We are creatures of habit and perform best when there are no surprises. In order to obtain optimal performance levels, you need a pre-performance routine. All successful athletes thrive on routines that help their mind and body to relax and focus on the essentials of the upcoming competition. Everything in sports is a learned behavior, so each consistent pre-competition routine that an athlete does automatically sets up an ideal performance state. If these routines are performed regularly, then the athlete is on automatic pilot and enters each competition in the ideal performance state.
How Is a Routine Created?
- Behavior: An athlete chooses certain behaviors that enhance their game (e.g., bouncing the ball three times before serving).
- Habit: A behavior done over and over again (seven times) becomes a habit. If you bounce the ball three times every time you serve, you will eventually do it unconsciously.
- Routine: A healthy habit soon becomes a routine. As you are preparing for your upcoming match, you choose specific routines that you think will guarantee consistency and success. Bouncing the ball three times has now become a necessary routine since you stop thinking about your serve and go into it automatically.
There are many samples of routines in my book, Championship Racquetball in Chapter 9, P. 221-223.
All my athletes from legends Jason Mannino and Sudsy Monchik, when they were playing the pro tour, to Rocky Carson and Paola Longoria, who are presently playing the pro tours, ALL have routines. Their routines start a week or so prior to the tournament, the night before and include the morning of the match, driving to the club, prior to the match, and then during the game.
Here’s how my Championship Team PROVED that utilizing ROUTINES ARE CRITICAL:
Rocky Carson: From Early-Round Loss to Championship Win
At the 31st Annual Shamrock Shootout near Chicago, IL, March 10-13, Rocky lost to Jake Breckenbeck in the first round of a 5 game battle. Rocky was making the finals all season long except for one pro stop, so this was a devastating loss. Hats off to Jake who played very well, but while I was coaching Rocky he just seemed to be “off” and not himself. Usually when you are “off” it is due to the lack of practice or an injury or sickness. After the match we talked about what happened, and while I was listening to him a light bulb went off in my head. Rocky was telling me his club manager informed him that the courts that he practiced on for 10+ years were temporarily going to be closed down due to a flood in the gym. Rocky’s normal routine was shattered so we had to make adjustments. Rocky joined another gym temporarily and went back to his routine of drilling 2x per week and playing 2x per week. I spoke to him 2x per week to make sure he was on track for the next tournament.
Just three weeks later at the 8th Annual Raising a Racquet for Kids IRT ProAm in Dayton, OH, Rocky not only made it past the first round he WON the tournament. He beat Daniel Del Rosa (#3 IRT Pro) in the semifinals and Alvaro Beltran (#4 IRT Pro) in the finals. I was so proud of Rocky for not dwelling on the loss in Illinois and getting back into his routine, even though it was a different gym. He went to Dayton, OH sharp and ready to play. It showed big time.
Routine’s are 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 “Have a Routine”. Their records speak for themselves…Rocky and Paola are BOTH 2 of the most decorated athletes in racquetball. Paola finished ranked #1 for the 6th time on the LPRT, 6X US Open Champions, 4X World Champion and 4X Pan American Champion. Rocky finished ranked #2 for the 8th time on the IRT, 4X World Champion, 2X Pan American Champion and US Open Champion.
In the next post, 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 tips, 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; Coaches #2 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Player / 1X US Open Champion / 4X and present World Champion, 2X Pan American Champion, Rocky Carson; Coaches #1 Women’s LPRT Pro Player / 6X and present US Open Champion & 4X World Champion, 2X Pan American Champion, Paola Longoria; Coaches Jr. World & National Champions, Jordan Cooperrider, Wayne Antone & Mitchell Turner; Master Professional Instructor/Coach USAR-IP.