Tag Archives: Jonathon Power

The benefits of a light squash racquet

As my last blog post noted I have recently been using the Harrow Vibe Jonathon Power Signature Edition squash racquet. I have been using lighter squash racquets now for the past year or so. So what are the benefits of a lighter racquet and why would someone choose to play with one? For me I find the benefits to be a shorter more compact swing, deception, quicker reaction time and it also compensates for slower racquet preparation. I have found all of these aspects to be of benefit to me.

Harrow Vibe Jonathon Power Signature EditionThe lighter racquet really allows you to generate a lot of racquet head speed with a much more compact swing. I find that allows me to focus on getting the racquet back and not having to get the racquet up as much. The swing is much shorter and more of a snap through the ball rather than a long fluid motion. You can generate lots of racquet head speed with the pronation or supination of the forearm. With heavier racquets it is much harder to generate enough racquet head speed in this manner. You really need to focus on getting the racquet back and up and let the weight of the racquet carry the racquet through to the ball.

The shorter more compact swing really helps with deception as well. For me I find it easier with the shorter swing to disguise whether I am driving or dropping from the same racquet preparation. As the swing is short and most of the acceleration is through the hitting zone with pronation/supination of the forearm on the drive all you need to do to drop is not accelerate the swing. With a longer more traditional swing you when you have the racquet back and up you end up having to slow the swing down to drop to really disguise the drop well which is not as easy to do.

Reaction time is improved with a lighter racquet as well. As there is less mass to move you can get the racquet back and through to the ball easier. This is very valuable for players that like to volley a lot. Being able to get the racquet back and then through to the ball faster than you can with a heavier racquet allows you the option to drive or drop on the volley on more balls than you would a heavier racquet. With a heavier racquet it will take longer to get back and then through. If you don’t have enough time to get the racquet back that limits your options on the volley to a drop or to block the ball back to length. You will not be able to hit the ball hard to length as often.

For the player with poor racquet preparation a lighter racquet can be of real benefit as well. While I certainly believe the correct cure for poor racquet preparation is to actually improve that facet of your game, if for whatever reason that is not going to happen a lighter racquet can improve your play. It improves your play for the same reason described in the paragraph above. You can get the racquet back and through to the ball in less time than you can a heavier racquet. That will give you more options and the ability to drive more balls.

I have been using the Harrow Vibe for the last few months now and have really enjoyed playing with it. I have found it allows me to have a shorter more compact swing, better deception, volley the ball more frequently and allows me to prepare my racquet better more often. All of these traits are at present helping me with my game.

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A Review of the Harrow Vibe Jonathon Power Special Edition Squash Racquet

Harrow Vibe Jonathon Power Signature EditionI recently decided to switch racquets as I wanted to try something light and with a soft feel to it. I also wanted something that was fairly forgiving to play with. As such I decided to give the Harrow Vibe a try. I had most recently been using the Harrow Spark before so the weight difference was not to significant. The Vibe is slightly heavier at 140 grams fully finished compared to the Spark’s fully finished weight of 135 grams. The balance of the Vibe is more even compared to the Spark which is head heavy so even though the Vibe is heavier on a scale, when playing it felt a bit lighter to me. The Vibe has a very soft feel to it which is exactly what I wanted to try. The Vibe’s 500 cm2 head is definitely more forgiving than the smaller head of the Spark.

Weight and Balance

I was already used to playing with a light racquet as noted so the change to the Vibe in relation to the weight was an easy one. I like the even balance to it. I have been working on a shorter, more compact swing that I can hold and then snap through to the ball with. I find this is easier to do with a lighter racquet and the Harrow Vibe was very good for this with its very light weight and even balance. A quick note on weight which I will go in to more detail on in a forth coming post. There are a few different ways that manufacturers advertise the weight of a racquet. They are unfinished, unstrung and fully finished. You can add as much as 40 grams in some cases to an unfinished weight. So the Vibe’s weight of 140 grams fully finished is very light indeed. That coupled with its even balance makes it extremely manoeuvrable.

Feel

This is the racquet that Jonathon Power actually plays with. Having previously been a Dunlop guy Harrow designed his signature model around the feel that he likes. It has a very soft, almost whippy feel to it. I noticed the change from the Spark here a great deal. The Spark, like many Harrow frames is quite stiff. This Vibe has a softer frame but also it has a less dense 14 x 18 string pattern compared to the Spark or Vapor’s 14 x 19 stringing pattern on their smaller heads. It makes a big difference. You can visibly see that the Vibe has a more open string pattern through the sweet spot of the racquet compared to the Spark or Vapor. The softer feel gives you the sense that the ball is sitting on the strings longer. That is not the only difference on contact. There is a definite flex to the racquet when you hit the ball. These were all things I was wanting to give a try. It felt odd having come from such a stiff racquet but it has really grown on me.

Forgiving

The last few racquets I have all had smaller heads that would be considered control frames. I have found when I playing well these do suit my game as I like to move the ball around the court. I have found though that when under more pressure and when I am not playing quite as well the smaller sweet spots of these heads was coming back to haunt me. The smaller head and tighter string pattern of the Spark and Vapor are not forgiving. I wanted to try something with a larger sweet spot and that would be more responsive on slightly mishit balls. The Harrow Vibe definitely helped with that. It was easier to generate pace with the Vibe due its larger sweet spot but more importantly under duress I am getting more out of the racquet, and my shots with the larger more forgiving head. Interestingly if I am playing really well with either the Spark of Vibe I am in good command of the ball. I find I am in more command of the ball with the Vibe under pressure than I am with the smaller head of the Spark. This was actually the principal reason for trying the Vibe out and it did really work out.

Overall Conclusion

I really enjoy playing with the Harrow Vibe.  I liked it enough that I have one in my bag now strung up with Tecnifibre X-One. It did take some getting use to the softer more flexible feel of the Vibe but the rewards of doing so were worth it. You do get an improved feel of the ball on the racquet and it is a forgiving racquet to hit with. A final note on the weight of the racquet. It is very light and not what I would think is ideal for the beginner. It is pretty easy to get ahead of the ball if you are anxious as you can generate so much racquet head speed, so easily. For the player that can control that and has good timing that is actually a real advantage though. If you are looking for a light, manoeuvrable, forgiving racquet with a soft feel then the Harrow Vibe is a terrific choice.

View the Harrow Vibe in our online store

 

 

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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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A Review of the Harrow Spark Black/Yellow Squash Racquet

Harrow updated the cosmetics on the Harrow Spark Jonathon Power Signature Edition for this season. They have painted it Black and Yellow for this year. They have also changed the strings in this model. They have included Ashaway’s SuperNick XL Micro in this generation of the Spark. Having the SuperNick XL Micro is a positive in my books. I like 18 gauge string as it cuts in to the ball a bit better than a 17 gauge string. It also helps generating power.

Harrow Spark Jonathon Power Signature Edition Squash Racquet Black/Gold

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Harrow Spark Review

I recently switched to the Harrow Spark after several years using the Black Knight Magnum Corona. The primary difference between these racquets is the lightness of the Spark. The Corona is, in my opinion, a fairly standard racquet in terms of weight and balance. The head is almost completely circular while the Spark is more oblong.

There is, of course, a trade-off with a lighter racquet. The Spark is a very “maneuverable” racquet, meaning you can hit the ball with a compromised or improvised swing and don’t necessarily need a full backswing to make good contact. However, to generate power you need ample racquet head speed. It took me a few weeks to adjust to this difference; the Corona was heavier and thus more powerful. Overall I prefer the freedom afforded by the Spark. It is much easier to dig the ball out of the back corners, and to hit the ball when it’s behind you (or otherwise non-ideal positions). Having to generate racquet head speed is also a good thing for shot consistency and accuracy. I would recommend it for players who feel their current racquet is sluggish or difficult to control.

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The Fascinating Game of Squash

Few activities (healthy ones, at least) are as captivating as squash. People who have never seen it played in their lives suddenly become fascinated by the sport and play every day. It has endless new challenges and skills to master, and there is always someone better than you. In this post, I am going to detail some of the reasons I personally find squash such an amazing game. Ultimately, I think these observations can help simplify the game and make you a better player.

Perhaps the coolest thing about squash is its approximate, indefinite nature. Even the best players in the world rarely play perfect shots or points. This is why there are so many different successful styles and approaches. There is no single way to win at squash. Unlike “closed skill” sports such as swimming and running, where the same task is executed ad nauseum, there are literally thousands of decisions and actions being made every second that determine the outcome of a point. Closed skill sports tend to follow a simple equation: talent + hard work = success. However, “open skill” games like squash have no guaranteed formula for success. There are infinite combinations of movements and angles that can’t all be mastered. We all know someone who is annoyingly talented and hits the ball straight and clean despite playing once a week. Likewise, there are players who train excessively hard for minimal gains. Talented players seem to have an innate understanding of the angles and how to put the ball in the most difficult place. Without athleticism and coordination superior to their opponent, they manage to make people run laps just to stay in the rally! Jonathon Power is a classic example of a player who understands the game. I think this is why he can still challenge the best in the world despite being retired for six years and not training.

Another cool facet of the game is the psychology of winning. Mental toughness and determination are big reasons why less talented people often end up beating the naturals mentioned above. I can’t count the number of times I have seen a seemingly inferior player frustrate their opponent by running down every ball and forcing error upon error. Eventually, the talented player runs out of ideas and folds.

Both of these approaches are completely valid strategies for winning at squash. As the saying goes, people ask “How Many, not How”. How you win matches isn’t what counts when the dust has settled…how many matches you won does. So don’t obsess yourself with learning a certain style or playing perfect squash. In fact, the term perfect squash is really an oxymoron. Find a style you are comfortable with, and play each match on your own terms. Having a clear plan and sticking to your strengths is one thing I always do when I am playing well. Part of the beauty of the game is the ability to express yourself through your playing style. It is always surprising how much easier it all seems when you rid yourself of preconceived ideas about how it should be played, and do what feels natural.

 

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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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Harrow Sports Gear now available at Control the ‘T’ Sports

Contact: Jeff Warren
Phone: 877-370-4661
Email: jeff@controlthet.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTROL THE ‘T’ SPORTS IS PROUD TO NOW OFFER HARROW SPORTS SQUASH GEAR

Harrow Squash Banner

Control the ‘T’ Sports is very proud to now be carrying Harrow Sports terrific line of squash gear.  With their recent signing of Jonathon Power, their partnership with Squash Canada and their involvement with the National Squash Academy in Canada Harrow Sports has great momentum in the squash market.

Our mission at Control the ‘T’ Sports is to offer the best products and service to our customers.  Offering Harrow Sports line of squash gear is definitely consistent with this mission.

To see our current lineup of Harrow Sports squash gear please visit us on the web atwww.controlthet.com or visit our Pro Shop at the Elora Racquets club.

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For more information please contact Jeff Warren by email at jeff@controlthet.com or by calling 1.877.370.4661.

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Work on the National Squash Academy is progressing

Received a Tweet from @NationalSquash about the status of the National Squash Academy.  The North American Junior Squash Championship just completed there and the video footage below is from the morning of the first day of the tournament.  This great new facility is a fair ways from finished but it is well under way. It is great to see this progress from an announcement I read on www.squashtm.com to now having finished courts!

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National Squash Academy in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jonathon Power is giving back to the Canadian Squash Community.  He along with Jamie Nichols and Gary Waite are in the process of creating the National Squash Academy at Downsview Park in Toronto.  I am lucky enough to be in the area and am definitely looking forward to visiting the facility.

Having such a facility in the city of Toronto is great for the local squash community.  There are definitely other good clubs in the city of course but this is geared towards being a high performance center.  To quote the information below it is a “center of squash excellence, combining all of the necessary elements of Long Term Athlete Development to grow the game and it’s athletes from playground to the podium”  Clearly the focus is on training competitive athletes.

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