In October 2019, I played my first racquetball match at Surrey Closed Tournament and I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite not really knowing what I was doing! Since then I have played 3-4 times per month and I feel it has had a positive impact on my squash performance. Below are some observations I have made since adding racquetball into my weekly activity:
OBSERVATION 1: IT HAS BEEN GREAT FOR MY CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS
As a result of the larger, bouncier ball used when playing racquetball I found the rally took longer to finish, which in turn has aided the development of my aerobic cardiovascular fitness.
OBSERVATION 2: IT HAS HELPED TO DEVELOP MY TACTICAL AWARENESS
I found it hard to finish the rallies in racquetball (I also find this hard in squash too!) so I adjusted my tactics to try and constantly move my opponent around the court. I then attempted to do this when I next played squash and I found it to be successful. It resulted in less errors and winning more rallies.
OBSERVATION 3: IT HAS HELPED TO REFINE MY MOVEMENT ON COURT
The increased bounce and hang time of the racquetball allowed me to focus on my movement to the ball in a live environment. I prioritised arriving at the ball in a position where I could take the ball long or short and straight or cross court making my game harder to read.
OBSERVATION 4: IT HAS HELPED TO DEVELOP MY BALL CONTROL
With the bouncier ball in racquetball, I needed to control the ball into the corners of the court by focusing on the weight and height of the shots I played. When I went back to playing squash I felt this awareness aided my ability to control the squash ball and in turn my opponent.
OBSERVATION 5: I THINK IT COULD INCREASE MY LONGEVITY IN SQUASH
Despite perspiring heavily and seeing an average heart rate of circa 150bpm during a racquetball game, I found that I experienced very little muscle and joint soreness in the following days. Typically, I try to play 2 competitive squash matches per week. I feel that if I were to occasional swap one of these with a game of racquetball every other week my longevity in squash may increase.
Squash is still my main focus, however I will be supplementing it with racquetball to maintain my cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and mental capacity whilst limiting the damage to my joints.
Do you have a question for Neal? Drop him an e-mail on Neal_brooker@hotmail.com