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RacquetWorld's Newsletter Racquetball Tip of the Month


Climb the Mountain – Reduce Injuries

August 1st has always been a wakeup-call day for me.  This date marked the beginning of my racquetball season for years.  Most of us take the summers off from racquetball here in the Northeast and enjoy the limited nice weather outside while we can.  So this time of year marks the start of the early migration back to the courts.  The call back is further bolstered for sponsored players because this is also when the manufacturers grace us with their new, latest and greatest, racquetball gear.

The added significance of the beginning of August is that it is typically 6-8 weeks before the first event of the season.  In this article, I’m going to run through my typical 8-week training camp that will lay the foundation for a successful racquetball season.  This will not only help tournament players, but it also works for all you league players as well.

The first step is to work backwards from your first event date to make sure you get enough time on the court.  I’m planning on attending my first event the week of October 5th so if I start this August 6th, I not only get a full 8 weeks, it still allows all you out there time to join me.

The first 4 weeks are pretty simple.  I concentrate on cardio, strength training and stretching to build a solid body foundation and to help avoid injuries.  I’m not a diehard anymore…and a consistent plan is better than starting off crazy and giving up.

I’m not going to tell you how to do each exercise…I’m not a professional on that matter.  I’m just giving you an overview of what I concentrate on.

Week #1 – Hello Body – Where ya been?

5 days

Cardio – 2 miles elliptical machine, ½ mile Stairmaster.  (40 minutes)

4 days

Weight Lifting – Major muscle groups Chest, Back, Quads, Calves, Shoulders, Biceps and Triceps.  2-3 sets, higher rep counts. (30 Minutes)

4 days

Stretching – Mostly lower back, hamstrings, arms, foot arches (20 minutes)

Week #2 - #4 – Climbing the Mountain.

Cardio - increase elliptical by 1 mile a week, increase stair master by ¼ mile per week.  However, you also have to increase your pace.  By week #4 – 5 miles elliptical and 1.25 Stairmaster should not be more than 1 hr 15 minutes (hey about the time of a full racquetball match)

Weight Lifting – You should be able to quickly increase your weights while maintain reps as your muscle get used to the workout.  Make sure you get a burn and don’t dog it.

Stretching - same

Week #5 – So this is what the court looks like.

It just turned September…Labor Day…time to hit the courts!

I’m not looking for games yet, but I run through drills this week.  I get the cobwebs out of my forehand, backhand, serves, ceiling balls and then work more specifically on down the line setups, pinches, splats.  Look at the Lazyman’s Drills.  But don’t get lazy with all that built up cardio under your belt…keep your feet moving on the court.

Start looking for players at your level to setup playing times the following week.

Cut back on Cardio to 2 days and weight lifting to 2 days to make time for your on court training.  Keep the limited cardio and weight lifting at your upper 4-week levels.

Week #6 – Dealing with ball speed

Here is where I split my time between drilling and playing – 4-5 days a week.  Don’t over play…each session limited to 1.5 hours or so.  Work on the weakest parts of your game behind closed doors.  Play real matches in practice and get used to the ball speed.  There is a big difference between drilling and playing.  You need to make the transition so your play starts to become as consistent as your drilling.

Keep Cardio, Weight-lifting and Stretching the same.

Week #7 – Fine tuning your game.

I cut my cardio and weightlifting down to 2 days and run through them quick.  I go in 4 mornings and hit 20 minutes of drive serves..10 minutes of lob serves…I show back up at noon and hit another 20 minutes or so of drive serves…then I show up at night and play or drill like week #6.

This process helps to simulate multiple matches on the same day.  Your arm will be fatigued at different levels at different times of this training.  You will have to learn to adapt and continue to serve well throughout a multiple session day…just like a real event.

Week #8 – Looking for the peak

I can see the tournament looming there on Friday of this week.  I will stop playing by Wednesday. I will stop full cardio on Tuesday or so.  I will lift light through Thursday and I will stretch more.  I concentrate on my serves and my setup shots the beginning of the week.  On Thursday, I may hit ceiling balls only if I get the bug and can’t keep off the court.

I will set aside time to close my eyes and visualize my serves and other shots.  This is almost as good as playing but doesn’t break down your body.  This is practice with no pain or loss of stamina and no chance to get inured before your event.

I’m trying to give my body a couple days full rest before battle starts on Friday or Saturday…If I learn I don’t play Friday…I may extend training a day.

Play the Tournament, meet people, and enjoy yourself.

After your event, you will have learned a weakness or two.  Depending on your next event, you adapt your training schedule accordingly.  At this time you should have a very strong body and very good cardio wind.  The racquetball season will slowly start breaking you down, but a good base is key.  Drill and play during the week, paying attention to strengthening your weaknesses.  Keep cardio and weight training to a maintain mode. 

Before I get a million questions…this is only what I do.  There are training experts who would do things differently I’m sure.  Some of you will have to spend more time on the court to work out the kinks (I’ve put in my time and for me it’s like riding a bike…I only need limited court time to get up to speed).  This is only a guideline…feel free to adapt it anyway that fits you and your schedule.

My main goal is to play well, not get tired on the court, and to remain injury free.  (I just heard ten thousand of you say – “Hey, Me Too!”) Well get out the calendars and start planning the training now!!!

 See you on the court!!


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