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