"Kill for show and pass for dough” is a saying that has been used in handball since at least 1999 and in racquetball since at least 2000. A “kill shot” contacts the front wall very low and bounces twice before it reaches the service line; a “pass shot” travels high and past an opponent. The “kill shot” is usually regarded as more impressive, but the “pass shot” is regarded as more reliable and with a greater margin for error.
A similar saying in golf (from the 1920s and 1930s) is “Drive for show and putt for dough.” A similar saying in bowling (from the 1980s and 1990s) is “Strike for show and spare for dough” and in billiards (from 2000) it’s “Draw for show and follow for dough.”
Racquetball is a racquet sport played with a hollow rubber ball in an indoor or outdoor court. Joseph Sobek is credited with inventing the modern sport of racquetball in 1950 (the outdoor, one-wall game goes back to at least 1910 in N.Y.C.), adding a stringed racquet to paddleball in order to increase velocity and control. Unlike most racquet sports, such as tennis and badminton, there is no net to hit the ball over, and unlike squash no tin (out of bounds area at the bottom of front wall) to hit the ball above. Also, the court’s walls, floor, and ceiling are legal playing surfaces, with the exception of court-specific designated hinders being out-of-bounds. It is very similar to 40x20 handball, which is played in many countries.
Straight-in shots are usually meant to hit the front wall as low as possible. If the ball contacts the front wall so low as to bounce twice before it reaches the service line it is called a “kill” shot. Straight-in shots are normally attempted with the idea of hitting toward the area of the court the opponent cannot cover. Straight-in shots hit where the opponent can’t return them are called down-the-line and cross court passing shots. Often kill shots are returned very close to the back wall as the ball is moving towards the front wall.
Handball (DPH Sports Series)
By Ashok Kumar
Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers
THE PASS SHOT
An old adage on the professional handball tour maintains that you “kill for show and pass for dough” (golfers recently borrowed this concept, as in “drive for show and putt for dough"). Question the pro handballers further and they’ll tell you flat out the majority of the points scored in a game of handball come from pass shots.
A pass shot is just what the name implies; a ball that travels past your opponent (instead of right at him or in front of him) as it rebounds off the front wall. Players use many different methods to hit the ball past opponents; different strokes, different angles, different speeds, different spins. All aim at one purpose—forcing an opponent who is entrenched in front or middle court to the back court.
Google Groups: alt.sport.racquetball
Apr 24 2000
I’ve heard this before (probably from Sudsy) and it rings true…
“Kill for show, pass for dough”
It’s a matter of statistics...it’s much easier to pass and keep the ball in play that to go for a winner all the time. Only go for a winner when you’re in proper position and you’re opponent isn’t...easy to say, hard to do
Google Groups: alt.sport.racquetball
Jul 28 2003
By the way, a pass shot is not hit as low as a kill shot. And the expression is pass for dough, kill for show.
Percentage wise, only the top players can jump high enough over a pass shot and still come down quick enough to have a chance for a return.
Google Groups: alt.sports.racquetball
Jun 2 2004
The old saying, “Pass for Dough and Kill for Show” applies.
If you are good enough to hit a “kill shot” or a “splat shot” you should be good enough to hit the pass shot.
Racquetball Lessons Blog
June 13, 2011
Kill for Show, Pass for Dough
Hitting a kill shot may give you a nice buzz, but if you want to win, then control center court position. And to control center court, you need to use down-the-line and wide angle passing shots.