Recently I’ve been making the trek over to Vogel Fieldhouse in New Ulm to play some racquetball. Racquetball is a great sport. It’s fun, it’s good exercise, you can play during the winter, and you don’t have to constantly be chasing around the balls like in tennis.
Most people who play racquetball for the first time end up hitting the ball as hard as they can and try to hit as many walls as possible. I do agree hitting a ball around in a large cube-like room with blank walls is every little kid’s dream, but in reality, racquetball is all about technique.
With each hit, players must hit the front wall without letting it bounce on the floor. After the front wall is hit, the ball may bounce once on the floor before the other player must hit it again. What’s cool about racquetball is, as long as you hit the front wall with your hit, the ball may hit any of the surrounding walls during or after the process. Being that the ball is very bouncy, hitting it as hard as you can is just going to make it easier for your opponent to hit it. Not to mention, hitting it hard every time will wear you out in a hurry.
Basic scoring is as follows: you can only score when you’re serving. You are given one point if the ball bounces more than once on the floor before your opponent hits it. You also score if your opponent fails to hit the front wall on their hit, or if the ball bounces on the floor before hitting the front wall. You are also awarded a point if your opponent hits him or herself with the ball from their own hit. The first person to reach 15 points wins. There are a few other rules but those are the basics.
Being that the ball has to hit the front wall on every hit, the biggest strategy in the game is to hit the ball low. The lower it hits the front wall, the less of a bounce it’s going to make. Defensively, I always try and position myself in center court so I can easily get to the ball wherever it goes. Another technique is to play the corners. If your opponent is out of position, hitting one of the side walls before the ball hits the front wall makes the ball bounce at weird angles, making it tougher to hit.
I used to be pretty good at racquetball back in college, but now I’d say I’m mediocre at best. In college, it was free to rent the racquets and play so I played all the time. The guy I used to play with was 6’10” which made rallies go on forever as he used his lanky monkey arms and his height to his advantage.
All in all, racquetball is a very underrated sport and I recommend it to anyone. It’s a fantastic workout, but most importantly it’s just really fun.