August 3rd, 2009 by Darrin Schenck
I wanted to address the subject that I think a lot of people do not spend nearly enough time thinking about. The game of racquetball is unfortunately riddled with examples of poor shot selection from the top players in the world on down to the league and recreational players at your club. There is a perfect example of this, one of the top 8 players in the world who has become infamous for one shot from deep in the court, and his repetition with this shot. I don’t want to name any names, but everyone knows that when this player gets a set up what shot he is going to hit. This means that his opponents obviously know as well, and are looking to cover that shot in particular. This puts so much pressure on him to execute that shot PERFECTLY in order to make it work. The problem is that some tournaments he makes a large majority of those shots, and it reinforces this thought process. For the rest of us who don’t have Shane Vanderson’s world class athletic ability, it is really a bad idea to try to win with a game plan such as this.
Here is something that will make your life on the court much easier. Ask yourself the question: ”If I leave this shot up, will I still have a reasonable chance to win the rally.” There are very few people out there choosing the correct shot in most situations. I see so few people using the back half of the court for offensive shots like they do the front half. Yes, it looks cool to roll out a splat in front of someone, but it looks twice as bad when you leave that shot up and you opponent steps over and dinks a winner off of your bad shot choice. Try winning the easy way for a change.
Next time you are playing a practice match and you can take a quick moment to analyze a rally after its completion, look at what your shot choices netted you. The problem is that you do make some of those shots…that is what reinforces the bad shot selection. You make a splat from deep court with your opponent in front of you and you think that it was correct. WRONG! If you miss that shot, you are going to lose the rally. If you had chosen a cross court or a down the line shot, both of these would be:
A. Easier to execute (Way more margin for error)
B. If you leave these shots up you still have a good chance of winning the rally. (remember, your opponent is making the same bad choices you are, so you have reversed the scenario and now they are likely to attempt a low percentage shot from the deep court.)
Basically what I am saying is “Quit doing things the hard way!” You will NEVER reach the point where you do not make errors and miss shots, so plan accordingly. It is far easier to execute passes than killshots and splats. Make your opponent work hard for their points, don’t hand them away with skips and easy front court set ups for your opponent to work with. Hit passes, ceiling balls, and show a little patience during the rallies. You will be surprised how much less work you have to do to win if you can switch over to this type of game plan. It is way more fun making your opponent do a majority of the running. Work the rally to your favor, and then go for kills and splats; just make sure your opponent is out of position before choosing these more difficult shot.
Please send me your questions and feedback.
Head Coach ASU Racquetball