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RacquetWorld's Newsletter Racquetball Tip of the Month

 

The Shadow

 

I have a racquetball-playing friend who likes to secretly stalk around as "The Shadow" on and off the court.  I won't touch what he does off the court because as stealthy as he thinks he is I wouldn't want to ruin his off court fantasy world.  I will, however, talk about his alter ego persona on the court…aka "The Shadow".

Last month when I offered to help anyone getting spanked I got so many requests for help I was replying to e-mails for two days straight.  Not only did I hopefully help many of you, I learned some of the most common problems many of you are trying to overcome.

Over 60% of you said you were getting beat by pinches or passing shots.  Ouch!!

The obvious answer to this problem is to think back to what shot you hit to set your opponent up…AND DON'T DO IT ANYMORE.  The only way a player can consistently beat you with a pinch or a pass is that he is setup for either or both.  As an added benefit, most of you are not in the correct court position (see Fig 5) and our would be spanker gets to pick his shot via a setup and also gets to see exactly where you are to make his shot selection that much easier.

Once you setup an opponent chances are you're in big trouble but there are techniques you should be using to minimize the damage.  First, when a setup occurs you can't let your opponent see what shot your going to cover…that makes it way to easy.  You have to turn into the undetectable "Shadow" that seemingly covers the entire court in a myth defining fashion.  The Shadow is never in full view of his opponent.  (see fig 1 -forehand and fig 2 -  backhand opponent shots.

To bring about the full illusion that you are everywhere on the court, you must also watch your opponent and learn to read his shot selection.  This is pretty simple once you get used to watching a player's feet and swing motion.  The trick is you have to stay out of their field of vision and peripheral vision until they have to put their full attention onto the ball.  Then pick up their shot choice and start moving as they are starting their swing.  This is how you can correctly guess and cover these shots.

In the first 3 diagrams your opponent is the "feet".  You are the oval.  His primary vision is in gold and peripheral vision is lighter in color.  He loses peripheral vision when he has to concentrate fully on the ball and you can time your movement to enter this area.

Figure #3 uses a favorite little trick of mine.  I just hit a setup (rare by the way..ha ha ha) and my opponent is in front of me.  I stand right behind him so he sees me in his peripheral vision.  The instant I sense his peripheral vision is turned off I sprint over next to  him while reading his body for his shot selection…which should be a pinch.  By allowing him to catch me with his peripheral vision, I'm trying to get him not to hit a down the line shot.  If I can trick him and eliminate this option from his mind…I can cover the pinch and usually the cross court.  A good player will sense this move.  So sometimes I leave early (on purpose) darting out of his peripheral vision with a quick lean only.  Then I stay put and eat up the down the line shot.

Remember this….you have eyeguards on.  It's very scary to turn and watch your opponent especially if you're in the wrong position.  So work on getting to the right Shadowing position first…then start to watch for feet and swings.

Did you ever see the players who never seemed rushed and covers the court fluidly?  They magically get to almost every shot.  They are never in the way.  This is how they do it.  I feel like Penn and Teller now giving up a great secret to the masses…well at least most of you players below the solid A level.

Here's an advanced tidbit.  (fig.4) You know at the upper levels players are shadowing you.  I like to switch from an apparent forehand and hit a backhand or vice versa.  By doing this once in a while, you see how your opponent is shadowing you.  When you pull this switch…your shadowing opponent is caught off guard and in full view.  It's like shining a light on your shadow…and you know what happens then…poof…it disappears.  Hitting the shot will be more difficult …but your opponent will not be comfortable taking up a perfect shadowing position each time…he'll have to stutter once in a while to make sure which way you are going to address the ball….and sometimes a stutter is all the difference you need.

Play Safe!!

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Questions or comment…Pat@Racquetworld.com

 


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

 


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