Racquetball Tips & Tricks: The Complete List and Detailed Explanation
Becoming a good racquetball player is all about skill and technique.
There are plenty of things that you can do to improve your game and become the best player possible.
Of course, the more you play, the better you’ll become.
Here, you’ll find a comprehensive list of racquetball tips and tricks along with some explanations to help you no matter your level of play.
Study them and use them on the court and see how they help.
Let's get started
Warm Up Properly
Before performing any physical activity, it’s always recommended that you warm up properly. This is also true for racquetball. However, this isn’t about just stretching out your muscles and getting your heart pumping. Instead, this is a warm-up routine that will have you practicing specific shots so that your muscles are warmed up and give you some extra time hitting the ball.
Most people set up a warm-up routine by practicing the shots they know they need work on or the shots that they rely on the most. Here are some shots you should work on in your warm-up routine:
- Backhand shots
- Down-the-line shots
- X-court shots
- Punch shots
- Drive Z serves
- Lob nicks
These are just an example. When creating your routine, concentrate on the shots that you’ll be using during your upcoming match.
To stretch and prepare your muscles for your match, you can choose to run or walk on a treadmill, use a stationary bike, jump rope, or do some yoga. The benefits of properly preparing your muscles are numerous. You’ll be able to play at a quicker pace early on, get a better range of motion (which equals more power), your mind will be more alert, and you’ll be less likely to get hurt.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
This tip might sound cliché and obvious, but keep your eye on the ball while you play. While it might be obvious, it’s probably the most important tip you’ll get, especially if you’re a beginner. If you’re relatively new to the game, you might be concerning yourself too much with specific positions or shots instead of just becoming familiar with hitting the ball.
Instead of trying to hit power shots, just follow the ball and hit it however you can to get it to the front wall. Sometimes, beginners try to hit the ball as hard as they can when they don’t need to. This makes their game reckless and sloppy. When this happens, it set their opponent up for easy shots, and they end up giving away points simply by their own mistakes and now being outplayed. So instead of trying to go out there and make power shots focus on just keeping your eye on the ball and hitting it hard enough to get back to the front wall. Technique and power will come along as you play.
Select Your Shot
Once you get comfortable with following the ball and hitting it properly, you can also learn how to select your shot. When making a shot think about where your opponent is in relation to you on the court. Once you see where they are, make a shot that will have them chasing the ball. For example, if they are standing behind you, knock a shot to the other side of the wall, so they have to run to the other side of the court. This is known as a passing shot and is best done when the ball is as high as your chest and no lower than your thigh.
If the ball is higher than your chest, a ceiling shot is a better bet. This is when you hit the ceiling before hitting the front wall. When you get better, try to aim the ball, so it bounces about five feet in front of them, so it bounces over their head. That’ll make them chase it to the back wall.
When the ball is hit lower than your thigh you can try what is called a kill shot. To do this, shoot the ball as straight and as low as you can, aimed toward a corner of the court. If you can do this correctly (it will take some practice), the ball will bounce so low that it’ll be impossible for your opponent to make a return.
As you get more comfortable selecting your shots, you can then move on to using angles to trick your opponent and set yourself up for better shots. When you’re comfortable using these angles while playing you can hit the ball in ways that will make them look like they’re going in one direction when they’re coming from another angle.
For example, if you can hit the side wall at a point close to the front wall, your opponent will think that it just hit the front wall and move in for a straight return. However, since you hit the side wall first the ball will go in a different direction, and your opponent will miss their shot. The only real way to get comfortable with this is to practice hitting the ball on angles and see how it pans out.
Find Your Opponents’ Weaknesses
Another tip to improve your game is to find your opponent’s weaknesses. You have to learn how to read your opponents while you’re playing. This is best done by warming up with your opponent. You’ll be able to see how they take their shots and what they have a hard time with. You’ll then be able to use those weaknesses against them. For example, if you see that they have a problem hitting ceiling shots you know to use them in your match. During your warm up together, hit a variety of shots and see what they can handle and what they struggle with. Use that against them in your game.
If you didn’t warm up with your opponent, you can try to pay attention to the way they played throughout your match. Once you see how they play, make adjustments to your own game and do what you can to exploit their weaknesses. If you are in a tournament, watch as many of the other matches as you can and study all of the other players. You’ll be able to see how they play in an actual match and will see what they struggle with. Take that information and use it against them when you play against them by selecting the shots they don’t like.
Stay in the Center Court
Another good tip that you can use is to stay in the middle of the court. When you stay in the center of the racquetball court, you have more of an opportunity to take advantage of your opponent’s mistakes. This is because most of the time when a shot is messed up the ball returns to the center of the court. If you’re there, you have more of an opportunity to return those shots properly. You’ll also be a few steps away from other properly hit shots which will help you get more speed on your returns. For even more of an advantage in the center of the court, wear good racquetball shoes so you can make sharper cuts when moving.
Avoid Your Opponent
While thinking about your placement in the court and the placement of your shots, you should also think about avoiding your opponent during your match. A tried and true trick is to hit the ball in the opposite direction of your opponent. By having your opponent have to chase the ball, they will get tired, and their game will get sloppy. They’ll make mistakes that you can capitalize on to score points.
If you see that your opponent is standing far back or too far forward, use it to your advantage and hit shots that will be difficult for them in that position. Always pay attention to where they are in relation to you. You can control the game this way, too.
Hit to the Back Court
Another popular trick for seasoned racquetball players is to hit the ball to the backcourt as much as possible. This is mainly because opponents have a hard time accurately returning this shot. When a backcourt shot is done properly, your opponent has more of a chance of missing the wall giving you a point or they will end up delivering a slower shot which can set up an easy return for you. If you hit the backcourt while also utilizing some of the tips above like using angles and noting your opponent’s position on the court, you can gain an even bigger advantage in the match.
To keep your opponent on their toes, mix it up by hitting hard and light shots to the backcourt. This will make it harder for them to get comfortable with the way you play since you won’t be showing any pattern. You’ll also keep them out of position for shots by doing this.
Avoiding the Back Wall
With the previous tip in mind, you should take care not to slam the ball to the point where it hits off the back wall. When you do this, it slows the ball down too much. This will allow your opponent more time to get into position and be able to get a good shot off against you.
If you see that you’re doing this a lot and can’t seem to figure out a way to avoid the back wall, try to aim the ball lower on the front wall. You can also try hitting the ball slightly slower, so you have better control over it. Both of these suggestions are good for your overall gameplay, too.
Know your Weaknesses
As you get to know your opponents’ weaknesses, you should also make sure that you’re aware of your weaknesses. Evaluate your style of play and see what you need to work on. Once you know your weaknesses, actively work to improve them. You may also consider talking to your opponents, especially if they’re your friend and have more experience playing racquetball. They can help you evaluate your game and tell you the weaknesses that they saw during your match. Take their tips under advisement while trying to improve your game.
When you know your weaknesses, you can also try to hide them actively while playing. This will help you because your opponent won’t be able to see your flaws as well and won’t be able to take advantage of them. For example, if you have a hard time returning slower shots, you can make sure you hit faster shots to your opponent so they can’t hit as many slow shots to you. The more you improve your game, the less you’ll have to hide.
Stop Hitting the Ball into the Ground
A lot of beginner racquetball players have a hard time hitting the ball to the ground when they don’t mean to do it. This happens for a few different reasons, and you can see what you’re doing specifically and work on it. One of the reasons is the way you’re gripping the racquet. Keep the racquet facing forward when you hit the ball. The ball will always travel with the given angle of the racquet so by keeping it facing forward the ball will go forward.
You may also double check your swing. Your swing should be level with the ground instead of taking on a windmill-type movement. Swing in a circular motion trying to keep your racquet level with the ground so the racquet can hit the ball flatly. This should better your aim and keep the ball from hitting the ground.
Learn from Experienced Players
One of the best things that you can do to improve your racquetball game is to learn from experienced players. Watch them play and see how they take their shots and how they play in general. Take note of their form and how they move around the court. You’ll probably notice that they utilize a lot of the tips and tricks noted here.
You should also talk to these experienced players and get their first-hand advice. Ask them what they’ve done to improve their own game and if they have any pointers for the way you play. If you have a trainer or a coach, they will be a great resource since they see you play and can actively help you improve.
The internet continues to be one of the best resources for learning new things. This is true for improving your racquetball skills, too. There are plenty of videos online that can help you. Watch videos of actual matches and see how experienced players handle themselves. Note their technique and then try to mirror what they do in your own game.
Similarly, you can find videos of tips and ones that show you the proper form for shots and returns. These instructional videos are sometimes better than articles explaining the shots because you can see how to do what is being discussed. Watching either type of video is a great option especially if you don’t know any experienced players who are willing to help you improve your game.
Try to mix up your serves as you play. You may like power serves, but that doesn’t mean you should use one every time. Instead, use a lob serve or a backhand serve now and then.
The lob serve is a somewhat neglected serve. A lot of players don’t realize how much a good lob serve can improve their game. A proper lob serve is a high arching serve that is softer than a power serve. It also travels to the back corner of the racquetball court. It’s slower, but still a great tool. It’s especially useful if you aren’t leaving the service box fast enough or if your opponent is better at power shots than you are. If this sounds like you, consider using a lob serve as your first serve instead of a power shot.
It’s also an excellent trick to frustrate your opponents. This is especially true for opponents who prefer a harder, faster-paced game. If you hit a lob serve properly, you’ll not only force this kind of opponent to slow down; you’ll also force harder shots like an overhead backhand.
Similarly, by mixing up your serves you will keep your opponent guessing so they won’t have a chance to get comfortable with your style of play. By following some of the other tips, like observing your opponent, you might be able to tell what kind of shot they’re anticipating and you can change your approach to catch them off guard.
One of the best ways to do that is by noting the position of their feet. If they’re more flat-footed, they might not be ready for a power shot so you can take that. However, if you see that they’re ready to spring forward in anticipation of a power shot you can choose to lob it and mess with their timing instead.
Ceiling Shot Tips
A ceiling shot can be a great part of your game when you know how to make one and how to handle one from your opponent. A lot of times when you miss a ceiling shot the ball will fly past you from the front to the back wall only to quickly pass you by again as it makes its way to the front wall again. This is something that even experienced players deal with.
To fix this problem, run quickly to the top line of the court’s service box and stop and look for the ball to come toward the front wall. Turn sideways so you’re ready to hit the ball with either a forehand or backhand shot. As the ball comes forward let it come to the front of you and then move with it to make contact with the ball at a lower point (knee high or lower). Don’t worry about where your opponent is if you’re not sure, just concentrate on the ball. If you take your eyes off of the ball, you’ll miss the shot.
You have two shot options here for success. One is to hit the ball right into the front wall. This will be a kill shot that will impact the front wall at a low point. It’ll also end up going to the back corner of the court which will essentially kill the shot. Your other option is to hit the ball into the side wall in a way that makes it carry around the corner of the front wall. This kills the shot, too. This will end your opponent’s rally but will only work if the ball is at kill shot level (below your knee/thigh) when you make contact with it.
In order to practice this on your own, set yourself up with these hard ceiling shots and try to kill the momentum of the ball using one of the two shot options. Once you learn how to regain control in this type of situation, you won’t panic in a game. Instead, you’ll know exactly what to do to get an automatic point.
Returning Backhand Corner Serves
This might seem like an overly specific tip, but one of the hardest things to do in racquetball is to return a serve to the backhand corner successfully. This is true for all players no matter their level. You have to be able to take away the advantage that the server has in this position so you can get on equal footing.
Whenever you’re on defense, the server has an automatic advantage by being in the middle of the court forcing you to hit backhand returns. To even the playing field, hit a ceiling shot on your return. This will make your opponent run to the backcourt from the middle of the serving area. They’ll also have no choice but to hit the ball at a higher height.
Do this by aiming to hit the ball to the ceiling anywhere from two to seven feet away from the front wall. Don’t punch the ball. Instead, use a smooth, full stroke to maintain control. By putting the server in more of a defensive position, you can change up your own game from defense to more offensive tactics. This will allow you to take control back from your opponent.
When returning the serve, always be smart and make sure that you put yourself in the right positions for whatever you plan to do. If you’re not in the right spot or your feet aren’t planted properly, you won’t be able to make the shot you need to make to regain control. Remember; try to get back into the center of the court when you do this so you can control the court.
Use a Complete Swing
Cutting your swings short isn’t a great idea. It’ll change the way the ball moves, and it will hinder your game in general. Always use a full swing when you hit the ball. By using a complete swing, you will have an easier time keeping the racquet level with the ground. Remember, this will stop the ball from hitting the ground. It’ll also help limit shots that go too high. Complete swings will also help you hit the ball faster and improve your overall consistency.
If you have a hard time following through with your swing keep a few things in mind.
- Remind yourself that you’re not just hitting the ball, but you’re trying to hit through the ball. This will tell your body to continue the swing even after you make contact with the ball.
- Remember that your swing is only finished once the racquet moves to the position where it points toward the back corner of the racquetball court. While practicing or warming up, check to see if your swing does this.
- The racquet should hit three different points that line up with the three walls of the court as you swing. It should point to the side wall, the front wall, and finally the side wall behind you. This indicated a complete swing.
Once you master a complete swing that is smooth and consistent, you’ll notice a significant reduction in mistakes. You’ll also notice that you have more control of your shots and more power behind your swing when you want it.
Players at all levels are always looking for tips to improve their backhand. To successfully improve your backhand shots, most players—especially those who are self-taught—have to step out of their comfort zones by changing their stance, timing, or swing. You may have to train your muscles to react and move differently. This in itself can be a hard task that requires practice and patience. In fact, this is one thing that simply playing more games won’t help. You’ll have to practice more either on your own or with a coach or experienced player to help you.
The main thing you might have to get used to is a proper backhand grip. A normal forehand grip will resemble shaking hand with the racquet. For a proper backhand, you should rotate your grip about one quarter (to the left if you’re right-handed, to the right if you’re left-handed). This will help you hit level shots without turning your arm too much. If you don’t change your grip in this fashion, you’ll end up contorting your arm to compensate for the grip. This can cause pain in your arm and elbow and cause you to miss more shots during a game. By switching to a backhand grip, you can improve your backhand shots tremendously and thus enhance your general racquetball game.
These tips and tricks are great tools that can help you improve whether you’re a novice, intermediate, or advanced player. By following these directions and using them on the court, you can get to the next level of play easier and achieve success on the court. Keep these tips on hand and look at them before and after practice or a match to see if you’re utilizing everything you can to be the best racquetball player possible.