Peter Facinelli turned 50 in 2023, and the screen icon is keeping fitter than ever through his love of racquetball. As an intense form of cardio that will give you a full-body workout to boot, the star, who can currently be seen in the gripping disaster movie On Fire, and has amassed more than one hundred acting credits including roles in Twilight, Riding in Cars with Boys, and The Vanished, says that there is no better way to start the day than with a competitive game of racquetball. So, eager to learn more, we took a deep dive with the man himself in order to share the benefits that this sport brings.
How do you play racquetball?
One of the best things about racquetball is how simple it is to learn. Similar to handball and squash, racquetball requires the server to strike the ball and bounce it off the floor and onto the court’s front wall. The opposing player must hit the ball as it returns from the wall, only allowing for one floor bounce after it hits the wall. Only the server can score, and they gain a point by hitting the ball against the wall in a way that means their rival cannot return it within one bounce. If the server fails to return to the ball, then the opponent will gain the serve and their chance to score.
There is no net to hit the ball over, and unlike many racket-based sports, racquetball generally has no out-of-bounds-areas, making for exciting gameplay. The ball can hit the sidewalls or the ceiling on the way to the front wall, making for some epic angle work. Tournament games are played until the first person reaches 15 points but in recreational games you can set your own limits. Some players agree that the winner must be two points ahead, but this is not an official rule.
While the rules of racquetball are pretty simple, mastering the sport takes time. Peter Facinelli tells M&F that he first fell in love with the game in his twenties, and that his opponent, who was twice his age at that time, would constantly beat him. “I was younger, and I was quicker than him, but he literally had such great ball control,” recalls the star. “That was Chuck Daniels, the director and writer.”
Is racquetball good for getting fit?
Racquetball is an excellent sport for gaining and maintaining fitness levels. Beginners can expect to burn up to 500 calories at a standard pace while advanced players such as Facinelli can torch 800 calories in an hour.
There are plenty of studies that show those who play racket sports have less risk of heart disease and other ailments, meaning that leisure activities like this are a great way to keep fit as we age. On top of the physical benefits, improving your strategy around racquetball will keep your mind sharp too. Facinelli says that he is not a fan of going on long runs because he doesn’t find them stimulating, whereas racquetball is a great way to run around. “So, I’m doing something fun, and I’m getting the cardio that I need, and I’m also using my mind a lot,” he explains.
Can I combine racquetball with a gym session?
Peter Facinelli says that his gym sessions have improved both in terms of his output and his enjoyment since he began playing racquetball right before his gym sessions. t only does he find that he is warmed up and more mobile, but he also feels amped up and ready to attack the weights with more gusto than when he did weights alone. “This is something that really helps me get out of bed, go and do something I enjoy, I’m already at the gym, and now I’ll lift for a little bit and keep my other muscles in shape,” he shares.
How do you get started with racquetball?
Fortunately, racquetball is one of the most assessable sports out there with courts available to hire in most local indoor sports centers. You don’t need to worry about the weather and in terms of equipment, the racket and balls are often available to hire, or you can pick your own equipment up. If you purchase entry level gear, it is not an expensive sport to get involved in. Games can be played with one opponent, or as doubles. If there are only three players, you can still participate under ‘every player for themselves’ rules. The star believes that everyone can grow into worthy racquetball players. “It’s a little awkward at first,” says Facinelli of getting to grips with the fast-paced nature of the game. “But you stick with it, and I’ve had people that have never played before, and within a month they are so much better and within three months they’re really good. You just keep showing up and playing, and you will start to figure out the angles.”
Peter Facinelli’s Go-To Racquetball Tips
“The trick to racquetball, if I learned anything from all the way back to Chuck Daniels teaching me … he never really moved a lot because it is all about ball positioning,” explains the On Fire actor and director. “So, you don’t have to run as much — if you can direct the ball to where you want it to go, you’ll make the other person run.”
Peter Facinelli says that he tries to stay in the center of the court and have his opponents running around him in order to pick up his points. If a player is behind him, he’ll give the ball a little tap with his racquet so that his rival will need to switch positions fast. “Maybe they will get it, and maybe they won’t,” he explains. With more than twenty years of experience playing racquetball, Facinelli says he can often think two or three moves ahead in terms of where he wants to hit the ball. “Time is slowing down, and speeding up, and slowing down. It’s really a fascinating game; mentally and physically, and I enjoy it.”
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