Here is a quick list of three people we can get involved with racquetball to help grow the game.
Basketball players. A vast majority of basketball players are more than athletic enough to keep rallies going in the early stages of racquetball and most of them will be competitive enough to try. While there will always be a certain portion of every sports population that doesn’t want to attempt something new and go through the embarrassing early struggles, basketball players with the balls to try can get hooked on the game and experience success rather quickly. Footwork in racquetball is incredibly similar to defense in basketball, and adding in some life experience with throwing and hitting gives you a nice recipe for an accelerated learning curve.
Baseball players. These guys are used to hitting moving objects and will experience a great deal of success early on because of that fact. If you’re lucky enough to find a baseball player that throws righty and hits lefty (or throws lefty and hits righty) you have a perfect combination for building a potential racquetball regular. Throwing a baseball is very similar to hitting a forehand, and swinging the bat is pretty close to hitting a backhand. With the speed of the racquetball consistently topping 100 mph in a space much smaller than the distance from the pitching mound to home plate, you could also sell them on the fact that playing racquetball consistently can help their hand-eye coordination and reaction time while improving their conditioning.
Football players. It’s true that football players don’t hit anything like we do in racquet sports, but all football players need to move their feet. Lineman, running backs, wide receivers, defensive backs – everybody has to move their feet in football. And everybody in football could use a fun and competitive way to improve their conditioning and agility. Jim LeClair, a North Dakota native who played 12 seasons as a linebacker in the NFL, used racquetball all of the time as a way to condition. Given the competitive nature of most football players and the intensity with which racquetball is played, it’s a great way for guardians of the gridiron to get in some much needed conditioning and agility work while letting out their frustrations by blasting the racquetball around the court.
I challenge you to go out and find an athlete from one of these sports and get them into the racquetball court. Teach them the rules and play some rallies to get them familiar with the game. Take it easy on them right away. Don’t demoralize them by hitting rollout after rollout when they set you up with 10-foot high blasts off the back wall. If you teach one of these athletes the game, odds are that they’ll drag one of their buddies into the court to teach them the game as well.
Help grow racquetball one player at a time.
See you in the courts!