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RacquetWorld's Newsletter Racquetball Tip of the Month


Racquetball Energy

The Question of the month is:  Why do I play better (more consistent) against better players and worse against lower level players?

Many intermediate players think they play much better against better racquetball players…I’m going to explain why I think that is true.  However, this will also explain why intermediate players do in fact play worse with lower level players. 

What I’m about to explain only touches on one component of racquetball consistency.  I am not considering increased ball speed or the thought that with better players you just react and don’t think.  I only mention this last “non-thinking” point because my proofreader brought it up.  Lets see if this theory makes sense to you…

Two “C” level players enter a racquetball court.  Together they maintain an average height of the ball during rallies of let’s say 3 feet.  (Ceiling balls not included)

Let’s say that it takes Racquetball Energy from either player to lower the height of the ball during a rally.  This Racquetball Energy can basically change the 3-foot high ball to 1-foot high…and we all have experienced the work and concentration it takes for a player to lower the ball height.

The greater the difference between the starting height and the desired ball height, the more Racquetball Energy required.   The more attempts to lower the average height of the ball, the more Energy (work) expended by the player, the more room for error and thus the more potential frustration there is on the court. 

Now let’s look at my theory when you have a “C” player and an “A” player on the court.  The average ball height with these players let’s set at roughly 1 ½ feet.  The “C” player, who usually has to work very hard to lower the ball from 3 feet to a 1 foot level, now finds it takes much less Energy to only lower the ball ½ foot to the 1 foot level while playing with an “A” player.  The “C” player in this case will still lose…but they feel they played better...aka more consistent.  The “A” player very easily performs the work required to lower the average height of the ball during rallies, while the “C” player gets a free ride (or doesn’t put in any work) down to the lower average ball height.

All this may be a little confusing.  My first point in all this is that ball height, or the ability to kill the ball or at least keep the ball low enough for a winner, takes Racquetball Energy.  It does not really take work or Racquetball Energy to simply change your shot selection.  A “C” player, who finds himself frustrated can easily change to cross court or down-the-line pass shots and find greater success and less frustration.  A 3-foot high pass shot may not be as pretty as a flat rollout, but it wins a rally.

My second point is that your playing consistency has many more components than you may think and the only way to truly get more consistent is to drill and practice.  Your true ability changes very little based on your opponent, believe it or not.  Your perception of your play is what changes based on your opponent.

Hopefully understanding what is really going on helps some of you to feel less frustrated on the court.  I’ve gotten some e-mail pleading for answers…and I hope this shows there is no real quick fix or magical answer I can provide.


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