I had a chance to discuss racquet preparation with the pro at my squash club today and we went over some things that I knew but were definitely good to have reinforced. Early racquet preparation has some real benefits. It gives you more options as to what shot to hit. It also improves deception making it harder for your opponent to figure out what shot you are playing. Another benefit is it allows you to adjust quicker to a ball that takes an unexpected bounce.
Having learned the sport in a relatively “rural” squash area, and now living in the biggest hotbed for junior squash in Canada, the topic of junior development is very interesting to me. I often think about the best ways to groom young players into stars, and try to figure out what key elements make or break a junior’s development. Hopefully there are some juniors or parents of juniors reading this!
We at Control the ‘T’ Sports would like to thank Peter Nicol, Tim Garner and their sponsors for the wonderful event that was the Xodus 7 Continent Challenge. Continue reading
My favourite shot in squash is a high soft cross court lob that catches the side wall and then dies in the opponents back hand corner. I prefer this over a flat nick in the front court, over a clinging drop and over a dying hard straight length. I find it extremely satisfying to win a point this way. I also like this shot because as long as it is hit relatively well I get time to get back to the ‘T’ and get in position to attack my opponents next shot. It is said that golf is a sport of misses and you need to minimize the trouble you get yourself in to and I believe this is true of squash as well.
The Asics Gel-Blast 4 have been by far our best selling squash shoe ever. The Blast 4 live on and are still the current model from Asics and there are some pretty exciting new colours for this year. The first new colour is Orange/Black/Silver pictured above. Want to stand on court then this may well be the pair of shoes for you! They will definitely get you noticed. They are not only flashy though they are a terrific performing pair of shoes.
The 2013 PSA Squash Finals have been extremely entertain thus far. The semi-finals today look to be two highly competitive matches. The first match between Gregory Gaultier and Nick Matthew. The second semi-final features James Willstrop and Amr Shabana.
Gaultier has been on in very fine so far this tournament. In particular his match against James Willstrop was highly competitive and top quality squash. He managed to beat Willstrop who was the #1 ranked player of all of 2012.
Nick Matthew needed a win yesterday. After having lost his first match against Amr Shabana he found himself in a must win match for the rest of the group matches. Not an enviable task but one that he took on and succeeded at. He took advantage of the loose play of Shorbagy in his second match and closed the match in 2 games. He was able to get past Peter Barker in 2 straight games as well.
The first semi is a very tough match for me to pick a winner of. Nick had to win yesterday but did so in convincing fashion and did it in 2 games. Gregory did not look up for his match against Karim yesterday and went down in 2 games. Both should be on pretty equal footing physically. I am going to pick Nick in a very tough match to go through to the final.
James found himself in a must win situation yesterday as well having lost to Gaultier in the second round of group play. He played Simon Rosner yesterday and managed to close out the match in 2 straight games and should be fairly fresh for today’s match.
Amr’s match yesterday was probably the hardest match on paper and it lived up to its billing. He was up against Mohamed el Shorbagy who no doubt wanted was really up for his match with Shabana. Amr had already qualified for semi’s but came out determined as ever to get the win yesterday. Off all the players in this tournament he has been in the best form so far and is the defending champion. Can he retain the title or did he expend a little too much energy yesterday?
I am really excited about the second semi-final. Amr has been playing so well having gone undefeated so far. Willstrop though is such an incredible tactician on court and may well be able to contain Shabana’s brilliant attack. My pick is Willstrop in another tightly contested match setting up an all English final.
If you have any thoughts about today’s semi’s leave a comment below.
I have definitely talked about mental confidence before but wanted to discuss from a little different perspective this time. I am sure we have all played against someone that is young, new to the game and really fit and can seemingly chase down any ball. Even when they can’t quite get it they often exclaim how close they were to getting the ball. They run all over the court and have a smile on their face while doing it. They look like they are actually having fun chasing the ball around the court. Why do they look this way? The obvious answer is more often than not the right one. They are having fun!
Mental confidence is critical in a squash match. Confidence can be fickle. It can come and go if you let it. What do you do if you are losing confidence?
The most important thing I believe to start is to be aware of your loss of confidence and the negativity that is associated with it. There will be days that you are not hitting the ball as well as you expect. That can definitely lead to a loss of confidence. Be aware of it and take mental action once you start to feel negative about your squash game. What mental action should you take though? There are a number of options and some will work better for some than others.
Focusing on something positive is one method that can often work. Thinking of a match or even a good practice session where you were hitting the ball really purely can help regain confidence. Think about what you were doing right at that time and have that positive memory replace the negative one can help a great deal.
Another method that I have seen work for people is having something in particular to focus on. The two yellow dots on the squash ball can work. A logo on your racquet can work as well. It doesn’t even have to be something physical it can be just a thought. Between each point stop and focus for a few seconds on your object or thought. It can really help keep you calm focused and also help to get rid of negative thoughts.
One of my favourite ways to try and keep mental focus positive is to not focus on what has already transpired in the match it is to focus on what is coming next. Focus on making your next shot be the best it can possibly be. It doesn’t matter if you are in a defensive position or an offensive position focus on hitting the shot you are about to play and make it the best you can. Once you have hit it, that shot is done and you have to focus on preparing for next shot and make that one the best it can be.
What do you find works helping maintain a positive mental outlook during a match? We would love your comments!
It is the beginning of October and squash season has arrived! Hopefully everyone had a good summer training and getting ready for this upcoming season. The PSA is back in swing now with the US Open coming up, leagues are starting – it is an exciting time!
I confess I do not really play that many tournaments anymore due to time constraints. I am however playing in one tomorrow and am really looking forward to it. I am playing in it as it is fundraising event for the University of Waterloo varsity team and I am friends with some of the team. I am also donating a prize to the tournament for them as well.
The tournament will be filled with mostly varsity players from Universities that are in the area as well as some local players. Being a “Masters” age player now playing against a bunch of University aged “kids” should be fun. Thankfully I still enjoy a nice hard paced game that really taxes you physically so I am looking forward to the challenge.
There are some really good squash players playing in this event so while I am looking forward to playing in the tournament I am also really looking forward to watching some great squash. Canada’s top junior player is in the tournament and I expect he is the #1 seed. There are some players in the field though that will provide him a good test.
I expect tomorrow to be a fun day. A day filled with playing squash and getting to watch some highly entertaining squash matches. I am definitely looking forward to it!