Ben Croft by

Keeping the Edge

Ben Croft by

After the Ektelon Nationals end in May, a sense of accomplishment and relief comes upon me. A sense of accomplishment because I’ve trained and played hard for another full season, and a sense of relief that I have a few months to get rest and get healthy. After nine months of hard work, it’s necessary to take time off, however, there also needs to be a balanced mix of relaxation and preparation for next season.

After just a few weeks off from my daily gym visits, I have the itch to get back into training. July quickly approaches, and I come to the realization that the summer is short and next season will be here before long. I ease my way back into my training regiment by general lifting for three weeks or so. Believe it or not, I’ll lose about ten pounds during the season due to the tour’s rigorous schedule, so during the short off-season it’s nice to put that needed weight back on.   But, like I always say to the large number of people who mistakenly say to me “You need to put some weight on,” as long I’m strong and in shape, being the lightest player on tour only works to my advantage.

Come the end of June, the more intense training begins to kick in as I get back on the court to re-sharpen my skills. Mid-summer it’s hard to feel the drive to get back into training, especially after weeks of R&R and knowing the season is still two months away. I know, however, that everyday that I’m not working out, my competition is. Instead of continuing to workout and drill without any inspiration, I’ll always find a way to get back into the full swing of things. I’ve found watching instructional DVD’s and matches can be very motivating. Of course in my collection I have every year of the US Open DVD’s, and every time I throw it in the player, it makes me want to get back on the court. Not only is a good source for motivation, but it’s also an effective way of learning and finding new strategies to implement into my game.

Another thing that has motivated me and gotten me excited to get back on the court, is the arrival of new products. The first thing we do as racquetball players when that new racquet shows up at your door, is take the plastic off the grip, take the header card off, and make some excuse to your other half why you “have to go play racquetball.” Even something as small as a different can of racquetballs or a new grip can do the trick for me to want to get back into the groove. Any small amount of motivation is useful, so I’ll always look for new ways to find it.

Come August, I don’t need any more outside motivation since the season is just a few short weeks ahead of me, and I’m confident my competition has been working hard. At this point I’m spending a few hours on the court, lifting, and doing footwork drills four to five times a week. The summer is the time not only to prepare for the first tournament of the season, but it’s also the time to get my body into shape for the entire first half of the season. After three weeks of intense on and off court training, I slow it down for a week before the season starts. Training takes a toll on our body, and it’s important to go into the first event at 100%, and not exhausted from overtraining.

When the summer comes to an end and the season begins, I know I’ve done everything necessary to be fully prepared for another season on the IRT. With the knowledge I’ve gained from watching videos and a fresh bag full of new equipment, I’m ready to get back to work!  During the slow summer months, it’s important to find new ways to channel your motivation to train and get better. With just a few months to prepare for next season and elevate my game, it’s important to spend that time keeping the edge on my future opponents.

If you’re looking for motivation or need instruction, check out our instructional videos or our video library featuring Ben Croft, John Ellis, Fran Davis, Chris Crowther, and more!

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IRT.  International Racquetball  Tour.