Don’t go into the light! Actually, on second thought….

June 19th, 2009 by Ben

Like the majority of racquetball players, I have always played my favorite sport indoors. My eyes have adjusted to the artificial lighting and I have become accustomed to the under appreciated confidence that no matter how hard I hit the ball, it will stay in the concrete box that smells of body heat, sweat and warm rubber. This box has become a comfort zone of sorts as I have explored every inch of wood floor whether it be while running, jumping or laying out for that pass shot just out of reach. Just thinking about it, I feel euphoric for my racquet and eyewear as I reflect on the many bruises, sore muscles and heated moments.

As I reflect on past matches I am looking forward to a new era of sunshine, fresh air and much less forgiving diving conditions. As July approaches so does my first Outdoor Racquetball Tournament. I am of course referring to the Racquetball Warehouse World Outdoor Racquetball National Championships (RWWORNC) in Huntington Beach, CA. I attended this event in 2008 but did not enter the draw, regrettably. Now that the tournament is around the corner, I have to rethink my whole game plan. There are only 3 walls and the side walls only go as far as the service box. There is no ceiling so twor1he defense game is gone. I have to rely on shoulder high pass shots, splats, pinches, lots of new angles, and a slew of things I will soon have to learn very quickly to have any chance in the single elimination tournament.

My goal in this post is to encourage players to branch out and find some outdoor courts near you. If racquetball is to reach the masses, it has to be more accessible and what better way than to play in a public park exposed to the elements. If you don’t know where to start, then start here: www.worldoutdoorracquetball.com . I am a little scared myself, and perhaps my apprehension is unwarranted, but having a tendency to dive a lot, I expect to come back from the WOR Nationals with some fresh natural tattoos on my knees and elbows. It is a different kind of game and a lot of players will say that it is better than indoor so try something new and get some sunshine! The Nationals are going to be an amazing event this year so even if you don’t feel like playing, you will have a great time just being there: http://www.racquetballwarehouse.com/worchamp.html

Good luck and see you out there!

- Ben

Posted in General | 135 Comments »

Drawing knowledge from other sports

June 15th, 2009 by Darrin Schenck

One of my favorite Zen philosophy phrases is “From the One thing, know ten thousand things”. Loosely translated, this means that if you can master one thing, you can apply that knowledge to all things. But what if you are new to something, what do you do then?

I am a sports fan in general, and enjoy watching lots of different sports. But I do my best to not just sit and watch but to learn from other people. I love watching tennis for this reason, because so many of the things tennis players do can easily translate to racquetball. As I write this article, I am sitting in my living room watching the French Open Tennis Championships. One of the commentators just made a great observation about the match I am watching, and this is the type of learning to which I am referring. The comment was that one of the players is on fire and making great shots from many places on the court…what the other player needs to do is disrupt his opponent’s rhythm, and get him out of his comfort zone. I find this particularly applicable to our sport, because so often I see people who try to force their game style on their opponent instead of having the flexibility to implement a different approach to win.

A good example of this would be that I primarily hit lob serves against everyone I play. It is my strength, it gives me time to get into proper court position, and it is the rhythm in which I feel most comfortable. However, sometimes I run into an opponent who is doing an excellent job of cutting off my lob serves and making me scramble to hit my first shot of the rally. So instead of continuing with a game plan that is not currently working and hoping that it soon will, I will switch tactics and drive serve.

Sometimes this change is only necessary for half of a game, and then I can go back to my lob serves. Sometimes it is the only tactic with which I could win, and therefore, despite my preference for lob serves, I will stick with drive serves to put myself in position to win. After all, this it why I am out there competing, right?

So ultimately what this means is that you must practice all facets of your game so that you have the flexibility and the skills necessary to make mid-match adjustments that are needed to win.  In the tennis match I have been watching, a change in tactics was never made, and resulted in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 loss for the player in question.  Since he employs a coach, I am sure they will review this match on video and see the error of his ways, and try to prepare to be able to adjust in the future.  As for us racquetball players, practicing all facets of the game is very important.  Don’t allow yourself to become one dimensional; you can have a preference, but be sure you become at least competent at all that racquetball has to offer.

You can find information about some of my favorite sports role models and of course all the racquetball information you are looking for in either of my books Racquetball 101 and Percentage Racquetball, both of which are available at Racquetball Warehouse.

by Darrin Schenck

ASU Racquetball Head Coach

Posted in Racquetball Tips | 90 Comments »

Wilson RX Racquets

June 12th, 2009 by Ben

wrx175

I started hitting with the new Wilson RX racquets yesterday. I started with the RX 175, which comes in a Royal Purple, and features their new A-Symmetrical throat design as well as the updated Power Channels, allowing the string to go all the way down the handle which maximizes the sweet spot and power. I was having some issues with control, especially on ceiling balls, but this can probably be attributed to my lack of court time recently. My first thought is that I would like this racquet better at a higher tension. With the long strings and wide head shape, it felt a little loose and unwieldy. Hit the sweet spot and the power is definitely there.

wrx170

Today I hit with the RX 170 which does not have the Power Channels, giving it a more traditional and flat string pattern. There was a world of difference between the two racquets. Their weights and balances are very close but the feel you get from each racquet is much different. The RX 170 had less feel than the 175 but I felt more controlled in my shots. With identical headshapes, these two frames differ mainly in the string pattern and it was clear to me in my time on the court.

Don’t take my word for it though! I suppose right now you don’t have a choice but in August we will have these racquets available for demo and you can try them yourself. Until then we will continue to post as we have more time on the court.

Check out the racquets here: http://bit.ly/Adzh

- Ben

Posted in Product Reviews | 361 Comments »

Do you choose door #1 or 2? or 3 or 4?

June 4th, 2009 by Ben

Now that we find ourselves in June, we have seen 4 of the 6 new lines of racquets, the most recent additions being ProKennex and Wilson.

I have always been a fan of ProKennex racquets as they are very stable, forgiving racquets, so they cope well with my sometimes sporadic shot selection. This year is no exception. They have added their Kinetic technology to both high end racquets, and are using their top frame as a platform to promote Kane Waselenchuk, now ranked #1 on the IRT. Here are their new frames:

http://www.racquetballwarehouse.com/racspage.html?ccode=PKRBR&cat=rac

I am of course referring to the Kinetic KM 750 (175 grams) and the Kinetic Quad 500 (165 grams). They are also releasing the HC2 in a 170 with new paint and a super thick beam. We don’t have hitters yet so check back soon for playtest reports.

Moving on…Wilson has lifted the veil on their new line, revealing bold cosmetics and updated engineering on their previous models. Check out the Wilson RX racquets here:

http://www.racquetballwarehouse.com/racspage.html?ccode=WILSONRBR&cat=rac

We had a chance to hit with them briefly while visiting Wilson and are looking forward to getting playtest samples soon to provide more feedback. My initials thoughts were positive. They are closer to an even balance over previous years, a trend more manufacturers seem to be taking, which made for an easier adjustment in the short hitting time we had. They updated the frame design at the throat increasing stiffness and power. Look for racquets and demos to be available mid August.

The other two racquet lines have been mentioned in previous posts. Ektelon:

http://www.racquetballwarehouse.com/racspage.html?ccode=EktelonRBR&cat=rac

and Head:

http://www.racquetballwarehouse.com/racspage.html?ccode=HeadRBR&cat=rac

That is all I have to say for now, I hope this is helpful for you. As always, contact us if you have any further questions you want answered!

- Ben – 800 824 1101

Posted in General | 192 Comments »