The squeak of court shoes, the fast-paced action, the thwack of a rubber ball hitting the wall at high velocity: Racquetball can be a satisfying and fun social activity. And while getting started requires only the ability to swing a racquet, mastering the sport is a unique challenge.
“Racquetball offers astronomical health benefits,” says Sudsy Monchik, a professional racquetball player and coach who began playing at age 7 and went on to become a five-time world champion.
The sport engages both body and mind, improving cardiovascular fitness, agility, mobility, coordination, and reaction time. “Racquetball is a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise — and you’re not looking at the clock like you are on a treadmill,” explains fellow pro and coach Cliff Swain, who along with Monchik leads racquetball clinics across the country.
“People who have barely played can get a much better workout than in other sports because it is full of multidirectional demands.”
Racquetball is relatively safe, making it a lifelong sport. “Many people are still playing into their 80s, unlike other sports,” says Monchik.
Racquetball differs from tennis in several ways. “In tennis, it’s extremely difficult to get the ball over the net and in the inbox, and a lot of the time is spent picking up balls around the court,” he says. “The racquetball mostly comes back to the middle. The rules are simpler and the rallies are longer.”
To up your racquetball game, there are several strategic points to consider, says John Wilinski, Life Time’s national racquetball, squash, and pickleball manager. For example, many players position themselves too far forward in the court.
“Aim to stay back behind the safety line after you hit. This does two things: It gives you more time to hit the next shot and allows you to cover more of the court defensively.”
Another common mistake is aiming too low on the front wall. “It may cause the ball to hit the floor before it hits the front wall, costing you the point,” Wilinski explains. “Aim higher to keep the ball in play.”
Practice the drills here to improve your performance and enjoyment while getting a great workout.