Archive for September, 2012

Connor Laffey

September 26th, 2012 Comments off

I was nine years old when I first entered a racquetball court.  I remember playing with  my mom.  She had joined a gym, but she couldn’t leave me alone at home so she enrolled me in a Junior Racquetball program as she always wanted me to be active. I played once a week for two years.  I had no idea of where the path would take me.

I competed in my first tournament when I was eleven.  It was an Oregon Junior Tournament and I played in the beginners division.  I won!  It was pretty intense, but I absolutely loved the competition.  From that day on I was determined to become a good player like some of the other Oregon boys.  At the time, I didn’t know how they became such great players, but now I know–it was a result of great coaching from Fran Davis.

One day when I was in 7th grade I was practicing and a man was watching me. When I was done he asked me if I would like to spar with his High School team.  I said yes.  I would soon learn that his team was one of the most successful teams in the nation.  I later  joined the team and won my first national doubles title as a sophomore. My school, Sprague High School, also won the national title that year.  I was completely hooked and wanted to learn as much as I could about the game.  I asked my  high school coach about how I could improve.  He loaned me a book called Championship Racquetball, by Fran Davis and Jason Mannino. I had stayed at home all weekend reading it, devouring every page.   I appreciated Fran’s and Jason’s lessons and insights into the game.  I started drilling more efficiently and as a result was able to beat players that I never had beaten before.

I started working with Fran right before the 2011 Junior National Championship.  At that tournament  I was playing in the quarter finals against the number one player for the Boy’s 16 & U division and I took him to a tiebreaker.  The game was extremely close.  Although I lost that match, I grew in confidence and I knew that working with Fran was exactly what I needed. I was fortunate that I could attend her racquetball camp last February in Seattle.  The camp was a blast.  I met new friends, trained hard and learned a ton.  During this last year I also participated in many tournaments and have become a competitive open player.   During the past year, my growth both as a player and as a person with Fran as my coach has been just amazing.

This past June I competed at the 2012 Junior National Championships in the Boys 16 & U. I made it to the semi-finals in singles, which I had never done before.  My semi-final match went to a tiebreaker and I knew I had to be as mentally strong as I could be. My work with Fran prepared me for the battle.  With her help I was able to come out on top.  My goal was to make the USA Junior Racquetball Team and by making it to the finals I had accomplished my goal. 


I am also currently training with Darrin McNally, working on footwork and agility.  I will be at my best for the 2012 Junior  Championships coming up this November in Los Angeles, CA.  I am going for the gold.  Realizing my dream of playing for the USA at the World’s wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for my number one supporter, my mom. She has made it possible for me to train and compete.  I  also want to thank Fran for sharing her friendship, her knowledge and her love of the game.  We will be a winning team. Now I know where my path will take me…all the way to the top!

Categories: Player Spotlight Tags:

ROCKY and PAOLA finals of 1st Pro Stop of the Season

September 25th, 2012 Comments off

Rocky and Paola enter their 1st Pro Stop of the season and they BOTH make it to the finals of their respective IRT and LPRT events.

Rocky played in the IRT Pro Stop in KS, September 13-16, and played well. He was moving well, serving  consistently, returned serves brilliantly and was very mentally tough.

He played Shane Vanderson in the quarter finals and won 3-0; Jose Rojas in the semi finals and beat him 3-1;  Kane Wasenlunchuk in the finals and lost 3-1.

Rocky had Kane on the ropes, 8-4, in the third game after tieing up the match 1 game a piece, but Rocky could not close it out and Kane inched his way back in and won 11-9. The fourth and final game was close , but Kane won 11-8. All in all Rocky is looking good and is continuing to train hard for the US Open which starts October 3-7.

Paola played in the LPRT Pro Stop in TX, August 23-26, and played extremely well, dominating all her opponents and lost ONLY 1 game the whole tournament to Rhonda Rajsich. She went onto beat Rhonda 3-1 continuing her undefeated 2011/2012 season. She also teamed up with Jansen Allen, her boyfriend, and won the Pro Mixed Doubles.
Paola is also playing at the US Open and is training hard to defend her 2011 US Open title.

****On a side note, Rocky won the National Outdoor Championships held in Huntington Beach, CA for the 9th time in his career this summer. He competed the weekend of September 19-23, to defend his 2011 title in the 3 Wall Outdoor Racquetball Championships in Las Vegas, NV.

SEE YOU ALL COURTSIDE at the US Open while I am coaching Rocky and Paola or if you cannot make it out there watch it live on the IRT Network and catch the action.

Categories: Latest News Tags:

CONGRATULATIONS to Rocky and Paola – 2012 World Champions!

September 25th, 2012 Comments off

My two athletes, Rocky Carson and Paola Longoria, arrived at the 16th IRF World Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on August 1st, 2012 to take care of business. Rocky wanted to defend his 2012 World Championship Title he won in South Korea and Paola came on a mission to take the World Championship Title that alluded her in South Korea two years ago.
I am so PROUD of both of them as they accomplished what they set out to accomplish as they both have been training hard and long to be able to reach their goals. They both wanted to be crowned the 2012 World Champion and they did just that.
The IRF World Championships event is held biennially. The event features 30 countries that play in an individual competition in both singles and doubles, followed by a team competition to cap off the week to determine the World Championship Country.
The event ran from August 4-11, 2012 and was streamed for the IRF ….which was great to be able to see my players win.

Rocky and Paola now go home for a few days, chill and get right back to training as the IRT and LPRT season kicks off at the end of August beginning of September.

Categories: Latest News Tags:

HEAD/Penn Dominates World Racquetball Championships

September 25th, 2012 Comments off

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic– August 8, 2012 – HEAD/Penn’s Paola Longoria and Rocky Carson both have earned the title “World Champion” by winning the Women’s & Men’s Singles Titles, respectively at the International Racquetball Federation’s 2012 World Championships. In addition, Longoria teamed with HEAD Pro Staff Member Samantha Salas Solis to win the women’s doubles “World Title” for her second Gold medal at the event.

For Longoria, the world’s No. 1 ranked female racquetball player, the IRF World Championship completes the “Perfect Season” after going undefeated during the 2011-2012 Women’s Professional Racquetball Organization’s (WPRO) tour. Carson’s World Championship comes after finishing the International Racquetball Tour 2011-2012 season as the No. 2 ranked player in the World.

Longoria, a 22-year-old San Luis Potosí, Mexico native, signed a long term contract with HEAD/Penn in April. The 2012 Women’s Singles World Championship sits next to her other international completion achievements for Mexico: the 2012 & 2011 World Women’s Doubles Champion and the 2011 Pan American Games Women’s Singles Champion. With her win in the final event of the WPRO season, Longoria captured her third career Season End Title as a professional. She finished the 2011-12 WPRO season with nine tournament victories and an overall match record of 36 wins and 0 losses.

Carson, a 33-year-old Orange County, Calif. resident, has been a member of the United States National Team on 12 occasions. The win this week in the Dominican Republic makes Rocky a “Three Peat” Champion, as he won the World Championship in single in 2008 and 2010. A silver medal in 2000 and bronze medals in 2008 and 1998 in addition to five other international competition medals make Rocky Carson the most decorated male American racquetball player on the international stage.

Both Longoria and Carson are coached by HEAD/Penn senior staff member and Hall of Fame Member Fran Davis.

Also playing for Team USA and Team HEAD/Penn in Santo Domingo was Colorado’s Tony Carson (no relation to Rocky). Tony teamed up with his fellow American partner to capture the silver medal in the Men’s Doubles competition.

To follow Paola, Rocky, Tony, and Samantha and the rest of the HEAD/Penn Professional Team, check out

Categories: Latest News Tags:

Junior National Championship Update, June 2012

September 25th, 2012 Comments off

The country’s best junior racquetball players competed at the Meridian Sports Club in Fullerton, CA, June 21-24 in the USAR National Junior Olympic Racquetball Championships presented by Penn.

Junior players from all across the U.S. competed for coveted Gold medals in 60 divisions for boy’s and girl’s in singles and doubles. In addition, this event is a U.S. Junior National Team Qualifier as one-year appointments were earned by the top finishers in 18-Gold Singles, 16-Gold Singles, 14-Gold Singles in boy’s and girl’s divisions. The USA Junior Team will be competing at the 2012 IRF Junior World Racquetball Championships, November 11-17, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA.

I am PROUD to say my Junior Championship Racquetball Team fared well at this event and all in all we took home 13 medals and 3 of my players qualified for the USA Junior Team and will be representing the United States at the Junior World Championships in November. 

Brad Schoperiay-Boys 18 & U Singles, Bronze Medal; Boys 18 & U Doubles, 4th Place

Connor Laffey-Boys 16 & U Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles,3 Silver Medals, Qualified for the USA Junior National Team

Wayne Antone-Boys 14 & U Singles, 4th Place; Boys 14 & U Doubles, Bronze Medal

Brian Barberis-Boys 10 & U Singles, Gold Medal; Boys 10 & U Doubles, Bronze Medal

Lexi York-Girls 14 & U Singles, Silver Medal; Girls 16 & U Doubles, Bronze Medal; Girls 14 & U Mixed Doubles, Gold Medal; Qualified for the USA Junior National Team

Jordan Cooperrider-Girls 14 & U Singles, Bronze medal; Girls 14 & U Doubles, Gold medal; Qualified for the USA Junior National Team

  • Brian Barberis
  • Connor Laffey
  • Jordan Cooperrider and her Dad
  • Kelly Beane and Connor
  • Lexi York
  • The Future of the Game

Categories: Latest News Tags:

Jason and Fran’s Tips on – Racquetball Skills, Strategies, and Techniques:

September 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Control center court: Being in the center-court box puts you in the best position possible to get a majority of the shots.

Keep your opponent out of center court: If you keep the other player out of your space, they are not in the best position to get to a majority of the shots. You can accomplish this by putting the balls in the corners and hitting lots of down-the-line shots.

Watch the ball at all times: By watching the ball, you gain valuable information and more time so you can better determine your opponent’s shot and react faster to the ball. If your opponent is the offensive player hitting the ball and you are watching it, and you see that he is going to hit the ball behind him, you can probably expect the ball to hit the side wall. If you are the offensive player hitting the ball, you can determine whether to go offensive or defensive and what specific shot to hit based on the ball position and of course your opponent’s position too.

Hit away from your opponent: Your goal is to hit where your opponent is not and make them run the farthest distance to get to the ball by going to the open court. The more you make them move and hit on the run, the more mistakes she will make, giving you more opportunities to take advantage of the situation.

Hit to and exploit your opponent’s weaknesses: By hitting to your opponents  weaknesses, you are forcing him to do something he does not want to do. *Avoid hitting to your opponent’s strengths: This will only build his confidence level and make them feel like king or queen of the hill, able to take and make any shot they wants, thus winning the match.

Keep your opponent deep in the court: This strategy keeps him as far away from the front wall, the target, as possible. Remember that 30 percent of all balls can be killed from the dotted line, and the odds go down the farther back in the court he goes.

Always stay positive: When you are positive, you can think more clearly and good things happen. When you are negative, you cannot think clearly and bad things happen. Remember, negativity breeds negativity.

Do not use your first game as a warm-up: Often players don’t warm up properly, thinking they can warm up by playing. First off, your chances of getting injured increases if you are not warmed up properly. Second, if you use the first game as a warm-up, there is a greater chance of your losing the game, which puts you in a deficit. If you lose the first game, you have to win both of the remaining games in order to win the match.

Carry out your game plan: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. A game plan is just as important as your racquet, shoes, and eye guards—you would never enter the court without any one of these three things, and the same should be true for your game plan.


Diana’s Tips on Nutrition:

September 22nd, 2012 Comments off

Breakfast means “break the fast”. That is what breakfast is all about, but too many people/players do not eat breakfast at all or do not eat enough breakfast especially if they have a match in the morning.  If you expect your body and mind to perform at its best you must eat. Here is what Diana recommends for breakfast:

Breakfast of Champions consists of whole grain cereals, fruit and juice, or eggs, toast and fruit, or hot oatmeal, yogurt, and fruit. All of these good wholesome foods turn into muscle glycogen. Stay away from white flour, white sugar, chemicals, fats and preservatives.  They stay in your stomach too long which drives up your glucose index too high which makes you feel more fatigued after you eat high fat and high sugar food choices.

Start your day off right and eat, but remember to eat the right foods a key to your championship game

Categories: Nutrition, Tips and Techniques Tags:

Diana’s Tips On Mental Toughness:

September 22nd, 2012 Comments off

One must train the mind for “Championship Racquetball.”

The strongest sense we have is our feeling state, what we call our ‘Emotional State”. If it feels great, we continue doing it. If it does not feel good, we stop the pattern. So you have to feel great out on the court all the time. The greatest performances come from a state of enjoyment. We take risks, take chances, and are more creative in this state. If you are not enjoying racquetball, why are you playing?

Your ideal state is always happy, calm, relaxed, and in control. No worries. Your passion and love for the game are nestled in your gut, and your positive muscle memory is ready to act and react. You always want to enjoy the process and play from love and not fear. Remember, this is a game of mistakes, so keep your sense of humor and put it all in perspective. Pretend you are a wild animal before it attacks its prey—totally relaxed, muscles loose, and ready to kill. The animal’s mind is positive and emotionally calm. This is the perfect ready state.


Dan’s Tips on Conditioning:

September 22nd, 2012 Comments off

CHANGE OF DIRECTION SPEED is an often overlooked element of movement skills, but it is the most important in racquetball. There are four types of change of direction speed that we’ll work on: side to side, forward and backward, turning and running, and jumping.

Now that we have addressed moving faster, let’s talk about moving more efficiently. In this sport, if you move quickly, but not efficiently you will often overrun the ball or jam yourself. This is a major problem since you will not be able to develop consistency, accuracy, or power, leading to frustration. The key factor in racquetball is accelerating quickly in order to get to the ball, but when you are getting into position, you need to be able to decelerate. Being able to accelerate and decelerate on demand is the only way you can develop your attacking forehand and penetrating backhand in a game situation where the ball is traveling at speeds of over 100 mph. Dan Obremski, our fitness expert, gives us a great example of this acceleration–deceleration principle. He clearly remembers that when he was competing at the professional level, one of his peers sought the instruction of a speed trainer. He worked hard and returned a much faster athlete. The problem, however, was that he worked on starting speed only, and so he was off balance and overran many of the shots he used to hit with ease.

Jason on the other hand, has the ability to work his way around the court such that no ball is out of reach. He may sprint left, hit the ball, and shuffle back to midcourt. In an instant he lunges or dives forward, picks himself up off the ground, and backpedals into center court. The next shot may be behind him, so he has to make a quick hip turn and sprint back to retrieve the ball, again running to center court after the shot. In just one rally Jason is able to change direction forward and backward, side to side, using a quick hip turn, all while staying light on his feet. The more types of speed you can develop in your training program, the more shots you will get to, thus taking your game to another level, your “championship level.”


Check out our book “Championship Racquetball”  Chapter 10,  for specific exercises on ways to improve your “change of direction speed”.

Categories: Conditioning, Tips and Techniques Tags: