Monthly Archives: July 2015

How to Take Full Advantage of Squash Drills

When training, many players do drills without any concise objective in mind. Players tend to “rinse and repeat” a drill without focusing on important things such as footwork or shot accuracy. Whenever a player is about to start a drill, they should always have an objective in mind, concentrate on it, and works towards as they do the exercise. This is very important since it will help the player develop better muscle memory as well as improve their game more significantly.

During any drill a player should always be aware of where they are situated on court, as well as where they want to hit the ball. If a drill requires to move between different areas of the court, the player currently doing it should always rotate back to the ‘T’. Many players ignore this since they know where the ball is going to go during the drill; for example, if two players are doing a boast-drive drill, both players might move from corner to corner (front and back, respectively) instead of going back to the ‘T’ after every shot. Furthermore, on any drill that focuses on rotation around the court, e.g. boast-drive, players should also concentrate on hitting good shots and not just hitting the ball back. Both of these things are important for various reasons, such as: improving muscle memory, accuracy, position awareness, and rotation to the ‘T’. But most importantly, applying this will help much more in real match situations since the players are essentially simulating the shots and movements they want to perform on court.

Another good example of a very common drill where players tend to forget what the real objective is, is the length rotation drill on one side of the court. Many players, including me, stand at the back and on the side where the ball is being hit at or they rotate back to the ‘T’ but not enough. Basically they wait for the ball to come to them since the drill is happening on one single quadrant of the court. On such a drill, players should again concentrate on rotating to the ‘T’ properly as well as hitting accurate shots. Going back to the ‘T’ correctly after every shot will help develop speed and agility which will be necessary when playing a real match. This is an advantage since a big part of the game is keeping the ball deep and being patient, so good rotation is essential. Furthermore, players should focus on hitting the ball tight as well as where they want the ball to bounce first. Personally, I believe that a player should try to hit the ball on the same spot every time for about 3-5 consecutive shots, then choose a different spot and repeat the same process throughout the duration of the drill. This will aid muscle memory and accuracy which will lead to better shots in a real match.

Before doing any type of drill, every player should always keep something in mind to work towards to. Drills are designed to improve a player’s game but this can only be achieved by how the player decides to approach the drill. Taking full advantage of the drill is the one thing that will help a player improve their game; there are always different things that can be worked on at the same time on any given drill!

Posted in Learn more about squash, Squash Tips, Squash Training | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review of the Head Xenon TB 120 Squash Racquet

Recently I took the Head Graphene XT Xenon 120 Slimbody for a hit and I have to say I’m happy with the results. This racquet weighs 120g, has an even head balance, has a smaller head size, and features a very thin beam. Overall a very nice racquet to play with as it is very maneuverable and provides great control due to its bridged design and small head. However, you need to hit all your shots on the sweet spot in order to avoid movement and vibration through the racquet.

Head Graphene XT Xenon Slimbody 120 Squash Racquet

The first thing I noticed is how easy it is to generate head speed with this racquet. I was able to make quick swings easily which allowed me to maintain power which is a nice thing since I had to generate most of it myself without the aid of the racquet (due to its light weight and head balance). I was able to attack more on the mid court and, because of its bridged design, I could take full advantage of my attack with better accuracy. Furthermore, even if I couldn’t attack right on the midcourt, I was still able to retrieve shots before they reached the back court since the racquet’s light weight and thin beam allowed me to be more flexible with my wrist; this was also a great thing when I needed to ‘dig’ shots off the back wall. The racquet’s thin beam is a feature I found interesting as it aids racquet speed; but, before using it, I thought this would impact control negatively which ended up not being the case.

The control this racquet provides is good. Not only could I hit better and more accurate drop shots, but I was also able to control the ball better on harder shots. I like to think that this is due to the racquet’s amazing sweet spot. Whenever I would hit the ball on the sweet spot it felt like I wasn’t even hitting it since all vibrations were completely damped; this is where I found I would hit my best shots as the racquet would let me whit my shots wherever I wanted to hit them with amazing accuracy. However, if I hit the ball off the sweet spot the racquet was not too stable which is a minor setback but not really a big problem at all. Having said this, I would recommend using this racquet if you are the type of player who tends to hit the ball on the middle of the racquet more often than not. I also found that even though it is a very light racquet with an even head balance, it was not hard to take the racquet through the ball unlike other similar racquets where the player needs to make a greater effort to achieve this. The only time I found I had to do this was when hitting drop shots but this is expected from such a light and thin racquet.

Overall a great racquet with great control, maneuverability, and head speed. This was the first time I tried out Head’s Xenon series and I am very happy with the results I got with the Head Graphene XT Xenon 120 Slimbody. Being able to attack shots on the mid court with increased accuracy was a nice advantage as well as being able to use my wrist more on harder to retrieve shots. My favourite thing about this racquet is its sweet spot since the feeling I would get when I hit the ball there was amazing: barely feeling anything and knowing my shot was going to go wherever I wanted it to go. I highly recommend this racquet for an overall type of player who likes to be aggressive but needs reliability on accuracy. Also, I would very much recommend this racquet to any advanced player who will be able to most of their shots right in the middle of the racquet. Give it a try, find its sweet spot, and enjoy playing great squash!

Posted in Head, Review, Squash Racquet | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Canadian Squash Team at the PanAM 2015 Games

PanAm 2015 LogoI had the privilege of going to watch the team event the other day at the PanAm games and I had a blast. What an atmosphere at the event! I am Canadian and to have the games in our own country and so close to home for me was a real treat. The patriotism in the crowd was amazing. Trying to get a seat anywhere near where the Canadian teams were playing was definitely tough but worth the time.

I PanAM Squash Logowent to see one of the qualifying rounds of the team event. The men’s team were playing Colombia and the women’s team playing Brazil. The women’s team consisting of Samantha Cornett, Nikole Todd and Hollie Naughton had no real problem dispatching the Brazilian team but the men were in very tough against Colombia. The Canadian team consisted of Shawn Delierre, Graham Schnell and Andrew Schnell. The Colombian team featured Miguel Rodriguez, Juan Vargas and Andres Herrera.

I was really excited to get to see Miguel play as he was the highest ranking professional player at the games and is such a pleasure to watch. I was of course cheering for Shawn but had not really expected Shawn to really pressure Miguel too much. I was mistaken though as the match ended up going to 5. Shawn played some tremendous squash to win the first and third games and was close in the second and fourth as well. The fifth game though Miguel Rodrigues put the pedal down and showed why he is #4 in the world presently. That put Canada down one match and definitely put the pressure on the Schnell brothers.

Graeme Schnell was next on court against Juan Vargas. The first game was extremely tightly contested going to extra points. Juan Vargas won the first game putting further pressure on the Graeme. Graeme came back strong though in the second and third games. They were both close games but Graeme was able to win both putting the pressure back on Juan. Juan handled the pressure quite well in the fourth game though winning a tight one 11-9 to level the match at 2 games each. Graeme must have been feeling the pressure at this point as though this was only a pool match and the team did not face elimination but I am sure they wanted to win the match and get the best seeding they could going in the quarter finals. Graeme came out very strong in the final game and really put Juan Vargas under pressure. Graeme got out to a good lead when Juan did not like a decision that was made and had a lengthy discussion with the referee about it. He also ended up with a small cut at the same time and took an injury time-out. I was certainly worried that break might change the momentum of the game but it proved to not be an issue for Graeme at all. He quickly won a couple of more points and Juan Vargas seemed to be suffering from cramps in his leg. Graeme closed it out and levelled the Canada vs Colombia match at one game each.

Next up was Graeme’s brother Andrew Schnell facing Andres Herrera. Herrera never looked quite settled in this match. He could not seem to deal with the pace of play that Andrew was playing at. The incredible retrieving of Andrew Schnell was also causing Andres to be quite frustrated. He put his hand up many times signalling a double bounce but Andrew had picked the ball up cleanly. I think it was more out of disbelief than anything that Herrera was questioning if Andrew got the ball. The crowd certainly was amazed at some of the retrievals Andrew made. Andrew never really looked to be in any serious jeopardy in this match winning 11-2, 11-7 and 11-4 to win his match and secure the 2-1 victory for Canada over Colombia.

I had a great night watching the matches and it was also very nice to get to see Samantha Cornett whom we sponsor and Chris Hanson from the USA that we sponsor as well. Both won medals, Samantha winning two silver and one bronze medal and Chris winning two bronze medals.

Congratulations to the Canadian team on winning 6 medals overall. They won 1 gold medal, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals. The Canadian men’s team picked up the gold with an incredible victory in the team event against Mexico. Both the men’s and women’s teams picked up silver in the doubles. Samantha Cornett and Shawn Delierre both picked up bronze medals in the individual event.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Review of the Prince Pro Shark 650

I have never played with a Prince racquet before and I am very happy I got to try out the Prince Pro Shark 650. This racquet is very light yet very powerful with an amazing amount of grip. I play with a slightly heavier racquet with very similar balance to the Pro Shark (should be able to generate more power with mine) and I found out that I could generate the same amount of power with the Prince racquet. Featuring a more open string pattern, 14 x 15, I was also able to get tons of cut on the ball. This racquet not only looks great, it plays amazingly.

Prince Pro Shark 650 Squash Racquet

Prince Pro Shark 650

Weighting 129 grams when unstrung and with a balance of 35.3mm this racquet has a great combination between light weight and power. This is a great advantage as there is increased maneuverability without a significant loss of power. The racquet’s maneuverability comes from its light weight which helps with aggressive play when volleying on the middle of the court. The power is generated by both the head balance and the string pattern; the head heavy balance keeps the head stable and lets the racquet go through the ball more easily while the open string pattern provides a higher trampoline effect.  Also, due to its weight, it was easier to prepare the racquet thus giving me more time to hit my shot as well as letting me use a shorter swing without compromising power. In addition to this, I noticed that hitting the ball on the racquet’s sweet spot felt amazing and created a larger amount of power; however, racquet stability is decreased on off-centre shots but this shouldn’t be a big problem. These are not the only great features of this racquet since its more open string pattern provides something really important: cut.

When trying to hit hard and low shots or drop shots, it is essential to create a good amount of cut or ‘bite’ on the ball. For the Pro Shark 650 this is no problem at all. Its open string pattern lets the strings ‘grab’ the ball more and thus creates more grip between the ball and the strings. I was able to hit better low shots since the strings gave me the extra cut needed to reduce the distance between the ball and the tin; I found these shots to be the most effective ones when using this racquet. Furthermore, my drop shots improved as well as I was able to put more backspin on my shots which led the ball to a shorter bounce making things more difficult for my opponent. Not only did the increased cut help me in the front court, it also helped in the back court. The cut on the ball also reduced the ball’s bounce when coming off the back wall making it harder to retrieve the shot.

The Prince Pro Shark 650 caught me by surprise. At a first glance I didn’t expect much from a light racquet with such an open string pattern. But, once I took out for a hit, I remembered not to judge a book by its cover. I was impressed by how fast I could swing the racquet and how much power I could generate on short swings. I am usually not an aggressive player but with this racquet I felt I had to be since all its features are great tools for aggressive play. Being able to hit quick volleys, powerful shots just above the tin, and very short drop shots gave me a great advantage over my opponent. I would recommend this racquet to the more aggressive type of player who likes to combine great power with fast and short swings. I know it could be an odd looking racquet but give it a try and you will not regret it!

To learn more, or purchase the Prince Pro Shark Powerbite Squash Racquet click on the “View in store” button below.

Prince Pro Shark Powerbite 650 Squash Racquet

Posted in Prince, Review, Squash Racquet | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Squash at the 2015 Pan Am Games

With the Pan Am games coming to Toronto from July 7th to July 26th and with squash running from July 11th to July 17th, we are excited to see the great level of squash that will be displayed from both men and women. With a top ten player on each category, there are clear favorites but it won’t be too easy for them as there are potential dark-horses that can come out on top. Here are the favorites for both the men and women as well as the other top contenders:

Women

Favorite: Amanda Sobhy – USA, World Ranking: 10

SP_4291

Women’s Favorite Amanda Sobhy

The 22 year-old from New York has been turning heads since she was just a teenager. Having claimed three Tour titles at the age of 16, she is a record breaker in the game of squash. In 2010, she became the first player from the USA to win the World Junior Championship. Breaking into the top ten in September 2014 and named PSA Women’s Young Player of the Year in May 2015, she is the favorite to go all the way during this year’s Pan Am games.

But, Sobhy will not have an easy time getting there. With compatriot Olivia Blatchford (World Ranking 37) as well as Canadian Samantha Cornett (World Ranking 33) and Mexican Samantha Teran (World Ranking 30) in the mix, Sobhy will have very strong contenders that could upset her chances at the title. With 24 women aiming for gold, we are guaranteed and intense and action-packed tournament between the best players in the Americas.

Speaking of Samantha Cornett we will definitely be cheering for her being a Canadian company and also one of her sponsors.  Good luck Sam!

Men

Favorite: Miguel Angel Rodriguez – Colombia, World Ranking: 4

unnamed_5_2

Men’s Favorite Miguel Angel Rodriguez

The first South American to reach the top ten in the world, “The Colombian Cannonball” will try to defend his title after winning gold at the previous games in 2011. Breaking into the top ten in January 2015 and reaching the semi-finals in two major championships in 2015, the Colombian is having his strongest season and will be the men’s favorite to win the event. Arguably the fastest and fittest player on tour, he is always fun to watch and will bring tons of excitement and jaw opening moments on court with his outrageous gets and dives. He will be a very tough one to beat!

However, there are some other very strong players competing for victory. With Canadian Shawn Delierre (World Ranking: 58) and Peruvian Diego Elias (World Ranking: 43) on the main draw, the Colombian will have to work hard to get past these players. After defeating compatriot Andrew Schnell (World Ranking: 92) in the final of the 2015 Canadian National Singles Squash Championships in May 2015, Delierre comes to this tournament in strong form. Elias comes in strong as well after recently winning the Costa Rica Tennis Club Open last month; the 6’2’’, 18 year-old will make some noise as he aims for the top spot at the tournament.

On the men’s side we are hoping for a strong showing by the Canadian men. We would also like to wish Chris Hanson good luck as well as one of our sponsored athletes.

Squash at the Pan Am games will be a must watch for everyone since it brings the best players in the Americas against each other. There will be world class squash and if you live in or near Toronto, you shouldn’t miss this event. Hopefully the world can see how beautiful and competitive squash is, and how much talent the Americas bring to the sport.

Posted in News, Press Releases, Pro Squash Tour, PSA | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Review of the Salming Viper 2.0 Shoes

About three weeksSalming Viper Gecko Green Squash Shoes ago I picked up a pair of the Salming Viper 2.0 squash shoes and I feel like I am wearing nothing on my feet but with all the good results I expected. They are very light shoes with a lower cut on the ankle, less cushioning on the forefoot for a better closer-to-the-court feel, and increased breathability on the top. Also, you can tell Salming concentrated on lateral support when designing these shoes as there are some technologies and features that work towards that. I feel quicker and more comfortable when I wear them on court which is really nice as shoes are one of the most important squash gear.

It is easier to move on court with the Vipers due to all the different technologies it includes. I will list them, what they do, and how I feel they impacted my movement and comfort on court:

Roll Bar

Roll Bar

The roll bar is located on the inner side of the outer sole of the shoe. Here, the shoe features an increased radius which facilitates toe push off as well as rolling the foot inwards.

This is great for squash since maximized toe push off saves time when starting your movement towards the ball. The roll bar in the vipers will help you launch quicker from a standing position. I noticed that this, with the reduced weight of the shoe, helped me get to shots faster than with my previous shoes. I was able to concentrate more on my balance and footwork once I already reached the ball, since I had more time to do it.

T.G.S 62/75 (Torsion Guide System)

Salming has designed the distance from the heel to the ball of the foot (62% of the shoe) with extra stability, which ends at a 75 degree angle. In front of the 75 degree line the shoe features extra flexibility to help emulate the natural lateral and forwards movements of the foot. This technology takes all of the gait cycle’s phases into play.TGS Viper

I believe this is what makes me feel like I am wearing nothing on my feet when I play. Providing more stability on the heel and a more natural movement at the front, every step I took felt very comfortable and light. If you have the chance to look at one of these shoes in person, try bending the front of it and notice how easy it is to do it; a good thing since it doesn’t restrict your foot’s natural movement at all.

3 Layer Construction

The first layer of the top of the shoe adds breathability and comfort, the second one is the ‘exoskeleton’ which adds stability on lateral movements as it keeps the foot in place, and the third one surrounds the first two adding durability to the shoe.3 Layer Viper

From this I just have to say that breathability is really good. I noticed after playing that my feet were cooler than with my previous shoes which is always a nice thing. Also, the extra lateral support is a great bonus as well as you want your feet to stay in place when applying lateral pressure on them.

LMS (Lateral Movement Stabilizer)

A dual torsion unit that supports the foot during fast and irregular lateral movements.

There are two parts of the LMS in the shoe. One is at the middle of the sole on the inner part of the foot, and the other one is at the outer edge of the shoe from the middle to the front of the foot. I noticed the shoes helped me keep my balance whenever I had to attack shots on the middle of the court, i.e. I had to move sideways from the ‘T’ to the side wall. They provided great support as I lunged for the shot, as well as when I needed to quickly come back to the ‘T’. Furthermore, they prevent the foot from rolling on its side which is great since it provides extra protection against ankle injuries.LMS + LMS

The Salming Viper 2.0 shoes are excellent for speed, comfort, and lateral stability/support. I have used these for not too long and I already love them. Noticing improved speed and stability on court, I would highly recommend these shoes to any type of player.

Salming Viper 2 Squash Shoes

Posted in Review, Salming, Squash Shoes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment