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.
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.
Movement in squash is probably the most important aspect of the game. It is also one the things that really separates different levels of players. When moving to the ball there are a few key elements to consider. Most of the time if you can you need to get on the ball quickly to have the option of putting time pressure on your opponent. You also need to approach the ball in a manner that leaves you options as to where you hit the ball. One of the most critical points of moving to the ball though is leaving yourself in a good position to move off of the ball. I believe this is probably the biggest differences between high level players and lower level players.
Squash is a bit of a funny game when it comes to where you are trying to hit the ball. Most of the time you are trying to hit the ball off of the front wall so that it goes past you in to one of the back corners. Hitting the ball in to the back corner so that it does not come out is your objective but should it be your target?
The title of this post isn't an open invitation to vent your frustrations of the day, rather an important question about your thought process on court. This is an exercise in metacognition; thinking about your thinking.
I've discussed the concepts of deliberate practice and "10000 hours" in earlier posts, and those themes tie in well here. To review, several sports science/psychology studies have shown that it takes a minimum of 10000 hours of deliberate practice to truly master a sport (for reference, I am at about 8000 hours...and nowhere near a master).
As squash players the lunge is something we are all familiar with. I was practicing movement in to the front court with the help of my coach and one thing that we were working on specifically was how far forward the leading knee can go. If your leading knee goes too far you can lose balance on the shot you are playing. Also if you go too far you will also not have the same strength to push back out of the corner.
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.
The swing is one of the most important and scrutinized aspects of every player’s overall game. Good technique allows a few important things to develop in your game: consistency in ball striking, ability to hit the ball from compromised positions, and deception. It is something that cannot be swept under the carpet; you will struggle to pass a ‘C’ level of play if you have major technical deficiencies. Most errors ultimately come from some sort of technical miscue.
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.