Tag Archives: squash tips

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.

View the Harrow Vibe in our online store

 

 

 

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Time to get fit

Following up on our last post about Paul Coll today’s post is going to look at fitness. Squash is a tough game physically and being in good physical shape is imperative to performing at your top level. There are 4 key elements that I want to focus on. The 4 are endurance, core strength, flexibility and explosive power. The reason I am focusing on them now is twofold.  it is just about the new year so a lot of people will be making new years’ resolutions. I am also focusing on them now as I need to work on them myself! Watching Paul Coll’s run at the Channel VAS Championship a couple of weeks ago, really brought in to focus just how far athleticism can take you.

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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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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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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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Good Balance Leads to Great Shots

Balance is a very important part of the game when it comes to hitting good shots. You need good balance in order to get a solid hit on the ball, and to be able to stay quick on your feet for the next one. Recently I have concentrated on this and I have found that the results are great. I am finding myself hitting more accurate and more powerful shots thus helping me win more points. Here are ways that good balance will help you hit better shots and be quicker when getting back to the ‘T’.

I play varsity squash and the other day I was playing a match against one of my teammates. Our coach was watching and after the first game he gave me some tips on how to hit better shots. He told me that whenever I had time to hit a good shot I was rushing to the ball and thus hitting it when I was off balance. He said I had to take my time, make sure I was balanced and well positioned, and then go on to hit the shot. So I jumped on court for the second game and concentrated on what he told me. So whenever I had time to I made sure I had good footwork in order to position myself with good balance in front of the ball. I placed myself on my normal hitting position but I made sure that my feet were planted solid on the ground; I made sure I used good strength to keep my legs and torso still through my shot. Having done this I was able to hit much more solid and accurate shots. It worked really well for me.

The reason for good balance leading to good shots is the fact that you are able to hit your shots on the racquet’s ‘sweet spot’ more often. If you are off balance previous to hitting a shot, your torso will move around and hence your shoulder as well; all this affects your swing and where you hit the ball. For example, on one shot when playing against my teammate, I tried to hit a straight length as my torso was moving backwards and I ended pulling the ball across resulting a shot right down the middle. So, if you manage to stay balanced leading to the shot, your torso is stable thus giving your arm all the strength and accuracy needed to hit a solid shot. You will also be able to control your shots better since there is no ‘extra’ movement from your body being off balance. In other words, your whole movement will be concentrated solely on your swing leading to more ‘sweet spot’ shots.

Good balance is also an advantage when it comes to the aftermath of the shot; you need it in order to get back to the ‘T’ quick. If you are off balance there is a need for extra movement to get your body back into balance so you can get back into a good position on the ‘T’. For example, after hitting a shot at the front of the court you will use your back foot to propel yourself back to the ‘T’ but, if you drag it too much as you are hitting the shot, you will need to position that foot on the back again to be able to start your movement to the ‘T’; this will cost you around one second which doesn’t seem like much, but when it comes to this game this is very valuable time. Therefore, if you keep your balance through your shot and your legs are stuck on the ground, you can put all the strength on that back foot to get you back on the ‘T’ ready for the next shot.

Good shots are built upon many different things and balance is one of the most important ones. Having good balance will help you hit better shots regardless of what shot it is or where on the court you are. It will also give you the benefit of getting back on the ‘T’ faster thus giving you more time to react against your opponent’s next shot. Get your feet on the ground and get ready to hit great shots!

Also, here is a video of a rally between Mohamed El Shorbagy and Ramy Ashour. Notice how on every shot,even under pressure, they are able to plant their feet and keep their balance concentrating only on their swing and what shot they want to make:

 

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Squash – Change the Pace

In squash there are many different strategies that can be used to beat an opponent. I will talk about a strategy that I believe is very important to keep in mind. It involves the pace of the game dictated by the player, its advantages, and how to change it during a rally. The change of pace is a great way to catch an opponent off guard and gain control of the rally. I will talk about some of my past experiences with this strategy and how it has helped me with my overall game. Also, I will give a useful tip on how to keep this in mind when in the middle of a rally.

Whenever I am playing a match against someone on my same level, I always consider changing the pace as a game strategy before I get on court. I play squash at varsity level and one time during a tournament I was playing against a player who had a more solid game than me, and between games one of my teammates told me to change the pace mid-rally. So I went into the second game with this in mind and I remember one rally I was playing slow, accurate squash down the wall and then suddenly changing the pace to a much more aggressive game. I was hitting the ball harder and trying to volley as much as I could around the middle of the court. I was surprised to find that this strategy was working very well. So I decided to keep trying it in different ways; I would start playing aggressively but then went on to hit a lob or an unexpected drop and then back on the aggressive game or I would play lengths as much as I could to then play a cross court when least expected. Surprisingly enough this strategy was the key element in giving me the win on that game.

After playing more matches against different types of players and using the change of pace as one of my main strategies, I realized how helpful it is. The change of pace is very effective in many ways. First of all, it is very unexpected. For example, if I am hitting nice and easy lengths repeatedly my opponent tends to relax and ‘get used’ to returning just lengths; so once the pace changes they will be caught off guard both mentally and physically. This is due to them being in a routine type of mentality where they are only playing one type of pace on a given rally and not expecting such a sudden change in the flow of the game. For example, one time I was playing a practice match with one of my teammates and I started the rally very aggressively playing every ball very hard towards the back of the court and volleying as well as much as I could. I started noticing that my teammate was getting used to returning those shots but had moved further back from the ‘T’ in order to have an easier approach on those shots. This is when I decided to apply the change of pace. He hit a bad shot and gave me an open shot in the middle of the court so I prepared my racquet the same way as I had during the rally but, instead of returning a hard shot towards the back, I hit a drop shot. My teammate just stood where he was because he thought I was going to keep hitting it back so he started a backwards movement but once he saw the ball go to the front there was nothing he could do about it.

When playing squash the adrenaline is running high and sometimes it is easy to oversee a good opportunity to change the pace of the game. So it is good to have something to keep it in your head throughout the game. The trick that I find very useful is to associate a specific word with it. For example, I use the word ‘pace’ to remind myself that changing the pace should be one of my options to beat an opponent. If I am playing a match, I would think ‘pace’ once in a while throughout any game in order to constantly keep myself aware of it. This word works for me but it can be anything; it really depends on what works best for a player. These are the things that have helped me win various points and that I believe are good to have in mind when playing squash.
The change of pace is proven to be an effective strategy by a lot of players and professionals and I would recommend any player to start working on it. It really helps with catching an opponent off guard as well as gaining control and dominance of the rally. So it is useful to remember that changing the pace can make a big difference in a match as it is surprising how many points one can get off it.

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Types and Importance of Defensive Shots in Squash

Squash is a very fast-paced and aggressive game that requires a solid defensive strategy as players can find themselves under pressure from their opponent a lot of the time. In the game of squash whenever a player is under heavy pressure from their opponent, defensive play is essential to both regain control of the rally and to conserve stamina. When in trouble on court there are different shots and strategies that can help a player recover from an undesired situation and get back to an attacking position. Continue reading

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The Benefits of a Head Light Squash Racquet

I have been playing with Black Knight Ion Element PSX Squash Racquet this season and must say I love it. It is not the normal type of racquet I have played with for the past few years though. I had been playing with tear drop racquets with a more even or head heavy balance. I like the more natural power they create. I originally tried the Element PSX to get my opinion on it and write a review of it. I liked the feel on contact of it. I really like the thin beam and have come to like the smaller head and sweet spot of the racquet. What I have really come to like is the relatively light weight of it and its head light balance. It is very quick to play with. I find that has really benefited my game. It has helped me to volley more, it has helped me be more deception with my shot selection and I am still able to generate good power. Continue reading

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Squash – Get the ball back to the front wall

Squash is fundamentally a simple game. All you need to do is hit the ball before it bounces on the floor twice and get it back to the front wall without it going out. Sometimes it really pays to remember that. I was playing a good friend of mine, who I play pretty regularly and I had a plan on how I was going to win the match against him. I wanted to play nice tight squash up and down the side wall to prevent him from being able to attack. My friend given an open ball is very good at hitting a low hard drive that puts me under a lot of pressure. I did not want to give him that opportunity this time around. My strategy though while sound was just not working for me. I was doing a fairly good job of limiting his attacking play but he was being patient too. Ultimately more often than not he was winning the rallies. The rallies were generally long with good shots up and down the wall but I was being forced to cough up a weak ball sooner than he was too often. I ended up going down two games to none. Going on to court for the third game I realized I needed to change things up or risk going down in three straight games. I decided to do three things different. I was going to volley more often, I was going to be more aggressive but more importantly I was going to out work my friend and do everything I could possibly do to get every ball back to the front wall.

The first part of my plan did help a bit. I was volleying more and that helped keep my friend off of the ‘T’. I was taking the ball early, before he could recover to the ‘T’ as much as possible and doing a good job of mixing up a few short balls with the rest of the balls going to a back corner. I was starting to control a bit more of the play and was working him around the court more. I was slowly starting to the turn the tide in my favour with this part of the new game plan.
Not only was I volleying more but I was being much more aggressive with my hitting. Rather than hitting mostly slower paced balls that I was hoping to keep tight I was increasing the pace on my drives and hitting them lower. I was doing a pretty good job of keeping them tight and was making it hard for my friend to get some of the balls back. I won some points outright and setup other points by forcing weak returns that put me in a good attacking position.

Ramy Ashour lunging for a ball at the MWT Mullhouse

Photo credit to SquashSite

The last part of my strategy though is what really won me the match. I was utterly determined to get every ball back no matter how much I had to run to do it and how weak my return might end up being. I got back a bunch of balls that I had no business getting back and worked extremely hard to get myself back in position to cover my friend’s next shot. I will confess that some of the shots were just too weak and I could not cover his next shot but some of them I got back, covered the next shot and was able to reset the rally to a neutral position. I even picked up a few points on errors. Technically they were unforced errors on my friend’s part but by working hard you can put some doubt in your opponents mind. Doubt that they can end the rally and often they will start trying to hit too good of a shot and errors will slowly start to creep in to their game. One particular point I remember I was up 9-7 in the fifth game and utterly losing the rally. I got two or three very difficult balls back. On the last one was I sent from the front corner deep in to the back corner on my backhand side. All I had was a side wall boast to a waiting opponent who was going to drop the ball. A good drop would win. A just okay drop though he knew I would get back as while I was out of position I was scrambling back to cover the short ball. He ended up catching tin trying to hit too good of a drop. That set up match ball for me which I ended up winning.

Adjusting my play in the third game ended up winning me the match. Volleying gave me more control of the ‘T’ which helped. It helped me put some more work in to my friend’s legs. Being more aggressive won me some points and setup some others. Ultimately though it was the third part of the change in plans that won me the match. I worked extremely hard to get the ball back to the front wall no matter how hard it was to do so. I got myself back in to a lot of points and ended up winning my fair share of those. I also won a few outright when my friend made an “unforced” error. My goal going in to most matches is to control play and win on skill but sometimes that will just not work. In times like those it often pays to remember to just get the ball back to the front wall no matter what it takes. It is surprising how often that will end up winning you a match.

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