Working Through the Slump!

We have all hit a dreaded “Slump”. This is when everything is off. Your shots are loose, the tin grows taller with every swing, your movement is awkward, even your trusty bread and butter shots have seemingly vanished all together. The worst of it is, the harder you try – the nastier it gets!!

Whether it be a game, match, week, month or more; a slump is horribly frustrating for any athlete. For now let’s focus on the immediate situation, hitting a bad patch within a game. So what is the key to breaking out of that raunchy performance when your “A” game has abandoned you?

1. STAY CALM

Yep. So hard to do, but essential none-the-less. Do not allow your emotions to kick-start the panic cycle. The more frustrated, aggravated and irritated we become; the tighter our bodies get. A stressed body contributes many negative factors into the game. Gone are the loose mobile legs, smooth swing, and confident shot selections. In come the tight shoulders, tense swing, sluggish untrusting legs and impulsive, forced shots. All of which allow more ugliness to seep into the game, affording your opponent to easily take advantage of (and clean up) the slop.

2. BE KIND TO YOURSELF

Try not to self correct or coach in that ever so damaging tone that is way too easy to slide into.

“Stop doing this. Start doing that… Idiot…Bleep, Bleep… etc. etc.”

Guess what? This does not aid in leveling out the bumps in the game. It only further contributes to the problem. The more we focus on what we are doing wrong, the more entrenched those actions become – stop feeding the beast! Instead of berating yourself, try to turn that negative self talk into something more comforting.

“Alright. No worries. This will pass. You’ve got this. Just breathe etc. etc.”

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE

You can’t merely power through it by hitting harder, trying shots that are not normally part of your repertoire and forcing winners from a defensive position. Now is not the time to be clever or creative. Now is the time to stop the frantic noise in your head and remove the complexity. Now is the time to be a minimalist. Go back to the basics. Execute good length, and good things will come of it.

Remember, there are good days and bad days – everyone has them. There are more than a million reasons that this particular day you may be a little off. It could be the simple fact that your opponent is playing spot on, forcing you out of your groove. The trick is to not let it all trickle in. Sometimes it is important to accept that you are not at your best and be okay with that. Even the recognition of that fact can help calm the mind and body enough to shake the dust off. That in itself might be all you need to turn things back around.

So, when your “A” game abandons you. Be Calm. Be Kind. Be Simple.
Good luck.

Nicole Garon
Squash Pro & Program Director
Brantford Movati Athletic

Off Season Squash

If you are suddenly needing to cut your lawn twice a week and struggling to find squash partner who’s not on the golf course – then Summer has arrived!

Summer signifies the end of a hard fought squash season. But as they say “ All good things must come to an end” and for good reason.

Squash is a tremendously demanding sport both mentally and physically. With the competitive season at an end it provides many of us with a much needed body break to recoup and repair from the general physical wear and tear, but also a bit of a brain unwind as well. It is important to refresh and rejuvenate, otherwise it could cause full on burn out (and possible injury).

Golf, cycling, soccer, tennis, baseball, rugby… whatever your summer sport of choice is, get out there and do it! Our Canadian summers are short and those perfect sunny days are quite coveted. My suggestion is to enjoy it while you can. The sleet, snow and chill is always lingering in the not so distant future. Seek out the sunshine, play in the sand, enjoy a pint on the patio and get your fill of vitamin D.

This mixture of play and relaxation can be quite healing. To me it is an essential part of the off season. Without a bit of a break and different routine life (including squash training) can start to feel like a week with no weekend.

With that said, if you are looking to maintain or improve your skills over the summer, there are things you can do to catapult yourself past opponents who let the racquet and body rust over the summer. Look at your game and determine where you would like to improve. Is it your Speed /Recovery time? Strength? Shot selection? Racquet work? Strategy? Whatever it may be, now is the time to focus on how to improve in those areas.

Speed Work/Recovery Time:

There are several things you can add to your summer routine to help increase your speed and recovery time. Court sprints. Ghosting. Interval Sprinting/Training. Spin classes. Plyometrics etc.

Strength:

It is hard as a player to fit in weight work during the season as there are countless court hours as well as tournament demands. Several strength exercises have too long of a recovery period for a squash player to plan around (especially leg work – we really need our legs)! Now is the perfect time for a squash player to hit the gym. Remember, you don’t want to lift for muscle mass, you want to lift for strength. Too much mass can slow you down on court or impede your swing. Lift for muscle endurance.

If the above two items are a key goal for you to improve on, I highly suggest you check in with a personal trainer or look online for specific squash strength training and speed drill regimes. There is information out there to help you create a program that suit your needs and objectives.

If shot selection, racquet work and/or strategy happen to be your required area of development; summer is the perfect time for taking lessons. When taking lessons it is inevitable that things will start to crumble and get frustrating as you try to make the changes. Doing that during the season can have some exasperating effects, and many people tend to regress to their old habits in order to feel more in control of their games. It is not an easy thing to make technical changes but you have to break the eggs to make the omelette. Therefore I suggest you break the eggs now and make it messy when the score doesn’t matter. If you are eager to make these improvements over the sunny season you should be on court at least once a week (one lesson/one game). Summer squash is great for working on these maddening specifics and fantastic for building endurance. The ball is hot which tends to keep the rally going longer – keeping you on the move.

In conclusion summer should be what you want it to be …

A body and mind break from the game for recuperation, straight through to full on training to take the squash world by storm when the season hits this coming fall. Whatever you choose to do – good luck and have fun!

One last word of advice. Make sure to take some time to enjoy our short and sweet Canadian heat. A nice cold beer on the patio after a sweaty summer squash match is a beautiful thing!

Cheers

Nicole Garon
Squash Pro & Program Director
Brantford Movati Athletic

The 2018 Canadian Squash Championship

The main draw of the Canada Squash Championships starts tomorrow!

No, I am not playing but 3 of our sponsored athletes are. Mike McCue, Nick Sachvie and Sam Cornett all start their quest to win the 2018 Championship tomorrow.

Samantha Cornet

Photo Credit Squash CanadaMike was the very first athlete we ever sponsored.

Mike is a very hard worker and has made some great strides in the last couple of years. Mike beat his seeding

in last year’s National Championship taking out Andrew Schnell in the semi-finals.

I was lucky enough to be able to see the match in person and Mike played incredibly. I was really impressed with how he held his composure and played his best squash when it mattered most in that match and was able to close it out.

I am sure that Mike is looking to improve on his finalist position of last year and win his first Canadian Squash Championship.

Good luck Mike!

Nick Sachvie

Photo Credit Squash CanadaAt this time last year we did not sponsor Nick Sachvie. Nick was someone I had considered reaching out to see if he would be interested in working with us and that discussion started in person at last years’ Championship.

Nick’s 2016/2017 was a really dominating one in Canada. He really separated himself from the rest of the Canadian players. That culminated in Nick winning the 2017 Canadian Squash Championship without dropping a game.

Nick’s 2017/2018 season has been a tough one as he has struggled with some injuries. Thankfully he his most recent play on the PSA World Tour sees him returning to form just in time for the Canadian Championship.

Best of luck Nick in defending the Championship!

Samantha Cornet

Photo Credit Squash CanadaSam is a 3 time champion winning in 2013, 2014 and again in 2015.

Sam is a tremendous player and is Canada highest ranked woman on the PSA World Tour. Sam’s rank at present is number 35 in the world. Right behind her, ranked 36 in the world is Hollie Naughton who won the Canadian Championship in 2016 and again in 2017.

I am sure this year’s Women’s Open draw of the Championship is going to be a really tough one. I am hoping that Sam can reach the final and take the title this year.

Best of luck Sam, we will be cheering for you and hope to see you hoist the trophy!

I am really excited to watch the 2018 Canadian Squash Championships. While I am not going to be there in person I will be watching the results and hopefully watching the live streaming of as many matches as possible. Good luck TeamCT!

Inspiration Is A Powerful Thing

Think about the basic sports we have been exposed to over the years.

  • Hockey
  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Golf

All have massive TV exposure. How do you think the general public gets inspired to play? Try new things, new shots, new moves? How do you they choose their favourite players? Why do they select certain jerseys etc.? They see the game and the athletes in action. They hear the commentary and learn the strategy. They mimic what they see (monkey see, monkey do). They are absorbing the game visually and learning through the influence of entertainment.

This is what the game of squash has needed for a long – long time.

We are FINALLY getting there with the introduction of SQUASH TV.

If you have not been exposed to Squash TV, I highly recommend it. They have made watching the game of squash a truly engaging and thrilling experience. The all glass courts and multiple camera angles pick up everything from sweat drops to slides and smashing nick outs. Never has the game been so accessible and never has it been more exciting. The commentary informative and completely entertaining. The players are not only incredible athletes showcasing their phenomenal skill, but they are characters we end up routing for (or against).

I have been playing this game for several decades and thought there wasn’t much else to add to the extraordinary sport of squash. I was wrong. I get very inspired (and rather fired up) after watching the pros in action. I find myself adding things to my game that I wouldn’t have even thought of before seeing someone like Ramy execute it like a surgeon! Not only does it help improve my own game, but as a coach, I can use it to help demonstrate certain shots, movement and strategies to students. It is a remarkable tool that I am very grateful for.

Squash TV has a positive impact on the game. Maybe one day it will get to the networks, but for now there are a few ways to check it out and catch the excitement.

If you don’t have to have a subscription (which I do – and obviously LOVE), you can catch highlights on Youtube and special editions such as “Shots of the Month”.

If this doesn’t get you revved up to play, I’m not sure what will!!

NICOLE GARON
Squash Pro & Program Director
Brantford Movati Athletic

Ramy Ashour – The Grasshopper Cup 2018 Champion!

I confess I did not believe I would be writing a post about Ramy Ashour winning the Grasshopper Cup when the tournament started. It has been a long time since I have seen Ramy Ashour play at that level for an entire match, let alone an entire tournament.

Ramy Ashour The Grasshopper Cup 2018 Champion

Photo credit to www.psaworldtour.com

What an incredible display of squash we squash fans have just witnessed. When I started writing this I had just finished watching the final against Mohamed ElShorbagy and what a statement Ramy made. Ramy’s length and width amazing, his use of deception was incredible, and his retrievals simply unbelievable.

Joey Barrington made note of a comment that Mohamed ElShorbagy had made before the match about how good Ramy’s width and length is. I don’t always think that is what people think about when they think of Ramy’s play. His incredible shot making is what comes to mind when I think of Ramy’s top game. That is all setup though by putting immense pressure on his opponents by such an incredible base game. Watching the match there were so few opportunities for ElShorbagy to attack from the centre of the court. Not only was Ramy getting the ball past Shorbagy a great deal of the time he was really forcing him to deep in to the back of the court. That good length and width really put a lot stress on Mohamed physically.

Ashour is also an incredibly deceptive player. He is capable of using such a short swing and still generating enough pace to get the ball past his opponent. That short swing really forces his opponent to play a high “T” position to be able to cover Ramy’s incredible short game. That opens up the back court for Ramy and makes it so much harder for his opponent to cover the back court. It is all about the options he has from the same swing. There is also often a subtle delay in Ramy’s shorter swing. That delay forces his opponent to have wait for the shot to be played making them that little bit later to the ball.

A healthy Ramy Ashour is possibly the best retriever on the PSA World Tour. While Ramy is certainly fast from point to point I believe it is his incredible read of the play that makes his such a good retriever.  He seems to be able to wait to just the right time to start moving to the correct location for where the ball is going. He does not seem to get fooled very often about where the shot is going to be played. His first step is also incredibly quick. So while there are probably players that are faster point to point, and others that are more powerful movers Ramy’s read of the play and incredible reaction time make him incredibly difficult to break down.

What an incredible treat it was to get to watch a completely healthy Ramy Ashour play! It has been a long time since we have had the chance to see such a performance. Ramy’s basic game, use of deception and incredible retrieving skill make his such a tough player to compete against. Add in his legendary shot making ability and Ramy is one of the best of all time. Congratulations to Ramy Ashour on winning the 2018 Grasshopper Cup and I truly hope that we get to see Ramy compete in many more events in full health in the near future! The PSA World Tour is always incredible but having a healthy Ramy Ashour competing for titles makes it even greater.

 

Tournament Play Preparation

Tournament play can be very taxing both mentally and physically …

There are several difficult matches spaced out throughout a day and throughout the weekend. There are spectators and crowds that can be distracting or nerve-wracking depending on what you are used to. There could be people there you haven’t seen for a while that wish to catch up and socialize, as well as individuals that may want you to see their matches and give advice.

The food provided might not be available when you need it, or it may not be what you need to properly fuel your body. Depending on where the tournament is, you may not be sleeping in your own bed or have the comfort and convenience that home offers.

All of these factors affect game play. If you wish to perform well and have goals of success at a tournament (or tournaments), it is essential to prepare accordingly.

Now, how does one prepare? It is a personal thing, and you need to figure out what works best for you. That said; there are some basics that should be taken into consideration with the two vital buckets being Physical and Mental.

BUCKET 1 = PHYSICAL

Everyone knows that squash is physically demanding at the best of times. Training to be fit enough to play multiple matches and ensure you can recover between games is par for the course.

  • Trust that you have done the proper pre-work for fitness and endurance.
  • The key to the physical part of the tournament is the RECOVERY.
  • The keys to recovery are – REST. HYDRATION. NUTRITION.

REST

Lack of sleep can have significant negative effects on performance and recovery. It can slow the body down physically as well as cognitively (you need to move and think in squash). Making sure you are getting proper sleep leading up to a tournament can help prepare the body as well as the mind.

Rest doesn’t only mean sleep it also refers to taking a body break. Leading up to the tournament, take at least the day before off of squash. Do some solo drills and light hitting to keep the confidence up, but if you can avoid the hard grinding matches a day or two before the tournament, your body will thank you!

HYDRATION

The week of the tournament make sure you are hydrating. Take in less sodium and less alcohol and drink LOTS and LOTS of water. Proper hydration helps reduce the soreness that you will feel after hard matches. Staying hydrated during the tournament will also help reduce stiffness. Finally, make sure you are drinking enough water after your matches to replenish the fluids lost during your games.

NUTRITION

It’s true, you are what you eat. Consume crap, perform like crap.

In other words, eat well. Skip the processed and fast foods. Instead, fuel your body with whole foods with high nutritional value. You will have the proper energy required for high-intensity aerobic and anaerobic activity, as opposed to the quick burn and burn out energy of processed food. Make sure you also pack food to have with you. As noted above, you may not be able to tap into the food available at the tournament due to match times, or food options. I always have several protein bars, apples, bananas, etc. in my bag that I can tap into if and when needed to maintain the fuel required to perform.

BUCKET 2 = MENTAL

Now that we have the physical basics covered, we can tap into the mental portion of preparing for a tournament.

As much as squash can be mentally demanding, tournament play is even more draining. There is something about the intensity and environment that can make a seemingly regular match feel very wearing. Call it nerves if you wish or tension; the fact of the matter is that tournament play amplifies our internal personal pressures and expectations of performance (even if we are consciously unaware of them – they are there).

How do you counterbalance the additional fatigue of amplified expectations and nerves? Know that it is coming! Once you are aware of the intensification, you can offset it.

RELAXATION

Have a routine that you know relaxes you. It could be listening to music or sitting in a dark silent room. It could be meditating or going for a walk, or simply some deep breathing. Whatever it is that gives you a sense of calm, practice that and be able to tap into it. Calm the mind and reduce the surrounding clutter. Not only is this routine important to do before a tournament, but also after your matches. This should be part of your warm down to reset your frame of mind. There are a great deal of distractions at a tournament; matches to watch, people to socialize with entertainment and events etc., etc. My advice is to carve out some down time for yourself before and after your matches to get the mind focused and prepared.

VISUALIZATION

If you have been to the host location before, visualize the courts – see the environment. Put yourself there and get comfortable with it. If you have never been, perhaps look it up on the web to get a visual sense of the layout etc. Having a sense of a place and layout can help reduce potential anxiety.

When visualizing match play, make sure you add people to the crowd, those who will be cheering for you as well as your opponent. This will help prepare you for extra bodies and extra noise outside the court.

Last but not least, when visualizing your match see yourself in success mode. See yourself making winning shots. A positive mindset will help you be more confident and more confidence provides the right frame of mind required for squash, that ever so difficult combination of “Calm, Energized, Patient and Attacking”.

Squash is an exciting and challenging game, which is only further exaggerated by a tournament environment. Knowing how to deal with this environment and the emotions that competition can create will help you be more successful at tournaments.

The competition season is heating up.
Dip into both the MENTAL & PHYSICAL buckets for a little sip of help!
Good Luck!

NICOLE GARON
Squash Pro & Program Director
Brantford Movati Athletic

A review of the Salming Kobra Indoor Court Shoes

Salming’s Kobra are designed with performance in mind …

The Salming Kobra Indoor Court shoes are very light, very comfortable, high performance indoor court shoes.

The Kobra are widely used on the PSA Tour as such many people will have seen them or will know someone that plays in them. They are a very popular model at our club.

This post is designed to give you our take on the strengths of the Kobra and the technologies they use. We hope our review will help you decide if they are the right shoe for you.

After the review of the Kobra you will find the a section where we cover the technologies that Salming has incorporated in the Kobra. In that section we cover Salming’s description of each technology and also provide our take on them too.

SALMING KOBRA

Salming Kobra Black/Yellow Indoor Court Shoes

Technologies Included in the Kobra:

Here is what Salming has to say about the Kobra:

“The Salming Kobra is a fast paced unique combination of lightweight, cushioning and stability. Together with all the unique Salming technologies, Kobra is wrapped up into one agile shoe.

A new Wrap Around System Design (WAS Design)
In order to facilitate agility and stability but still maintain the lightweight characteristics, we have designed the midsole rear end with higher side walls that wrap around the heel area. In combination with the LMS Plus 8° and the new fully integrated ExoSkeleton construction, it ensures an excellent stability and perfect fit.”

Our take:

The Salming Kobra are Salming’s top of line shoe in terms of both technology and price point. The Kobra provide excellent lateral support, cushioning that helps with comfort and performance, and are extremely light weight and breathable.

The Kobra provide exceptional lateral support and stability. It is one of the first things I noticed when I played in a pair. They are incredibly stable shoes. Before I play I do a stretch lunge exercise. As I am lunging quite far forward I find this to be a good gauge on how much stability the shoe will provide. The first time I tried them I was impressed with the stability provided.

The technologies that Salming has incorporated in the Kobra to achieve such good stability and lateral support are the EXOSKELETON, LMS, LMS+ and a new Wrap Around Design (WAS) system. These technologies work together to provide optimal stability to this light weight shoe.

The WAS system is an enhancement to the EXOSKELETON and is only found in the Kobra line. The EXOSKELETON on the Kobra integrates right in to the loop for the laces that keeps the foot locked in place and provides excellent strength and stability to the Kobra.

Salming uses RECOIL and RECOIL R foam to provide cushioning to the shoes. The RECOIL foam in the forefoot area not only does a great job of absorbing shock, it also transfers energy back to the player to give some additional spring to your movement.

The Kobra might look like they are a bulky/heavy shoe but they are anything but that. They are actually the lightest model from Salming. I believe that is a pretty incredible accomplishment for Salming given just how supportive they are.

The Kobra are geared towards the player looking for the latest and greatest in technology in an indoor court shoe to really take their game to the next level. They provide incredible performance and good cushioning.

View the Salming Kobra in our online store

SALMING TECHNOLOGIES

 

ROLLBAR

Salming’s description: “An increased radius on the inner side of the outer sole, facilitates rolling the foot inwards and toe push off. Reaching for that stop ball in squash or covering a shot in floorball is made easier with the RollBar™ technology.”

Our take: The key benefit of the Rollbar technology is the aid it provides in pushing off towards the ball. When you dig your foot in to the court to push forwards, Rollbar allows the foot to work inwards towards the toe to provide better push off. Additionally, the shoes are very firm in in the toe area to maximize energy transferred to the court and provide the best possible drive.

Salming T.G.S 62/75

T.G.S. 62/75

Salming’s description: “Torsion Guide System. The distance from heel to the ball of the foot (62% of the shoe) has been designed with extra stability, which ends in the so-called ”ballet” line, a 75° angle. In front of the 75° line, we have equipped the shoe with greater flexibility to stimulate the foot’s natural movements. TGS 62/75 takes all of the gait cycle criteria into consideration. At the same time, it softens the strains caused by friction during lateral movements. The shoe bends in exactly the right places, stimulating the foot’s natural lateral and forward movements.”

Our take: The back portion of the shoe is firmer and designed to improve balance and stability. The forefoot area of the shoe has been designed to allow more freedom of movement to allow your foot to move and perform naturally. The split comes at the ballet line. If you were to drive your heels up off the floor so that your weight is on your forefoot area the “ballet line” is where your foot would leave the floor. It is also where Salming has designed the shoes to flex. The front part of the shoe is more flexible. The back 62% of the shoe is firmer to provide maximum stability.

Salming Exoskeleton

EXOSKELETON

Salming’s description: “The exo skeleton design stabilizes the foot for lateral movements and reduces pressure at the MTP joints (Metatarsophalangeal joints). It is important to keep the foot stable medio-lateral, avoiding friction and side forces in the soft parts of the foot sole, especially underneath the forefoot.”

Our take: This is one of the key components of Salming’s shoes. The shoes that feature the EXOSKELETON design are largely made of mesh. The EXOSKELETON provides the necessary support to the shoe. The EXOSKELETON  is the little bands that come up from under the foot then around the foot and in to the lacing area of the shoe. They are very light but very solid and keep your foot in place inside the shoe. This is a critical component in lateral support as if you foot starts to slip outwards when planting the foot on a lateral movement your weight will start to transfer outwards and this increases the risk of injury. It also decreases performance.

Salming Ergoheel Cup

ERGO HEELCUP

Salming’s description: “To stabilize and fixate the heel, which is key to providing a great fit and comfort, we have developed a new anatomical Ergo Heel Cup that is slightly longer than the average heel cup.”

Our take: Salming’s description is clear and it is also very accurate. The Ergo Heel Cup helps keep your heel locked in place in the back of the shoe to prevent it from slipping upwards. This keeps the back of your foot from rubbing against the shoe and prevents blisters.

Salming Hexagrip

HEXAGRIP

Salming’s description: “A new very durable lightweight rubber compound – HX120 – that features Salmings HexaGrip™ pattern designed for the best possible grip on all indoor surfaces.”

Our take: Hexagrip was first introduced in the Kobra series. It is an update to the rubber that they use on the outsole of the shoe. The rubber is formed in a hexa pattern, a 6 sided pattern to provide the best possible grip to the court. HexaGrip provides incredible traction. To maximize your movement you need your court shoes to have the best grip possible and HexaGrip is exceptional. Good grip on the court is also important from an injury prevention perspective as if you slip on the lunge you risk tearing muscles. Salming XR112 with HexaGrip is their top of the line outsole material.

Salming LMS Unit

LMS

Salming description: “Lateral Movement Stabilizer – an especially designed light weight integrated dual torsion unit that supports the foot during fast and irregular lateral movements.”

Our take: Lateral stability is one of the key performance and safety components in a shoe designed for squash. There is a lot of lateral movement in squash with the need to change directions quickly. Salming’s LMS provides torsional stability to the shoe in its mid section. That helps prevent your foot from rolling outwards when planting your foot to change direction. This reduces the risk of injury (rolling your ankle) and allows you to change directions as quickly as possible.

Salming LMS+ 11

LMS+ 8°

Salming’s description: “Fast lateral stops expose the foot to the risk to roll over outwards, causing injuries. LMS+ (Lateral Movement Stabilizer Plus) is a unique design with a positive angle of 11° that prevents the foot from rolling over outwards.”

Our take: LMS+ compliments the LMS system to provide lateral stability in the shoe. The 8° angle refers to the angle from the lateral (outside) side of the foot to the medial (inside) side of the foot. There is an 8 degree angle with the lateral side being higher than the medial side. That angle keeps your weight inwards and helps to prevent your foot from rolling outwards.

 Salming Recoil + Recoil R

 RECOIL™ + RECOIL R™

Salming’s description: “The material in the midsole is a newly developed compound named RECOIL™ which is a super lightweight cushioning compound that releases a higher rebound energy effect. The Recoil R™ – as in Recoil Reduction – is a cushioning compound featured in the heel impact zone designed to reduce impact forces and increase comfort when lunging.”

Our take: In the mid to forefoot area of the shoe Salming has used a RECOIL foam system. The RECOIL foam will absorb shock but it also transfers energy back in to the foot to add more spring to your movement. It’s a smart design that provides comfort and aids in performance. Under the heel RECOIL R is used to absorb shock. As squash is mostly a heel strike first movement there is a lot of impact under the heel and RECOIL R is designed to protect the foot from that.

 

Racquet Up Up Up!

Does your squash game suffer from the following symptoms?

  • Infrequent and/or poor volleys
  • Sloppy racquet errors
  • Fat shots and/or loose drives
  • Unnecessary and/or excessive boasts

If you feel that you are tormented from the above complications, you may be suffering from “Late or Lazy Racquet Prep”.

It may seem simple and inconsequential, but racquet preparation is far from a trivial or minor thing. Why? To put it simply, the ball is moving with pace and trajectory, it does not stop and wait for you to hit it at the optimal strike zone. If your racquet isn’t ready, then you have lost the opportunity to hit the ball at the prime impact point (at or slightly in front of the hip closest to the front wall). Once the ball is past the ideal impact position, the swing is compromised and shot selection becomes drastically reduced.

Having the racquet ready means your wrist is cocked and the head of the racquet as at your hips or higher. Dangling the racquet head by the floor with a loose wrist does not constitute as “prepared”. As soon as your previous swing is completed you should try to form the habit of immediately re-setting the ready position.

The way I tend to teach this is to connect the racquet head movement to the shoulders. As you are back to the T from your previous shot, your wrist is cocked (yet relaxed). Once you see the ball moving to the left or right side, your shoulders turn to prep the body for hitting the forehand or backhand. As the shoulders turn the racquet head goes up with that movement. Doing this will have your racquet ready for anything that comes its way!

Keep this sequence in mind.

  1. EYE – See the ball so you can turn the body and react accordingly.
  2. RACQUET – What the eye sees the racquet head responds to ( up for forehand prep or up for backhand prep)
  3. FEET – Move the body behind the ball to strike it in the optimal spot.

Yes. The feet move last. The racquet is ready before (or as) you go to the ball! This tiny little thing can make a significant positive impact on your game.

With good racquet preparation you can and will reduce the symptoms outlined above.

First and foremost the racquet head is suddenly available for the VOLLEY. Adding the volley into your game helps in so many ways.

  • Takes time away from your opponent between their shots (putting them under pressure)
  • Takes you out of the back corners where trouble tends to occur
  • Puts pace and variety into the game
  • Helps maintain your T position

Secondly, having the racquet ready REDUCES RACQUET ERRORS / SLOPPY, LOOSE SHOTS and provides shot options other than the BOAST. When the racquet head is ready before the ball hits the optimal strike zone, your swing is smooth and clean. Weight shift is forward and through the ball. When the ball is in front of the swing all shots are accessible. If you are in the process of lifting the racquet to hit the ball when you get to it, then the ball moves behind the front hip meaning the weight shift reverses to the back foot, pulling the ball loose. Letting the ball get behind the body also diminishes shot options. It is very difficult to drop, cross-court, or even get in a tight drive. More often than not you are stuck with a boast to keep the ball in play. Making your game predictable and vulnerable to attack.

Not only does racquet prep help with the above elements, it provides the ability to ADD DECEPTION into your game.  When your racquet is early, then you have time to “hold” your shot instead of swinging quickly before the ball completely passes you by. That slight pause before you stroke the ball muddles up the natural movement and flow of your opponent.  They either become flat footed or lean to one side or the other. Both are difficult to recover from once the ball is struck, especially if they are leaning the wrong way. This kind of recovery to get to the next ball can put a lot of pressure on your opponent and wears them out!

In conclusion, if you are suffering from Late and/or Lazy Racquet Prep, it is highly recommended to alleviate these symptoms with a bit of hard work and practice.
Remember – EYE, RACQUET, FEET.
Small fix – big difference!

Racquet UP UP UP.

Good Luck.

NICOLE GARON
SQUASH PRO & PROGRAM COORDINATOR
BRANTFORD MOVATI ATHLETIC

The S Line from Eye Rackets – Fly like Superman Paul Coll!

What shoes would you use if you were the fastest player on the PSA world tour?

The S Line from Eye Rackets, at least that is what Paul Coll uses and I do believe he is the fastest player on tour today …

Paul is famous for his incredible dives and court coverage. While I find his dives incredible to watch I find his court coverage even more impressive. His dives might have earned him the nickname “Superman” but it is his court coverage that makes him such a great player.

I decided to give a pair of the S Line a try myself to see how they performed, and while I have no intention of diving (at least intentionally) to get balls back, I did find them to be a good performing pair of indoor court shoes.

In this review of the Eye Rackets S Line Indoor Court Shoes we give our take on the following:

  • Performance
  • Comfort
  • Fit
  • Durability
  • Overall Impression

First let’s hear what Eye Rackets Brand Ambassador Joey Barrington has to say about the S Line:

Now on to our take on the Eye Rackets S Line Indoor Court Shoes.

Performance

I find that performance is a function of a few different aspects of an indoor court shoe …

Eye Rackets S Line Purple Indoor Court ShoesLateral stability in an indoor court shoe is one of the key elements for squash due to the demanding movements we squash players make.

The S Line features a torsion control system to provide lateral stability. If you look at the lateral side of the shoe the torsion control system is the silver section of the shoe. It runs from the mid sole of the shoe to the medial side. This is designed to limit twisting, or rotation of the shoe from the medial to the lateral side to keep you stable on the court. I found Eye’s torsion control system to work very well, and I felt very stable on court when lunging to the ball or planting hard to change direction.

Traction on court is clearly one of the most important components in determining how a court shoe will perform.

Eye has used a durable gum rubber to provide excellent grip on the court. The rubber has been coloured to match the look of the shoe but is a non-marking sole and does grip well. I have played a couple of matches in the S Line so far and have found their grip to be excellent. This gives me confidence that when I need to plant my foot hard to stop and change direction, and that the shoe will not let me down.

The weight of the shoe also is a factor in how well they perform.

A heavier shoe might offer excellent lateral stability and excellent comfort, but the extra weight will slow you down a bit on court. The mesh upper of the S Line helps keep the weight of the shoe down. Having a light shoe is good, but the shoe still needs to be well structured to provide the lateral support that is required. The S Line are a good balance between keeping the weight of the shoe down while still providing the stability necessary.

I compared the weight of the S Line to the weight of the Salming Kobra and the ASICS GEL-Blast 7 and they are right in between the two, weight wise.

Comfort

The trade-off to pure performance is often at the expense of comfort …

Eye Rackets S Line White Indoor Court ShoesThe Eye Rackets S Line are well balanced between performance and comfort.

The mesh upper of the shoe is quite soft and contributes to the overall comfort of the shoe. It also helps with allowing the shoe to breathe. The tongue of the shoe is well cushioned and comfortable. The heel counter is also well cushioned and does not feel harsh on the Achilles tendon.

Probably the most important part of comfort in an indoor court shoe is how well cushioned the sole of the shoe is.

The S Line are reasonably well cushioned in the forefoot area. Under the heel there is extra cushioning. As there is so much lunging in squash it is very hard on your heel. It is a very high impact area and the S Line do a very good job of cushioning the foot on impact.

Overall the Eye Rackets S Line Indoor Court Shoes are a pretty comfortable shoe. They are comfortable while still providing excellent performance.

Fit

From a fit perspective we have found that they fit a bit small, although they do loosen up a bit after playing in them.

If you are normally between two sizes, you would mostly like fit best in the half size up. For example, I wear a size 8 normally but in the odd shoe I need an 8.5. In the S Line I am wearing an 8.5.

I would also note up in the forefoot area the rubber protection provided to protect the toe box and medial side from wear from the court is relatively firm and does not give from the inside. As such they are a slightly narrow fit from the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint through the toes.

Durability

It is a bit early for us to gauge durability on the S Line as we have only had the the shoes for a month or so now.

From a construction perspective they look to be a very well-constructed shoe. The toe shield that Eye has added to protect against wear from foot drag from the toe through the medial side of the shoe looks to be very solid.

The sole of the shoe is both stitched and glued up in the toe box area.

The eyelets are metal to protect against damage to the upper from tightening of the shoe. On one pair of the shoes we have sold we have seen a bit of wear on the outsole of the shoe right about where it is stitched. Nothing that would affect the performance of the shoe but worth mentioning.

Overall, they look well-built but overall durability will be something we can better comment on in a few months.

Overall Impressions

While I have just started using the S Line from Eye Rackets I am quite happy with them so far. I have found them comfortable and they perform very well. Lateral support was good as was the cushioning. While they have not magically made me as good a mover as Paul Coll (that would take a lot more work in the gym) they are working well for me.

We carry both the ice white and electric purple colour options. Both are the signature versions of Paul Coll. To learn more about the Eye Rackets S Line Indoor Court Shoe click on the image below to view them in our store!

View the S Line from Eye Rackets in our online store

 

 

Keep it simple!

The game of squash is so easy from outside the glass …

Sometimes when I am watching people play I wish I had a joystick (yes I am dating myself – I think they call them “controllers” now). The point is I would like to have the option to press a button to get them to drop it, or drive it, or execute whatever shot is clearly the winning shot from behind the glass. When playing the game some of us tend to get caught up in the adrenaline. Instead of thinking about game strategy and the proper shot, we simply become retrieving and hitting machines. Others tend to over think the strategy and or try to out manoeuvre or trick their opponents by playing irregular shots instead of basic predictable, high percentage shots.

If a player sticks to the basic strategy of the game, there is a much higher rate of victory. It is pretty straightforward. From the back of the court, play high and deep. From the front of the court, attacking and low. Squash isn’t necessarily about “winning shots” as much as it is about setting yourself up for an attack in a low risk situation. Its about working your opponent both mentally and physically so they make the errors and start playing loose. Letting a loose ball go by without attacking is a lost opportunity, and potentially a lost point.

So how do we work our opponents and create the openings for the attack? Stick to the basics. High and deep from the back. Consistent tight shots. Attack from the front. Who cares if it is predictable to drop off of a defensive boast? You are putting the work into your opponents legs.

Is there more to the game of squash than this? Absolutely! Strategy can be built based on your best and favourite shots (what combinations provide you the openings to play those). It can be tailored to offset your opponents best shots and strengths. It can modified in each game to adjust to court play, ball play and environment. So yes, things do get more advanced and complicated as we build skill and confidence. That said, even at the top levels of this game, the basic strategy is what sets up the most effective and successful situations.

My challenge to you is to get out there and try to stick to this game plan. It is harder than you think not to get swept away in the game. In your next match, remind yourself between every serve of the game plan, and seriously focus on: High and deep from the back – Low and attacking from the front. Working for the opening and taking advantage of any loose balls. You will see a difference!

Good luck and Keep it Simple!

Cheers

NICOLE GARON
SQUASH PRO & PROGRAM DIRECTOR
BRANTFORD MOVATI ATHLETIC