Coach Fran Davis

Going Back to Basics

altBack to the Basics is a key principle to use when you’re not playing well and things are just not going your way. If you are not playing well your shots, serves, and returns can begin to breakdown, ending with a lost game or match. This is the perfect time to regroup, assess the situation, and get back to the basics in every area of your game. Going back to the basics helps you to regain consistency, sharpens your mental skills, allows you to think more clearly, and rebuilds any lost confidence to get you back on track. 

 I use going back to the basics with my Championship Team, Rocky, Paola, Jason, Taylor, Sharon, Connor, Jordan, and Wayne who have all at one point or another suffered from a bad game, match or tournament. Let’s examine what tools all of my athletes use by taking a closer look at all 3 sides of The Sports Racquetball Triangle: Conditioning, Mental, and Physical Skills

Left Side of the Triangle

Getting “back to the basics” of conditioning and starting up a good basic program is key. You want to work all the basic aspects of conditioning such as footwork, agility, speed, power, balance, flexibility, core strength and cardiorespiratory endurance. There are no shortcuts when it comes to getting and keeping your body in shape to go the distance of a match or tournament.

Use the Conditioning and Flexibility chapter in my book, “ Championship Racquetball” to understand your conditioning level. This will lead to more consistency, as you will be able to set up on more balls and therefore shoot a better shot to put pressure on your opponent, Chapter 10 (pages 237-257).

You want to make sure you go “back to the basics” of eating right and drinking lots of water as your body and mind NEEDS this in order to perform at it’s best.

***Check my book, “Championship Racquetball” for specific information on your NUTRITIONAL needs.

Right Side of the Triangle

Mental Skills 

Here are the Ten Basic or Core Strategies to use to regain your consistency level.

Control Center Court:

Being in the center-court box puts you in the best position possible to get a majority of the shots.

Keep Your Opponent Out of Center Court:

If you keep the other player out of your space, they will not be in the best position to get to a majority of the shots.

Watch the Ball at All Times:

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.

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.

Hit to and Exploit Your Opponent’s Weaknesses:

By hitting to the other player’s weaknesses, you are forcing him to do something they do not want to do.

Avoid Hitting to Your Opponent’s Strengths:

This will only build their confidence level and make them feel like they are king of the hill, able to take and make any shot she wants, thus winning the match.

Keep Your Opponent Deep in the Court:

This strategy keeps him as far away from the front wall, the target, as possible.

Always Stay Positive:

When you are positive, you can think more clearly and good things happen.

Do Not Use Your First Game as a Warm-Up:

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.

Carry Out Your Game Plan:

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Use the mental skills in my book, “ Championship Racquetball” to understand the “Basic or Core Strategies”, which will help you play smarter and regain your focus, Chapter 7, (pages 194-195).

Base of the Triangle  

Physical Skills 

Here is the 5 Step Approach to Drilling that the professionals use religiously. It allows them to develop and sharpen their timing, their consistency and their accuracy…a MUST, when getting “back to the basics”.

1.     Drop and Hit

2.     Toss, Turn and Hit

3.     Toss, Turn, Shuffle and Hit

4.     Set Up and Hit

5.     Set Up, Run and Hit

Make sure, as we have done in the past, to track your progress by choosing the shot and then doing a certain amount of those shots, keeping track of your percentge of winners, the good ones divided by the total number you hit. As you go “back to the basics” and practice more and more of them you will get more and more consistent.

Use the physical skills in my book, “ Championship Racquetball” to understand the “Basic Five Step Approach to Drilling”, Chapter 1 (page 18) & Chapter 2 (page 47)

ALL of the players I coach, from the professionals led by Rocky and Paola to the amateurs, know just how important it is to go “Back to the Basics” when they are not playing well and things aren’t going their way. This is the time they regroup and access the situation in every area of their game. By “going back to the basics” it helps them regain their consistency level and sharpen their mental skills so they can think more clearly and get back on track. It helps build back their confidence they may have lost. Their records speak for themselves.

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 ‘s 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.

International Racquetball Tour.  IRT.