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A lot of people react to the word "drills" the same way they would react to the phrase "nasty tasting medicine"! This shouldn't be the case - especially not with the drills I'm gonna suggest to you. So try these drills with an eager, excited attitude and I think you'll find yourself improving and having fun at the same time. They come with a double-your-money-back guarantee, so what have you got to lose?
Before trying these drills, make sure you warm up well. Then do this MENTAL WARMUP: Think back to a tournament or challenge match when you were really playing well....your opponent was giving you a battle and it was anybody's match. Remember how sharply focused you were, and how hungry you were to hit the winning shot? Well bring that focus and hunger with you into the court for each practice session!
2. THREE HITS
The drill is simple: one player serves for five minutes, while the other receives each serve aggressively. The server then tries to put away each return. After five minutes switch places. (Of course, if you're both in the mood, you can take a second turn, or go longer on each turn.) So you're playing only the first three hits of the rally, but both of you are going all out. The server is trying to serve perfectly, while the receiver is trying to hit the best return possible, and then the server covers and goes for the putaway (even if the return is a perfect ceiling ball). It's a good idea for the server to often hit the same serve several (or many) times in a row. This helps the serve become "grooved in", so the muscle memory is there when you want to pull that serve out of your arsenal at a key point in a match. The most likely reaction after trying this drill a few times is, "Why haven't we been doing this before?!"
3. AEROBIC RACQUETBALL
4. CEILING GAME
Those who have seen today's pros play might be
surprised at my pick for the player with the best
ceiling ball these days. Give up? It's Cliff Swain!
You can read article after article about Cliff - his
intimidating serves, great court coverage, incredible
offensive play, intense focus and will to win -
without ever seeing the phrase "ceiling ball." This
is because when Cliff hits a ceiling ball, it's nearly
always perfect - forcing a return that allows him to
take the offense on his next shot. So people almost
never see him hit two ceiling balls in a row, and are
much more likely to remember the impressive
rally-ending shot than the ceiling ball that set it
up. I've never asked Cliff how many ceiling balls
he's hit in practice, but I'd bet his answer would be
something like, "Thousands...millions!"
^ back to the top ^
So here's the game: Both players start out at the backwall, and one player "serves" by hitting a ceiling ball. The players then continue to trade ceiling balls, with the rule that after each ceiling shot, the player that hit it must run and touch the encroachment line with a foot before playing the next shot. Any ball that doesn't at least carry past the encroachment line before the second bounce is out. A point is scored on every rally, and the players alternate serves. During the rally, if a ceiling ball comes off the back wall before bouncing twice, the player hitting the next shot does not have to go to the ceiling, and may shoot it. Also, for that one swing, that player doesn't have to go touch the line. After that shot, the next player must go back to the ceiling to stay in the rally. You can make the game more challenging by requiring each player to touch the short line rather than the encroachment line, and by adding a piece of tape farther back on the sidewall that each ceiling shot must carry beyond. You can even handicap things by making the better player run farther after each shot.
The better you and your partner get at this game, the longer the rallies last, and the more you will have to run to return each other's accurate, deep, wall-hugging ceiling balls. If you're not pretty tired after one game to 15, someone needs to work on their ceiling game!
5. PASSING GAME
Some of the benefits of this game are obvious, and some are rather subtle. You will obviously begin to get better control of your passes. The rallies in this game are usually longer, so conditioning and court coverage will improve. You will also learn to pay close attention to where each ball takes its second bounce. This is called the "length" of the ball. A player who is aware of and can control the length of each shot has an advantage over the players who are unaware of the concept. As you develop skill at this game you will find yourself trying to have the ball take its second bounce in one of five places: either of the two back corners, right behind the intersection of the short line and either side wall, and - on wide-angle passes that take their first bounce at the sidewall crack right behind your opponent - at the floor just in front of the center of the backwall.
This game will also make you more aware of your skips, since each one costs you points that you've already earned. When you skip in a match, a coach may tell you, "Don't worry, it's just one point." In reality, a skip often costs more than one point if it robs you of momentum or adds momentum to your opponent. Many players compete without much awareness of how badly their skips hurt them. The passing game sharpens that awareness!
Hope this helps anyone who is teaching or learning the game. I'll try to answer any questions readers may have on teaching, learning, coaching, or being coached. Until I can persuade the Webmaster to put a place to >>email<<< here, you can go to the "bo stories" link and send an email from there.
Over and out for now......
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