagonal you’re blocking the cross front corner or diagonally opposite corner and you’re positioned well to cover the line, the weakest initial cover area for you because it’s the shortest return of serve angle.

Loving your form makes you brave —> if you love your stroke form or you love a certain go-to serve or you just love a certain style of play or one specific tactic, when you return to that skill or form, well, “love makes you brave”, as you go with what brung ya and trust it will work. That’s because you’re ready to face the danger of competition when you’re armed with a high level skill set that engenders confidence, belief and lovin’ what you’re doin’. There’s nothing like having a strong belief system in how you initiate rallies when you serve into several patterns you also have a lot of affection for. Also, it’s valuable to believe in your return of serve ability to reverse positions with the server by how you place the ball to run the server so you can quickly capture center court, while they’re having to pursue your return. Also, rally covering where you get to track down and hit shots you love, like front corner pinches or near sidewall splats makes you ready to repeat that feeling again and again. You have situations where you even have machine-like form when letting the ball drop extra low and then you crank your stroke to send the ball even lower as a direct one-wall kill-shot or, again, one of those favorite sidewalls kills. When you love what you do and how you do it, you’re braver doing it. When you serve with those serves you love, when return like a surgeon, and when you’re clutch shooting in rallies, your bravery is unconditional and success is highly doable.

Low contact…let ball drop down low —> as you’re…(a) playing the dropping floater or lob after its bounce; (b) or playing a ball bouncing and popping off as a back wall setup; (c) or even playing the left up kill-shot ball by running it down in the front court…in all cases, “allow the ball to drop as low as you possibly can” so you can make low contact with your low-to-low stroke. Your odds go way up to hit a put-away kill-shot when you make very low contact. There your low to low sweeping swing can reliably produce a very low result, as compared to when contacting a thigh high or even higher ball at waist high or belly button high or chest high and trying to shoot there from higher to a -very- low bottom board front wall target; when that window is only open so long. A ball contacted (medium) to low (belly to thigh high) or high (shoulder high to belly button) to shoot very low often results in the ball hitting the front wall target and then bouncing up off the floor quite high to be very attackable, as a result of the shot’s downwards angle (when not applying lots of effective Topspin to the ball). So low contact is about patience and making it your priority to let as many balls as you can drop low as time and your timing your prep and forward swing will allow.

Low contact strokes —> when contacting a ball from your most preferred ankle or shin bone low up to your most challenging clavicle high, use your “low contact stroke” (LCS). Above the shoulder it becomes an overhead stroke primarily designed for passing shots. For the LCS, optimally set your feet to provide solid balance, with full lower and upper body prep, and encouraging forward swing force. Your stroke ideally creates a smooth, wide arcing racquet flow that’s adaptable to those multiple contact heights. Also your uniform, over the top motion allows for the high to low shot trajectory at any contact level given the drilling it’ll require to own. There you’re searching for a lower front wall target than where you make contact, even when striking the ball at shin high. Making racquet face to upper half of ball contact or dropping the ball slightly on your strings encourages that declining shot angling, as does a looping, turning over forearm + wrist untethered snap action thru contact that goes on well beyond contact.