In the last post we talked about deception. In particular using a hold to add deception to your shot selection. Another very important method to keep your opponent guessing and off balance is varying your pace of play. Varying your pace of play can be an effective method to keep or change momentum in a match when needed. Changing the pace of your shots is also effective at keeping your opponent guessing. Squash is a very physical game as any squash player can attest to but it is also very mental. Varying your pace of play is a good strategical method to help control a match.
When should we play at a fast pace or at a slow pace? One of the best times to vary the pace of play is when you need to change momentum in a game. If your opponent is pressing hard and has gained the momentum trying to slow down the pace of play can often help. You can do this playing slower paced length shots using height to get the ball past your opponent. Lobs will work very well in this situation too.
In squash as your level increases and you are playing better players it becomes more and more difficult to hit outright winners. Points need to be constructed to be won. You very often have to hit a series of shots to get your opponent out of position before you can hit a winner.
As it is so difficult to hit winners you definitely need to take advantage of the opportunities that your opponent gives you. When your opponent has hit a ball that you can attack in the mid or front court giving yourself options is key. Not showing your opponent the shot you are going to hit is even more important. Holding your shot is a very effective way of doing this.
What is holding yout shot? It is being in position to hit the ball early but waiting to play your shot. Why do we hold our shot? To force our opponent to wait and hopefully catch them flat-footed or better yet get them to guess. If we catch them flat-footed and have hit a quality shot they will most likely be late to the ball and will hopefully give us something that we can attack again and keep them on the defensive and working hard. If they guess and pick a direction before we have played our shot we get to hit the ball the opposite way they are going and have a real opportunity to win the point outright. At the very least they are going to have work very hard to get to the ball.
Deception in squash is key and one of the best ways to fool your opponent is make all your shots look as similar as possible. Learning to really hold your shot will definitely add to your deception and make it harder for your opponents to read the shot you intend to play.
One of the biggest differences between low to mid level players and higher level players is how fast they recover to the ‘T’ after playing their shot. One the most noticeable areas I see this on court is at the front corners.
It is extremely common to see a player rush up to get a boast or drop that their opponent has played to one of the front corners, hit a drop and then get stuck in the front corner. If their opponent gets to the ball earlier enough they can often end the point with a cross court drive as they have not been able to get back to ‘T’ to take that shot away.