Millions of people around the globe enjoy a friendly (or not so friendly) game of racquetball. More accessible, and at the same time, more dynamic than tennis, racquetball is a fast-paced game that is easy to get into and hard to get out of.
Tennis clubs across the US are seeing an increase in demand for racquetball courts, and in countries like Mexico and Bolivia, it’s almost a national sport.
It’s a wonderfully complex game that requires speed, strength, insane amounts of focus, precision, and durability. Easy and fun to pick up and extremely hard to master, it’s beloved by amateurs and professionals alike.
We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips and tricks to bring your racquetball game to the next level.
The ‘center court’ area is located a step or two from the 5 ft dotted encroachment line. Always be aware of your position relative to this spot, and try to return to it after every shot. Imagine there is a strong force pulling you back whenever you step out.
Maintaining this position will grant you the best opportunity to score a winner from your opponent’s mishits. Your opponent’s mistakes will always have to go through center court.
Racquetball is all about rapid movement. After you’ve hit your shot, don’t waste time staring at the ball and your opponent – get your butt back to center court!
We’ve already stated that your goal should be to hold center court. Of course, that works in reverse – you want to keep your opponent as close to the walls as possible. Using line shots and ceiling balls into the corners makes it difficult for them to return the ball. Even if they return it, it’s usually a bad ball, which makes your next shot much easier.
Shots that hit the back wall set your opponent up for an easy return. Hitting knee level shots increases the chances of the ball bouncing twice before it reaches the back wall. If you can’t hit a low one, a ceiling shot is a much safer bet.
We’ve all got our strengths and our shortcomings. The name of the game is to find the chink in your opponents’ armor – and abuse it.
Amateur players usually have a much better grasp on forehands than backhands, for example. If you notice your opponent is struggling with shots going to their left side (assuming they’re right-handed), the logical thing to do is try to send more balls there.
Many players are also tilted by ceiling shots. Aim for the sky!
Once you’ve found your opponent’s foible, your serve shots should always aim to exploit them. The serve is the shot where we have the most control of where the ball goes – of course. They will go where it hurts our opponents the most.
A serious player knows what’s their Achilles’ Heel. When facing a new opponent, try some reverse psychology.
At the start of the match, deliberately play some shots from your weak side. If you luck out and score a couple of points from that side, the opponents will start playing to your strong side all on their own.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes we need to make the conscious decision to not return shots to our opponents’ convenience.
Here’s a quick guide on where to aim to boost that winner percentage:
Make your opponent work on every shot – that’s the best way to coax out mistakes and tire them out.
Leaning forwards takes power away from your shots. Your lower body is responsible for most of the might behind both your forehands and backhands. Footwork can be a great hindrance – if you rush toward the ball, your weight will be forward, and, consequently, your shot will be weaker.
Racquetball is a game of split-second decisions and lightning-fast reflexes. Standing still is almost never a good idea.
Staying on the balls of your feet and taking lateral shuffle steps greatly increases your chances of making it into a position where you can shoot your shot.
Constantly pivoting so that your chest is always facing toward the ball is essential. It focuses your entire body’s attention on the ball and puts you in a prime position to take a decisive lunge and smash the ball.
Racquetball players should start their careers with a heavy racquet and progressively keep getting lighter ones as they learn the technique.
A heavier racquet covers the deficiencies in your swing that cause a less powerful shot but also put a great strain on your elbow and arm. A lighter one allows for quickness and lightning reactions that make or break a great racquetball player.
It’s also worth noting that larger racquets have a larger sweet spot. It’s more difficult to hit sub-optimal shots with them. A small racquet requires much more precision and a fine touch, but they reward the skilled player with speed and accuracy.
‘A racquetball player is only as good as his or her racquet,’ says coach Jim Winterton from the International Racquetball Tour. Plan out a restringing and regripping routine. Don’t expose it to extreme temperatures. The racquet should be an extension of your body – treat it as such.
This is a broader, life-related tip. Can we all just agree that we are not the best players in the world? Not only at racquetball, but at anything. That may be a goal to strive for, but even then, losses are inevitable.
If you give losses more attention than they deserve, they start bringing your game down. If instead of focusing on the match at hand, your mind is still in the last game when you fumbled that pinch shot, your game suffers. Your mental health suffers. Not to mention that nobody likes a sour loser. In fact, most people dislike them more than ungraceful winners.
Taking care of your body is essential for any sport, but even more so for racquetball. It’s an explosive sport, with plenty of ankle twisting, hamstring pulling, shoulder popping action. Your knees will thank you for it. Please don’t skip the five-minute intro and the ten-minute outro to every racquetball match.
Always remember – sports are all about a healthy spirit of competitiveness, using your body to the fullest, and breaking boundaries you never thought you could reach. Most of all, sports are about having a good time.
Whatever your current level is, play safe, stretch, respect your opponent and respect the game. That way, a win is a blessing, and a loss is just a lesson.