It can take a lot of practice to consistently hit low kill shots off the front wall, and the risk factor is relatively high, especially for newer players. However, the passing shot is fairly low risk, and especially in singles, allows you to gain control of the middle of the court with ease. While the passing shot itself may not score, when well placed it often creates weak returns, and sets up a kill on your NEXT shot.
It is important to remember that racquetball is often like high-speed chess, and you need to think at least one shot ahead when possible. Also remember not to waste a great passing shot by spectating and admiring your perfect placement! Hit it and immediately flow towards the center sweetspot ready to kill the weak return.
Racquetball Passing Shot Technique
One of the keys emphasized in this video is how to use the passing shot when your kill shot is not working. It can also be used to neutralize the power of a stronger player (sometimes just by irritating them!) and to change the pace of the game — always a good choice if you are losing.
Racquetball Passing Shot – Court Position
From a tactical perspective, this video shows the perfect situation for a forehand passing shot in singles.
The player closest to the front wall is in the center of the court, and then fades backwards slightly to open up the entire forehand side for a passing shot. This points out an important tactical aspect for receiving serve in singles — when your opponent is serving from the center of the service area, they are setup for an immediate passing shot return unless their serve is tough enough to put you on the defensive. You should strongly consider using a passing shot to return many serves.
Racquetball Passing Shot – Cross Court, Wide Angle
This is another variation of the backhand passing shot, well-suited for singles play. This ball “wraps around” your opponent as it passes them, rather than heading towards the same side deep corner. When executed well, this kind of passing shot is extremely hard to defend because you cannot “run this ball down.” It is moving away from you faster than you can run.
Racquetball Backhand Passing Shot Technique Practice
Here we see a high level racquetball practice session for the backhand passing shot.
Note the strong pivot towards the wall to set up for a powerful return, and the difference in contact point relative to the front foot for a down-the-line pass shot and a cross-court pass shot.
The Role Of Peripheral Vision in Successful Passing Shots
Peripheral vision is an important component of hitting a successful passing shot. You must carry an awareness of where your opponent is positioned, so that you know when this shot is open and appropriate. Beginning players often focus entirely on the ball.
Learn to “soften” your vision like a martial arts fighter; the periperal cells in your eyes do not pick up fine detail, but DO pick up motion better than a typical central focus. Try to use about 20% of your vision beyond the ball, maintaining a strong “mental map” of where your opponent is positioned.
The age old tactic of “hit it where they ain’t” usually works! The pass shot is the perfect tool for this strategy. Maybe best of all, you do not need to be a finely-tuned racquetball machine to use it. Much like the ceiling shot, it requires only moderate speed and general placement to be effective, and so is very well suited for the developing game of newer players.
Adding a consistent racquetball passing shot to your game — both the technique, as well as the knowledge of when to use it — will greatly increase your opportunities to win!