This is just a quick tip that I received while taking a lesson a few years ago. I was working with a much more advanced player than myself and was having problems getting drives on the backhand side past him and found myself stuck in a losing pattern. The objective of the drill was simple, hit a good enough shot to get the ball past him so that I could take the ‘T’ position away from him and then try to keep him behind me by taking the ball on the volley. I was trying to play a hard drive down the wall all of the time and I was not able to keep it tight enough to force him to let it pass. I found myself stuck in the back court and not succeeding at all with the drill. He stopped the drill and asked me what I was trying to do. I said that I was trying to drive the ball hard down the wall past him. His reponse was simple. It is not working. You need to try something different. You are not getting the ball past me with pace so why not use height to get the ball past me. Hit it high enough that I can’t volley it and will have to let it pass me.
While the example above is about trying to pass your opponent on a rail shot on the backhand side it applies to all parts of the game. If you find yourself stuck in a pattern that is not working you need to change it!
I am watching a replay of the PSA World Open 2010 final between James Willstrop and Nick Matthew on PSA Squash TV and impressed with Nick Matthew’s position on the ‘T’. He is playing such a high ‘T’ position and putting so much pressure on James. Willstrop won the first game with some absolutely astounding accurancy but had to work so hard to do it. The second game was close to about 5 but after that Nick opened up a huge lead mostly because of the work James has had to do to that point.
The high ‘T’ position really allows Nick to attack short when he chooses, especially on his forehand side. The width that James has to get on a crosscourt drive to prevent Nick from volleying it is unbelievable. He is having to nearly catch the side wall at the centre of the court to get it behind Nick. Even when he does attain that width Nick only has to take a couple of steps back because of the angle and still play it without really having to give up too much ground.
Nick is also using a great hold on his drives while being so high on the ‘T’. This is forcing James to have to recover so quickly to the centre of the court, because he has to respect the drop before being sent to the backcourt to retrieve Nick’s drive.
Nick’s use of the high ‘T’ position really put so much time presure on James Willstrop that it really broke him down by mid match. James did have a much harder time getting through to the final than Nick did which definitely contributed to the fatigue but Nick’s play truly exposed it. A brilliant display of good tactical squash. Definitely shows that value of recovery to the ‘T’ quickly to dictate play.