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Lions vs. Young Lions
It’s an inevitable fact of life that as we get older we’ll be replaced by newer, younger models. In some areas of life I welcome this change but not in racquetball. So many of you older players have complained about the newer models flooding YOUR courts that I felt is was time to help you gain a little respect out there.
always, you comments are appreciated.
Let’s dissect this newer model. They are usually faster, more powerful, and they seemingly never tire. It’s not all good for them though…they are also less patient, have less court time experience, and lack good fundamentals in most cases. This sets up for a great battle.
As an older player, you can “think” your way to a win in most cases.
Fast players tend to rely on their court speed. You can turn this against them in a couple ways. The first is to use deception in your shots…make your feet and body look like you’re going one way, when in fact you go the other at the last minute. Many times speed is partly the ability to read a body and know the likelihood of a players shot. Deception cancels this type of speed.
Many athletes come to racquetball with speed…meaning being able to move their bodies faster around the court than your average 45 year old. To counter this type of speed, just hit the ball right at this player. This has a couple effects. First, new players to racquetball have a hard time creating distance between them and the ball. If they are moving, it’s much easier for them to gauge this needed distance. When the ball comes right at them they tend to freeze like deer in headlights and this distance is not created. Their arms come into their bodies and they get tangled up. This not only counteracts their speed…but also eliminates their power advantage.
Many older players are convinced these new players are on steroids. They can’t remember hitting the ball that hard when they were at this younger age starting out. For all you guys who think that, you’re right. But it has nothing to do with steroids and everything to do with the advancement of racquet technology. In some cases we’re talking about a 25 year gap between you hitting the ball at their age and now. A lot has changed. (1983 average Indy 500 car 200 mph – 2008 average Indy 500 car 225 mph) Two hundred mph isn’t slow and you’d never remember it as slow…but two hundred twenty five is noticeably faster. How do you overcome power?
I would tell you that it would be very difficult to beat smart power. Lucky for some of you older player that smart and young don’t always go hand in hand. Many of these younger players just hit hard without a concept of the overall game. They want to over power you. By the sounds of it, many of you have fallen into this trap. You cannot fight off pure power with pure power against a younger, never tiring opponent. You have to change that pure power to your advantage. This happens with patience. As luck again would have it, I find as I age I become more patient. When a pure power player, with no real care of direction, blasts that ball, a patient player has time to avoid the blast and get to the location of a setup.
More than 50% of these power blast shots are coming off the back wall. If you realize this and don’t try and chase these balls around the court, you have enough time to setup in mid court and put this ball away. It’s the feeling of being overpowered that makes you want to chase down this ball thinking you are running out of time to get to it because it’s going so fast. The truth is a very fast ball stays up longer and travels farther. That means if you can mentally triangulate where your best shot will be, you won’t have to move that much. Less movement saves you a lot of time and this overpowered feeling is soon gone.
Being overpowered has everything to do with being out of time and not the speed of the ball. If you can cut down your movement time by thinking correctly, you become much faster. Your mind is faster than your feet…especially at 45…so use it.
One last little trick I like to use against these fast powerful types, is as their ball comes off the back wall and you have them trapped on one side of the court like a caged animal ready to sprint (or even (gulp) dive) across the floor to get your shot…you hit it right down the line on the side of the court they are trapped on. Trust me, they won’t be there and it’s a great way to use their speed and power against them. Use this strategy once or twice and they start to freeze and then you have options to hit down the other side as well…after that it’s all mental and that’s where an older player has the advantage.
I hope these tricks are a good treat for you on Halloween!!
Questions or comment…Pat@Racquetworld.com
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