This post will be a two-themed piece; I will briefly touch on the Olympics, and then get into a squash specific discussion.
The Olympic Games are currently in full swing in London and as always, squash is conspicuously absent. The pinnacle of world sport is happening while the world’s best squashers are toiling away on the back courts of the world in the midst of summer training. The absence of our game from the Olympics is still an elephant in the room whenever the topic of pro squash comes up in discussions with the average sports fan. Everyone knows it is a serious injustice to the sport; no need to reiterate the usual arguments. Furthermore, this Olympics has seen several controversies with regards to athletes giving their full effort and over-involved referees. This would never happen in squash.
Now onto some actual squash talk. Every player has come across a frustrating opponent who is not far better in overall level, but seems impossible to beat or even put under pressure. It feels like this play can read and control play, never get tired and win rallies at will. They seem invincible, only to be convincingly beaten in the next round by a higher class player. Suddenly your foil seems mediocre and has no answers. What is the cause of this distinct difference in standard? The answer is usually “basic game”. Slightly better length, fewer errors, more consistency and smoother movement. The player who is better in those four areas will feel comfortable with the pace and have confidence to win big points near the end of games. This should be encouraging, because it means that you probably don’t have to reinvent your game or hit shots like Ramy to take down your nemesis! If you watch any pro match, one player will usually look slightly more efficient and comfortable from the outset. Even if their opponent hits some explosive winners or has a few hot streaks, the calmer player will almost always win the match.
In summary, you can never spend too much time working on basics. The final 5% on each shot makes the difference between perfect width and clipping the sidewall, for example. Something that simple can make the difference between being in control and getting run ragged around the court.