Tag Archives: deception

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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Squash: A Deception Game

To deceive someone is to cause them to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain some personal advantage. In the game of squash this becomes a vital thing. Being able to deceive your opponent becomes a key element in squash as it is fundamentally one of the best ways to win a rally. Deceptive shots, either by accident or by choice, create an element of surprise that will throw off any opponent. Deception is an art; a great strategy in the game of squash that highly rewards those who are able to master it.

Squash is a deception game. The ability to play with your opponent’s mind becomes a great advantage when playing squash. It is arguably the hardest strategy to develop; but, when successfully developed, it is the most rewarding one. Whether it is a head fake or a surprise cross from the front, any shot that eventually deceives the opponent will create more opportunities to keep adding pressure in the rally.

Most deceptive shots involve identical racquet preparation on every shot and good wrist strength combined with a fast racquet movement. The ‘hold’ on open shots will reduce the chances of an opponent being able to read the next shot. A player would ideally hold the racquet in the same position for as long as possible before hitting the ball hence increasing the chances of misleading the opponent. Also, a player can ‘fake’ the racquet movement involving a certain type of shot and then continue to hit a completely different shot. For example, a player could make it look as if they were going to hit a drop shot by lowering their shoulder, but then go on to hit a hard cross court by quickly snapping the racquet using their wrist. These combination of deceptive plays will create surprise in a player’s game giving them a big advantage against their opponent.

The element of surprise plays a big role in a squash match. When able to surprise an opponent during a match, players will find themselves with various opportunities to win the point. If a point is not won straight away after a deceptive shot, the opponent will have to use extra energy to return the shot. If the latter occurs the opponent will most likely return an open since they will be out of position due to the unexpectedness of the player’s shot. For example, if an opponent is expecting a drop shot and is then surprised by a cross towards the back, they will have to change direction and run towards the back of the court in order to return the ball. In this case they will be out of position when hitting the ball thus increasing the possibility of returning a shot than can be easily attacked by the player. These are great gains in a match since the opponent’s physical energy is depleted while putting them under heavy pressure. This has been seen throughout the sport’s history where some great players have shown incredible deceptive skills that have left their opponents baffled.

A great example of deceptive play comes from a Canadian squash legend and former World Number 1: Jonathon Power. Considered to be one of the greatest shot makers in the history of the game, ‘The Magician’ kept fans on their toes every time he played demonstrating an amazing display of deceptive shots. Here is a video of his most famous deceptive shot where he does a perfect backhand fake on the back of the court to then hit an amazing drop shot that leaves his opponent completely static (0:13-0:31):

Another example of a great deceptive shot is James Willstrop’s famous double fake against Ramy Ashour:

Deception pays off very well in squash. Any player who is able to develop a strong deception game will have a great advantage against any type of opponent. This is one of the most powerful tools in the game of squash and it is widely used in many different ways by the best players in the world. Creating an element of surprise on court is essential whenever an opportunity to attack arises. The art of deception is one to be acquired by any player who aims for a much better squash game!

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Ramy Ashour – Racquet Preparation and Deception

I was watching Ramy Ashour play Adrian Grant this morning on www.psasquashtv.com and was amazed at how deceptive he was in particular when the ball was played in short on the forehand side. His racquet preparation looks identical between a drive and a drop which makes reading what he is going to hit nearly impossible. There was a terrific video on squashskills.com featuring Jonathon Power where Jonathon went over that very subject. Continue reading

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Amr Shabana’s Forehand – Preparation, Hold and Deception

I am watching the Grasshopper Cup 2014 on www.psasquashtv.com currently and am having a good look at Shabana’s forehand. It really is a thing of beauty. He has my favourite forehand on tour. There are several components of it that I really like. His racquet preparation, his hold, how deceptive it is and how consistent it is are what make it so good.

Amr Shabana wearing the Salming Race R1 2.0

Photo credit to squashsite.co.uk


Continue reading

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Jonathon Power – The master of deception

I am watching a match between Jonathon Power and Peter Nicol on www.psasquashtv.com and am inspired by Jonathon’s play.  He uses all 4 corners of the court beautifully to stretch his opponent out.  What I find truly incredible to watch though is his use of deception in the front corners.  Even watching the match on the computer it is difficult to figure out what shot he is going to play.  There are really three things I believe that made him so hard to read at the front court.  His body position, racquet preparation and how good he was at hitting the various shots.

Your body position in the front corners is critical as it gives you the ability to hit the drop, the straight length or the cross court.  In particular leaving yourself the straight shot is critical and what Jonathon did so well.  It is a hard shot to play and most players don’t even leave themselves the option with their approach to the ball in the front corner.  Jonathon on both the forehand and backhand would setup the same for a drop, a straight drive or the cross court drive.

Racquet preparation is equally critical to your body position.  Jonathon’s racquet preparation when he was in the front corner looked the same for the drop or either drive.  It is very important to have your racquet in a position that will allow you to drive or drop. Many players when they are going to drop have already extended their racquet out in such a manner that prevents them from driving the ball.  Likewise they will only have their racquet back when they go in to the front corner when they are going to drive.  Focus on being able to hit a drop, or the straight or cross court drive every time you go in to the front corners.  Work on making your racquet preparation look the same for every choice.

The ability to hit a quality drop, a quality straight drive or a quality cross court drive front corners is the key.  Jonathon Power was great at all three shots.  He had an amazing drop.  He could kill it in to the nick given the angle or if the angle did not present itself he would keep it hugging the side wall.  His cross court drive had the width to get by his opponent at the ‘T’.  The straight drive from Jonathon was lethal.  It is a very tough shot as your can’t pull it at all, you can’t catch the side wall it has to be very straight.  Jonathon hit the straight drive from the front corner beautifully.

Jonathon Power was terrific in the front corners and his opponents rarely knew what shot was coming.  His body position, racquet preparation and the fact that he could play any shot with such quality from the front corners left his opponents guessing as to what shot he was going to play.

 

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