May 20th, 2009 by Darrin Schenck
by Darrin Schenck
One of the readers asked a question about footwork to the shots from the proper court position. One of the best features of this court position (aside from the obvious advantages mentioned in the Court Position posting) is that you can use very set footwork patterns to cover each shot.
Here is the secret:
Always lead with the foot that is closest to the ball. It is strange, but almost every sport teaches you to cross over first, and then step towards the ball (or base, opponent, whichever is applicable). Since a racquetball court is always a finite amount of space, you need to teach yourself to lead with the foot closest to the ball, and then cross over. It will take some practice, but be much more efficient once you get the hang of it.
For example, if you begin in the position shown in the diagram denoting proper court position, and you are in the defensive position marked “X”, you would step with your left foot, and then cross over with your right foot to cover a shot hit down the line by your opponent. Not only is it more efficient (faster) but your feet will already be set to hit the backhand you will hit in response to your opponents shot. Think about it, walk through it, practice it ,and trust me once you get it, you will be far more efficient in your footwork and court coverage.
As discussed in the body of this posting, a right handed player in correct defensive position would step with his LEFT foot first, and then cross over with his RIGHT to cover a down the line shot from his opponent. This will not only be more efficient, but it will have your feet set when you arrive to hit this shot. This will give you more options in your response to this shot from your opponent.
ASU Racquetball Head Coach
Author of Percentage Racquetball and
Racquetball 101, both available through
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April 7th, 2009 by Darrin Schenck
by Darrin Schenck
How much of the court do you really cover?
Bear in mind you are not going to try to cover all 800 square feet of a racquetball court. Percentage Racquetball means you will cover the easy shots and make your opponent beat you by making the tough shots. This can be looked on as “Vegas odds”. Your opponent is going to make some of the shots you give them but they will not likely make the majority of them. Las Vegas is built on the principal of “you win some of the time, but we win most of the time.” Did you notice they are always adding new hotels and casinos in that town?
Remember also that you should not run closer to any of the walls than an arm and racquet length away. Only when the ball is touching the side wall should you be as close as a racquet and arm’s length. Since most shots are not “wallpaper”, the area you cover is smaller than you think. This reduces the area of the court by quite a bit, especially in the back court. If your feet enter this zone, you are over-running the ball and you will have to change your swing to accommodate this footwork error.
Please see the following diagram.
A hard hit kill shot will rebound and carry deeper into the court than most people realize. The second bounce will be around the short line of the service box, so there is no reason to be in front of the five foot line. It is always easier to move forward into the court to cover a kill than it is to move backward to cover a pass. This is the most common flaw in the majority of people’s thinking about court cover¬age. Most players want to cover kill shots when in reality their opponents hit many more passes than kills. If you are cheating forward in the court (in front of the five foot line), you are making your oppo¬nent’s job easier by allowing them to hit passes around you. This means they can hit a shot which is three feet high to win, instead of a two inch high kill shot: which do you think is easier to execute?
There is no reason to be in front of the five foot line for your defensive court coverage.
By standing one step out of the middle of the court, on the opposite side of the court from your opponent, you will cover more shots effectively. Here is why: From the left corner of the court, a cross court shot and a splat will both end up on the right half of the court. Only a down the line shot ends up on the left side of the court. This means simply by standing still in this position, you will be covering two of the three offensive op¬portunities your opponent will have. Obviously if they hit a perfect shot, you cannot cover it, but you cannot really cover that shot no matter where you are standing. The idea is that you will cover most of the shots, and you will cover most of the shots in two steps (covered in the footwork section). This court position will give you more time to set up, better chances to exe¬cute your shot, and puts pressure on your opponent to kill the ball or hit a perfect pass to win the rally. If they go down the line, you are in reasonable position to cover that shot, too. This is the most difficult shot to win the rally with, because your opponent’s margin for error is very small. The down the line pass has to bounce twice before the back wall, not hit the side wall, and not get pulled down the middle to get past you. Since you are playing a little deeper in the court, you have more time to cover the down the line shot.
Always cover the cross court shot. This is the easiest shot to hit in racquetball, so take it away from your opponent.
From your opponent’s perspective, it looks like you are giving them two-thirds of the court to hit their next shot into. The fact of the matter is, you are covering the easiest shot to hit, the cross court, and are in good position to cover any splat which has not bounced twice in front of the service box. They will quickly realize that they cannot hit the ball around you very often, because your new, deeper court posi¬tion puts you in a better position to defend those shots. They will have to hit kills and perfect passes to beat you.
This diagram illustrates the proper court position when your opponent is in the deep left corner. As you can see from the path of each shot, two of the three shots come right to you. Not only does this position make your job easier and force the pressure onto your opponent, but it also sets your footwork up to prepare you to hit the upcoming shot. This will improve the accuracy and consistency of your shots. Please refer to the following section for a more in depth look at this unique approach
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