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Play the Ball, Not Your Opponent

This is a strategy that most people don’t think about. Often players either do not like their opponent for one reason or another or they are playing a friend who they like very much. Unfortunately, if they cannot get these thoughts out of their heads, they generally overplay, want to win too badly, or play too nice because they do not want to hurt their friend’s feelings. These thoughts are crippling.

The strategy I advocate is to play the ball. The ball does not have a personality or does not cheat or does not look at you funny or does not talk back. With this mindset, you can play your game without being adversely affected by worrying about your opponent.

Use the techniques in my book Championship Racquetball to understand “Playing the Ball, Not Your Opponent” (Chapter 7, page 197)

Playing the ball, not your opponent is a key strategy for my “Championship Team,” Paola, Rocky, Taylor, Sharon, Connor, Jordan, Spencer, Lexi and Brian. Let’s examine what tools Rocky, Paola, Jason and all of my athletes use to “play the ball, not their opponent” by taking a closer look at all 3 sides of The Sports Racquetball Triangle: Conditioning, Mental, and Physical Skills

Left Side of the Triangle

Conditioning 

Get yourself in top condition in all areas that I talk about in my book, Championship Racquetball, strength, power, speed, balance, agility and flexibility, and keep yourself there by working out at least 2X per week. Too often players hire a trainer or get the bug to get into tip top shape as they are training for a particular tournament and work out diligently for two months. Unfortunately, then they stop working out in the same way and just think they can coast and stay in shape.That type of thinking couldn’t be the furthest from the truth. I want you to be strong, powerful, fast, agile, balanced and flexible so you do not have to worry about your opponent as you can outlast them with your fitness level.

Rocky & Paola’s fitness level is second to none and on many occasions in different matches they outlasted their opponents and won tough matches in the fifth game. Their impeccable fitness level is one of the keys to their success.
Use the techniques in my book Championship Racquetball (Chapter 10) to learn more about strength, power, speed, agility, balance and flexibility.

Nutrition 

Too often, players are unprepared to properly eat and rely on the club’s snack bar or going out to get something to eat in between matches. I highly recommend that you bring a cooler or brown bag to the club with plenty of water, sport drinks and food like bars, bagels, bananas, oranges, etc,,…the first step to being prepared. The more disciplined you are at eating the right foods and drinking the right amount of fluids the more energy you will have and the more you will keep your muscles hydrated. This will allow you to think more clearly on the court and to focus on the ball, and not worry about your opponent.

Rocky, Paola and Jason’s eating and drinking habits are second to none: They all are very prepared coming to the club with eating properly before hand and bringing water and bars to the club incase their matches are delayed.

Right Side of the Triangle

Mental Skills 

You have to be filled with self-confidence. You need to believe in yourself, your preparation, and your game. Self-confidence comes from the willingness to prepare and take total responsibility for all aspects of your preparation and your game. Self-confidence is earned from hard work. If you are totally prepared, that is when all your hard work meets with perfect opportunity, and success happens. This can be expressed in a simple formula:

hard work + opportunity = success

So when all is said and done, just put the time in, do the work and then relax and enjoy the outcome. Jason became the master at focusing on the ball and did not worry about his opponent. If you watched Jason when he played IRT Pro Stops, he had “the eye of the tiger.” His eyes were on the ball and he knew what he wanted to do 100% of the time, never second-guessing himself.

Use the techniques in my book Championship Racquetball (Chapter 9) to learn more about concentration and focus.

Base of the Triangle 

Physical Skills

The best way to get to your opponent is to let your racquet do the talking and make sure you make your shots so the pressure is back on them. You should now focus on where is the ball and where is your opponent and then execute the shot you are supposed to because you have drilled it thousands of times. The focus should not be on your opponent who cheated and took a double bounce or if they talked smack to you during the rallies, or if they are your friend and your played doubles with them, it should be on the ball and putting the ball where your opponent is not….end of story.

Rocky and Paola’s drill sessions are very well thought out and they both focus an enormous amount of time on the core principles and fundamentals which allows them both to be more consistent and accurate in a game situation.
There are various ways to drill, practice and play to improve your game in Chapter 8 of my book Championship Racquetball.

ALL of my players from the professionals I coach, led by Rocky and Paola, to the amateurs I coach know just how important it is to play the ball and not get wrapped up into their opponent during the match. It is easier to concentrate on the ball and winning the point and not worry about what an opponent is thinking or doing, which is a total distraction.

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, but now you will have the tools to do it and 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.

For details on more personalized instruction, a weekend camp, instructional DVD’s, our book, Championship Racquetball, and our APP (coming soon), 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, Rocky Carson; Coach #1 Women’s LPRT Pro Player, 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.  International Racquetball Tour.