Thursday night is league night for me in our regional league. I play B level and myself had a pretty straight forward match. Our #1 though was in very tough playing the top player in our league, one of the top under 19 players in Canada. The junior used to play at our club until he went to University so these two have played countless time before. The match ended with the expected player winning but not without some interesting twists and turns along the way.
It was a tough week on the court this past week. I seemed to have lost focus on what works well for me. Thankfully this was a week off from league but still definitely was disappointed in my play. I am sure this has happened to all of us. I think what is important to figure out what went wrong and work to improve.
Today I would like to discuss the hurry up drop shot. It is an extremely effective shot as it puts your opponent under time pressure. It is best used when your opponent has been forced to boast out of the back corner and has invited you to the front. Take the boast as early as you can and play a nice safe soft drop shot. The focus of this shot is to hit it very early, soft and to keep it tight to the side wall when it bounces. Do not worry about it being very low and tight to the tin focus more on hitting and early and keeping it tight to the wall. We are not trying to win with this shot we are making our opponent work really hard to get to the ball. Hopefully they will be late and hit something weak cross court so we can send back to the back corner and get them running the diagonal. The hurry up drop shot like many other shots is designed to put mileage on our opponent. Use it to make them run and watch the court open up later in the match when their legs are not as fresh as they were at the beginning of the match.
Practicing with a purpose in squash is vital to achieving good results and to improving your game. All to often when players play practice matches they don't set objectives. They just get on court and play. It is very helpful to focus on a particular part of your game. Do this before you even step on court and then remind yourself of it throughout the game. It could be movement, watching the ball and your opponent, your front court game or any number of other things. The key is to remember to focus on what you have decided to practice on and to stick with it. This will help keep you focused during your practice match and help establish good habits. Over time those good habits will make it in to your game even when you are under severe pressure.
In September of 2009 I changed squash clubs due to a move and since then I have made some serious changes to my game too. I had a chance to play one of my friends at my old club the other day and there was a startling difference in both of our styles of play. We both had pretty predictable styles of play before, very different in that I almost always played long and he always tried to go short.
Congratulations to Nick on achieving the #1 spot in the world. This last year of squash from Nick has been very impressive. He has steadily moved up the rankings from the middle to bottom of the top 10 to being the top player in the world. Since coming back from injury he has seemed more focused. He has always played at a really hard pace but he has really become more clinical in finishing since his return.