Author Archives: Diego Caballero

Review of the Dunlop Force Evolution 130 Squash Racquet

Recently I took out the Dunlop Evolution 130 for a hit and I found it to be a very interesting racquet. It features a tear drop design with a small bridge, a dense string pattern (14×18), 130 frame weight, and an even head balance. I played a couple matches with this racquet as I tried to figure out how it played best. A racquet that doesn’t fail to deliver in either control or power and with an even balance, the EVO 130 is great for players who tend to be more patient on court. It also a great feel on contact when hitting the ball as it provides great stability due to its string pattern.

At first, I tried an aggressive approach: volleying on the midcourt, using my wrist more, increasing the pace, and hitting hard and low shots. I found out that this was more challenging to do with this racquet. This is due to its weight of 130 grams and even balance which in reality, in my personal opinion, felt slightly head heavy. Volleying on the midcourt was not an easy task since I was not able to maneuver the racquet very easily and using my wrist put extra stress on my arm. Also, increasing the pace was harder once again due to maneuverability (it was harder to get the racquet ready on time). However, my main focus in squash is speed and accuracy rather than arm strength and power (I get the power from the racquet I normally use) so it is fair to say that this is why the EVO 130 didn’t suit my aggressive play. Having said this, if you are an aggressive player with good arm strength, you won’t find it a problem to maneuver this racquet easily.

Dunlop Force Evolution 130

Dunlop Force Evolution 130

Since aggressive play didn’t work for me using the EVO 130, I tried a more patient approach to the match. I started making more fluid swings and keeping the ball at the back of the court. This worked perfectly since the balance and weight of the racquet allowed me to go through the ball easily without much effort but providing me enough power to get the ball to the back of the court. This was also a more pleasant experience in terms of comfort as I felt great when hitting the ball; the racquet is very forgiving mainly due to its stability but also to its dense string pattern. It also provided me with great feel and control when dropping the ball whether it was from the midcourt or the front court. Another nice thing about this racquet is its head design, which is reminiscent of the Black Knight Quicksilver nXs (tear drop with small bridge), since it helps with power generation. Although I have made it sound like this is a racquet not suitable for aggressive play, this racquet didn’t fail to deliver when I wanted to put the ball away; whether it was a loose shot from my opponent giving me time to hit a hard and low shot or a nice and easy drop shot, the EVO 130 gave me all I needed. The reason for this is the racquet’s stability and string pattern which helped me control the ball much easier than with my usual racquet.

In conclusion, this racquet can be amazing in the right hands. Even though it is hard to use aggressively, it is not an impossible task to do. But, if you plan on using it for long and fluid rallies where you want to create opportunities to put the ball away, this racquet will fit you very well. With an interesting design which allows it to have a bigger sweet spot and better stability, this racquet will feel amazing when hitting any type of shot!

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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!

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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Review of the new Black Knight Quicksilver MAX and Quicksilver LT

Recently we received the new Black Knight Quicksilver LT and Black Knight Quicksilver MAX. These are Black Knight’s new racquets from the Quicksilver series and, even though they are very different from each other, they are both amazing for different reasons. I took them out for a hit earlier this week and was impressed with what these racquets can do. Also, I got Cameron Seth, the University of Waterloo Squash varsity team’s captain, 2014 OUA champion and MVP, and 2014-2015 Men’s All-Stars, to try them out as well and give me his thoughts since he has been using the previous Quicksilver nXs model for a couple years now. I will give my opinion about each racquet in different categories with some of Cameron’s comments as well.

Power and Sweet Spot

Both racquets where able to generate a good amount of power but in different ways. As for the Quicksilver MAX its power is generated from its weight; weighting 135 grams (5 grams heavier than the Quicksilver nXs) with an even balance, this racquet can generate good enough power. Also, it was easier to get the ball to the back of the court with a slower swing which is a great advantage since it takes some effort off the player when swinging.

Hitting with the Quicksilver LT I noticed a big difference on how I was able to generate power with it since it is only 125 grams (5 grams lighter than the Quicksilver nXs) with a slight head light balance. Featuring the first teardrop design of the Quicksilver series: this is where all its power comes from. At first, just by holding the racquet, I thought I would not be able to generate as much power with it but once I took it on court I was proven wrong. This racquet snaps the ball incredibly fast which allowed me to be more aggressive. Also, my low and hard shots would fly by my opponent giving them a really hard time returning the ball.

Each racquet had its own sweet spot in different places. The MAX felt like the whole head was its sweet spot since every single shot felt so smooth on my hands and I felt little to no vibration through the racquet at all. I absolutely loved hitting the ball with this one. For the LT, Cameron took it for a hit first and told me its sweet spot was harder to find as it is higher up on the racquet. This is due to its long vertical strings that come from the teardrop design. But, once I hit with it and was able to hit the ball on the sweet spot, my shots would fly towards the front wall as the trampoline effect due to the longer strings was maximized.

Control and Stability

As expected, both racquets are very different when it comes to control and stability. This is because of both the weight and design of the racquet. A heavier, bridged racquet with a thicker beam such as the Quicksilver MAX will generally provide better control than the lighter, thinner teardrop Quicksilver LT.

Black Knight Quicksilver MAX Squash Racquet

Black Knight’s Quicksilver MAX

With the MAX, I could feel the racquet going through the ball very solidly thus creating more spin and control on the ball. Also, the bridged design decreases the trampoline effect thus providing less variability in the direction of the ball as it comes off the face of the racquet. As for stability, I will rely on Cameron’s opinion since he uses the previous Quicksilver nXs. The first thing he noticed was how much more stable the MAX was than the nXs; this is due to the MAX being thicker and heavier. He found this feature to be a great improvement from Black Knight as the racquet was much more forgiving while dampening vibrations better.

With the LT it was harder to control the ball which is natural since the trampoline effect is greatly increased by the racquet’s teardrop design. But don’t get me wrong, this racquet was still able to provide good control whenever I needed to hit precision shots. As for stability, being a light racquet with a slightly head light balance, this racquet is a bit less stable; but, an accurate player will find this not to be a problem and will enjoy the racquet’s full potential.

Maneuverability

A racquet’s maneuverability can be greatly exploited by a player if the right type of racquet is chosen; this is a very personal choice and each one of these racquets provide their own type of handling that will benefit different types of players.

The Quicksilver MAX being heavier is harder to maneuver on shorter, quicker swings. With a more solid and fluid swing racquet control is remarkably good though. Having said this, a player with a more controlled and fluid swing will find this racquet very helpful. However, a player with a shorter swing looking for a more stable racquet can also benefit from this racquet if they are able to swing a bit of a heavier racquet fast enough. For example, Cameron has a short swing but since he has enough strength to swing the racquet fast, he ended up wanting this racquet over his Quicksilver nXs.

Black Knight Quicksilver LT Squash Racquet

Black Knight’s Quicksilver LT

With the Quicksilver LT maneuverability is absolutely amazing; this is not surprising due to the fact that it has a head light balance while weighting only 125 grams. Using this racquet I was able to use very short swings to attack my opponent at the front of the court. I was also able to implement deception much better since I could hold my shot for a longer time. Furthermore, my racquet preparation was much faster which allowed me to intercept shots in the form of volleys at the middle of the court. This is greatly favorable for an aggressive player who likes to put constant pressure on their opponent. Also, someone with a shorter, quick swing with profit from this racquet as well.

Conclusion

These racquets are amazing. Whether looking for more control and stability or more power and maneuverability, these are two great racquets to keep in mind. I think these racquets will benefit many players with different play styles at different levels. If you can generate great power but are looking for more control, go for the Quicksilver MAX. If you are very accurate but want to generate more power on short swings, take the Quicksilver LT. For the Quicksilver LT I have to say that I absolutely enjoyed a great deal using all of its power and handling. As for the Quicksilver MAX, I will put it in Cameron’s words: I love this beauty.

To learn more about the Quicksilver MAX click here. To learn more about the Quicksilver LT click here. If you are in our area feel free to come to our Pro Shop and try out these new additions to the Quicksilver series and tell us how you like them!

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Easy Drill to Improve Your Front Court Shots

This week I was training one-on-one with my coach, and we decided to improve my game at the front court by working on: taking my time, starting my swing from the same position every time, making a shorter swing, and using my wrist more. The reason he told me I needed to do this was to incorporate deception on every shot, as well as increase my accuracy while retaining the same amount of power as before. Surprisingly enough, by the end of practice I was hitting better shots at the front with a shorter swing that always started from the same spot. It was very helpful and I believe it’s worth discussing so that other players can try it out as well.

The first thing we worked on was quicker racquet preparation. I stood on the ‘T’ while he fed me the ball on the front court. The idea was to have the racquet ready before getting to the ball; as soon as he fed the ball I would first get my racquet up and then I would get to hitting a shot. A lot of players start their swing as they are close to the ball and this is not a bad thing; but, on quick shots and under pressure, this will take too much time from the swing, possibly leading to hitting a loose shot. If however you have your racquet prepared before reaching the ball, once you get to it you will have more time to think where to return the shot. This is the first step, and if you wish to do this, you should concentrate solely on having your racquet ready before moving to the ball.

Once I was able to get to every ball with my racquet ready beforehand, we moved on to hitting every shot from the same position with a shorter swing. The first thing we worked on was to have a shorter swing. The reason for this was to be able to hold the shot for as long as possible so that the opponent has less time to read it. The idea here is to concentrate on using the forearm and wrist instead of the whole arm to generate power; the same amount of power can be generated using a shorter swing by generating more racquet speed in increasing the velocity on the forearm and wrist movements. Then, I would concentrate on getting my racquet back on the exact spot every single time in order to create uncertainty on what type of shot I would hit next. Try having someone feed you easy to return shots so that you can concentrate on your racquet preparation, footwork, and making a shorter swing. From the same position you can hit: a drop or cross court drop, a low and hard length or cross court shot, a boast, or a length or cross court shot to the back of the court. All of these shots are possible due to the shorter and faster swing and I believe any player can see the advantage of being able to hit multiple shots from the exact same racquet position!

Towards the end, we worked on including the wrist more to improve accuracy. This is a bit harder to explain as it depends on how every player feels about using their wrist. The main thing we concentrated on was hitting the crease or ‘nick’ with both drop and kill shots. Also, we concentrated on stopping the swing almost immediately after hitting the ball, i.e. having a much shorter follow through. Having a full follow through when trying to hit accurate shots is not ideal since there is more racquet movement and therefore more influence on where the ball is going. A shorter follow through will keep the ball in line as the effect of the racquet going through it is minimum. If you want to improve accuracy on the front court you should concentrate on using just the wrist to give direction to the ball. However, there is no ‘textbook’ wrist movement so you should find your own comfort zone with wrist shots. A great way to practice this is having someone feed easy, loose shots at the very front of the court and hitting the ball using the wrist only, i.e. no forearm or upper arm movements, and always having accuracy as a top priority. Always keep the crease in mind, trying to hit the ball about 2-3 inches above the tin. This way you can become comfortable with your own wrist movement that gets you the best shots. Furthermore, you should always keep in mind your balance as it is essential for accuracy and better shots; you can read more on this here.

Finally, we practiced hitting different shots from different places on the front court while applying everything we learned at the same time. Always keep in mind your body and racquet position, keeping your head down, and your wrist movement. Having said this, if you are looking to improve your front court game you can try out this very helpful drill. The best way to do it is to take it step by step while concentrating on each step’s main goal to finally include everything in one single movement. It is always good to try new drills to improve any aspect of your game, so give it a try and see how your game can improve.

Please feel free to leave your ideas, opinions, thoughts, and/or questions on the comment section below and we will be more than happy to help you!

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Head Heavy, Head Light, or Even Balanced: What Should I Use?

When planning on buying a squash racquet there are many things to take into consideration:

  • how it will fit your game
  • the weight of the racquet
  • the type of throat
  • the balance

The choice of balance in a squash racquet depends on the type of player and I believe that many players have a hard time knowing which balance fits their game best. I will talk about the balance of squash racquets and how each type fits different types of players.

Head Light BalanceHead light racquets, as the name indicates, have lighter heads and thus the weight is balanced towards the handle of the racquet. Here, maneuverability is the key element of the racquet and thus it is excellent for aggressive players who like to attack with volleys, players who have short swings, and players who are yet to develop more wrist strength. If a player likes to volley a lot, a head light racquet will be beneficial due to the fact that it has increased maneuverability. A player will be able to bring the racquet up faster which is the most essential movement when it comes to attacking with a volley. For players with short swings, fast racquet speed is a must and a head light balance will help greatly with this as it is easier to swing. However, this type of player has to be sure that they can generate enough power by themselves (i.e. without the help of the racquet) to ensure enough ball speed. If a player doesn’t have a strong wrist yet, they should consider a more head light racquet as it will be easier to maneuver with less strength. Head light racquets will often be heavier in order to help generate power; but, if increased power with decreased overall weight is what a player is looking for, a head heavy racquet is the best choice.

Head Heavy Squash Racquet

A head heavy racquet will have most of its weight towards the head. Having a head heavy balance will help the racquet move through the ball easier and thus it best suits more patient players who like to play a solid length game, players with more fluid swings, and players that have a hard time generating power by themselves. A patient, length game is a great game strategy and players who like to implement it should consider a head heavy racquet. The reason is that, since it helps to generate power, less effort is needed to get the ball to the back of the court hence saving the player more energy which is needed to keep up the longer rallies that arise from such strategy. For the same reason, a player with a more fluid swing will find this balance helpful. A player that can’t generate enough power by themselves can swing slower but still generate enough power; this is common among young players who are yet to develop more strength. Head heavy racquets are great for players who like to have a more patient and fluid game, and/or young players who need aid in generating power. If a player is looking for a combination of the previous two types of balances, they should consider even balanced racquets.

An even balanced racquet will have a relatively equal weight distribution. This type of balance is considered to be more flexible and will fit players who like to volley while generating a decent amount of power. A player who likes to ‘switch’ up their strategy mid-rally will find this type of racquet helpful. It is maneuverable enough to be able to provide good racquet preparation speed as well as good swing speed and powerful enough to generate good power on more fluid swings. This balance I believe is helpful when a player likes to change the pace in the middle of the point.

Any player who is considering getting a new racquet should look well into the balance of the racquet and which type fits them better. However, the choice of balance should not be dictated solely on a player’s type of game; personal preference is top priority here. Having said this I strongly encourage players to try out all three types of balances before acquiring a new racquet. Here at Control the ‘T’ Sports we have a wide variety of squash racquets that you can take a look at.

If you would like to read more about how to choose a squash racquet please download our guide to buying a squash racquet by filling out the form below.

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The Rules of Squash Every Player Should Know

Ideally, every player should have read and should know the rules of Squash; but, there are some rules that sometimes are ignored simply by the fact that none of the players or officials know them. I have read the “World Squash Singles Rules 2014” from the World Squash Federation and here are some of the rules that I believe every player should know, as well as commentary on how they are bypassed or misinterpreted by players and/or officials:

Section 3: Officials

  • Subsection 3.3: The correct position for the Officials is seated at the centre of the back wall, as close to that wall as possible and just above the out-line.

From my competitive experience the last part of this rule has not always been implemented. Many times Officials (in this case players themselves) sit behind the back wall but on ground level instead of above the out-line. This can influence, for example, a call on an out-ball where the Official would be looking from below the out-line thus not having a good line of sight on the ball when it is close to or on the out-line.

Subsection 3.7: The Referee

  •  Rule 3.7.10: must ask the player for clarification if uncertain about the reason for a request for a let or an appeal.

Many times inexperienced players that are refereeing a match find themselves not knowing why a player called a let. Also, most often than not, the player refereeing doesn’t know what to do and takes a decision that may not be the correct one. If a player ever finds themselves in such a situation, they must ask for clarification from the player in order to make a better and fair decision.

  • Rule 3.7.13: must apply Rule 15 (Conduct) if a player’s conduct is unacceptable.

Sometimes players who are refereeing do not apply this rule because they might feel intimidated. A referee should never hesitate to apply Rule 15 against a player who is showing misconduct.

  • Rule 3.14: must suspend play if the behaviour of any person, other than a player, is disruptive or offensive, until the behaviour has ceased, or until the offending person has left the court area.

Most of the times when there is a disruption by a person, other than a player, it is a player who tells the referee to ask that person to stop the disruption. A referee should never wait for a player to do this. Instead, the referee should suspend play immediately if a disruption occurs and should ask the person to stop or leave the court area.

Section 4: The Warm-Up

  • Subsection 4.1: At the start of a match the players go on court together to warm up the ball for a maximum of 5 minutes. After 2½ minutes the players must change sides, unless they have already done so.

This is one of the most misinterpreted rules in Squash. Often, the players will warm-up for as long as they desire without the referee asking for a change of sides and later on for a time-out on the warm-up. A lot of players don’t know the maximum time allowed for warm-up which leads to longer-than-allowed warm-ups and therefore a delay of game.

 Section 5: The Serve

  • Subsection 5.7
    • Rule 5.7.2: at the time the server strikes the ball, one foot is in contact with the floor inside the service-box with no part of that foot touching any boundary of that box.

This is a very well-known rule; but, if broken, a fault must be called by the referee. This is not the case most of the time a player commits this type of fault. The reason is that some referees don’t even pay attention to the serving player’s feet as they serve, hence missing a fault that must have been called.

 Section 7: Intervals

  • Rule 7.1: A maximum of 90 seconds is permitted between the end of the warm-up and the start of play, and between each game.

Some players don’t even know that there is time allowed between the end of the warm-up and the start of the match. Also, many players take over 90 seconds between games and referees most of the time fail to call the player’s attention on this. A referee must give a 15-second warning (i.e. there are 15 seconds left before players must return to court) and if a player fails to come back to court on time, Rule 15 (Conduct) must be applied. Note: it is the players’ responsibility to be close enough to hear any announcement made by the referee.

 Section 8: Interference

  • Rule 8.2: A striker who believes that interference has occurred may stop and request a let, preferably by saying “Let, please.” That request must be made without undue delay. Notes:
    • Before accepting any form of request the Referee must be satisfied that the player is actually requesting a let.
    • A request for a let includes a request for a stroke.
    • Normally, only the striker may request a let for interference. However, if the non-striker requests a let for lack of access before the ball has reached the front wall, that request may be considered, even though that player is not yet the striker.

Here I will concentrate on the last point since I find it very interesting. The reason is that usually a player will request a let after the ball has come back from the front wall and an interference occurs. But, according to this rule, if a player is the non-striker, (i.e. the ball has not reached the front wall and therefore this player may not hit the ball yet) they can request a let if they believe they don’t have direct access to the ball even though they are not allowed to hit the ball yet. Also, another reason I find it interesting is how this rule is designed to keep the players’ safety a priority; there is no need to wait for the ball to be within striking distance (and therefore having the risk of hitting the other player) in order to stop the point.

  • Rule 8.4: The Referee may allow a let or award a stroke without a request having been made, stopping play if necessary, especially for reasons of safety.

Many times referees will not stop the game even though a dangerous play has occurred. This is due to the fact that, if a player does not stop play even through a dangerous play, the referee may think they don’t have the right to stop the point since a player didn’t stop it in the first place. Referees must apply this rule when necessary in order to protect the players’ safety; especially when dealing with beginners as they don’t request a let as much as more experienced players.

  • Subsection 8.6:
    • Rule 8.6.4: if there was interference, but it did not prevent the striker from seeing and getting to the ball to make a good return, this is minimal interference and no let is allowed.

This is one of the most commonly misinterpreted rules in Squash. Many players believe that if there was any type of interference, regardless of how minimal it is, at least a let should be awarded. This is not the case. If there is minimal interference and the striker can still play their shot and make a good return, then no let is allowed if the player stops the point. Normally, if this happens for the first time in a match, the referee will allow a let and tell the player that they should play those shots in the future. If the player fails to do so on another point, then no let is allowed and the referee must remind the player once again that they should hit those shots.

  • Subsection 8.8: If the striker requests a let for lack of direct access to the ball, then:
    • Rule 8.8.1: if there was interference but the striker did not make every effort to get to and play the ball, no let is allowed.

This rule can create a big debate between players and the referee. Sometimes, a player may think that because there was enough interference to allow a let, a let must be allowed. This is not the case since a player must ALWAYS make their best effort to get to the ball regardless of the interference (i.e. a player must show that they would be able to hit the shot if there were to be no lack of direct access). Note: Every effort to get to and play the ball should not include contact with the opponent. If any contact that could have been avoided is made, Rule 15 (Conduct) must be applied.

  •  Rule 8.8.2: if the striker had direct access but instead took an indirect path to the ball and then requested a let for interference, no let is allowed, unless Rule 8.8.3 applies.

I find this rule very interesting. It could lead to a lot of confusion during a match since there will be an interference; but, in this situation, not let should be allowed regardless of the magnitude of the interference. Rule 8.8.3: if the striker was wrong-footed, but showed the ability to recover and make a good return, and then encountered interference, a let is allowed, unless the striker would have made a winning return, in which case a stroke is awarded to the striker.

  • Subsection 8.10:
    • Rule 8.10.1: If the striker caused the interference by using an excessive swing, no let is allowed.

This is one of the rules that cause controversy on court. Sometimes, a player will exaggerate their swing in order to request a let. This is called excessive swing and no let should be allowed. Unfortunately, many players, as they referee, don’t know this and they take it as a normal interference thus allowing a let, or in the worst of cases, a stroke. Note: If there was interference from the striker exaggerating their swing in an attempt to earn a stroke, a let should be allowed as stated in Rule 10.8.2. Rule 10.8.2: If there was interference but the striker exaggerated the swing in attempting to earn a stroke, a let is allowed.

 Section 14: Injuries

  • Subsection 14.3: Categories
    • Rule 14.3.1: Self-inflicted: where the injury is the result of the player’s own action. This includes a muscle tear or sprain, or a bruise resulting from a collision with a wall or falling over. The player is permitted 3 minutes to recover and, if not then ready to resume play, must concede that game and take the 90-second interval between games for further recovery. Only 1 game may be conceded. The player must then resume play or concede the match.

In this case, players must be aware of the time frames allowed during injury time. The opponent should be aware of this and tell the referee to implement the rule when the time is over, if the referee forgets or doesn’t know about it.

  • Rule 14.6: It is always the injured player’s decision whether or not to resume play.

No player should ever let the referee or opponent pressure them into continuing play when injured.

 Section 15: Conduct

  • Rule 15.7: A player guilty of an offence may be given a Conduct Warning or penalised with a Conduct Stroke, a Conduct Game, or a Conduct Match, depending on the severity of the offence.

Referees should know that a Conduct Stroke, Conduct Game, or Conduct Match can be given to an offending player before a Conduct Warning is given (i.e. a referee is not obliged to give a Conduct Warning before giving a penalty; a penalty can be given straight away). Any warning or penalty will be given considering the frequency and/or severity of the offense(s).

 These are the rules I believe are mostly misinterpreted or not known of at all by players. Any squash player who desires to play competitively should read the rules carefully in order to fully understand them and apply them whenever they must officiate a match. Also, players should keep these and all other rules in mind so that they are able to appeal in a correct manner. A player who knows the rules will be able to provide a better playing experience to themselves and others as well!

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