Perfect Practice; the Key to Consistency
Perfect practice makes perfect is a philosophy I feel so strongly about that I play, teach, and coach using this as my guiding light. It is not good enough to say, “Practice makes perfect,” because it has to be perfect practice, which means you are practicing the skill—the stroke or the shot(s) or serve(s) or the return of serve(s) or whatever skill it is—100 percent correctly using the drill techniques that Jason and I use in chapters 1 – 4 of our book, “Championship Racquetball”.
With this repetition, your body will develop the muscle memory necessary for the skill to be automatic, which will allow you to utilize it when you are playing. If you have to think about how to hit the ball (e.g., Is my racquet up? Am I square to the side wall? Am I following through all the way? Did I change my grip?), you will not perform at your best because performing a skill and thinking about the skill don’t really mix. The skill should happen automatically because your muscles have memorized that motion from the practice and drill sessions you have done thousands of times. The ancient Romans had a saying: “Repetition is the mother of retention.” The only things you want to think about when you are playing a game is where you are on the court, where your opponent is on the court, and what the best shot is in that situation. As a result of your practice and drill sessions, this can occur more successfully.
As you approach your drill sessions, I want to stress a few guidelines that I think will make your sessions more helpful and more valuable so you will see the direct impact in your game. Always go from the core (standard) drills to the more advanced (complex) drills.
- Use one wall because it is less complicated (only one direction).
- Slow down the speed so you will have more reaction time and more time to set up.
- Hit your set ups 1/2 (10 ft) to 3/4 (15 ft) of the way up on the front wall so you will
have more reaction time and more time to set up.
- Practice from one position on the court so you do not have to read the ball, and then
move to another spot.
- Practice one shot at a time only so there is less thinking and decision making involved.
- Use the same setup, then hit the ball, catch the ball, and repeat; do not use
Advanced Drills: These involve reading the ball, judgment, and adjustments.
- Use more than one wall so you get comfortable with the trajectory of the ball.
- Hit your shots harder, with more speed, because this gives you less time to react and simulates the game more closely. You should now have muscle memory from the core drilling you have been doing.
- Mix up heights to high, medium, and low because that is more realistic to the game.
- Move to different positions on the court because that is more realistic to the game.
- Combine shots and movements such as hitting ceiling balls to yourself and then hustling into position to shoot an offensive shot when you make a mistake.
- Combine two shots at a time from the same position, first taking the same shots using continuous setups and then taking different shots using continuous setups.
- Combine two shots at a time from different positions, first taking the same shots using continuous setups and then taking different shots using continuous setups.
Moving from core to advanced drilling is important, but you must master the core drills first because those are your foundation. Then and only then can you build on the core drills and start combining them to make the drills more advanced and more like a game situation—the key to moving from one level to the next level.
For more details on “Practicing Perfectly” see my book, “Championship Racquetball”, Chapter 8, Pages 205-214. The best of the best like Rocky Carson, Paola Longoria, Jason Mannino, and my junior’s Wayne Antone, Jordan Cooperrider and Mitchell Turner (all 2017 Jr. National Champions) all know just how important it is to “Practice Perfectly”. This is one of the key components that have led them to their accomplishments, so follow in their footsteps as their records speak for themselves.
For details on more personalized instruction/video lesson/coaching, a weekend camp, instructional DVD’s and our book, Championship Racquetball, ALL which covers all aspects of the Sports Racquetball Triangle and more, visit www.FranDavisRacquetball.com