Thomas Carter – In the Off-Season
By Thomas Carter
The racquetball off-season looks a little different for all the players on tour. With outdoor racquetball tournaments, lower tiered pro stops, and IRF events scheduled throughout the summer, the offseason can be pretty short or even nonexistent for some players. For me personally, I did not qualify for the US Team that is competing in the Pan American Games and I am choosing not to play any other tournaments this summer. This gives me about three months between my last tournament of the 2018-2019 season and the first tournament of the 2019-2020 season, which begins September 5th in Atlanta, Georgia. While this seems like a good chunk of time, it flies by. It’s been a busy past couple of months since the US National Singles in Denver, Colorado back at the end of May.
Once my off-season began, I immediately took a few weeks off to rest and recover. The professional season spans roughly nine months, and that long of a season takes a toll on your body. A little time off allowed my body to heal up all the little aches and pains that add up over the course of the season. Not to mention, it also allowed me to unwind a little mentally. Now even though I wasn’t on the court practicing myself, I was still frequently in the club teaching lessons and also traveling around to coach. Towards the end of June, I was in Portland for the US Junior Nationals in order to coach some of my and Coach Winterton’s athletes. The following week, I was coaching up the opposite end of the age spectrum. The NMRA (National Masters Racquetball Association) Championships was being hosted in my hometown of Chicago, Illinois so I spent that week coaching some of my senior athletes.
After a few weeks of laying down the racquet, I felt fresh and was ready to get back to training. The offseason provides a great opportunity to make big changes in your game. Since you have a lot of time between tournaments, you don’t have to worry about playing at your peak. Instead, you can focus on making changes and ultimately making progress. I believe the key to making the most of this time between tournaments is to a have a good plan. For me, the plan was to work myself back into shape, then start to work on getting stronger in the weight room and also work on the racquetball skills I will need for this upcoming season. Currently, I am on the court practicing six days a week and I am lifting four days a week. My practices focus heavily on refining my mechanics and footwork. I am making changes that feel awkward now, but I know they will start to click soon. Right now, it is mid-July and the first Tier One event is a month and a half away. I know I’ll be ready for it.