There are several shots in racquetball that help you balance out the risk-reward aspect of your gameplan, and the racquetball pinch shot
is one of these.
Any shot that goes directly into the front wall is harder to kill than one that contacts a side wall first, because of the accuracy required to prevent setting up your opponent. If you attempt a front wall kill and hit it too high, your opponent will likely do YOU in!
However, by hitting the same ball as a pinch shot, several things will happen:
- The pinch shot ball loses speed from contacting the extra wall, and so rebounds less
- The ball moves on an angle away from your opponent, making it harder for them to retrieve the ball
- Less accuracy is required on your part, meaning you can take the risk of a pinch kill from a broader range of situations, with less risk of setting up your opponent.
Ben Croft talks below about two versions of the pinch shot; the essential difference in the pinch and the splat is how close to the front corner the ball contacts the side wall, and how close you are to the side wall when making the shot.
The Racquetball Pinch Shot (Plus the Splat Shot)
Personally, I wish that Ben had discussed the pinch shot first instead of the splat, because it is the more generally useful ot the two shots. The splat is great fun to hit, and one of the few times that “spin” actually enters into the game of racquetball, but it is not a shot you want to hit a lot. The situation has to be right, as he explains.
There is some “touch” involved, and each player works best with slightly different angles and situations, because of the combination of your swing, strength, positioning, and experience. It really IS one of those shots that you just have to try out, and play with, until you find the right mix for your game.
Pinch Shot Angles
Note the angle that the pinch shot and splat shot both end up taking after contacting the front wall. Despite Ben’s assertion that you hit as close to the front corner as possible (also an option for a “pinch kill,” but also carrying more risk,) the standard pinch shot contacts the side wall at roughly knee height, about half way between the service line and the front wall. It also bounces twice before it reaches the short line as it rebounds cross court.
The Pinch Shot as Part of Your Game Plan
I think of the game as divided into three kinds of primary shot situations; kill shot situations, court control situations, and “stay alive” situations. Many newer players tend to treat each shot as if it is a kill shot situation, hitting the ball as hard as possible — only to discover that “the ball knows angles,” and rebounds to a perfect setup point for their opponent.
A large part of your game needs to be made up of court control shots — moving your opponent OUT of center court, and taking over their position — with relatively low risk passing, ceiling, and pinch shots. The racquetball pinch shot, (and its cousin, the splat shot) is a great low risk/high reward way to make kills and force your opponent out of center court.