The Value of Self-reflection

Socrates: “The life which is unexamined is not worth living.”
Santayana: “He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it.”

How do these philosophical quotes apply to racquetball in 2014? Working on your game and seeing from outside your own skull is an essential step to understanding how you are truly doing. i.e. Which bad habits have persisted even when you know better? Which shot selections are still being made incorrectly? Am I being more than a bit lazy in getting to the ball and getting set up for the right shot?

One of the benefits of sponsoring tournaments at Recreational ATL is the opportunity to have tournament matches digitally video taped. Watching these videos allows me to review both were I was in 2013 and how some of my bad habits have persisted into 2014.

2013 IRT Peachtree Open, first match in the D division
2014 IRT Atlanta Open, first match in the C division

If I’m particularly generous to myself, I had ~8 rally ending shots (in my favor) in the first match. In the second match, perhaps 16 were rally ending in my favor.

The same bad habits are revealed in each video:

1) Early racquet preparation: not happening.
2) Movement around the ball to get in the right place for the shot: laziness revealed.
3) Down the line shots staying off the side walls: not happening, shots bouncing back to the center.
4) Shots pinched well: yeah, right.
5) Shots not skipped: only in my dreams.

In order to improve before the next tournament I plan to play in, the Longhorn Open in January, I will be recording and reviewing at least one game every week. To do that, I’m not going to invest in the $200-500 GoPro cameras, I’ve gone low end instead. For $60, I picked up the Orbo┬« NR22 Extreme Sports Action Camera 1080p HD Video 4x Digital Zoom Camcorder on Amazon, and I use a SanDisk 32GB Ultra Class 10 Micro SDHC that I already had for a still camera. Put just above waist high on the door of the glass backed courts at LA Fitness, it catches enough of the match to see the bad habits mentioned above. It isn’t as valuable as the camera 10 feet in the air, 15 feet from the back wall as used to capture the videos above, but it is the right price for the information that I need. With some reinforcement of knowing what is supposed to happen, what isn’t supposed to happen, and whether or not it is happening, I intend to improve my game.

A few weeks after I wrote this post, Fran Davis wrote an article for the IRT about video analysis.