Lots of indoor racquetball players are playing outdoors led by the “KING of Outdoors” himself, Rocky Carson, who has won 13+ major World Outdoor Racquetball Championships over the span of the last two decades including the WOR 3WallBall Singles Championships this past weekend, September 24-26, in Las Vegas, NV. His Indoor credentials are just as impressive being ranked #2 on the men’s International Racquetball Tour (IRT) professional circuit, being a member of the USA National Team for over 20 years and winning five World Championships, two-time Pan American Games Gold Medalist, and capturing the US Open Title.
Rocky is not the only indoor male player playing outdoors. Alvaro Beltran, Daniel De La Rosa, Jose Rojas, Charlie Pratt, Jake Bredenbeck, Robert “Bobby” Horn (WOR 3WallBall Doubles Champion), and Andree Parrilla are just a few of them.
Also, on the women’s side Rhonda Rajsich was the “Queen of Outdoors” winning many titles over the last decade. Her indoor credentials are also impressive having been ranked #1 on the LPRT professional circuit, being a member of the USA National Team for over 20 years and winning World Championships and capturing numerous US Open Titles.
Rhonda is not the only indoor female player playing outdoors as Paola Longoria, #1 6X LPRT professional player, joined the outdoor game winning the WOR 3WallBall Singles Championships in 2015 and took second in the WOR 3WallBall Doubles Championships in 2016. Other familiar players are Michelle Key, Janel Tisinger, Aimee Ruiz, Jackie Parasio (maiden name) as well as her twin sister Joy Parasio (maiden name), just to name a few.
Let’s take a look at the following remembering the outdoor courts range in different sizes from 40’ to 46’ long and sometimes has a partial sidewall or no sidewall at all. I spoke with Rocky Carson about outdoor racquetball.
Fran Davis: “How can outdoor racquetball compliment you in your indoor game?”
Rocky Carson: “Outdoor racquetball has different facets of the game that will definitely compliment your indoor game such as, cutting off the ball out of the air since there is no backwall, pinpointing your passes as there are no side walls if you miss to keep the ball in play, and it helps with attacking the ball when coming off the front wall and not always relying on the back wall.”
Fran Davis: How does outdoor racquetball shots and serves differ from the indoor game?
The Outdoor Shots:
“The PASS SHOTS are usually best when hit around knee to waist high and sometimes even chest high because there is no back wall to worry about the balls flying off the back wall for a set up. (Unlike in the indoor game they are hit below the knee so they DO NOT come off the back wall for a set up.)
Pass shots down the line and even down the middle right at your opponent, jamming them, work great because since you are hitting the ball higher to bounce deeper in the court they are harder to handle and chase down. Pass shots crosscourt or wide angle are not effective in outdoor racquetball as they are usually hit too wide and go out of bounds.
The PINCH SHOTS are much like indoors and this is where indoor players are able to hang with outdoor players. The safe part with the pinch shot is it very rarely fly’s out of bounds, but you can block yourself out of the middle of the court if hit in the wrong situations. The splat shot, an advanced pinch shot, is rarely used in outdoors as you can very easily miss the sidewall completely.
The LOB SHOTS which bounces deep in the back court, near the back line, are used much like ceiling balls to drive your opponent back and occasionally is used as an offensive of shot because it either forces another weak return as your opponent is trying to kill it from that deep or it can score you a point.
The Outdoor Serves:
“The OVERHEAD Z SERVE is much more effective outside because if it bounces correctly it goes WAY OUTSIDE THE COURT because there is NO SIDE WALL for it to hit and it pulls your opponent literally way off the court (It’s called…out the door shot or serve.)
The OVERHEAD DRIVE SERVE down the middle or down the line that bounces VERY CLOSE to the back line is a tough serve to handle because of the speed and trying to return it deep to pull your opponents out of the middle. The basic drive serve with the variations of the jam and wraps are not as effective because of the length of the side walls going back from the front wall.
The LOB SERVE DEEP is usually most effective if you can get the ball to bounce as close to the back line as possible because then your opponent has to drop even further back to return it putting them further from the front wall…#1 objective.”
Fran Davis: Can outdoor racquetball be used as a cross-trainer for indoor racquetball?
Rocky Carson: “I use outdoors not only as a cross training tool for indoors, but also as one of my main training tools. I find when I’m always training on an indoor court I tend to get worn down much faster in matches. Outdoor racquetball helps with a lot of the fast paced rallies in the middle of the court as well as learning how to be more offensive when you are behind in a rally.”
Fran Davis: What is so intriguing to you about playing outdoor racquetball?
Rocky Carson: “I am attracted to outdoor racquetball as it is my favorite way to train. It keeps me energized and helps me to stay more focused. Training on a racquetball court outside is always rejuvenating for me and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
Well, there are definitely more and more players playing BOTH the indoor and outdoor racquetball game including Rocky and Paola and many other pros and elite athletes…and enjoying it immensely.
Here are some stats about outdoor racquetball that courtesy of Hank Marcus, Executive Director of World Outdoor Racquetball (WOR), the governing body of outdoor racquetball:
Today it is estimated that over 100,000 people in the US alone play outdoor racquetball, while only around 8,000 play in organized events and tournaments. Those numbers continue to grow. WOR started in four states 12 years ago and now has grown to over 30 states and is played internationally in over 11 countries and the organic natural growth continues at an exponential rate. WOR’s sole mission is to grow the game in popularity and participation by doing the following: connect the various pockets of avid players around the country, find new courts and players, and organize each group of players into a unified group of players and enthusiasts with standardize rules and rankings.
Rocky and Paola’s records speak for themselves. Rocky and Paola are BOTH two of the most decorated athletes in racquetball. Paola finished ranked #1 for the sixth time on the LPRT, six-time US Open Champion, five-time World Champion and four-time Pan American Champion in indoor Racquetball and has finished #1 or #2 in the outdoor game for 2016 and 2016. Rocky finished ranked #2 for the eight time on the IRT, five-time World Champion, two-time Pan American Champion and US Open Champion in indoor racquetball and has over 13 titles in the outdoor game.
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/video lessons, 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 IRT Pro Player / 1X US Open Champion / 5X and present World Champion, 2X and present Pan American Champion, Rocky Carson; Coaches #1 Women’s LPRT Pro Player / 6X and present US Open Champion & 5X and present World Champion, 2X and present Pan American Champion, Paola Longoria; Coaches Jr. World & National Champions, Jordan Cooperrider, Wayne Antone, Mitchell Turner and Ingrid Robledo; Master Professional Instructor/Coach USAR-IP.