Bud Muehleisen won a record 69 national and inter-national championship
titles, but few realize his #1 standing in his college dentistry clinic.
One day Dr. Bud gazed down at me through dentist spectacles and said,
'Players can learn a lot about their games, and life, by examining their
personal intensity on the set-up and swing.' I gaped without understanding.
'The most important place for a personal rheostat is on the swing.
Strokes aren't knee-jerk reactions that turn on or off. You can slide along
a level of intensity on the swing from low to high. Tell players to try
these two things: Increase swing force on a few shots just 10%, and see what
happens. Then, lower swing force by 10%, and see what happens. The
adjustment one way or the other may prove beneficial.'
A rheostat is a device for the willful adjustment of electrical current
strength, and the term is applied to the racquetball swing. You can tinker
with stroke intensity in a number of ways: A change in overall body
tension, a sharpening of mental focus, altering the body coil or wrist snap,
or other ways. The usual method is to adjust the rheostat by psyching up or
down a tad (start with a 10% change), and the body naturally will follow
suit with the resultant smoothing out of the stroke. This corrects
over-hitting or under-hitting, as well as zeroing in on three court
I extend Muehleisen's Rheostat to include not only the set-up and swing, but
also the time spent in coverage between shots.
For the sake of simplicity, there are three court personalities: The Good,
Bad and Ugly. The Good guy is the jovial fellow who's lazy bones on the
court for fear of upsetting the karma of his personal universe. There have
been Good national champions like Mike Ray who ambled at one-speed about the
court rolling off balls and frustrating opponents. The Bad is the player
who's so wound up at the coin toss that he doesn't wind down until after
match point, and operates at a high intensity that makes it a match of
attrition of energies. Marty Hogan and Sudsy Monchik are such enthusiasts,
and the two of them on the court together almost defines perpetual motion.
The Ugly, as personified by Charlie Brumfield and big-time wrestlers,
possess an ostensible whacko rheostat that makes each moment on the court
with them unpredictable.
How can the Muehleisen Rheostat help each of these racquetball
personalities? The Good should take an intensity supplement only on the
setup. I've observed instant results in players who shift to just one
higher gear (10%) on positioning to take a shot, like a weight lifter before
one heavy lift. This produces an overall style, as displayed by Cliff
Swain, of a player who glides about the court until setting for the shot at
which moment he quickens to great concentration for the swing, and then he
reverts to steady state until the next set-up. The Bad should maintain his
excellent high intensity throughout the match, except to tone it down (10%)
during the swing to avoid the typical problem of over-hitting and having the
ball fly off the back wall. The Ugly is a tougher case, and I'll clue you
that champs like Hulk Hogan and Brumfield own fine control over their
personal rheostats to orchestrate shows to victory. If there are readers
who are not in control of their ugliness, first acknowledge your
inappropriate roller-coaster of intensity on the court, then try to even it
all out with deep breaths, mantras and pushups between rallies. Keep the
spark for hitting shots.
Dr. Bud's tip worked for me