Arguably, the most crucial skill one must possess when attempting to play a sport requiring hand/eye coordination is timing. I cannot stress enough how important timing is and will be to your enjoyment of the sport of paddleball. In this session, we will begin to discuss one of the most basic of skills necessary to play the game of paddleball.
Timing is a multifaceted all-encompassing skill that is important both on and off the court. First, I will try to explain what timing is in relationship to striking of the paddleball (I could fill pages on how timing has affected me in different sports and life). A couple seconds here, a couple of Nano-seconds there, and bang you’re in a different country speaking a foreign language, playing cricket or something.
Timing has always fascinated me; it has been the driving skill set that has allowed me to achieve great things both on and off the court. Great timing is the basis for all great things desired in the paddleball.
There are a couple of terms I will be using and need defining.
A. Stroke Mechanics:
Stoke mechanics without timing (wiz def.); awkward flailing like motion some exhibit on the paddleball court when attempting to hit the ball. With timing– stroke mechanics are smooth, graceful and consistent like water pouring from a glass.
B. Muscle Memory:
Muscle memory (wiz def.) The test of one’s ability to connect brain waves to muscle groups in order to repeat a series of motions to form a more perfect union of the paddle face to the ball… In other words, the ability to repeat muscle motions exactly the same way over and over again.
One may think timing is pretty simple and that with practice he or she can figure it out….Unlike baseball or golf, where the striker of the ball is stationary, the variables of motion in a paddleball court while trying to strike the ball make it very challenging…To get it right, one needs stroke mechanics, muscle memory and knowledge of the planets … What? That’s right just like the planets revolve around the sun in our solar system, so shall the striker of a paddleball while in motion revolve around the ball and position themselves perfectly to strike with perfect timing…Therefore the ball being the center of their paddleball universe and being in unison with it…
This is an advanced concept and will be discussed in detail in a later session.
For now, we will focus on static timing (no movement to the ball), drills done off the court while watching television. Generally 5 minutes or so will produce big benefits in just a few weeks. Developing the correct arm muscles is key to having great paddle timing, paddle head control, consistent arm speed, and the unmistakable whip-it sound when the head of the paddle follows through the contact zone with perfect timing.
This drill is done with a top weighted paddle of approx. 16 to 20 ounces and done with care as not to hit walls, wife, kids or animals Yikes! Note: (DO NOT DO the whip it with weighted-up paddle!).
Practicing your form with a top weighted paddle is guaranteed to build a better grip, better paddle control, better acceleration, quicker hand speed and sharper punch, pass and reload reflexes with an overall strength enhancement.
Good form will naturally begin to fall in place due to the effect of the extra weight trying to follow a natural arc, similar to a Pendulum. A nagging pain in your arm and shoulder will ensue if natural form is overridden with left brain logic. Relax and allow nature to take its place, the paddle will rise and fall naturally.
Things to consider while doing this drill:
1. Your swing will start to smooth out in short order, do not force or over accelerate while doing this exercise!
2. Make sure the weight is securely attached to end of paddle!
3. Do not over-swing and do not snap through, hold and swing paddle at a fixed slow controlled rate of speed.
4. Use smooth controlled acceleration and deceleration and a full range of motion. Start high on the backhand and finish high on the forehand rotating through your torso but in a static leg position.
5. Do not over-do it. This is a short 3 to 5 minute drill, done two or three times a week, maximum.
6. Always finish by swinging your game paddle at half speed after using the weighted one to cool down.