Becoming a Professional Player- Part 7
by Dave Ellis, Coach, USA Racquetball and Jesse Serna, Conditioning Coach for the 209
“We must all hang together or most assuredly we shall hang separately.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Our previous blog was about acquiring a coach and then working cooperatively with that person. Finding the right coach can often be a difficult, and sometimes an expensive, task. Experienced professional level coaches are few and far between. Yet, it is essential that our prospective professional gain perspective into what is happening when he/she plays. It’s absolutely necessary that a second set of eyes be there to provide information and feedback.
An alternative to working with an experienced coach is to form a partnership with one or more professional players. Frankly even those players who are coached can benefit from a partnership with another player. This is very workable, especially if the players live in the same area. A partnership can be mutually beneficial in a number of different ways:
• A partnership allows valuable on-court practice activities. Set ups given by each other can serve to improve particular rally skills. Serves and returns can be rehearsed together. Drilling together will have tremendous value, particularly if each is both encouraging and demanding of the other. Situation games and matches will be easy to plan and execute.
• Off court fitness training while working with a partner, can be motivating and efficient. Partners can push each other and also hold each other accountable to a training regimen.
• When scheduling permits, partners should game coach each other. While assisting your partner within game coaching, you practice the ability to analyze and make corrections in real time.
• Post-match discussions with partners can provide valuable insight. Studying together video of each other’s play, along with that of other professionals, can make an often-tedious task more fun.
• Travel planning and sharing of expenses is crucial. By booking flights together when inexpensive, sharing rides and places to stay, your sponsorship dollars can be stretched just a little further.
• You are an aspiring professional racquetball player, thus not a lot of people will understand your dedication and lifestyle. A partner is uniquely qualified to understand time management issues, dealing with school, job, and family, as well as the time required of both you and your partner during on and off court practice.
• Partners look out for each other. For example, while partner A is playing a late evening match, partner B can obtain food before restaurants close. Of course, there are often social events that may require a designated driver.
An essential accord, which should be made by partners, is that each other’s improvement and welfare are a mutual effort. Needless to say, each partner has to feel the help of the other for the relationship to be of maximum benefit and to continue on into the future. There will be those moments where partners have to play each other. After all, racquetball is an individual sport. These matches need to happen without destroying the “teamwork bonds” that have been developed. This can be difficult, but good sportsmanship and fair play especially need to be the rule in these cases. Good luck with this situation. It’s a tough one.