I have played racquetball for about 7 years. During that time I have gone from terrible to somewhat less terrible. Along the way I have learned several lessons that helped me develop myself and prepare for the twists and turns of my career. I didn’t know it at the time, but these lessons have not only helped me be a better racquetball player, but also have helped me become more aware, adaptable and better positioned for growth. Below are a few things racquetball has taught me.
Speed of the game
As with football and other fast-paced games, the game starts out incredibly fast. The first time you play someone that knows how to play, the speed is intense. The more you play, the more the game slows down. As in racquetball, so it is in your career. The more you practice, the more you prepare, the more comfortable you are with the speed and intensity. That new job or new project starts out fast, but with practice comes confidence.
Racquetball is a game of position. If you can keep your opponent out of the center of the court, you will win. As you play, you learn to listen for and anticipate where your opponent is so that you know their position and direction. Once you build this awareness, you know where to send your shot and ultimately win. If you know where the competition is and where they are going, you will be able to leverage that information to your advantage in your business and your career. The game also builds your awareness of yourself. You begin to analyze your shots, how your arm moves, the angle of your racquet and many other factors. You can identify strengths and weaknesses such as speed, endurance, strength, and agility and use them to your advantage.
The right gear
You get what you pay for. Certain racquets are just better than others. Build the right toolset. Dress for the job you want. Build your skills accordingly. Buy the right tools the first time. Research the gear and make an informed investment. Looking back you will see the value of being informed and using the right gear.
Many times I have come back in a game that I am down by 12 points. It’s hard. You get in a hole and you feel like you are terrible at racquetball, your career or anything for that matter. There are several lessons here. The only way to stage a comeback is to play one shot at a time. Compartmentalize. Because the last shot didn’t work doesn’t mean the next one won’t. Remember that this is an opportunity, not a failure. Winning is not for the faint of heart, it takes a substantial amount of resilience and thick skin to achieve.
Jump in a court by yourself and try some new serves. Practice shots off the back wall, or ceiling shots. Visualize your opponent and their reaction and send the ball somewhere else. Watch your swing and where the ball goes. All of this practice and self analysis will help you understand what you are doing right and where you need to improve.
Play someone better than you
Perhaps the best lesson I have learned from racquetball is to play someone better than you. For years I played a friend and we both sucked. It was pretty even. Got pretty old too. Then I entered into a league and played people better than I was. I watched, listened and learned how they played and got better in weeks than I had in previous years. Find a mentor, a friend, someone who will push you and help you grow. Once you grow, go help someone else.
Racquetball is a great game. If you have never played, the rules if the game can be found here. Whether it’s racquetball, running, knitting, playing an instrument or art, we learn so much from hobbies and the people around us. Sometimes it takes some perspective, but once you uncover these lessons you appreciate how invaluable they are across our entire lives.