Racquetball Passing Shot Technique


photo: exfordy

While a front wall rollout certainly brings more pleasure, the racquetball passing shot is the easiest way to consistently score points by putting your opponent in trouble and regaining control of the mid-court sweetspot.

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!


13 comments on “Racquetball Passing Shot Technique

  1. Owen says:

    This is useful information for responding to serves and shots near the center of the court. However, I’m not sure how well it can be used in doubles when the court is more widely covered. Is there a different technique for the pass shot in doubles play?

    • techteach says:

      Your observation that the racquetball passing shot technique is more difficult to use in doubles is very astute! It should be a HIGHLY used shot in singles, and a selective choice when playing racquetball doubles. The positioning in the first video above, with a narrow gap between the player and the wall, is the more likely shot for doubles. You can also use a low crosscourt passing shot to beat an aggressive front court player, but in general any doubles passing shot will need to be hit lower and with more authority than in singles.

      A more experienced player can pull this off; beginners would be better served choosing a ceiling shot in doubles, and repositioning to take advantage of potential errors there.

  2. Conner Elliott says:

    Hit passing shots as an alternative as kill shots all the time. You would think a good kill shot is going to be golden all the time to winning points. But the reality is that it depends a lot of the court position of your opponent.

    • Racquetball Teacher says:

      Exactly. You always have to factor in risk/reward in your shot-making for racquetball. While the kill shot is temping, if you are in the wrong court position, the ball is in the wrong position relative to your body, or the shot exceeds your “average” skill, then the risk may exceed the reward. A passing shot is often the best balance of risk-reward if you are not in an OPTIMAL position. Of course, you have to play enough to recognize when this s the case — as well as not let ego get in our way. Frankly, I find a well-placed racquetball passing shot kill very satisfying.

  3. Gabe says:

    After watching the video, I have a better understanding for how to change the pace and try to fight for ‘control’ in the game when my passing shot is not working. Too often, I try to hit the ball harder when my shots are not going where I want them. In the future, I plan to consider using shots, like a passing shot, to change the pace. I also will try to use the wide-angle pass shot since it spreads the court and is a good shot to have in my repertoire.

    • Racquetball Teacher says:

      Gabe, those are great adjustments to your game plan! So often we are attracted to the “smash the ball” aspect of racquetball, and it IS fun to hit hard. But hard is never a substitute for thoughtful shot-making that wins points.

  4. Micah says:

    I found out that I need more control in my passing shot so I’ll hit the ball perfectly to get a better position. I always tend to hit the ball at anytime it come towards me instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity to hit the ball.

    • Racquetball Teacher says:

      That is a good observation Micah. Most younger players hit the ball as SOON as possible; mosre experienced players often wait as LATE as possible. Keep in mind that in general, contacting the ball lower is better, and because gravity always works, lower comes FROM waiting until later. Patience can be a virture in racquetball.

  5. Jason says:

    I love passing shots for when I am behind my opponent. Hitting it behind gem and get them moving backward to return the shot. Passing shots are more difficult in cutthroat when you have the service because there is typically someone in the spots you want to pass to. However, those shots are more important because your passing shots need to be especially accurate in cutthroat.

    • Racquetball Teacher says:

      Exactly, and a smart observation. Ceiling shots are more useful than passing shots in doubles and cutthroat; it is harder to hit a good passing shot. However, LOOKING for the opportunity when you have two opponents trains your court vision, so you can take advantage of small openings.

  6. James says:

    Two things that I believe will help my pass shot is keeping my weight on my front foot during contact and picking a target to hit towards. Keeping my weight on my front foot will help my control and power. Picking a target to hit towards will give me some reference rather than just hitting the ball aimlessly.

    • Racquetball Teacher says:

      James, in theory there should be a transfer of weight as you rotate, from back to front foot, and your chest also rotating from facing the sidewall to facing the front wall. But if you are getting stuck on your back foot, the front foot focus will help, and also keep the ball lower on the front wall.

  7. Miguel Rovira says:

    A lot of the times during practice or playing in games with players who do not have as much power as I do I often get too focused on hitting kill shots all the time. I need to focus on utilizing the passing shots because its an effective way to gain the point from an opponent who uses the momentum of your swing. Racquetball is a huge mental game and while its great to slam the ball as hard as possible you need to be constantly thinking about your shots because it is a game of strategy and passing shots can allow you to better position yourself.

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