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RacquetWorld's Newsletter Racquetball Tip of the Month


Red Tushie - The Other Side of the Palm

The original “Red Tushie” article dealt with getting “spanked” (beat badly) by your opponent and all the things you can do about it. It was the most read as well as the most responded to article to date. Well today, I’m going to help the “spanker”…thus the other side of the palm.

Here is the issue I see play out all the time at my club. The less experienced players want to play with the better players in order to get better themselves. The better players knowing they have limited time on the courts don’t want to “waste” their precious play time “spanking” or teaching another player. Sometimes the better player is courteous and just plays. Sometimes the less experienced player is rejected and sits there. 

How can we make both players enter the same court at various levels and have fun, get a good workout, and get better at racquetball? Seems like an impossible situation and with many players it may be. The first thing we have to get rid of is court Ego. Court Ego makes the lesser player too proud to accept a handicapping situation. Court Ego also stops the better player from benefiting. Many times a better player doesn’t want to be seen on the court “monkeying” around with lesser players. Many times this leads to a constant barrage of lesser players expecting you to play with them and getting insulted when you say “sorry - no.” I’ve been there and done that…saying no every time was an easier way to go.

Now I’ll play anyone most of the time with a few modifications.

My favorite thing to do is play smaller games giving points. For instance we can play to 7 and I’ll give you 3 points and the serve. If I win, I’ll give you 4 points next time, if you win we go down to 2 points. This works out very well for a couple reasons. First, games to 7 are quicker and if your buddies do arrive, it’s easy to finish the current game and excuse yourself. Secondly, giving 3 points doesn’t seem like an insult…it’s only a few points. If you made the same deal and say I’ll give you 7 or 8 points playing to 15…players get a little offended. I’m not calling all the people taking points mathematically challenged in that 3 out of 7 and 7 out of 15 are close to the same…but see how both scenarios play out in person and you’ll see giving only 3 points in easier to digest for most. If you give up 6 points and still win…that guy will most likely not ask you to play anymore. (He may try and hire somebody to beat you for $18 – true story)

Winning a series of games like this is tough…as a better player you can’t lose your concentration. My goal was always to give 6 points (game to 7) as soon as possible and stay there…this was my way to win the day. At any level it’s very tough to stop a motivated player from scoring a single point repeatedly. It will take you 10 minutes to score 7 points and it will only take your opponent 30 seconds to score 1. This is great for your concentration and will be rewarded in future play. 

Another game I play is to work on certain shots or combination of shots. This is usually when a guy doesn’t like my point game above and just wants to play straight up…I’ll look up and down the hallway for another game first…then proceed to full spanking mode… after I just “spanked” him hopefully providing a little humility so we’re both on the same page now… I’ll just hit all ceiling balls or pick a single type of shot I can kill the ball with. I may pick a right corner pinch for instance. I’ll tell the player exactly what will cause my offensive shot (a setup off the back wall, a short setup, etc) and see if he can play around those and deal with ceiling balls. If you get the wrong type of player, it can be tense on the court. But that in-itself is good training…you have to deal with all situations out there. 

I’ve also been known to play a game I call 3 shot. If I serve, I get the serve and my next shot to put the ball away. If a player can keep the ball in play…he wins the point. On his serve, I get a return of serve only. I alter the return of serve to include the fourth rally shot if the player is better. But in no instance does this go longer than 4 hits. Strange name – 3 shot – when you get up to 4 hits, but hopefully you’re usually serving and thus the game is limited to 3 shots. This game does not require your opponent’s permission. If he doesn’t understand or agree to the game…I just play it anyway and stop after my 3rd shot. It’s a much better game in that your opponent will soon learn they get to serve a lot too.

My goal in racquetball as stated above is to have fun, sweat and get better. If two players of different levels share these goals, options are available to reach them. So the next time somebody offers you points, take them and kick his butt. That’s the best lesson you can teach them and in the process you will get better at racquetball yourself.

If you have different games you play that lend themselves to equalizing different levels of play – I’d love to hear them. We’re trying to come up with different and interesting games for all the different levels of college players. This includes men playing women…and yes, sometimes the women are giving the points.


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