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Subject: Looking for advice (help) from fellow instructors
From: (Merle)

I have a student that has been playing for about nine months, she has
received instruction from the first day that she picked up a racquet.
Her stroke mechanics are right on but she is having a real hard time
with the spacial relationship between her and the ball. If the ball is
coming straight at her or straight off the back wall, she does pretty
well. But...if the ball is coming off of two (or god forbid, three)
walls, she has a real hard time getting the correct distance away from
it to put a good swing on it. She either over pursues it and crowds
herself or lags way behind and has to lung. Balls that get caught up
in a back corners have as good a chance of landing on her head as
ending up in the hitting zone.

I have tried hitting her setups that are soft around-the-wall balls to
try and let her see as many different angles as possible as many times
as necessary. I have also told her to just go into the court in
between lessons and days playing and just hit as many different angles
as she can and then set-up on them to hit down the line.

I am kinda at a loss here. I feel frustrated that I can't help her
overcome this problem. I am also worried that if we don't fix it, she
is going to stop seeing progress and become discouraged.

Does any one out there have some drills that I am missing? or have a
way to convey what the balls is doing that I am failing to explain?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Merle

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Subject: Re: Looking for advice (help) from fellow instructors
Date: 04 Jun 2002 05:24:32 GMT
From Jordan

Merle, you explained the basic problem most new players have when first playing
racquetball, worrying about "missing" the ball so the player actually "crowds"
the ball.

There are different cures for this problem, some work fine, others don't, and
it depends on the individual player. You may have to use "trial by error" for
certain individuals.

SOME SUGGESTIONS

1) Explain to her that when she "crowds the ball" her hitting arm will be bent
at the elbow instead of extended on contact with ball, her arm will jam into
her shoulder and she may have to step towards the opposite side wall just to
give room to hit a "jammed" return.

2) Make sure you actually toss some balls to "jam" her and toss some balls
forcing her to "reach" so she can understand what the "jam" is. Once she knows
the difference of getting "jammed", she can be open to learn the correct
positioning and eventual swing.

IMPORTANT

For those instructors who teach (over teach) the grip, stroke, and mechanics
PRIOR to teaching court positioning, you will likely have a tougher time, since
the student will always worry and key on their "grip, stroke and mechanics"
instead of pre-positioning so they can hit with the correct mechanics!

Students will ALWAYS tend to focus in the ORDER in which and HOW they were
taught, thus if you teach the grip before swing, they will blame the grip.
Teach swing before positioning, the student will blame grip or swing. Teach
positioning before grip and swing and the player will be able to understand the
instructor's critiques.

3) The easiest and quickest way to teach players NOT to crowd the ball? Remove
their FEAR of missing the ball. How? Simple, let them play the ball on 3
bounces (or two bounces).

This is how most instructors teach the "off backwall return" and it works great
for all beginners to learn how the ball bounces off the various sidewalls at
different heights and speeds.

As the student becomes more skilled, use two, then one bounce.

Allowing the extra bounces also allows the student MORE TIME to set-up for an
easier shot on almost every rally during real game situations, not just easy
slow setups!

Now the student can practice court positioning AND stroke mechanics, but KEY on
the court positioning and make sure the student is aware that poor positioning
leads to poor return shots.

When the student understands that their "court positioning" is more important
than their "grip or stroke mechanics" they will be able to slowly teach
themselves to get "away" from the ball.

Good luck!
Jordan

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