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Drive Serve Visualization

(April 2008) A visualization technique rarely used (and taught) in racquetball is that which pertains to the drive serve. By "seeing in your mind" the path the ball takes prior to serving makes your service motion comply with an optimal delivery needed for an optimal ball path.

My pre-drive serve visualization (about 3 seconds): "I see the ball as a blur going past the short line, taking it's first bounce about 2 feet from it and staying very low before it takes its second bounce prior to hitting the corner..."

This exercise will help one focus, reduces passivity, and ultimately refines one's precision of movement (stroke mechanics).

As you continue to visualize and "feel" the result you want with your drive serves, you will duplicate effective serves more consistently as your muscles memorize, as you condition them to "see" and "feel" with you!

Del Villanueva
  * AMPRO coach/advanced instructor
  * Head Coach-intercollegiate racquetball team of the University of California at Berkeley

“Racquetball ERP”
An Instructional Article

(Jan 5, 2008)  CSRA’s Brian Dixon asked me to write an instructional article on Racquetball “ERP”. I’ve been teaching racquetball for nearly 30 years now, and I’ve known Brian for a long time … but I had to ask Brian, “What is ERP?!” Brian responded, “Early Racquet Preparation, Dave”. I said, “Oh, OK Brian!” So, here you are …

Early racquet preparation is important in all racquet sports. It is one of the leading, key aspects for success in racquetball. There are so many things one could think about, so I like to limit it to four general categories. Almost all the things to consider, when hitting the ball, fall within one of these four basic considerations. I will refer to these simple basics as the Four Keys.

So the first of these Four Keys is EARLY RACQUET PREPARATION (“ERP”). Once you can determined whether you will be hitting a forehand or backhand – you should get turned sideways and get your racquet (and hitting elbow) up. Turn your shoulders parallel to the sidewall, (coil), and raise your racquet up (higher than your wrist), and the elbow of your hitting arm up, approximately parallel to your hitting shoulder. This will prepare you to properly smack the ball, as you swing (uncoil). Sounds pretty simple, no? It is simple, however, it does take a lot of repetition with conscious thought, for this, (early racquet preparation), to become instinctive. This is critical for success. Give this conscious thought a lot of repetition through practice, so that it is eventually, merely a reaction, versus a thought.

The second Key is RELAXATION. Again … this sounds simple. However, in the “heat of the battle”, we often get tense and tight. For success, we must train ourselves to breath, and relax during competition. We’ll become more fluid, we will be able to generate more racquet head speed for more power, and we will fatigue much slower - when we relax. The racquet in our hand should be treated as if it were a bird. Hold it just tight enough so that the bird does not fly away … but not so tight so as to squish the life out of the poor little bird! I know, easier said than done, but work on relaxing during your racquetball play (and other sports), and your proficiency will greatly increase!

The third Key is BALANCE. A lot of “balance” is a result of foot work, or as I like to say, “Feet work” (both of them!). We need to shuffle our feet as we set up and prepare for our shots. Otherwise, we end up over reaching, and /or over striding, when it comes time for swinging and hitting. If we are moving our feet in setting up, (note: ultimately setting our feet when it is actually time to hit, whenever possible), we will be balanced when we hit, (level shoulders and level swing). This will help ensure level strokes, with fewer skips; and fewer shots angled up, that usually result in set ups off the back wall for our opponents.

The fourth Key is a full FOLLOW THROUGH. Consciously strive to complete a full follow through of your swing. On forehands, let the racquet go completely over your opposite shoulder upon completion of the swing, as you rotate your shoulders. Give the racquet as much time to decelerate as possible. Your backhand swing follow through should be complete as well, finishing parallel to the floor, on the opposite side of your body from where you hit the ball. This will not only provide more power, but will help you to avoid injury! A full follow through avoids abrupt jarring of the muscles, which results when there is a quick stoppage of the swing. So if you want full power and fewer injuries … please follow through!

In review, the Four Keys to concentrate on are:

  1. Early preparation
  2. Relaxation
  3. Balance
  4. Follow through

What is really great is that, these Four Keys are equally important off the court, as well! In life, if you prepare for things early, if you are relaxed, if you have balance in your life (i.e. work, play, family & friends), and if you follow though with your projects and commitments – you will generally be more successful & ultimately more happy!

Not a bad formula, these Four Keys … on and off the court! It all starts with “ERP” (Early racquet preparation), in conjunction with Relaxation, Balance, and Follow through. Good luck with this simple formula.

Take care, play hard and play fair. And, never, ever, forget the “F” word … FUN! Racquetball should reduce, not induce stress. See you in the finals!!

Coach Dave

Any comments, questions or concerns: Dave can be reached by email –