RacquetWorld's Newsletter Racquetball Tip of the Month
The Game within the Game - Deep Court
There are many instances
of mini games going on inside the bigger overall game of racquetball.
You need to recognize these mini games so that you can take advantage
of other player’s faults in these areas.
More importantly though is to identify your weaknesses in these
various areas so you can improve on how you’ve been being exploited. In this article we’re going to look at play from deep
During a recent pick up
game of doubles, my partner assumed I was shooting every ball from the
backcourt and thus he should too. The
difference, beside our level of play (sorry Jim), was that he did attempt to
shoot everything regardless of his movement, the type of setup and where our
opponents were positioned. All
shots, setups and movements are not created equal at the 39 foot court depth.
In addition, most of the time your opponent(s) are setting a trap for
you by pushing you to this court depth.
Let’s look at movement
first. The biggest mistake made at this depth is thinking you can be
moving backwards and shooting forwards.
The ceiling ball goes over your head…it’s going to come up a hair
short of the back wall and you time it as you move backwards.
However while your timing seems correct because you meet the ball
exactly as it’s dropping into a setup position, your body momentum is still
moving backwards. It is so hard
to be consistent with a shot when your body momentum is fighting your swing
The correct movement would
have been to rush to the back wall ahead of the ball.
Don’t take your eye off the ball, reach back with your racquet (or
hand) to exactly gauge the distance to the back wall, and set your footwork. (The difference between reaching back with your racquet or
your free hand is whether you are setting up for a forehand of backhand
return) If you are going to
error on deep court movement it is always better to be closer to the back
wall than not back far enough. It’s
always better to move forward in the direction of the front wall to make a
shot then having to reach backwards. Reaching
backwards means you will have no base footwork, no power and you won’t be
able to see your opponent(s) at all.
Setups in deep court are
not the same either. Balls that
come up short of the back wall (moving away from the front wall) are harder
to shoot than setups coming off the back wall.
The balls coming at you have momentum in the opposite direction as you
are shooting. Not only do you
have to completely change the ball’s momentum, you have to be able to
absorb that energy and then compensate to create the perfect angle and height
for a great shot. Setups coming
off the back wall are already moving in the right direction…toward the
front wall. They are much easier to shoot.
Lets look at sneaky
opponents. Many opponents who keep pushing you back to 39 feet are
really counter punchers. They
put you in the backcourt and then slide into great court position so that
anything less than a perfect shot allows them to easily step over and put the
ball away. In most cases you are
so deep in the court still, their shot doesn’t even have to be that good. Don’t get played by these guys.
These are the guys who are typically hindering your cross court shots
so they force a down the line shot...mix up your shots…throw in cross court
shots…once you commit to a shot do not think about your opponents
location…concentrate and take your shot.
They are banking on forcing you into their shot selection not yours.
(I know it may seem I’m telling you to hit other players with your
shot…but if you’ve told them you are entitled to that crosscourt shot 20
times and they refuse to move…they may have had it coming.)
What does all this info
really mean? It means if you pay
attention to better players, they are beating weaker players up during
rallies in the deep court.
Here are my general rules
for deep court play written for the A/B player…
If you are moving
backwards and just getting to the ball, go back to the ceiling and get your
opponent out of center court. Your
perfect shot, with so many factors against you, is too elusive.
Too many skips occur when your body momentum is going the wrong
way…play it safe and get better position on the next setup.
As soon as you know
you’ll be deep in the court, get there as fast as you can so you’re
looking at the ball and get a peripheral view of your opponents.
If your opponents have setup on you…meaning your dealing with a
ceiling ball and not a waist level shot that got deep faster than your
opponents could setup…I would still go with a ceiling ball to reverse the
Any setup off the back
wall I would shoot. I would mix
up my shots between down the line, crosscourt and pinches so that my
opponents could not trap me as easily. Balls
that again are faster and allow for less opponent setup time are easier to
shoot with less thought. Be
careful with ceiling balls as they give your opponent(s) time to setup on
you. But the advantage is still
The last couple thoughts
for deep court play…don’t think you have to be so perfect that you either
roll it or skip it. Skipping the
ball is one of the biggest no-nos in the game…right behind the double
fault. When skipping seems to seep in, go with the safer crosscourt
pass shots. Remember that going
down the line can also be considered a passing shot and doesn’t have to
roll out every time to be a winner.
Lastly, patience is a
virtue in the mini deep court game. If
you don’t get into the right position or your opponents are setup on you or
anything else clouds your shot, there is nothing wrong with going to the
ceiling and sending your opponent(s) to the back court.
This is a reset to wait for a more opportune situation.
As always, you comments are appreciated.