World No.4 Dan Busby provides a guide for new players about the fun challenges in the early days of racketlon, as well as explaining more about what “profiles” are in racketlon.
Racketlon is a beautifully addictive sport, it really is. New players enter the sport from a range of different backgrounds. Some because they have achieved the highest level they can in their one sport and want a new challenge. Others have a background in more than one racket sport – often one plus tennis. And then there are those that just love competing in something a bit niche. Whatever the background, Racketlon offers so much for players, but can also lead to headaches!
The Challenges of the Four Racketlon Sports
For those players that have no experience of Table Tennis, it can be very frustrating when your opponent is playing with lots of spin and the ball is flying off your bat in all sorts of directions. Table Tennis is unique in Racketlon because the volume of spin that is imparted on the ball is so much more than any of the other Racketlon sports. Add into the mix pimples, anti-spin and dead bats and you’re in a whole new world. For me, Table Tennis was the one sport that I had very little experience of playing pre-Racketlon. I recommend new players to this sport spend some time on YouTube getting to grips with this strange, spinny world.
For non-badminton players, the difficulty is often finding good quality singles practice. Most clubs only practice doubles as league matches are mostly doubles and singles is physically tough.
Squash is the one sport that is different in the sense that it is the only sport where players share the same playing area, as well as the only one with walls to run in to. It can be strange for those with minimal squash experience, but the positive is that finding squash coaching and practice is often much easier than badminton.
For the majority of Racketlon tennis matches, you will see exactly this, the brand of tennis that is knows as ‘Racketlon Tennis’. This is the sort that is barely recognisable for your good club player. As it is the last sport, both players know by this point what it is they need to do to get the win and this can often lead to negative, defensive and somewhat ugly tennis. Many players have become effective in this unique brand though. Many non-tennis players would say tennis is the most difficult to pick up technically if you are a beginner.
What are Racketlon “Profiles”?
You may hear Racketlon players talking about ‘profiles’ from time to time. Essentially, your profile is the order of your sports in terms of strength. This, of course, can change throughout your career depending on which sports you aim to improve. When I started playing Racketlon, my profile was definitely Squash, Badminton, Tennis, Table Tennis. But currently, I’m not sure what my profile is. Squash is still my strength, but it is definitely not as good as it was five years ago and the other sports are all very similar and can vary at each individual event.
The dream for all top players is to become ‘profileless’, so that whatever the profile of your opponent, you should be too consistent overall for them to beat you. This, however, is very difficult to achieve. A bad profile would be to play someone that beats you in either your first or second sports or whose worst sport is your best sport. Playing someone who is a bad profile doesn’t mean you are going to lose, but it does make these matches slightly more tricky to negotiate.
So what is the perfect profile? Many of the very best men and women in the world have all had one thing in common; they have all been very strong in the middle two sports. Examples of these players include Jesper Ratzer, Kasper Jonsson, Zuzana Kubanova, Rav Rykowski and Lukas Windischberger. For these players, being so strong in badminton and squash often meant that they did not need to play tennis and stayed fresh for the next round of the tournament. Badminton and Squash are also the two most physical sports and so if the match has a physical element to it, these players have an advantage.
Although this trend is definitely clear, other top players like Calum Reid, Stefan Adamson and Morten Jaksland would probably say that badminton was their worst sport. But of course, they are definitely not ‘weak’ in badminton.
So calling all strong badminton and squash players. You have the fundamentals in place, could you become a top Racketlon player?! Table Tennis and Tennis players? It’s up to you to upset this trend so come and give racketlon at try.
Dan Busby / Racketlon World No.4
Image Credit / Inge Omey