Fundamentals of Racquetball: Proper Grip and Swing
Racquetball is a pretty simple game. Once you play around on a court for a little while, you realize the rules are pretty intuitive. What makes the game great is that within that relatively simple framework is a game that allows for a great deal of technique and strategy.
From how you serve the ball to where you stand during a rally to how you use the walls of the court to your advantage, racquetball is rich with split-second choices that can make or break a point or a match.
But all those choices depend on your ability to do what you want with your racquet. This means the most fundamental parts of your game are your racquetball grip and your swing.
Getting a Racquetball Grip
One thing that can be a little confusing at first is that your “racquetball grip” actually has a double meaning. It can mean how you hold your racquet and also the part of the racquet that you hold.
So before we dive into the specifics of how to grip a racquetball racquet, let’s answer some questions about the racquet’s grip.
Even though there is clearly a size difference between the racquets used in tennis and racquetball, many people still ask, “are tennis grips and racquetball grips the same?” And when it comes to the material you hold on to, the short answer is yes.
If you have played enough to wear out the grip on your racquet and want to replace it yourself, most grips on the market are made to be used for any racquet-based sport. When it comes to how you hold your racquet, there are some differences, but we will get into that a bit later.
Selecting your Racquet
Often, when people first start playing, they will borrow equipment from friends who play or from the facility where they play. But once you decide to embrace the sport, you’ll want your own gear. Here is what you need to know to get the best racquet for you.
The first thing to know about how to determine racquetball grip size is that there are actually three different racquetball grip sizes. Find the smallest grip that is comfortable for your hand. That’s the size for you.
Some players may not have easy access to a local sporting goods store with a decent selection of racquets, though. If you are shopping online, the dimensions posted in the item descriptions can be confusing if you don’t have context for how they can apply to your needs.
Don’t fret about trying to figure out something like how long a racquetball racket grip is supposed to be. Simply measure from the bottom horizontal crease of your palm to the tip of your ring finger. The smallest grip that can accommodate that measurement is the grip for you.
Taking that measurement will also help you find a good racquetball glove. Many people ask how do I make my racquetball grip tacky, and the answer is to wear a glove. A glove will help you hold on to your racquet without being so sticky that you can’t shift your grip when needed.
How to Grip a Racquetball Racquet
When you pick up your racquet, you want to be able to control it without using a tight death-grip. This is because you need to be able to shift your grip depending on how you hit the ball.
Racquetballs are very bouncy. They come off a racquet with more springs than a tennis ball, so the angle of a racquetball grip is different from one used in tennis. In tennis, you are taught to angle your racquet head down for more control and add topspin.
Angling your racquetball racquet that way will often send your shot straight into the ground. With racquetball, you want to hold your racquet so that the head is perpendicular to the floor. This gives you more control over your shot and keeps the ball from going straight into the ground or weakly up to the ceiling.
Practice your grip
When you grip your racquet, take the handle like you are shaking its hand. Check to see that when you go through a typical forehand swing motion, the head is straight up and down. If it isn’t, adjust your grip until it is. Then do the same with your backhand swing.
You will find that to keep your racquet head perpendicular to the ground, you will have to change your grip for your backhand. Get used to the new grip, then practice shifting from one to the other. As you play more and muscle memory takes over, you won’t even have to think about switching your grip from forehand to backhand.
There is one other grip—the continental grip. This one is fun because it is most often used for overhead swings and kill shots. For the continental grip, you hold your racquet like a hammer and treat the ball like a nail. What could be better?
Getting Into the Racquetball Swing
Once you are comfortable with your racquetball grip and shifting it as needed, you can look at how to swing in racquetball. For a good swing, you’ll be using more than just your arm.
A proper racquetball swing starts in the legs. This is true no matter what side of the body you are swinging from. Using your legs to generate power will give you more consistent control and will help you keep up your racquet arm’s stamina. If all the power in your swing is only generated in your arm, you will wear it out fast.
So how do you use your legs to power a racquetball swing? By incorporating lunging into your racquetball swing mechanics.
Racquetball swing technique
The racquetball swing technique is all about timing and placement. You already know that you want your racquet head to be perpendicular to the floor.
As you work on your swing, you’ll want to focus on tracking the ball as it comes in and then lunging towards it as you swing to hit the ball with the sweet spot in the center of your racquet.
With your forehand swing, you should lunge with the leg opposite your racquet hand. For a backhand racquetball swing, lunge with your racquet-side leg. This is so that you don’t clip your knee as you swing into the ball.
As you practice your form and grow more accustomed to a racquetball swing, start working on directing the ball to different parts of the court.
Practice using more and less power, banking the ball off the sidewalls and the ceiling, and crush a few balls off the back wall to see how much power you need to make use of it.
Only the Beginning
Figuring out your racquetball grip and the mechanics of your swing are only the first steps. As you look into how to get better at racquetball, you’ll find tips about serving, court position, and even pre- and post-match stretching routines.
Remember: don’t get overwhelmed. The point of the game is to get a great workout and have a great time.
Learning all the ins and outs of strategy and technique is meant to help you stay healthy and achieve those goals—and if these tips help you win… It will be so much better.