Becoming a Professional Player #6
by Dave Ellis, Coach, USA Racquetball and Jesse Serna, Conditioning Coach for the 209
“Everyone needs a coach, whether it’s a top level executive, a graduate student, a homemaker, a homeless person or the President of the United States” - Anthony Robbins
By definition the aspiring racquetball professional is goal oriented, driven, and exceptional. To be successful he/she must maximize his/her talents and be willing to address any weaknesses. This means seeking the assistance of a qualified racquetball coach. A qualified coach will provide the player perspective on what is needed to continue his/her professional development and improvement. Experience in coaching at the professional level, and references are certainly important qualifications.
In hunting for a coach, look for a person that knows the game and is able to analyze and advise you with respect to strategy, mechanics, and shot making. He/she should be passionate about racquetball and be able to effectively communicate his/her thoughts on the game. He/she should work to motivate you to want to continue to increase your shot making percentages, no matter how high your ranking has become. Your coach should be willing to spend time watching and analyzing video. He/she should be able to work closely with your physical fitness trainer. He/she should be flexible and above all take time to listen to you and your ideas. A professional coach should help you be a professional. Assisting with travel arrangements, promoting publicity, budgeting prize money, obtaining sponsorships, and other income earning opportunities would also be positive qualities.
Coaching may be thought of as two fold, preparation and game coaching. Preparation is concerned with both maintenance and improvement of on court and off court skills. Game coaching involves developing strategies for victory and making critical adjustments during a match. For your coach to be able to do this, he/she needs to have a clear idea of what shots and serves you can execute consistently. For example, a coach should not advise the player to cut off a desperation shot into the back wall during a match if the player’s cutoff skills are inconsistent. Rather, the coach should be determined that the percentage of successful executions of that shot is increased in practice, so that later it may be employed during competition.
As a professional player, you will be admired. Many recreational players will want the best for you and try to help. They may offer advice on racquetball strategy, playing, equipment, shoes, diet and any number of things. Here it is important to maintain communication with your coach so that he/she knows what you are thinking. A good coach is there for you, and is there to make you better. Be open with your coach about your game. Your coach will understand that sometimes it might be good to get an outside perspective. It is essential that the player keeps the communication open and positive, so that your coach knows the advice you are receiving and can help you evaluate it.
If it becomes time to part ways, be open and honest with your coach. He/she should find out your intentions from you directly, rather than hearing it from secondary sources. Your coach may have dedicated much time, emotion, and effort to helping you and this would be only common courtesy. The coach and player relationship is special, and can be a significant advantage for the aspiring racquetball professional.