RacquetWorld's Newsletter Racquetball Tip of the Month
Big Back Billboards
When I go to tournaments or clubs in general, I carry a few extra “big guy” shirts. I like to see our company logo on the biggest guys around. Big backs all around the country are the closest things to a billboard in racquetball that I will ever find. However, this has led to a little negative publicity that I’d like to work through here.
Some of these “billboards” are not moving out of the way. While we don’t have all these guys logoed, we have enough that opposing players (and potential customers) are now thinking that Racquetworld is in their way. We can’t have that.
Recently, I received an e-mail from an unlogoed billboard who constantly received criticism from everyone he played against. This was a rare e-mail. I usually only get e-mail complaints from players facing these non moving billboards. This was a chance to understand what a billboard was thinking and see why they weren’t moving.
The answer was simple enough…lack of understanding, a touch of stubbornness and not knowing proper court positioning. Since this player came to me, he was open about my assessment. While he acknowledged he didn’t like what I said, he now had an understanding of why opponents were so frustrated with him and what he needed to do to correct the situation.
The real problem with these billboard players is that many of them are not open or ready for criticism especially from their opponents or friends. So here is the deal…Print out this article and hand it to the object of your frustration. After they read this article, send me an e-mail of how they took it along with their shirt size and we’ll “logo the billboard” to soften the blow to their ego and keep your friendship intact.
Ok, here goes…hey big billboard, I’m talking to you…
The first step to many bad behavior issues is to admit you have, or you are the problem. The situation doesn’t start with you not moving…it starts with your shot or serve that you hit prior to being in the way. You cannot hit a bad shot (aka a setup) and then elect not to move out of the way.
In addition, it is not good court etiquette (hey, look at me, I’m the new Ms. Court Manners) to stand simply facing the front wall with your back to the rest of the court…especially when your opponent is right behind you. I know it’s scary…we’ll get to the right way to stand later…but for now, understand it’s not right…further I know you feel you can take the shot in the back or butt and it hurts less, but you can watch and not be hit at the same time if you do it right.
I’ve preached this before and here goes again…a player is GUARANTEED a down the line shot and a cross court shot as defined by the exact angle that would allow the ball to hit the front wall and go to the opposite side back corner. These guaranteed shots are part of the rules in racquetball and just because they don’t suit your game style doesn’t mean you can ignore them. If you block these guaranteed shots, your opponent wins the rally without firing…and if he does fire off the shot and it hits you…it’s still his point…it’s not a do over. All those errant shots/serves you hit that come off the back wall are your fault and you have to clear the lanes. You made a mistake and you have to pay the price with less than perfect court position. You want better court position when your opponents are shooting…YOU hit better shots.
Billboard players by definition are bigger guys. Bigger guys usually aren’t the quickest players so they tend to be very stubborn when it comes to their favorite place to stand on the court. They want their spot regardless of all else. Big guys are accustomed to using their size to get their way. So it’s easy to understand why they like to use their size to limit your shots…it’s ingrained in them. Hey, big guy, is this you!?!
However, picking a single spot on the court is counterproductive…the best position is not always going to be the same location. Your location should be determined by where the ball is (aka what shot you previously hit) and what shot you anticipate your opponent is going to return.
Think about this for a second…there has to be thousands of different combination of shots you hit and return shots by your opponent, so how could one location be correct for all these situations. It can’t be…there has to be a better way.
I’ve heard this a thousand times, “If I don’t stand in the way of his cross court shot I can’t get his down the line shot”. I say that’s too bad…don’t’ set him up. But that answer doesn’t give the player a real answer. After all they’re not going to instantly stop setting the ball up…so what are they supposed to do?
There is a full article already on this topic…”The Shadow” read that now.
I can’t stress enough that when you learn to stay out of the way and you also turn to watch your opponent you will become mentally quicker and have more time to get to these offensive shots. This Shadowing technique requires more initial movement than simply backing into “your spot”. You will save more steps moving directly toward the ball. It’s a simple case of putting a little extra energy in upfront to get to the right location. You save energy on the backside with this approach. A player who simply backs into his spot may save energy initially but then must run all over chasing down the ball if he doesn’t get whacked with it first.
If you realize nothing else from this ranting, realize that if you make a mistake and setup your opponent it’s your fault and you have to pay the price and give up your precious real estate.
Let’s work together…pass this article and “The Shadow” article out. You’ll be less frustrated and your Big Billboard Buddies will get a free shirt and become logoed.
One more thing….there are also small billboards out there that get in the way and are just as frustrating. Women are not excluded from the billboard group either. Billboard players do come in all shapes, sizes and colors...so while I pick on the bigger guys here…they are far from being alone.