RacquetWorld's Newsletter Racquetball Tip of the Month


Can you Catch a Chicken

I've been thinking about a seemingly simple question I was asked this week, "How can I beat a more skilled player?" My initial reaction was you can't...but "can't" never got anyone anywhere...so I thought about it all week. Here's what I came up with.

In the original Rocky movie, nobody could argue that Rocky was even remotely close to the skill level of World Champion Apollo Creed. Rocky was a huge underdog. I know many of you are big underdogs every day. How can you change that?

Many skilled players rely too much on their playing abilities. The abilities include good crisp accurate power shots, center court control, and their ability to put the ball away on setups. These are a few of their abilities that they sometimes take for granted. They assume when playing players who lack these skills that they will have an easy time. (and most of the time they are right)

How do we change this...Years ago I attended a coaching seminar and we were told about energy reserves that our body uses during exercise. (I have tried to go and research what I'm about to tell you but couldn't find details...so this is from memory...and it was long, long ago...but at least it was in this galaxy (lame star wars joke, I know))

The human body has basically two kinds of energy reserves that athletes tap into. Lets call them Energy Reserve A (ER-A) and Energy Reserve B (ER-B). ER-A is your more energetic, shorter burst energy reserve and it works like this: You have 30 –45 seconds of this reserve...but it recharges itself...however not as fast as you use it. So if during your first rally you experience a 15 second hard rally...the ER-A would be drained by 15 seconds but the time between points will replenish 14 of those seconds...so it's a slow downward energy spiral. This goes on until it's all used up. Then you move on to your primary energy source ER-B. When players talk about grinding out points...to me it means it's later in the game and I've used up my ER-A and now must rely on my less energetic energy reserves to get around the court and shoot my shots. Since it's a different energy source it plays out in my body a little differently. Player's not used to making the shift from one energy reserve to the other often say that their game suddenly just went to crap.

Many good players in their small ponds who don't go out into the bigger seas, don't learn how to adjust between these energy sources because they rarely if ever exhaust ER-A. When they do face an equal or better player, they quickly go through ER-A and their play falls apart using ER-B.

Rocky's manager Micky, knew Rocky didn't have the skill to beat Apollo. What he had was a game plan. First, Rocky had to get in the best shape of his life (Grease lightning speed – catch a chicken), do one or two simple things great (body shots – perfected against hanging beef), and have enough heart to out last the champ.

So in answer to your question, Jim Spencer...you can beat your buddy Joe who you've never beaten before. It's not going to be easy. First, start running...you need to get in great shape. Don't forget to do sprints and work on faster recovery of your ER-A. While you're training off the court, you need to work on a couple simple things on the court that will pay off. Work on a great ace serve to either the forehand or backhand...learn to mix it up. If you don't get an outright ace, you will get more weak returns...so secondly, work on putting your setups away. Lastly, play at a faster pace to push your friend. This means cut your time between points...don't let this guy breathe!!

If you can stay close to your friend without losing the game and can drain him of his ER-A he will not have the same coordination when he has to draw from his B energy reserve. This is your equalizing factor.

So while in short, I can't bring you up to his level...this may help in bringing him down to yours. It may not be pretty...that Rocky fight sure wasn't...but it gives you a chance to take the title. You give me a week to think about something and it's dangerous what you might get yourself into.

Good luck to all you underdogs...the bad news is you never hear of a lazy winning underdog...all the hard work gives you heart and sometimes that's the biggest difference in a match.

Questions or comment…Pat@Racquetworld.com

You can forward any rules questions to me at Pat@Racquetworld.com