I think most racquetball players have been told to "get your racquet up early," or the "most important thing is early racquet preparation." I was told by one instructor that, as soon as the ball leaves the front wall, you know whether it is coming to your forehand or backhand, so at that point you should get your racquet in the ready position.
However, I think it is fairly obvious that it would be a waste of energy to run around the court with your racquet up in the ready position (racquet back, racquet above the shoulder, wrist cocked, elbow at shoulder level, etc.). So what is the best practice?
Racquet preparation occurs in three distinct stages.
You have hit your shot and you are watching the ball while your opponent is lining up his or her shot. At this stage you should be completely relaxed (and moving toward center court). Some players just let the racquet hang down, some hold it waist high, including some who support it with the non-hitting hand. At this stage just do what makes you most comfortable. (Although if you are surprised and jammed, it would be better if the racquet isn’t just dangling, so it would probably be better if you keep it at waist height.) Most pros keep their elbow bent and the racquet around waist level all the time during a rally.
In stage 2, your opponent has hit his or her shot and you are
tracking it off the front wall. In this stage you should lift your
elbow so that the
racquet is in a position across your body (so that your elbow is bent
and the racquet is somewhere between waist and chest).
In stage 3 the ball is approaching your hitting zone. You should be
moving your feet so as to square up to the side wall. At the same time,
you should put your hands together and lift your hands to your back
shoulder so that your chin is touching your front shoulder. The racquet
the ready position. This is early racquet preparation. Wait for the
ball to enter your hitting zone. Now take your complete swing.
Watch how relaxed Sudsy Monchik is in this video while he is watching Jason Mannino getting ready to hit (stage 1). Then note how he gets his racquet up across his body (stage 2) as soon as Jason takes his shot. Finally, note how quickly each player moves from stage 2 to stage 3 and hits his shot.
Finally, for a video showing a number of pros demonstrating
proper early racquet preparation click here.