September 10th, 2010 by Ben
‘Tis the season….
College Racquetball season that is!!!
As the coach for the Arizona State University teams, I try to recruit players as soon as I can into our program. Any time I see a girl on a racquetball court that displays the slightest bit of potential, I go talk to her. I truly believe that I can teach any marginally athletic girl to be good enough to make our team’s #6 position within six months. In the four years I have been coaching here at ASU, I typically have at least one girl who has never really played racquetball before the start of the school year not only make the team, but fare well at the Intercollegiate Championships.
As for the Guy’s side, I have been fortunate to have a good crop of players from the start. There is usually three times more guys than girls, so recruiting male players is much easier. Again, any athletic guy I can get up to speed pretty quickly, provided they listen to my instruction (the girls listen much better!)
My best advice to coaches and players out there who are starting out the college racquetball season with some new talent: start slow!
I make a habit of focusing on only one thing at a time. We typically have practice for two hours twice a week. I will work on just forehands for at least the first practice. We will do drop and hit forehands, and then work our way towards me hitting shot to them and the players hitting shots straight in. I really focus on starting with the correct grip and with the players arm already back and in position to only swing forward. I always do my best to remove any loop to a player’s swing as soon as possible.
Once the players can consistently make contact with the ball, then I have them focus on watching the label on the ball, and making contact right in the exact middle of their stance. With the correct grip, this should make the shot go straight in and straight back to the player. If they can catch their shot when it comes back to them without moving their feet I consider that a good shot.
At the end of the first hour we move on to serves and serve returns, but with a caveat. I only teach them to serve to the forehand to start with. This allows the players to quickly get the hang of putting the ball in play and also teaching another player to return the serve as part of the same exercise. Now I can step off the court and let them trade off helping each other practice these two separate skills at the same time.
Next installment….the secret to teaching the proper backhand.
ASU Racquetball Head Coach
Author: Racquetball 101 and
Ektelon Collegiate Director