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Maximize your game by improving speed and agility

This is an excerpt from Championship Racquetball by Fran Davis and Jason Mannino.


Speed Drills
The quicker you can get from point A to point B, the quicker your first step will be—a must in racquetball. The following drills are geared toward improving speed.

Line Drill

Use the four different lines.

Start at the back wall in a down and ready position.

Use a stopwatch and see how long it takes you to run and touch the dotted line and return to the back wall, run to the short line and return to the back wall, run to the service line and return to the back wall, and finally run to the front wall and return to the back wall. This is one set.

Do the appropriate number of sets for your level of play. Time all of them.

Sidewall Drill to Shadow Hit

Shuffle side to side with a racquet in your hand.

Start at the dotted line in the middle.

Shuffle to the right side wall, then turn, set up, and shadow hit.

Immediately shuffle to the left side wall, then turn, set up, and shadow hit.

Go back and forth between the side walls, five times to each wall or more if you can. This is one set.

Do the appropriate number of sets for your level of play. Time all of them.

Agility for a racquetball athlete can be most clearly defined as the ability to maneuver your way around the court as you are getting into position to hit the ball as it comes off the wall at different angles, heights, and speeds, all while having a sense of where your opponent is on the court. We can also call this being light on your feet or being on the balls of your feet—in other words, being able to make adjustments on a dime.

If you think of agility in terms of football, it would best be described as a running back approaching the line knowing there are guys ready to hit him from all directions. He recognizes an opening and accelerates toward it, but he finds a bigger athlete running toward him. In an instant, the running back is able to maneuver his body and feet to make the quick adjustment to avoid the collision. When you watch Jason during a rally in racquetball, his mind is intent on getting to every ball, no matter who is in his way. If a ball is in front court and his opponent is between him and the ball, Jason has the ability to make the same quick footwork and body adjustments to get around the opponent to get to the ball.

Concentrating your efforts on maneuvering your body around the court and around your opponent will not only enable you to get to more shots but also enhance your ability to perform the techniques and shots you’ve learned once you get there because you will have more time. Your shot selection will also be enhanced because you will have more time to think. (Where am I? Where’s the ball? What’s the best shot to hit?)

There are specific exercises that develop your agility and help you be lighter on your feet on the court so that when the ball is moving in excess of 100 mph (161 km/h), you can react to the ball in a split second. The foundation of all movement skills begins with the specific ability of being light on your feet or on the balls of your feet. Your conditioning program will begin with exercises that enhance this skill.

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Agility Drills

  • Do one or two sets at first, 5 repetitions in each set, based on your fitness level.
  • Time each set and write it down in your fitness log.
  • Work your way up to three or four sets, 5 to 7 repetitions in each set, for intermediate players and five or six sets, 8 to 10 repetitions in each set, for advanced players. Try to shave off seconds from your time in each set.

Agility Exercises

Ankle Flips

This is a skipping motion done with knees locked so that the only moving parts are the ankles. Skip forward, curling the toes upward, then accelerate the ball of the foot down onto the court (figure 10.4). Do this exercise down the length of the racquetball court 3 times.

Cone Drill: Forward Zigzag

Place cones or cans of balls 2 feet (.6 m) apart lengthwise on the court. Run in and out in a forward zigzag from back wall to front wall. This is a quick shuffle through the cones, traveling up and down the court 3 times with balance.

Cone Drill: Backward Zigzag

This time run in and out in a backward zigzag from front wall to back wall. This is a balanced backward shuffle, traveling up and down the court 3 times. Be careful moving backward.

Cone Drill: Sideways Zigzag

This time run sideways, both forward and backward. Done with great posture, this should be done 3 times up and down the court facing the same wall the entire time. This ensures that you are traveling right and left in equal measure.

 

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Large Star

Use painter’s tape to put six Xs on the floor in the court, one in each corner (front left corner, front right corner, back left corner, back right corner), one on the dotted line on the left side wall, and one on the dotted line on the right side wall (figure 10.5).

Start at the dotted line in the middle, down and ready with your racquet in your hand.

Use a stopwatch and see how long it takes you to go to each X individually. Each time you get to an X, swing a forehand if you are on the forehand side or a backhand if you are on the backhand side, always going back to the middle before going to the next X. This is one set.

Do the appropriate number of sets for your level of play. Time all of them.

Read more about Championship Racquetball.



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Championship Racquetball
Hall of famer Fran Davis and top-ranked player Jason Mannino cover strokes of the game, specialty shots, singles and doubles tactics, mental preparation, and conditioning.
€20.80
Championship Racquetball eBook
€15.17

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