How to Win at Racquetball
Back in the day, I was a racquetball fanatic
. For a guy who hated nearly all forms of sports
and who couldn't do a push-up
to save his life, this game
completely bowled me over when I discovered it. I'd been a miserable failure
, but racquetball seemingly removed everything about tennis that I stunk at. You could hit the ball
as hard as you wanted, and it wouldn't go over the fence
. You could do trick shot
s off the back wall. You could bellow
, and the echo
es would sound really cool
. But as I played the game more, I discovered that, though I was having fun
, I wasn't winning. So after a little study and a little practice, I learn
ed how to win
. And it's easy
. You can do it.
1. Learn how to hit backhand.
Many racquetball players have never learned how to hit with their backhand
. They approach every return with their forehand
, even if they have to twist
themselves in knots to make contact
with the ball and even if the ensuing shot is weak
Practice with a friend
. Have them hit every ball to your backhand until you can hit as well with your backhand as you can with your forehand. When you can control
both sides of the court while your opponent can only control one, you've got a massive advantage
2. Learn how to hit to your opponent's backhand.
This can help win the match
for you easily, especially if your opponent has trouble hitting backhand. Again, practice your shots. Learn where to hit the front wall so that it will head for your opponent's off-hand. Learn how to do this with both your forehand and your backhand. Learn how to do this with your serve
3. Aim low.
If your shots hit fairly low
on the wall, their first bounce
is going to be closer to the front wall, and your opponent will have a more difficult
time even getting to the ball before it makes its second bounce. Ideally, your return should hit the front wall about an inch or two above the floor--this shot is nearly impossible
to return and is called a kill shot
. It is very
difficult to do--the pro
s can hit 'em no problem, but for the rest of us mortal
s, just concentrate on hitting as low as you can.
4. Quit with the smashing.
Yeah, it's lots of fun to hit the ball as hard
as you can, to smash
it so hard it leaves blue spots on the walls, to blast
it so hard it doesn't make its first bounce 'til after it's ricochet
ed between the front and back walls a few times. But when you use that much power
, you lose your ability to control
the ball. You can't hit low, you can't hit to the backhand, and you give your opponent the chance to set up his kill shot.
Get the macho
smashing action out of your system early, then start learning how to control the ball proper
ly. You can get truly amazing
results with light tap
s into the front wall, with subtle
wrist twists that send the ball in unexpected
directions, with zigzag
ging cross-court shots that are more difficult to track
. But don't neglect
your power shots either. Power and control are both important tool
s, and both must be added to your arsenal
if you want to win.
5. Control the center of the court.
It's vitally important
, for both offense
, that you stay toward the center
of the court as much as possible. If you need to get to either the back or the front of the court, you don't have far to travel
. If you're stuck at the back of the court and you need to get to the front of the court, you probably aren't going to make it in time.
If you're stuck at the back, you need to force
your opponent out of his position in the center. Shots that arc high
toward the back of the court are ideal
for this--while he moves back to make the return, you can move forward
and take his place. If you're lucky
and position your shot correctly, maybe you can even get the ball to land in the juncture
between the back wall, the side wall, and the floor--no telling where it'll bounce then, if it'll even bounce at all.
6. Don't get too flashy.
You'll see some hotshot
s out there who, in returning the ball, will actually hit it as hard as they can toward the back
wall and let the force
carry it all the way to the front wall. This is stupid. Again, you lose all control over the ball and end up standing in the back of the court facing the wrong way, while your opponent will be able take the time to line up a great shot and take the next point. Besides, it takes too much energy
. Pulling hotshot stunts may make the pretty girlies ooh and aah
at you, but actually winning
the game will make more of an impact
. And it'll leave you more energy for post-game celebrations
'Cause there are a lot of shots out there, and I can't tell you how to return all of them in one writeup. You'll have to learn
how to get most of 'em yourself.
Research: Memories of the days when I wasn't too fat to squeeze through that itty-bitty door