Have you ever been in the gym and walked by those glassed in boxes with people going berserk with rackets inside? Those crazy people are playing racquetball, having a great time and getting a fantastic workout. Racquetball is one of those intense (yet fun) games that has you thinking and strategizing so much, you don’t even realize how much you’re moving….or sweating, until the game is over. If you feel the need to lock yourself in a room with a ball ricocheting off of every service, then read on to learn everything you need to know about becoming a racquetball beginner.
The Benefits of Racquetball
Why play racquetball? Well, for starters, it’s quite fun. Think tennis but more exciting – you’re in a pretty small area and the ball can bounce not only off of the floor, but also off of the walls. It’s also an activity that gives you a good excuse to get some girl time (unless you prefer to go solo, but that’s not quite as gratifying). Nothing will help you blow off steam or a crappy day at work like slamming a small rubber ball around a room with your bestie.
Racquetball is also a great form of cardio and way more entertaining than slogging away on a treadmill. During a game, you’re constantly on the move – or at least you should be if you don’t want to lose. You’ve always got to be ready to move in any direction to get the ball or else admit defeat to your opponent.
Running, stopping, cutting and jumping around the racquetball court is an effective way to give your bones the high-impact activity they crave, in turn lowering your risk of osteoporosis later on down the road.
Your speed, agility, flexibility, coordination and balance will all get a huge push in the direction of awesome after some quality time spent on the racquetball court. Remember that ball zinging around the court? Well, it takes every skill you have to get to it, return it and get back on defense. You’ll basically become a ninja.
Weight Loss and Fat Burning Potential
Can you lose weight playing racquetball? That’s a big fat YES! Engaging in a game of racquetball requires constant motion, even if you’re not that great at it. A 155-pound woman can expect to burn between 260 and 372 calories in just 30 minutes of racquetball.
It all depends upon the intensity with which you play. If you’re not into hustling around the court or winning, you’ll be on the lower end. If, however, you fancy yourself the queen of the racquetball world and would rather shave your eyebrows off than lose a point, you can bet your caloric expenditure will be pretty high.
Scheduling a few games of racquetball into your weekly schedule wouldn’t be a bad idea to mix up your routine, get into great shape, burn a little fat and add a bit of fun to your life.
Toning and Muscle Building Potential
If building muscle is your primary fitness goal, racquetball wouldn’t be the most efficient tool to get you there. While you will definitely develop strength throughout your body (it takes power from your legs, hips, core, and shoulders to hit the ball), you will by no means get jacked – that’s where strength training comes into play.
Playing at a high intensity will help you to take on a more toned appearance as your excess fat recedes and the underlying muscles make their debut.
Classes: What to expect; should I take them?
Racquetball classes are generally offered in a small group or individual setting. Most classes will teach you the fundamentals and rules of racquetball. You’ll also learn different swings, shots and footwork to make you a more efficient player. Some classes take it one step further, going over proper warm-up and cool-down techniques to ensure you’re at the top of your game while minimizing your risk of injury.
If you’ve never before played racquetball or simply need a refresher, a class would definitely be a good idea. Talk to the desk attendant at your gym to see what group or private lessons they might offer.
Instructional Racquetball Videos and Training Tips
If you’re not really the class type and just want to get down to business, check out the instructional videos and training advice below.
–Warm-up prior to your game. In addition to a general cardio warm-up, add in common racquetball movements such as serves, shots, lateral steps, jumps and lunges.
-Be sure to take a water break from time-to-time in between matches.
–Stretch at the end of the game to keep muscle soreness to a minimum.
Clothes and Proper Attire
In order to play racquetball there are three very important items you will need: a racquet, ball(s) and eye protection. Many times, you can rent or borrow these items from your gym but you can always purchase your own for a reasonable price. Never feel too cool to wear eye protection — taking one of those speeding balls to the eye is no laughing matter.
In addition to the obvious, you may also want to include sweatbands for your head and arms but that’s totally up to you.
The rest of your wardrobe can consist of general gym clothes – shorts or workout leggings with t-shirt or tank top.
As far as footwear is concerned, you can go with your old gym standbys – cross-trainers or other sport shoes are totally appropriate. If you feel the need to spend money, you can purchase a pair of actual racquetball shoes.