What are the best strategies for playing racquetball? What are good ways to practice? What are the keys things to remember? Are there any veterans out there?
To give you some background: I’ve played squash for about 12 years…and just started racquetball. Although the games are similar, they’re just different enough that I find my old strategies don’t work (“You mean you’re allowed to his it off the CEILING?!”) I did search this board and the Net but didn’t really find anything that great (even using both spellings, racquetball and racketball).
Any advice from the pros?
Let’s see… tips:
- Aim for the ball
- Don’t let go of the racket
- Hi, Opal!
Oh, you probably wanted something more advanced…
I’m not a pro, by any means, but I like to play. I don’t know anything about Squash technique, but I’ve played racquetball against people who are more tennis players, and they tend to swing and follow through with the arm. I would say that in racquetball, it’s in the wrist, instead – especially if you want a speed shot.
Don’t be afraid to use all the walls. Sometimes you want to shoot off the back wall instead of the front.
For serves, people have different styles and strategies. I’ve seen people who serve slow lobs that drop like a brick in the middle of the court, and have a good chance to bounce over the opponent’s head when they try to get to it. Most people I know try to serve faster and lower. Aiming so that the ball lands in the back corner is often effective, too, as those are sometimes hard to get to.
When you are in a volley, and going to put one away, using a side wall can be pretty effective. If you just go for a fast and low shot at the front wall, it might get to much bounce – angle it so it hits the front AND side wall (and even side wall first), on a low shot, and that’s hard for your opponent to get to.
Also take note of where your opponent is. If they are coming forward, expecting a low slam shot, aim it for the back corner instead. In racquetball, you pretty much have to play the full court! Use that to your advantage – make your opponent run!
well I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination but from watching the people at the gym that play in the court with the audience chairs I can say the whole key to the game is to hit the ball really really really low(I can’t stress this point enought) to where the other player isn’t. That’s all there is to it
Oh, one more I forgot – ceiling shots. A ceiling shot can often be effective, if you hit the ceiling first, then the front wall. When it bounces, it will bounce high, and if your opponent misjudges the landing, it will bounce over their head. If you can get it closer to a side wall when it bounces, it will be even harder to hit (but only if it stays near the wall, moving mostly parallel).
I find that the shots that are harder for me to hit are when the ball travels very close to the side wall for a long time – almost rolling along it parallel. Hard to hit, because there isn’t much clearance between the ball and the wall for the racket, so the swing has to be more precise, or your racket will slap the wall early (like hitting a divot in golf). If you can make your shots DO that to your opponents, so much the better!
As for practicing, I find it hard to practice by myself, unless it’s just the serves. Find a friend to spar with.
Thanks for the help guys - this is very useful.
One thing that keeps happening to me (maybe because of the lack of aerial play in squash) is that the opponent hits the ball way high to the front, it goes sailing over my head, bounces high off the back wall. I then find myself vainly chasing the ball forward…what am i doing wrong??
Also - how about those nasty serves that die in the forehand back court before you can hit them, close to the wall?
Also - I did see on one of the web pages I found that professionals tend to play a very, very high percentage of simple passing shots - just hitting the ball down the line, close to the wall. I play one guy who hits almost all kill shots - he’s always doing something sneaky or devious up front Yet he makes loads of points like that from me. What should I do? I try hitting deep returns to send him to the back, but he just keeps hitting kill shots and pinches.
I have played racquetball fo a LONG time and, considering how long I’ve played, am surprisingly bad at it. My advice:
- Learn to serve consistently.
- Learn to keep your shots low.
- Learn to return from the back wall and to rebound from the side walls when called for.
- Work on your backhand.
You can practise all of these on your own, which is a good idea. It’s better to play someone on a regular basis. This keeps you in tone, and you play differently against an opponent than you do by yourself.
I could go on and on about this game. I love it. And I’m actually not bad at it. I used to be a self-taught, scrappy player, who had no qualms practicing alone… just hitting the ball around. Then I met a guy who knew how to play (this guy was sponsored he was so good), and he taught me how to swing correctly, how to serve, and a whole bunch of other stuff. At first, my game went to hell because I was transitioning from my old shitty habits, to the proper, more efficient, more powerful way of swinging and gripping the raquet (the nub, btw, should rest in your palm… you should not be gripping the handle like you would a hammer). This technique will save you, not only by giving you much better aimed shots with more power/speed, but also when you’re tired. Your technique will stay with you.
Here’s how I know a novice at a glance:
*Cheap racquet. If you like playing, invest a little in your raquet–you’ll be glad you did. Also, buy a real grip, not that shitty factory tape on the handle. A fresh glove, with a good grip, works wonders.
*Wild swings. Especially this overhand tennis shot I see people take. Your raquet should start high, then come forward through your waist, with the elbow leading and tucked in to your side. Hard to describe in words. Never hit the ball in practice unless it’s a shot you’d actually take in a game. If you can’t get off a good shot, hit a ceiling shot.
*No gloves. You can’t seriously play without 'em.
*Only one type of serve. Good players have a bunch of drive serves and lob serves, to the fore and backhand, and they mix them into the game.
*Running shoes. If you’re wearing them, you’re at a disadvantage. Buy real court shoes. They grip better.
*Never watching your opponent. The pros (not me) are so good that they know where their opponent is going to hit the ball before he hits it. So, if you’re playing someone who hits good kill shots, you can be right where you need to be to get it before it dies.
*Hitting the ball when it’s high. Most guys are happy just to make contact, no matter where it happens. Good players wait for the ball to drop until it’s a few inches above the floor. The lower you hit it (providing your swing is correct), the lower it’ll hit the front wall.
Also: Be anxious to learn. Ask questions, seek criticism. Play the good players, if they’ll play you. Some won’t bother with players that they think don’t take the game seriously. I stuck with it, and am happy I did. I enjoy it so much better now than I did when I really didn’t know what I was doing. Now I know what I’m doing, although I don’t do it good enough to be a real expert.
Flyboy - excellent advice - that’s exactly the sort of thing I needed. Thanks…your post made me want to pick up my (cheap racquet and go play some right now!
I run the racquetball, and squash programs at the athletic club I work for. I play competively in open class racquetball, and know a little bit about squash (just enough to work with the novices). I would say flyboy gave you sound advice, except for the part about hitting the ball low. Conacting the ball any lower that your knees is a thing of the past. The reason being is that while you may very well hit the ball low on the front wall, you create upward spin on the ball. This, as I’ve seen a million times, will often result in your opponent retreiving your kill shot. If you primary objective in your shot is to keep the ball low, try striking the ball in zone somewhere between the bottom of your knees and mid thigh. Use a slight downward angle with your swing, and just aim low on the front wall. Also most players, and even most pros don’t try and kill every shot. Most will go with a higher percentage and try to pinch or pass. There has never been any reason to hit either of these shots lower than your knees.
Aside from that, I’d say there are several absolutes all new racquetball players should live by:
If your opponent is behind you, pinch. If he’s in front of you pass. If you don’t know already, a pinch is a shot hits the side wall first and kinds of dies on the front wall before your opponent can get to it. A passing shot is an attempt to get the ball past your opponent, or go around him.
Use ceiling balls liberally, especially if you doubt you can put your opponent on the defensive. Ceiling balls technically hit the ceiling first and then the front wall. You can hit the front wall and then the ceiling, and while it’s usually just as effective, isn’t considered a ceiling ball. Also don’t hit ceiling balls too hard, if they come off the back wall to hard a good player will put it away.
Try and hold center court whenever you can. This differs from person to person. A good place to start so you can get a feel for your own center court is six inches behind the line of encroachment(the dotted line). If you feel yourself getting passed a lot, take a half step back, if your not getting to kill shots that are left up, take a half step foreward.
Mix up your serves, unless you have one serve that is dominating, having several good serves you can use will help keep your opponent off balance.
Purchase a racquetball book by Steve Strandemo, and if your really serious, purchase all of his books. Most of the modern aspects of the game are attributed to him. You can find some of his books on this list.
Thank you too Templeton! I love this board. I’m going to print this one and keep it. I’ll get those books you suggested.
there are a couple things that I like to keep in mind whenever I play…
[li]on big bouncers, wait on the ball to be about 1 foot off the ground, then crank it towards the wall, it will hit about 6 inches off the ground.[/li][li]if you get into a short-range volley with your partner, and the two of you are hitting the ball lightly off the wall, smash one into one of the side walls, having it bounce back and hit the main wall just before it lands.[/li][li]ALWAYS run to where the ball is going, not where the ball is[/li][li]if the ball i played high on the back wall, run towards the main wall, and play the ball there, after the bounce[/li][li]Hi Opal![/li][li]drink plenty of H[sub]2[/sub]O[/li][li]oh yeah…one more thing…against short players, play a lot of shots off the ceiling, they have to run all over the place to get to the ball ;)[/li][/list=a]
Really, the most important one C. There is no better advice than that as far as raquetball goes
Originally posted by Evnglion *
[li]ALWAYS run to where the ball is going, not where the ball is*[/li][/QUOTE]
I’ve noticed that most beginners tend to chase the ball, whereas experienced people seemingly wait where it ends up, ready to swing.
This comes with experience, but also it helps to not to give in to panic when you see your opponent’s shot begin richochetting off multiple walls. You’ll soon become used to calculating the angles. And when in doubt, the middle of the court is often the best place to be if you’re not sure where the ball is going.
>I’ve noticed that most beginners tend to chase the ball, whereas experienced people seemingly wait where it ends up, ready to swing.
I’m definitely guilty of that (you’d think all those years of playing squash would have taught me to let the ball come to me). I get really intimidated by high shots - I end up taking some lame overhead tennis-style swing at it (never even played tennis!) and setting the other guy up. I guess I feel I don’t have time to let the thing come down to a more manageable height. I’ll try that. I do seem to spend a lot of time dashing after the thing when I should have anticipated.
In squash, the goal is really to get the thing going parallel, sticking to a side wall so the opponent breaks his racket trying to return it ( ) Shooting off the back or side walls (it’s called “boasting”) is considered a desperation shot. It seems from what people are saying that this is not the case in r-ball? I.e., a valid, solid shot is one off the back/side walls/ceiling?
Another question - volleying. How often do the pros do this? It seems a good way to deprive the opponent of reaction time…but is it a superficial beginner technique that a pro would jump all over? Or is it good to volley whenever you can?
for me, it depends on where the opponent is on the court. A volley can be super effective if you are playing against a bigger, stronger player taht can’t get a proper jump on the ball. Another thing I forgot to mention in my last post, read those angles. There is not much else you need to do more important than that.