Slow Down the Aging Process

Did you ever hear anyone say, “I swear I don’t eat more than I used to but I’m gaining weight,” or “I weigh the same as last year but I can’t fit in the same size?” What in the world is going on?

We lose between 1/2 to 1 pound of muscle each year as we age beginning at age 20, just as a natural part of the aging process. Here’s how that effects us: A pound of muscle burns roughly 50 calories a day. A pound of fat burns -2 calories a day, because it’s actually part of our fuel supply.

Now imagine what happens when we lose a pound of muscle. We now eat 50 calories a day more than our body burns. So naturally that extra 50 calories is stored as fat. That translates at 3500 calories a pound to a pound extra every couple months. Add more muscle loss and fewer calories a day burned and more and more fat storage. This leads to slower metabolism (your body burns fewer calories a day) and weight gain.

That’s bad enough but read on! A pound of muscle is about the size of a bar of soap. A pound of fat, however, is the size of a pound of lard. Multiply that by 5 and see how that effects your clothing size!

We lose muscle and replace it with stored fat and we get bigger and softer and flabbier. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Sounds like the “normal” aging process. The good news is you can change all that by strength training regularly.

By building muscle to replace lost muscle we can overcome the losses that seem inevitable with the aging process. Think about it. As we build muscle we burn more calories (faster metabolism). When we use more calories than we are taking is as food we start using our stored fat which slims us down. As we take off that layer of fat the tone and shape of our muscles show through and we look firm. Now think of exchanging fat the other way around. If you lose 5 pounds of fat and gained 5 pounds of muscle, there would be no change on the scale, but look again at the difference between a bar of soap and a pound of butter and imagine what would happen in the way your clothes fit.

Yes, aerobic exercise is essential, and it does help to burn fat, but it won’t maintain and build the muscle you need to keep your metabolism active.

The best news is that strength training is no longer the domain of only body builders and the young. It has been found to be the very most effective use of exercise time. Three times per week for about 20 to 30 minutes per session is all that is necessary to strengthen and tone your muscles.

Studies abound on the benefits of strength training; lower blood pressure and heart rate, more stamina, better circulation and general body functions, etc. It is never too late to start. Huge benefits have been achieved by men and women of all ages and ability levels.

Before beginning any exercise program, get your doctor’s approval. Then make an appointment with a certified personal trainer to get started on the right foot. Don’t wait another day. You CAN slow down the aging process!

Be Ready from the Start

When you’re waiting for your league or tournament match, or just that grudge match with your weekly playing buddy, be sure you have prepared to play your best from the first point. Too many people run into the locker room, grab their racquet, and declare themselves ready to go. The first 10 points of the game are messy, and you are not hitting your best shots. Your mind might be ready, but your body may need a little help. Get on a stationary bike for about 10 minutes and get your circulation going. Find a warm spot – maybe the sauna – and do a little stretching routine to help your muscles loosen up and be ready to cooperate when you take the floor. Spend the time when you’re stretching visualizing your swing…. Feet turned like a batter at home plate, ball over the plate like a pitch, and your racquet swinging out over the plate as you turn into the shot. Finish your stroke. When you hit the court, take your practice shots just as you visualized them, and be ready to play ball!

Congratulation Handballers!

The Pacific Northwest Handball Tournament finished up on May 1, and BAC had some great representation! The tournament was held at Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, Oregon.

Mike Flannery took home two silver medals: 2nd Place in Mens 40/50+ Singles and 2nd Place in Men‟s 40/50+ Doubles with BAC member Ken Starcher.

LeaAnn Martin claimed 2nd Place with her Oregon partner in Women‟s Open Doubles.

Missy Mitchell and Addison Rogers placed 3rd in the Women‟s Open Doubles division.

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.