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RacquetWorld's Newsletter Racquetball Tip of the Month


Santa Clause vs. The Jolly Green Giant – Play the Body Type!


Many of you have asked questions about playing players who have certain body types.  For this 2007 Christmas Season, I bring you Santa Claus (Santa) versus The Jolly Green Giant (JGG) in a one game shoot out.

Santa approaches the court with his Ektelon Backpack slung over his shoulder.  Chris Cringle is neatly embroidered for all to see.  He comes dressed in his traditional racquetball attire.  Starting with his Ektelon T9 Roadsters (black & red), he also sports the Red Dry Fit shirt with matching headband.  He gently removes his specs and puts on a pair of Ektelon’s More Game All Court.  What a smart choice by Santa…he uses the other multi-lenses flying his sleigh, going down soot filled chimneys, or laying on the beach Dec 26th  in Disney.  Here is a player prepared for anything.  He slips into an Ektelon Classic Pro Glove and pops the top of a Penn Ballistic (red) ball can.  He enters the court and starts to warm up.

You can “feel” the 2nd player approaching as the ground begins to shake.  I can hear some booing from the crowd.  It sounds like a lot of spectators were forced to eat all their vegetables.  The Jolly Green Giant unloads a huge Head Tour Bag.  He must be carrying a week’s supply of clothes in there.  He unpacks the new light-weight Head Sonic 900s sneakers.  He’s going for speed out there today.  The Giant got 1 of the last Green Dry Fit shirts with matching headband.  (thank God both contenders chose to wear their sponsor’s outfit – or the story would end here.)  The JGG sports the E-Force Dual Focus Eyeguards and the Head Renegade Glove.  He pops the top of a Pro Penn (green) ball, enters the court, stares down Santa and finally begins to warm up.

This looks like it will be your traditional match up.  Santa is your traditional, short wide-body.  Santa may not look fast, but don’t discount quickness.  He trains all year going up and down chimneys so stamina should not be an issue in this case like with many normal larger players.  Santa’s court range may not be perfect, but with such a large player in the JGG, Santa should be able to read his shots well enough to get an early step in the right direction.

The Jolly Green Giant is lean and mean out there.  His reach is nearly from wall to wall with only a step or two.  In recent year, his back has been giving him problems and like many tall players, getting down low time after time may prove to be an issue…especially later in the game.  The JGG will use his massive leverage to add zip to those passing shots.

The weapons are being unveiled.  Santa has chosen the Ektelon 03 Copper…all plugs installed and upgraded with the highly toted Technifibre string.  It’s a slightly heavier racquet for the older player…great choice.  The Giant has chosen the Head Extreme 170.  I guess with his healthy lifestyle he feels young and powerful and wants to add a touch of control to his game.

I can see a problem brewing already.  Santa is insisting on playing with the Penn Ballistic (red) ball and the JGG isn’t going for it.  He knows how hard it will be to see that ball go by a guy dressed in red.  He counters with the Pro Penn (green) ball.  Santa isn’t taking that bait from a guy dressed and colored green.  It looks like a stalemate.  Wait…here comes the Grinch…High Definition balls (dark purple) in hand.   Both players nod in agreement and we’re finally ready to learn something.

Santa wins the serve with a nice lag to the short line. 

Its obvious Santa has read the serving articles (1 and 2).  He’s right handed and he moves slightly off center toward the right hand sidewall.  Santa is fresh and his feet and body say backhand drive serve.  However he changes the racquet angle at the last second and slides a serve down the forehand line.  The JGG took the bait and once a big man is moving in one direction it’s tough for them to recover.  1-0 Santa…and the crowd goes wild!!

The JGG settles down and uses he reach to retrieve most ace attempts by Santa…he gets them to the ceiling…pulling Santa out of center court.  Santa will have to move to the nick ace serve…all or short against the big guy.   The two banter back and forth and we rejoin the action at 3 serves 2 with the JGG serving a second serve hard Z to Santa’s backhand.  Guys with Santa’s build have a harder time pivoting around and tracking balls with angle and spin.  Santa’s feet aren’t behind the passing shot and the JGG’s reach puts this one away.

The JGG is using drive serves and passing shots to take advantage of the limit reach Santa has.  He’s moving Santa around the court by keeping the ball away from him.  He uses ceiling balls to move Santa out of center court.

Santa finally regains the serve at 7-2.  He takes a 30 second time out to rethink his game plan.  Santa plops down right next to me and asks, “Pat, what would you do against this guy”.  Not one to miss an opportunity, I first asked for a reprieve from the naughty list for the next 5 years…then I gave Santa the big man secret.  Hit right at him.  Big men use their reach and leverage to their advantage…take it away and make them bring their arms in to look all dangly.  Hit jam second serves and jam shots.  Instead of hitting away from them to pass, rip the first one hard and fast right above their knees (kid safe reference).

Santa stands up and enters the court with a small Santa smile.  (its the all knowing smile he uses right before he tells you if you’ve been naughty or nice)  The Giant knows something is not the same.  He’s rattled.  Santa nicks the first two serves.  The JGG is rattled more.   Santa rips a jam serve that the Giant was not expecting.  The Giant swings awkwardly and misses getting hit with the ball.  The sinking feeling is setting in. 

Santa mixes nick aces serves and jams serves.  He mixes pinches with hard drive jamming shots.  The jams keep the Giant back and the pinches bring him forward.  The Giant drops 5 quick points.  We’re tied at 7-7…new game.  The Giant takes a time out.  You know where he’s going to sit.  As soon as he calls time out, I get up for the bathroom…there’s no way I’m going back on that naughty list this quick.

The Giant moves to a lob serve.  Santa, with his low center of gravity, has an easy time short hopping the ball and immediately regains the serve.

It’s later in the game and as expected the Giant is not bending as he did in the beginning.  He’s leaving his serves and shots up.  From the balcony, Prancer starts the chant “Put a fork in him, he’s done!”  I heard those reindeer could get nasty.

Santa misses the next nick serve and hits a high lob to the Giant’s backhand.  The Giant shoots and skips.  His back looks tight.  8-7.

Santa nick serves to the forehand…9-7.

Santa jams serves into the Giants rib cage…10 – 7.  (Pat’s getting a big present this year!)

 (We’re only playing to 11 – International Fictional Player Tournament Rules)

On the last point, you can see the determination in the Giant’s eyes.  Santa serves for the nick.  He catches it on the forehand side two inches off the ground.  The Giant dives…the ground shakes…he got it.  The ball rebounds off the front wall mid high.  Santa has the Giant trapped against the wall….he shoots cross court.  The Giant dives again and flicks to the ceiling.  Great ceiling ball...the Giant has time to recover to center court but in his haste to recover he’s not watching Santa’s shot…oh my God…39 foot dink roll out! 

Moral of this story…There are no bad body types for racquetball.  There are advantages and disadvantages for each.  And Santa doesn’t lose at Christmas time.

Wishing you all a belated Christmas and a Happy New Year!!


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