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Sports Performance: Your Racquetball Workout

Build strength and stamina regardless of your skill level.
Claire Benoist

Racquetball is a polarizing sport: you either love it or have no idea how the hell to play it. For those just unfamiliar with it, racquetball originally called “paddle rackets” was created in 1949 when american inventor Joseph sobek grew tired of bruising his hands in a game of handball. he combined the rules of his favorite game and squash, and founded the national Paddle rackets association, which has since evolved into USA Racquetball.

The sport requires lightning-quick reflexes and a deep understanding of angles. “It’s a game of opposites,” says former national team coach Jim winterton. “If you think the ball is going right, it’s probably going left. If it goes over your head, it’s coming back.”

Winterton suggests working on technique before learning game theory if you want to succeed. “There are two kinds of instructors: those that tell you how, and those that tell you why,” he says. “How is more important than why. Learn how to hit the ball correctly and you’re going to be a better player.” Got it? Good. Let’s begin.


1. Drop-and-Hit

> Stand at the receiving line, approximately two and a half steps from the sidewall. Execute 10 drop-and-hit forehands. Repeat with your backhand.

2. Toss-and-Cross

> From just behind the center of the receiving line, toss the ball forward and to the right. Step into a forehand 10 times. Repeat the drill with your backhand.

3. Corner Drill

> Toss the ball into the corner so it rebounds onto the sidewall, then whack it down the line. Complete 10 reps with your forehand and backhand.

4. Wall-Ceiling Drill

> Drop the ball and strike it so it rebounds off the back wall and then the ceiling. Complete 10 reps with both your forehand and backhand.

5. Put It All Together

> Start at center court. Run to the left front corner and whack a shot. Backpedal to center court, then sprint to the right front corner. Backpedal to center court, then to the right backcorner. Hit a shot, return to center court, then head for the left back corner. Return to center court, then shuffle left and slam it. Repeat to the right and you’re done.


Racquetball vs. Squash

They’re similar, but not the same. Racquetball uses shorter racquets; a bigger, less elastic ball; and, unlike squash, there are no out-of-bounds areas. The result is a faster game. How fast? The ball is regularly hit at more than 135 mph in professional matches.


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