Using the Lob Serve

A lot of racquetball players neglect a serve that can actually be a good weapon in their game. The lob serve – that high, arching soft serve that travels to the back corner of the court – isn’t just a second serve to get the ball in play. It can be a valuable tool if you learn to hit it correctly and use it against certain opponents. Some players only use this serve if their first serve is short or long. Many of the game’s really great players use this as a first serve on a regular basis. If your drive serve – that hard, low shot to the corner – isn’t working because 1) you’re off that day, 2) your opponent hits harder and lower than you do, 3) you’re so slow at getting out of the service box, you should consider using a lob serve as your first serve. Hard hitters can get frustrated at the lack of pace on the ball, and if you hit it correctly, it will force your opponent to hit an overhead backhand – one of the hardest shots to execute on a racquetball court, OR a tennis court. So if that hard hit serve isn’t impressing your opponent, save it for another day and lob!

2012 Washington State Handball Championships

The Wshington State Committee hosted the Championships here at BAC. A total of 80 participants! The hallway was full of handball players from all over the state! BAC had the biggest showing – Awesome job to all of our local players! Full results of the championships can be seen at the R2 tournament site. Congratulations to the 2012 participants that placed:

Womens Singles Open Dropdown to B:
1st: Missy Mitchell
2nd: Allison O’leary
Cons: Addison Rogers

Womens Doubles:
1st: Missy Mitchell & Lea Ann Martin
2nd: Allison O’leary & Amia Kane

Men’s Singles B/C
2nd: Erik Ifland

Cons: Eric Doyle
Mens Singles Golden Master (50+)
1st: Doug Groves

Men’s Doubles (50+):
1st: Mike Flannery & Mike Sofie

Men’s Doubles B:
1st: Doug Groves & Morgan
Cons: Frank Gilles & Brad Hoyt

Warm Up for a Match

Pre Court:

  1. Find a stationary bike, tread mill, rowing machine. Get on and do a slow gradual start for about 10 minutes.
  2. Stand in a forehand position and swing a forehand swing 50 times. Start with a shorter stroke, thinking of perfect form and work your way up to a full body swing.
  3. Stand in a backhand position and swing a backhand swing 50 times. Start with a shorter stroke, thinking of perfect form and work your way up to a full body swing.
  4. Stretches: Find a quiet place and stretch biceps, triceps, calves, hamstrings, groins. Every part of your body that you’ ll need to stroke and run.

On the Court:

Develop a warm up plan that you use consistently – every time you warm up for a match.

  1. Stand behind the short line close to the side wall. Hit 10 – 20 forehands down the wall. Concentrate on hitting the ball flat and using a complete stroke.
  2. Stand midway from the short line to the back wall. Hit 10-20 forehands down the side wall. Concentrate as in #1.
  3. Feed yourself balls off the back wall and hit your forehand down the wall, 10 – 20 times.
  4. Feed yourself balls off the back wall and hit your forehand pinch.
  5. Practice ceiling balls down the wall until you feel you can hit them with accuracy. Concentrate on full strokes and correct velocity. Switch sides with your opponent and do the same sequence on your backhand side.
  6. If you have the court to yourself, practice a pinch shot drill before you start the match.
  7. If you have the court to yourself, practice your drive serve and lob until you feel comfortable.

Handling the Blast Shot

How many times have you experienced the awful feeling of trying to catch up to your opponent’s shot when it flies from front wall to back wall and zips by you toward to front wall again? This should be a time when you’re thinking, “Automatic point for me!”, rather than worrying about what to do and what shot to make as you chase the ball down. You may even be sensing that you are totally out of position for the next shot. Here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction.

A missed ceiling shot is most often the cause for the above situation for most experienced players. For beginners and some intermediates, it’s just an errant shot that flies too high in the court. If your opponent hits a ball that is obviously going to fly directly from the front to the back wall without bouncing, you should:

  • Take off at top speed to the “top” of the service box.
  • Pause and turn sideways to locate the ball as it comes toward front court.
  • Set yourself for either a forehand or a backhand shot.
  • Let the ball continue to come forward until it falls to a height at your knees or lower, if you can.
  • Let the ball come to the front of your stance: pulling it forward from behind you makes you lose control of the shot.
  • If you don’t have a sense of where your opponent is, don’t start trying to locate him/her now. If you take your concentration and eyes away from the ball, you’ll surely miss your shot.
  • Shoot one of two shots: 1. Directly into the front wall, in front of your body, so that the shot “kills” as low as possible and heads down the wall to the back corner. Or 2. “Pinch” the shot into the side wall so that it rolls around the front corner of the court, as low as possible. Both of these should produce an end to the rally as long as you WAIT until the ball is only a foot or two (depending on your abilities) up from the floor when you take your shot.
  • Avoid shooting crosscourt as much as you can!!! Hitting away from yourself usually means you’re hitting to your opponent and you will be out of position to retrieve the next ball.

You can go into a court and set yourself up with these “fliers” in order to practice your return. If you practice the return over and over, that feeling of panic should leave you in an actual game situation, and you’ll begin to think “Automatic point for me!”

Sportsmanship

Fairness, the practice of the sport, respect for your opponent and respect for your official. These are all key points that make up Sportsmanship. At the BAC it is essential to display good sportsmanship. Whether it is in the hallways between games, after a long exhausting match, or losing to a dear friend. It is important that we share this respect for the sport with our opponents. Demonstrating fair and honest game play seems easy and should go without being said. But at times we do forget. BAC has a huge number of Jr. Racquetball players. We must remember the important points that make up sportsmanship to assure that these new and upcoming players will also have a successful and fun time on the court. It is always great to see high fives, shaking hands and congratulating each other! Keep it up Racquetball players!

Comfort Zone

PLAY OUTSIDE YOUR “COMFORT ZONE”
This means fining new people to play. If you play the same people on a regular basis, you will get to know their game all too well (and they will know yours). It allows you to get away with things you can’t with a different opponent, and it sets you in a trap of using the same shots too often because they work against your usual playing partner. Playing different people forces you to think about your game and expand your shot selection and serves. It also allows you to see different game styles and shots that you may not see playing your “regular” opponent. You can also get a better workout when you play people who hit unexpected shots. So don’t stop playing with those favorite people, but find a way to add a new opponent to your circle of racquetball friends. Here are some simple suggestions that work!

  1. Sign up for Wednesday racquetball league. We do the work – you just show up, and you’ll have new faces to play each week.
  2. Come to singles challenge court nights at the club.
  3. Enter a tournament. If you don’t want to travel, we have tourneys here at the club that are a great way to step up your game and meet new players.
  4. Travel to a tournament. There are some great tournaments in Washington State and some further away that can be a great road trip! Here’s a link to the tournament list on the WRA website.

I guarantee your game will improve and you might make a new friend in the process. I see friends from all across the state and the country when I travel to events. It’s great fun and it has made my game much better in the process.

Ski Conditioning Preparation

You don’t have to wait for the snow to start falling to get ready for ski season. Start your training now and you’ll be sailing past those other ski bums on your way down the mountain. Dusting the competition or showing off to friends are not the only reason to get in shape before the ski season. Skiing is an activity that requires a variety of skills; strength, endurance, balance, and coordination. Hit the slopes without developing these skills and you may be in for more than embarrassment – you might even hurt yourself.

This is where sports-specific training comes in. Generally speaking, sports-specific training programs involve focusing on the various skills associated with a particular activity. Depending on the sport, this may include health-related measures of fitness such as agility, balance, coordination, power, speed, and reaction time. Most sports require a mixture of these components.

Skiing is a sport that relies heavily on skill-related fitness. A traditional fitness program, which includes a combination of weight training and cardiovascular exercise, will only take you so far. A specific training program to develop specific skills for skiing will take you from the peaks to the valleys in record time.

There are several ways to begin a sports-specific training program. The simplest way is to include several new exercises in your regular workout schedule. For example, performing wall sits that require you to “sit” against a wall will help you build up the isometric strength needed for the tuck position in skiing. Squats and lunges will build lower body strength for skiing tough terrain like moguls. Exercises such as crunches to work your abdominals are essential in creating a solid “core” for balance and agility.

It is important to train your body to withstand and absorb the impact associated with skiing. Plyometric movements, such as hopping from side to side, develop muscle power and strength as well as improve agility.

A great way to integrate these elements into your existing routine is to create a circuit training program, which involves rapidly moving from one exercise to the next. You can set up a circuit in any large room or at your club’s aerobic studio. Many health clubs offer this type of class specifically for the ski season. Be sure and place all of your stations before beginning your workout so you don’t have to stop in the middle. Set a specific time limit for each exercise as well as a set period of breaks between each station. Thirty seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest are common interval periods. Then, simply turn up the music and make your way down the circuit. You might even want to create your own music tape with timed interval of music for exercise and silence for rest periods.

Try these stations to help you gear up for the slopes; use the slide for lateral training, perform one-legged squats to develop balance and strength, and use a step-bench platform to improve power. Try catching a bean bag as it drops off your forearm to improve reaction times or bounce two tennis balls to improve coordination. To improve agility, create your own slalom by running between two comes. In sports-specific training you are only limited by your imagination.

Do your lifting before you hit the lifts! BAC offers a killer Snowsport Conditioning Training Class as well as a class for Recreational Skiiers.

Nutrition Myths Debunked

Will eating jalapenos increase your metabolism? Of course not, but diet dogma has a life of its own. Even when science reveals the truth behind a diet fad, the myth often lingers. Here’s some popular nutrition myths and the real scoop behind them.

#1: Margarine contains less calories and fat than butter.

The truth: Both margarine and butter are 100% fat. All fats (olive oil, margarine, butter, etc) contain 9 calories per gram or 40 calories per teaspoon. Some “diet” margarines, however, are whipped with water, which cuts the amount of fat and number of calories per teaspoon.

#2: Chicken has less fat than beef.

The truth: Not necessarily. A skinless chicken thigh contains more than twice as much fat as an equal serving of an eye of round roast although the beef is slightly higher in saturated fat. Skinless chicken breast is a low-fat alternative to beef, as long as it is prepared without fat.

#3: Fortified foods are healthful.

The truth: Fortified milk is the only reliable food source of vitamin D, but fortifying some highly processed foods with vitamins and minerals is often a nutritional cover-up that mistakenly implies “more is better.” The products, including some cereals, are often no better but are more expensive and sometimes higher in sugar or fat than their less-fortified counterparts.

#4: Fiber gives foods a coarse texture.

The truth: You can’t tell a food’s fiber content by looks or texture. In general the less processed a grain, vegetable, fruit, or bean the higher its fiber content. Cooking may soften a food but has little effect on the fiber content.

#5: Natural vitamin supplements are more effective than synthetic ones.

The truth: The only difference between natural and synthetic vitamin supplements is the price (natural supplements cost more). The exception is vitamin E. The body uses the naturally occurring form more efficiently than the synthetic form.

#6: Foods labeled “natural” don’t contain preservatives and additives.

The truth: “Natural” on a label simply means that at least one ingredient remains in its natural form. The product may still be processed and contain a number of additives or preservatives.

#7: Athletes should take protein supplements.

The truth: Protein supplements generally are not a good investment. Athletes have the same protein needs as sedentary people – about 50 grams a day for a woman, slightly more for a man. Hard-core bodybuilders may need more protein than other people. Americans typically consume 2 or 3 times as much protein as they really need.

#8: If you feel like eating, you must be hungry.

The truth: Thirst, boredom, fatigue, anxiety, and a desire to avoid unpleasant tasks are often mistaken for hunger. Try a large glass of water, taking a nap, or going for a walk before heading for the refrigerator.

#9: Brown sugar & honey are better for you than white sugar.

The truth: All 3 supply 4 calories per gram (about 20 calories per teaspoon), provide insignificant amounts of nutrients & promote tooth decay.

#10: Yogurt is a health food.

The truth: Not always. Some fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts and frozen yogurts contain more sugar than a candy bar, while whole-milk yogurts are high in fat. Try plain, nonfat yogurt flavored with fresh fruit.

#11: Salad is a diet food.

The truth: A no-fat tossed salad is transformed into a high-fat meal when you add a generous helping of dressing. Potato and pasta salads are often laden with mayonnaise-based dressings, which contain 200 or more calories for each 1/2 cup serving. Use fat-free dressings to return these salads to their nutrient-dense status.

#12: Diet is the best way to lose weight.

The truth: As long as “diet” implies a short-term effort, it’s doomed to fail. A lifelong commitment to low-fat foods & regular physical activity is the only solution to long-term weight management.

#13: Sugar is a quick-energy food.

The truth: Sugary foods may temporarily raise blood-sugar levels, but extra insulin released often overcompensates, dropping them to lower than before. A starchy snack, such as a bagel with peanut butter, sustains a moderate rise in blood-sugar levels and is a better energy food.

#14: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

The truth: People who skip meals bum calories slower, are more likely to overeat later in the day and store fat easier than people who nibble.

Work Out With A Buddy

For some, starting an exercise program may be a daunting prospect. Even if you get started, there are always those days when you just don’t feel like going to the gym or out for that run. And once you skip that first day, it sure is easier to skip the next. How do you stay committed to your fitness program? Try finding a workout partner. If there is someone who will be let down by your no-show, you will be a lot less likely to skip exercise.

Numerous studies have shown that there is a high dropout rate in workout attendance within the first six month – approximately 50 percent.

In my experience working with fitness enthusiasts, it has become evident that to achieve maximal gains in both muscular and cardiovascular fitness, there must be a specific goal in mind that will motivate you to be consistent in your training efforts. Ultimately, this motivation is often best provided by a training partner.

Although many of the positive aspects of having a training partner relate to strength training, most apply to cardiovascular conditioning as well. Here are some ways training with a partner can benefit you…

Safety

One of the most important functions a partner can perform is spotting. A spotter ensures the safety of the person lifting the weights. A good spotter is the cornerstone of good, productive workouts. Proper supervision should be one-on-one. By knowing the lifter’s workout style, the spotter will be better able to “push” the lifter to achieve more repetitions, in good form, that he or she would have been able to do alone. Your spotter can help you attempt that extra repetition as you approach momentary muscular failure – whereas you might have prematurely ended the set for safety reasons if you were lifting on your own. Proper overload will lead to a faster and more efficient progression.

Motivation

Motivation is the key to success in any facet of life. Before you can motivate someone else, you must be highly motivated yourself. By having particular goals in mind, you will be more able to motivate yourself and your partner throughout your training program.

Motivation must be practiced daily, both psychologically and physically, through verbal encouragement. A spotter can encourage his or her partner while reinforcing proper form and technique. Physical motivation can be achieved through actual workout results. Motivation leads to maximum effort that, in turn, leads to maximum gains.

Consistency

As previously mentioned, continued commitment to exercise after the first six months is particularly low. Having a workout partner, however, will make you far less likely to skip days or arrive late for training sessions. In the end, you will become more dedicated to your exercise habits if you establish a consistent training program that you and your partner adhere to.

Social Interaction

For some people, the social aspect of working out in a gym is just as important as the exercise. When two or more people train together, loyalty, trust, and friendship develop between partners. When your partner is your spouse, time spent working out can be quality time together. No matter who your partner is, conversation can help your training become less monotonous and help it flow more smoothly.

Friendly Competition

Friendly competition between partners can add fun to working out. For example, if you both share a common goal, you may want to see who is the first to achieve it. It leads to better workout adherance and a higher level of awareness of your short-term and long-term goals.

Understanding

A training partner often knows your eating habits, exercise habits, attitude changes, and level of commitment. At any level, the more educated you are about your partner, the more you can help him or her achieve personal goals.

A partner will allow you to progress to the next level, while supporting your efforts. If your goal is a higher level of fitness, a workout partner can effectively provide the necessary tools, motivation, and positive outlook for your workout efforts.

First Steps to Fitter Life

We all have our own individual reasons for beginning an exercise program.

Now more than ever before, there is a growing emphasis on feeling good, looking good, and living a longer, healthier life.  Increasingly, scientific evidence tells us that one of the keys to achieving these ideals is fitness and exercise.  But if you spend your days at a sedentary job and pass your evening as a “couch potato,” it may require some determination and commitment to make regular activity a part of your daily routine.

You’ve surely seen enough how-to-do-anything-in-just-a-few-easy-steps lists to know they’re a bit too simplistic to be true.  The following guidelines I will be talking about are not intended to condense everything there is to know about healthy living advice into a few bite-size chunks; nor are they black-and-white rules about what you absolutely must or mustn’t do.  Instead, they are intended as guide to help you get started and achieve you goals.

I want to give you a solid, sensible, smart foundation for overhauling your attitude toward exercise.  And believe me, your attitude is everything when it comes to meeting goals of any kind.

First of all, before starting your exercise program, you should try to establish what your goals are.  Do you want to lower your blood pressure?  Lose some weight?  Be able to walk a few blocks without feeling winded?  Reduce your risk of heart disease?  These are all wonderful reasons to get moving, but wanting to exercise for these reasons doesn’t necessarily mean you will get out and do it.  You need to have the attitude that you’re ready to get started, and take it one day at a time from there.

To get started, develop your plan of attack.  You need to set realistic goals and track your progress.  I am going to offer some strategies for sticking to your plan so that your workout program is as successful as possible.

Before you embark on an exercise program, clarify why you want to get fit.  Once you do that, make sure you’re doing this for yourself-not simply to please your spouse, your doctor, or anyone else who would like to see you feeling your best.

Now it’s time to start setting your specific goals.  Research shows that goal-setting works.  In typical studies, scientists give one group of exercisers a specific goal, such as doing 50 sit-ups.  Meanwhile, they tell a second group of exercisers simply to “do your best.”  The exercisers with specific goals tend to have significantly more success than the comparison groups.

Next, you need to go out and buy yourself a nice notebook or journal.  It can be easy to set goals and rewards, but it’s even easier to forget what they are.  You can keep yourself honest – and motivated – by tracking your goals and accomplishments on paper.  Start each day by reading your exercise goals and re-affirm your reason for doing it.

Whatever your goals are, a training diary can help you get the best results.  You can look back at the end of each week and say, “I did that?”  And you may be inspired to accomplish even more.  Keeping a log shows you whether your goals are realistic and gives you insight into your exercise patterns.  If you’re losing weight, building strength, or developing stamina, you won’t have to wonder what works, because you’ll have a blow-by-blow description of everything you’ve done to reach your goals.

My recommendation for getting started is to find a friend or neighbor who shares your enthusiasm to get out and get moving.  When you commit to exercise with a buddy, your chances of sticking with it go way up.  The support you give one another will motivate you to get out for that scheduled walk even when you really don’t feel like it. If you’ve always wanted to join a gym, or attend an exercise class, it’s nice to participate with your workout buddy who shares your vision.  You can push one another, laugh and joke as you learn the ropes, and motivate one another to get out and get the job done!

When you get in from your work-outs each day, write in your journal the exercises you did, how long you worked out, and most importantly, how it made you feel when you were through. If your workouts include walking or running, don’t forget to look up at the beauty that surrounds you – feel the fresh, crisp air you’re breathing, enjoy the experience.   Each time you go out to exercise, try to go do at least as much, if not a little more than you did the last time.

Exercise doesn’t need to be painful, but if you’ve neglected your body, don’t expect to get a free ride.  Despite what you might hear on those infomercials – “just five minutes a day”, doesn’t cut it.  Exercise is a serious commitment.  You can’t get into shape without exerting some real effort and, perhaps, without experiencing some (but not a lot of) discomfort at first.

So…your “get-started” homework for this week is:
1.  Set realistic goals for the week.
2.  Buy a journal for recording your workouts.
3.  Get out for a workout with a friend or spouse 2 to 3 times this week.
4.  Write down your workout stats every day.
5.  Have a good attitude!  You’ve just made one of the best decisions of your life!