The Collegiate Corner w/ Coach Schenck – Vol. 1

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.

forehand-position

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.

Find out all this and more in my book Racquetball 101 available through Racquetball Warehouse.

Darrin Schenck
ASU Racquetball Head Coach
Author: Racquetball 101 and
Percentage Racquetball
Ektelon Collegiate Director

Posted in The Collegiate Corner | 193 Comments »

193 Responses

  1. Stephen Wilkerson Says:

    Darrin,

    I’m half way through your book. Great book! I’m helping out with the USMA racquetball team that is being coached by Paul Ganon. The female team is really good but in general they lack power. They just don’t generate that crack bang especially with the backhand shots when the ball is approaching them. Are there some good drills we could do to help the players improve their power while retaining their control? Any suggestions would be appreciated….

    Drew

  2. Darrin Says:

    Drew,

    Thank you for your response and I am glad you are finding the book useful.

    Power comes from two sources, good footwork and leading with your shoulders. So for practicing these things I break it into two sections, stand and hit drills and fed ball drills.

    Stand and hit:

    I will literally have the girls stand in the correct position (feet 45 degrees, racquet up and shoulders turned slightly away from front wall) I will drop the ball for them in the proper contact point, and have them do nothing but swing. Pulling with the shoulders is crucial to developing a consisent swing and generating power. For a beginner player, I will do this 25 times if necessary until they get the hang of it. For non beginners, it is a good reminder to do this a few times and then move to the fed ball drill.

    Fed ball drill:

    Once the player can replicate the correct swing with marginal success, I move them into the fed ball drill. I will feed balls right to the player, letting them take one or two steps into the ball and pull with their shoulders. We work on this over and over, because it is so critical to success. Footwork is key, because if your feet are not under you correctly, the rest will not work.

    As players get better at this, add in hitting shots cross court and also pinches. We always start with Down the Line shots, and try to get an idea of how to control this shot. We build from there.

    Good luck with the team and let me know if I can help. And watch out for the ASU Girls in 2011!!!

    Darrin

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