Okay, we are in the tail end of the 2011/2012 season and just finished up the state and regional championships and heading into the finale, the Nationals. This tournament will be held in Fullerton, CA Memorial Day weekend and culminates both the professional and amateur seasons. What an event it will be with the portable glass court show casing the pros outside on top of the Meridian’s Club parking garage. If you haven’t been there it is an event you do not want to miss with both the men and women pros there and over 500 amateurs playing in singles and doubles events….it is also the US Team Qualifying event.
Let’s see how my “Championship Team” has fared in the 2nd half of the season:
1-Holding strong as the #2 IRT Pro Player even though he was fighting sinus infections for over 2 months.
2-He is training hard for the National Championships in Fullerton, CA to be held Memorial Day Weekend.
1-Solid #1 WPRO Pro Player and HAS NOT lost a match the entire season beating Rhonda Rajsich in every final including the last pro stop in VA, May 4-6, after being down 0-2 games and came back to win the match 3-2, 11-8 in the tie breaker. Incredibly mentally tough.
2- Took home 2 Gold Medals in Women’s Open Singles and Doubles in the Pan American Championships in Chile.
3-Signed a long-term contract with HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports.
4-She is training hard for the National Championships in Fullerton, CA to be held Memorial Day Weekend.
1-At the Northwest Open Champion, March 2012, he took home the prestigious titles of Men’s Open Singles and Doubles.
2-At the National Intercollegiate Championships, Tempe, AZ, March 2012, he took home 2 Silver Medals in Men’s Singles and Doubles.
3-Ranked # 16 on the IRT Pro Tour.
4-He is training hard for the National Championships in Fullerton, CA to be held Memorial Day Weekend.
1-2012 National Intercollegiate Champion in both Women’s Singles and Doubles by playing the best matches of her life.
2- Ranked # 19 on the WPRO Pro Tour.
3-She is training hard for the National Championships in Fullerton, CA to be held Memorial Day Weekend.
Jordan and Spencer:
They are both National Champions in Girls 12 & Under and Boys 14 & Under, but will be moving up an age group, Jordan to Girls 14 & Under and Spencer to Boys 16 & Under.
They are BOTH training hard for the Junior National Championships in Fullerton, CA to be held June 20-24, 2012.
Shot selection is defined as taking the right shot at the right time and making your opponent run the farthest distance to get to the ball.
It is the offensive player’s (the one hitting the ball) choice of shots based on himself, the ball, the opponent, and the score. When many of us get into the heat of the battle, we don’t think about our shots—we just bang away and play what we call survival racquetball. You may be guilty of hitting the shot you like or that you feel comfortable with rather than the most effective shot that will win the point. By taking the right shot at the right time and hitting the most effective shot in a given situation, you are playing the percentages.
No matter what level of player you are—pro, advanced, or intermediate—playing the percentages (i.e., playing the odds) is a philosophy we teach, preach, and live by. This basic philosophy will help you reach your goal of moving from the intermediate to advanced level of play, but we advise you take the time to really understand Shot Selection as that is a critical part in developing your “Championship Game”.
One must train the mind for “Championship Racquetball”.
Athletes thrive on consistency and routine. We are creatures of habit and perform best when there are no surprises. In order to obtain optimal performance levels, your “Championship Game”, you need a pre-performance routine.
What Is a Routine or Ritual?
1. Behavior: An athlete chooses certain behaviors that enhance her game (e.g., bouncing the ball three times before serving).
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Ritual: A ritual is a specialized routine. If a routine works and improves your accuracy, consistency, and timing, you move it into a specialized category called a ritual. This means it is your own personal behavior that you use to play your personal best because it triggers your muscle memory and puts you into automatic pilot. Professional athletes all have unique rituals that get them deeper into their game, their performance, and their ultimate mind–body state (i.e., the zone), and so can you. Remember to always have a plan B just in case you cannot do exactly the same routine each time. The key is to never get flustered; just create and adjust and stay focused. Winners in sport are always prepared for the unpredictable. So trust yourself that you will know what to do at just the right time. This is called confidence.
POWER is another one of the key elements in conditioning you want to develop for your “Championship Game”. Power is represented by speed over time. In other words, how quickly and with what certain force can you move? Or in sports, we think of “explosion” when we think of power. How quickly can you act, react or move with definite force? An example would be an offensive power ‘drive serve” which would be speed with force equaling POWER.
There are specific exercises that develop your power and helps you to become more “explosive” into the ball, thus generating more power so your opponent has less reaction time.
Conditioning Drills that Target Power
A powerful FIRST STEP along with a quick FIRST STEP will get you to center court much more efficiently and ready to defend. Below are just a couple of drills you can do to develop more power:
1-Step Up Drill
Remember in the last issue in Fall 2011 we discussed racquetball muscles need “glycogen” in order to perform at their optimal level?
Glycogen is a muscle energy source that comes from fruits, vegetables and whole grains or complex carbohydrates. Your brain needs glucose or blood sugar and your entire metabolism needs water. Racquetball muscles also need “amino acids” found in protein to repair your tissues and cells.
We introduced the “championship meals” you need to eat in order to develop your championship game, so today I want to give you some “championship match tips” to help you reach your goals as well.
1-DO NOT eat within an hour of your match as you want your stomach almost on empty and all of the glycogen in your muscles. A full stomach slows down reaction time.
2-DO NOT eat too much as your empty stomach is the size of your fist so a snack is a fistful. Perfect snacks are trail mixes, granola bars, power bars, a piece of fruit for fiber, vegetables, yogurt, bran muffin and a half of sandwich. Always have your own special food at the tournament as you never know what the club has as food choices.
I started playing racquetball when I was 4 years old, and my first tournament was when I was 5. It was a regional championship and I took first place. On the way home I said to my dad, “I won that girl!” From that point on I knew that I wanted to play (racquetball) for the rest of my life.
My dad has always been my coach. A year ago my dad and I went to a Fran Davis Racquetball Camp. She made a suggestion that if I wanted to get to the next level in racquetball I needed to change my grip. When we got back home, my dad said it would take 3 weeks to change my grip. He warned me it would be hard, so we would just train and not play. At the the end of the three weeks I had changed my grip and was ready to start playing again. My new grip felt better and I had more control over my shots. Most of all it didn’t hurt my wrist! I was confident with my new grip and ready for Junior Nationals.
I had never won a national singles tournament until this year when Fran coached me in the finals. I lost the first game. She made me realize that I couldn’t let a little mistake ruin the whole game. She never did give me too much to handle at one time. She is amazing at what she does. I went on to win the next two games with her coaching me. I was so happy that Fran agreed to coach me at Nationals, because she coaches the #1 Pro player in the world.
I went to the Dominican Republic to play in the Junior World Tournament one month later and won first place in the 12 and Under Division. I had made it to the finals and was down 1-8 in the tie breaker. Fran had taught me some things about mental toughness and I came back to win 11-10!
After Nationals and World’s, my dad made arrangements for Fran to coach me. The difficult part is that she lives far away from me. She helped me put a training schedule together and is constantly calling my dad to check on my progress. My dad uses Fran’s book – “Championship Racquetball” to help in my training.
I am very thankful to my family because they put a lot of time and money into racquetball, without them I couldn’t have won World’s and Nationals.
Some of my main goals for racquetball is to be on the USA Junior Team and be on the Pro Tour with Fran Davis as my coach.