Review: Asics Gel Sensei 3 Racquetball Shoe

January 6th, 2010 by Kyle

I’ve been playing racquetball for over 40 years and without a doubt the court shoes today are an amazing improvement from even 10 or 15 years ago. When I began playing as a teenager in the late 1960’s we all wore Converse Chuck Taylors. It might be cool to wear this retro shoe for some things, but definitely not for a tough racquetball match.

When you’ve played as many practice and tournament matches as I have, you look for a shoe that offers great shock absorption, support, grip and if they look great, that’s an added bonus. Working with Racquetball Warehouse I tried the top shoes from seven different companies. To say I’m picky is an understatement. I selected the Asics Gel-Sensei 3 Asics Gel Sensei 3 and have been extremely pleased. For years I’ve used the flat 1/8” Spenco neoprene insole under the stock insole in my shoes to give me a little more cushioning. After over 25 hours on the court with the ASICS Forefoot and Rearfoot GEL Cushioning System I haven’t had to add the extra cushioning and my knees and legs feel great after a tough match. The ASICS system strategically adds a silicone based gel at high impact areas for shock absorption. It works.

I found my normal 11.5 shoe size was what fit with the Gel-Sensei 3. Wearing two pairs of socks I want the fit to be snug so that I’m not experiencing lateral movement within the shoe. This shoe offers outstanding fit with tremendous support. I don’t normally pay much attention to why a shoe fits so well, but ASICS takes this very seriously. PHR (Personal Heel Fit) is a memory foam lined heel collar that molds to your foot, creating a personal fit. Also, the Biomorphic Fit Upper provides superior fit and function. Add this to the Solytec Midsole Material which is lighter than ASICS standard material for improved cushioning and durability, and you now have the best racquetball shoe that I’ve ever worn. This shoe was actually designed for volleyball, so you can understand why it works so well on the racquetball court.

Another feature you might be interested in is the Impact Guidance System. This enhances the foot’s natural gait from heal strike to toe-off. Also, you players who are tough on your shoes, you’ll like the PGuard that enhances toe durability. As I noted earlier looking great is a bonus and, in my opinion, the Gel-Sensei 3 look great!

Racquetball Warehouse has a rating system on a 1-5 scale to compare shoes in a few different categories. Here’s my rating for the ASICS Gel-Sensei 3:

Comfort – 5

Arch Support – 4.5

Foot Support/Stability – 5

Traction – 5

Looks – 5

Overal Rating – 4.9

Bill Schultz
E-Force Wisconsin Team Leader
Member – Wisconsin Racquetball Hall-of-Fame

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Recap: 2009 CSRA State Doubles in Fresno, CA

September 29th, 2009 by Kyle

Let me start this off by thanking John Ellis, Larry Steiner (pres. CSRA), Michelle Stone, Jesse Serna, Steve Cook, Sierra Sport and Racquet Club, two random girls in Halloween costumes, the sponsors who make this event possible and of course the many others who helped out and made sure everyone had a good time.  Chris Crowther & Tim Doyle from E-Force made the trip up to the 2009 CSRA State Doubles Championships and ended up victorious against John Ellis and Jose Rojas to take the State Doubles Open title.  There was plenty of food and beer all day long which made the craziness of all day racquetball a little more enjoyable.  Ben did well with his new partner Geoff Arnold paying a lot more attention to his serves and focusing on shots a little more.  My little brother Casey and his partner Kody Fudenna went on to win the C doubles bracket and as a result are moving up to the B division in the future.

As for myself and Jon Berezay, what can I say…. I was excited to have Jon on my team for two reasons: 1) I know what he is capable of and when he’s hitting good, he doesn’t miss, 2) He is a very calming influence on me when in the heat of battle.  He knew exactly what to say when I was getting frustrated and carried me many times throughout the tournament.  We eventually ended up losing in the A consolation bracket but ended up winning our 24-/25+ age division by beating the team that won A doubles.  It was a big victory for us after losing the first game but coming back to win 11-9 in tiebreak.  After a long weekend of playing, my body felt worn out, my mind was exhausted and I was ready to get home.  Without the help of Jesse Serna (John Ellis’ trainer and friend), I would not have been feeling as well as I did on Sunday.  Thanks to his expertise and magic touch, Jesse was able to keep me loose and actually able to move through the end of the tournament.  Winning that last championship match was the one thing that could have rejuvenated me and sent me home smiling the whole way.  My folks, grandma and sister in law drove over to watch my brother and I play but on Sunday everyone left early except for my dad who stuck around until late Sunday afternoon to watch my last match and was really happy to get a win for him.  He just had rotator cuff surgery on his shoulder and was forced to watch all of our matches from the sidelines (which I know was very difficult for him).

Overall, the tournament was a great success and love the big family that California Racquetball is.  I look forward to working with the CSRA on growing the California State Championships into the grand events I know they could and should be.  Maybe next year we’ll try to entice Rocky Carson and Jason Mannino to show up and represent California Racquetball.  We’ll see if they have what it takes to take away the championship from Chris and Tim……..

-Kyle

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SS & XS grip sizes, what to use & how to choose…..

August 18th, 2009 by Kyle

Let me start this post with an interesting background story I heard recently.  Have you ever wondered who the moron is that came up with the super-small (SS) & extra-small (XS) grip sizes for racquetball racquets?  I was told that when racquetball began, racquets were available with large and medium grips which were originally modeled after tennis grips.  After a while, racquetball manufacturers ditched the large grip because it was too big and far less popular.  The medium grip size stayed and a small grip size was added.  Well as you can imagine, the medium grip size was soon too big for players and the Extra Small (XS) was added along with the small grip.  Finally, the small grip was too big and less popular so the Super Small (SS) grip size was added. This is how we have come to the current SS and XS grip sizes today.

And when you finally figure out which grip size is best for you, you then realize that sizing between manufacturers differs.  Some manufacturers have the SS grip as 3 5/8″ and others have it as 3 11/16″.  Ektelon & ProKennex grips are rectangular while Gearbox, Head, Wilson & E-Force all have smaller, rounder grips.  So what are you to make of all this nonsense?  First off, let me start off by giving you a general rule of thumb to decide which grip size is best for you and the logic behind it.  If you fall in the size small-large glove category, you generally will use a SS racquet grip size. If you wear a large-extra large glove, you should consider using the XS racquet grip size.  If you’re wondering why I mention the large glove size twice, it’s because large glove users are kind of on the bubble and should use what feels most comfortable.  I found a great article from Bell Racquet Sports that explains grip sizing perfectly:

Racquetball racquets are typically available in two grip sizes:

Size:               Sometimes Called:

3-5/8                Super Small*
3-7/8                Extra Small or 3-15/16″

*For the 2010 season, Ektelon has added a Super Small Rounded (SSR) grip size. It
is still the smaller grip size, but with a more rounded feel in the hand.

When you hold a racquetball racquet, you want your fingertips to wrap around the grip and be touching your palm.
Remember:
The SMALLEST grip size you can comfortably hold will facilitate the best racquetball wrist snap!

Wrist snap is absolutely necessary to achieve optimum power in your swing and will help you tremendously in your matches.  Another tip to get the best wrist snap is to hold your pinky finger off the end of the handle.  You’ll see baseball players do this when batting sometimes to give their wrists a little extra range as well.  Doing this in combination with a small grip, will generate maximum power.  Of course technique is obviously the main factor but these grip tips will definitely help your game.

-Kyle

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