Strategy is a method of achieving a specific goal or end result, which is to play your best to win the match. Your strategy helps you carry out your game plan, which is the plan of action based on your strengths and weaknesses as well as your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. See “Have a Game Plan, On and Off the Court.” When you strategize, you are being proactive, which is taking control of the match. You are in a much better position to win, which is your goal. Here are the CORE STRATEGIES needed to carry out your game plan.
1. CONTROL CENTER COURT: Being in the center-court box puts you in the best position possible to get a majority of the shots. The person who owns and controls center court has a greater chance of winning the match. This strategy is key.
2. KEEP YOUR OPPONENT OUT OF CENTER COURT: If you keep the other player out of your space, they are not in the best position to get to a majority of the shots.
3. WATCH THE BALL: By watching the ball, you gain valuable information and more time so you can better determine your opponent’s shot and react faster to the ball.
4. HIT AWAY FROM YOUR OPPONENT: Your goal is to hit where your opponent is not and make her run the farthest distance to get to the ball by going to the open court.
5. HIT TO AND EXPOIT YOUR OPPONENT’S WEAKNESS: By hitting to your opponents weaknesses, you are forcing him to do something they do not want to do.
6. AVOID HITTING TO YOUR OPPONENT’S STRENGTH: This will only build their confidence level and make them feel like they are able to take and make any shot they want.
7. KEEP YOUR OPPONENT DEEP IN THE COURT: This strategy keeps them as far away from the front wall, the target, as possible.
8. ALWAYS STAY POSITIVE: When you are positive, you can think more clearly and good things happen.
9. DO NOT USE YOUR FIRST GAME AS A WARMUP: Often players don’t warm up properly, thinking they can warm up by playing. If you lose the first game, you have to win both of the remaining games in order to win the match.
10. CARRY OUT YOUR GAME PLAN: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Use the techniques in my book Championship Racquetball, Chapter 7, Page 183-184, 194-201.
Here’s how my Championship Team utilizes these techniques:
Rocky Carson and Paola Longoria versus whomever
Rocky/Paola and I talk, either in person or on the phone, and we discuss the strategy for that match. I remind them of these core simple strategies, which has won Rocky/Paola many matches against the very best in the world like Alvaro Beltran, Jose Rojas, Ben Croft, Daniel De LaRosa, Marie Vargas or Rhonda Rajsich:
–CONTROL CENTER COURT as owning the middle at the pro level is critical.
–KEEP YOUR OPPONENT DEEP and OUT OF CENTER COURT as this puts their opponent as far from the target, the front wall, as possible which makes it harder for them to score.
–EXPLOIT YOUR OPPONENT’S WEAKNESSES, which frustrates their opponents. This creates more mistakes from their opponent’s and they then have more opportunities from set-ups for them to potentially score.
–ALWAYS STAY POSITIVE as getting upset and being negative results in losing their concentration, focus and straying from their goal.
–DO NOT USE YOUR FIRST GAME AS A WARM UP, which Rocky/Paola laugh at. EACH one of them warm up for 30-45 minutes physically and mentally or they DO NOT step onto the court to play their match…. end of story.
–CARRY OUT YOUR GAME PLAN is a religion for them. We discuss game planning at length for EVERY MATCH and they NEVER enter the match without one. It’s like playing without your racquet in hand and your sneakers on…a ridiculous thought.
STRATEGIZING is yet another required skill on the road to championship racquetball. ALL of the players I coach, from the professionals led by Rocky and Paola to the amateurs, know just how important it is to “strategize”. It’s sometimes easy to stray from your strategy, but it is a MUST to stay on track with it. Their records speak for themselves…Rocky and Paola are BOTH 2 of the most decorated athletes in racquetball. Paola finished the 2013/2014 ranked #1 on the LPRT for the 3rd consecutive season with only dropping one match since May 2011 and was crowned BOTH the 2014 World Champion and the Central American Champion. Rocky finished the 2013/2014 ranked #2 on the IRT and was crowned the 2014 World Champion.
In the next issue, I will continue to build your Championship Racquetball Game one level at a time so you too can be ready to become the champion you always dreamed of becoming, by giving you the tools to make it a reality. Rocky and all my athletes “Championship Racquetball Games” stem from their focus on ALL 3 sides of the triangle working together so they can develop into top competitors. Without a shadow of a doubt, they KNOW just how important it is to do the work. They are living proof it works and their titles substantiate it.
For details on more personalized instruction, a weekend camp, instructional DVD’s and our book, Championship Racquetball, ALL which covers all aspects of the Sports Racquetball Triangle and more, please visit www.FranDavisRacquetball.com. Fran Davis is a 2004 racquetball Hall of Fame inductee; Racquetball Woman of the Year 2009; Coach #2 IRT Pro Player / 1X US Open Champion / 4X and present World Champion, Rocky Carson; Coach #1 Women’s LPRT Pro Player / 5X and present US Open Champion & World Champion, Paola Longoria; Coach Jr. World & National Champion, Intercollegiate Champion, & IRT Pro Player, Taylor Knoth; Coach Intercollegiate Champion & LPRT Pro Player, Sharon Jackson; Master Professional Instructor/Coach USAR-IP.