Great Interview with Charlie Brumfield and Jim Winterton

This is one in a series of videos featuring racquetball legend Charlie Brumfield during an interview with Jim Winterton. So much valuable information and such a pleasure to watch. Share this with all your racquetball friends and enjoy! You can watch the video by clicking below. Feel free to share the notes taken from this interview as well.

Jim Winterton talks about envisioning your offensive area. When you have the ball inside of your offensive area, go offense. When it is outside of that area, simply play defense. It was a module that he used as a player. When he was out of shape and he wasn't able to drill as much, he simply shrunk his offensive area. When he had opportunities in that shrunken area, he took them. Otherwise he was playing more defense. He had a game plan and a module.

If you never do something you can't do on the court and you have one or two effective modules, you're going to play double-A ball. And you ask, How can you improve if you're not going to do other stuff and you're always going to be defensive in this large swaths of the court? You do them one at a time. You never give up a point saying I'm practicing a shot. I've never given up a point to anybody. I don't give up points. The single most important thing to a student is to realize that when you step into the arena of competition, you give up nothing. You don't give up inches. You don't give up feet. You don't give up court position. You strike when the iron's hot. And you never, ever give a free point away for any reason. That sends a message that's undeniable to your opponent... You can't go in and play practice. Practice by yourself. That's where you can practice. And even then you're holding yourself to the highest standards. - Charlie Brumfield

Brumfield used to tell his practice partner to hit him in the back as hard as he could in the back if he missed a shot that left him out of position. He wanted to create a climate of intense pressure for himself so that if he missed the shot he would pay. When he got to tournaments he didn't feel the same pressure. He created an atmosphere that allowed him to prosper without really ever playing in any tournaments.

Think about your ceiling ball mechanics and pay attention to what Charlie Brumfield talks about around the 7:00 mark about his ceiling ball mechanics. He did not cut the ball because he wasn't able to with the old ball. He turned away from the ball and gave it a full arm ceiling ball. Don't try to hit it square to the side wall. Don't separate your arm from your body. Winteron suggests keeping your hitting wrist behind your back shoulder as much as possible.

They talk about a guy named Paul Haber and speak very highly of him. They say there is a YouTube clip of him playing handball against somebody who is using a racquet. Sports Illustrated covered that match. I found the clip of this match and it is pretty good quality. Check it out here:

Jim Winterton talks about hitting practice serves in groups of ten and evaluating how many of them are in out of ten. He wants that serve percentage to be up at 70 percent or better to be very good. Winterton wants his athletes to hit 100 serves three times a week or more.

If your opponent isn't afraid of your serve, you don't have a complete game. - Charlie Brumfield

It would be good to try hitting 100 serves three times a week. Chart your success in number of good serves out of 10.

Charlie Brumfield thinks it’s important to have a service book. And he says that it’s embarrassing that nobody is out there practicing the serve. We should all be practicing our serve.

It’s more important than just how to serve. You need to know what you’re going to get back from the specific serve that you serve.

The kind of ball I want to get back is dictated by my serve. I don’t want to get a ball over my head or high. I don’t want to give a good athlete three seconds to figure out what he’s going to do with this floater coming back to him. I want to use my advantage, which is quick thinking. I want him to have to think quick and me to have to think quick, and I’ll take my chances on that comparison. – Charlie Brumfield

If I sense the fish wriggling, I’m not relocating anywhere. If I can get the fish to wriggle, I am plucking it out of the water forthwith. I step in and wherever it is, I hit it. – Charlie Brumfield on relocating after a serve

My goal all the time in a standard serve where I haven’t gained a huge advantage and I don’t sense the fish wriggling, I try to turn and get as deep as I can before the swing starts into the ball. As it commences to start, I turn and I’m running straight in to the court at pretty damn close to full speed preparing to break to the right. I serve mostly to the left side, unless I’m playing a super lefty. And I know from experience that – if you’re facing any kind of a serve other than an absolute setup – 75 percent of all balls do one of three things: (1) go down the line and come off the back wall where you don’t need to be running around – you just walk back and kill it; (2) splat over to the forehand side; (3) go crosscourt in an attempt to drive it for a winner. That’s a huge percentage. Now, what do I do to make that percentage higher? Because that’s what I want – I want someone to hit to my forehand from serve return. When I make that move in – as the swing is actually occurring – they see me burst in toward the left. What is their natural inclination to do? It’s to hit away from me. And that changes it from 75 percent to 85 percent. So I break off that play – as soon as I am sure the ball is not going down the line – and I’m already there to finish before the fish can come into play. I prefer to score when there’s no one there. I don’t prefer to score when I have to roll the ball out with somebody in center court. That’s only an idiotic way of playing in comparison. We understand that there are ways when you can’t do that because the players are just too good. They can kill the ball too soon, so you can’t afford to wait. I’m putting that issue aside for the time being. I move in and I anticipate the opposite. So if I’m charging, I anticipate a pass. So if they drive the ball on me [I break hard to the right]. I’m anticipating the opposite, just like if I were charging a bunt. Would I be going into the bunt [with my hands down by my feet]? Well, if I don’t like my teeth I would. But you have to anticipate the drive. So when you come in for a bunt you’re ready [for the drive]. That’s what I did better than anybody back in my heyday. And that’s what people don’t do. They’re told by somebody, Hey, look. You’ve got to cover the front court. They’re coming in on the ball as if they’re supposed to cover the front court, but they’re not thinking the opposite. So a floater could hit them in the chest. Rather than being a setup, it becomes a terminal event for the rally... I feel strongly about this one aspect of the game. – Charlie Brumfield

The game needs to be learned first and foremost in accordance with the mental framework of the student. So if you have an accountant-type person you don’t teach the same as you would to a fighter pilot type person. So the first thing you need to assess when you’re teaching is: What is the personality of my student? That’s the first thing you need to assess when you’re playing an opponent. What is the type of person that I’m playing? What does that type of person want? What does that type of person dislike? What are the ways I can bring my talents to bear to make it uncomfortable for them within the rules? There’s very little discussion of that in any camps I’ve gone to. But that’s what I lived on. I lived on making that opponent uncomfortable. Because any competent star player can kill the ball when they’re comfortable. A champion can kill the ball when they’re uncomfortable. But you’re not facing champions every day. You have to be able to win, and those matches are critical... If I have a guy that I can dispense with by utilizing techniques that are within the rules but make them uncomfortable, I save energy for the finals. If I don’t play in accordance with that general rule, which is to attack the personality of my opponent, I am losing points. I am losing percentages. I am losing championships that I could have won. – Charlie Brumfield

I’ve always felt that the sport is best where all different ingredients of a person can be utilized at one time or another to change the outcome of a point or a match. The modern game is more of a technical exhibition. Hard conditioning, psychological ploys, they all take a distant back seat to the ability to strike the ball. In the old days, the players weren’t as accomplished – due to them, or the equipment, or both. – Charlie Brumfield

The primary reason I changed pace of play is because of fatigue. The old game was… Let’s just put it this way… It was brutal. And my experience was until 1975 or so, probably 60 percent of matches in the championship finals were decided based on injury or cramping. It was a very high percentage where a player was limping noticeably and it was just a bitch to finish a tournament in those days, particularly if you were going two events. Two out of three to 21 – it was bad. Too much probably for normal people to enjoy. So I would consistently serve balls into the gallery and refuse to play with new ones until they could be found, and there would be kicking of the ball, and – they still do this – diving on the floor and stopping play for ten minutes while they sponge it off. I don’t like to do that, but that’s part of the game. Everybody knows that if you’re a type A personality you want something to happen now. I want something to happen now. I hate people slow-playing the serve. I dislike it completely. – Charlie Brumfield

Charlie Brumfield tells a story about Jay Jones and the antics he used during play. He would watch Brumfield as he was in the service box and wait until a drop of sweat hit his goggles and then immediately serve. He would take a timeout, put his back against the side wall, and then serve into the wet spot when play resumed. There were a lot of little tricks in those days used to get an advantage over your opponent. Some would Look at their opponent and stare at his feet when they were in the box and when he looks down at his feet, serve the ball.

In the modern game, if you’re not feeling prepared to shoot the ball, you’re at a severe disadvantage. – Charlie Brumfield

Charlie Brumfield talks about doing something with his students that he calls blue line drills. During these blue line drills, he wants the ball to hit exactly at the crack for a 100 percent true rollout. Every shot they hit goes directly at the crack. Maybe 50, 60, 80, or 100 shots. Right in the front. Flat out, straight out, roll outs. Not two inches high or four inches high – right in the blue line. He wants to be able to do it if he has to do it, he just never had to do it. When you really have to do something, you have to will it in. But you can’t just will something in that’s never been accomplished by your system. You never want to see it, but if there is an urgent time and you need it to happen, you need to be able to do it. He wants to find a way to win aggressively, but safely.

The champions shoot the ball and they execute shots, which puts more pressure on your opponent and takes away hope. – Jim Winterton

What a quarterback thinks is the best play is what should be called, regardless of whether it’s the best play. Because by his thought that it’s the best play, it becomes the best play. – Charlie Brumfield