July 28th, 2011 by Jackson
By Jesse Serna
Physical Trainer & Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Summertime in Stockton is a busy time of the year for racquetball even though there are no tournaments, shootouts, leagues won’t start until the fall, and the IRT’s first Grand Slam of the year is still little over a month away. It is the off season and in Stockton that means up and coming professionals Jose Rojas, David Horn, Jose Diaz, and Jose Serrano are in the midst of serious training to prepare for the 2011-2012 season. The guys are using this time to improve their games through sessions of hard work both on and off the court. During the competitive season it is difficult to make changes to their games and their bodies, so the extra time offered by the off season really needs to be taken advantage of if they are to get better. For players of all abilities, this is the opportunity to improve your game. It takes planning, work and more than a little sacrifice, but when it gets you that one win that you REALLY want (and as racquetball players we all have at least one) it will be worth it!
Make a plan
As the Speed and Strength Coach for the Stockton Pros, I sat down with Coach Dave Ellis and we put together a program for our player’s off season training. Planning is the first part of an off season routine, and this step cannot be underestimated. Sometimes it takes a little assistance during this initial phase. Consulting with your club pro and/or a personal trainer familiar with movement analysis can get this process started. This plan needs to cover how long the program will run, how many hours each week the player has to train and practice, an analysis of what the player needs to improve upon, and how this work will make the player better.
Focus on Weaknesses
What areas on the court are your greatest liabilities? Identify what limits success, and focus on improvement in these areas. If fatigue is a factor, strength and conditioning need to be addressed. Mobility, flexibility, balance and coordination all affect the ability to execute proper foot work and stroke mechanics. Training weaknesses requires letting egos go and being uncomfortable. Working through this discomfort not only improves weaknesses, but trains the mind to be strong in times of struggle (an invaluable racquetball skill)
Here is that part where you have to sacrifice. Exchange time that is normally spent playing racquetball, for time spent getting better at racquetball. This is not to say eliminate playing, but don’t play as much. If the temptation is too much, leave all racquets and gear at home. If it is a day you are supposed to drill, get to the club a little earlier than normal. Make getting better, not just playing, the priority.
Work at game speed
To get the most transfer effect from all training and drilling, the work must be done at game speed. Racquetball requires maximal exertion and focus, and training intensity should reflect that reality. That does not mean simply going hard or fast, but producing maximal effort without sacrifice to quality of execution. Relate what you are training specifically to racquetball, while understanding how it improves play to maintain focus and purpose in off season training.
Train Like a Stockton Pro
With so many up and coming players training in Stockton, the local clubs take on a camp feel. These young men identified the value in training together, pushing each other to become better every training session. Two times a week they work together doing plyometrics, agility drills, playing medicine ball tennis, spinning, doing resistance and core training, and at least another two days individually dedicated to strength and conditioning. Three weekly practices conducted by Coach Dave Ellis focus on specific racquetball skill improvement. Not typical summer vacations for a group of college students, but these young men understand that all the off season sweat and effort will pay off all season long. Check in with these pros on the Official Ektelon Facebook page all summer long, and get ideas for your off season program.
Free Training from Home
Visit the Racquetball Warehouse Media Center for free instructional videos covering all of the fundamentals with strength and conditioning coach Jesse Serna, top pro Jose Rojas, and retired top 5 pro John Ellis. You can find videos that cover just about every aspect of the game so you can fine-tune the aspects that will make the biggest difference for you!