“It All Starts With A K.I.S.S.”
By: Christy Cramer and Sharon Dunn, Dallas camp
Racquetball “Campers” Sharon Dunn (L), and Christy Cramer

Want to improve your racquetball game quickly and have fun doing it? Put a racquetball camp on your calendar now! We both love the game but had hit a plateau and didn’t have a good plan for breaking through. We play singles, doubles and mixed doubles and were frustrated by the minimal progress we were making…we had tried all the usual things; different racquets, gloves, vitamins etc. And of course our playing friends all gave us advice (often contradictory). Then one day after a particularly frustrating match we agreed that we needed HELP! We had both read Marcy Lynch’s article The Comfort Zone in the January-February 2001 issue of Racquetball Magazine. Marcy wrote that many of us feel that “improvement is not only exciting, it is what keeps us interested in the game. There is no limit to learning. As long as we are willing to question, there will be ANSWERS and ways to improve”. The opposite page featured a Fran Davis Q&A session and a flyer promoting an upcoming three day racquetball camp in Houston. Our husbands were very supportive and off we went to racquetball camp.

Editor’s note: (Off the record, Sharon’s husband Brian says he doesn’t mind her racquetball travels now and then because he then “can have the TV remote.”)

About The Camp

Even when you’re on top of your strokes, maintain the quality of your game with lessons.Jimmy Connors

The camp started on Friday evening at 6 PM sharp. Fran brought Jason Mannino to help with the class. There were twelve students, all with very different levels of skill and experience. Fran used a lot of videotape. Early on she asked a lot of questions about what we thought our strengths and weaknesses were. We were short on good answers because we had no measuring stick to help us evaluate our games. However, by Sunday we had developed a sense of correctness about form, shot selection, court position and strategy. In order to develop the big picture Fran uses two acronyms to develop an understanding about all phases of the game…K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple and Smart) and play S.M.A.R.T. (Skills Mental Aerobic Relaxation Training). Each area has many subtopics that are fully developed during the camp.
Planning strategies over lunch with help of camp workbook

A workbook is provided to guide the student. Illustrations help underscore the lecture. On the last day each student gets to play Jason and Fran. The matches are videotaped so you can have a record showing why you lost. All phases of the training were useful but as amateurs we found that a better understanding of the mental game and playing the percentage shots were especially valuable. We were now ready to leave our “comfort zones” and enter the “combat zone.”
Play the Pros and on-court instruction are mixed throughout the camp

Fast Forward Ten Months to January 2002

The game has a hold on my soul
Billie Jean King

Our interest in racquetball is higher than ever…we think mainly because we now have the tools to evaluate our games, make changes and see results. Cheryl Gudinas can rest easy, we’re not planning to turn pro but we have had a lot of fun and success in the amateur singles and doubles tournaments that we’ve entered. So far we’ve played in about a dozen local, state and national events winning or placing well in half of them. Jason gave a pop-quiz…one of the questions was, who said, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical?” The answer is, of course, Yogi Berra. This Yogiism was used to underscore the importance of the mental game. Jason shared a firsthand experience…six years ago he was in a serious auto accident. To walk normally again was a big question and to play professional racquetball again an impossibility. But he did recover and he says, “mental visualization was a big part of the reason why.” Fran emphasizes the mental game throughout the camp. She also notes that the camp isn’t an end but part of the journey to better racquetball and a greater appreciation of the sport. We’re enjoying the sport more than ever and looking forward to the trip.
Fran and Jason lead a discussion, topics include; discipline, preparation, mental toughness and strategy