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I love lists and what better list than an A-Z? Here is mine. Before you read, I admit that the "X" is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but hopefully you can come up with a better one.
A is for approach. Having the right approach to training and playing doesn't depend on your standard of play. Even beginners and club players can take things seriously and plan their progress.
B is for boast. No, I'm not talking about telling people how good you are but hitting the ball against the side wall first. Develop a few types of different boast, just don't over use them.
C is for concentration. It's often what loses matches. How often have you seen people lose 4 or 5 points in a row? Too often. One of the great benefits of solo practice is learning to stay focused.
D is for drop. Work on getting a really good drop into your arsenal. It can make the court so much longer for an opponent.
E is for experience. Play as many people as possible. And not just people better than you. Have you heard that old maxim "Only play people better than you"?
Well, it's wrong. Who would Ramy Ashour play? We can benefit from playing all sorts of players. Playing new people can be one of the fastest ways to improve, as long as you review each match and learn something from it.
F is for footwork. The best players often glide across the court. Clunky, heavy-footed players rarely play well. Footwork is a skill that can be learnt.
G is for ghosting. Ghosting works a number of different areas of your can not just footwork, but obviously, that's a very important area! Look out for my coming-soon "Total guide to ghosting"
H is for height. How how is a squash court? Well, after seeing the thousands of players I have, you'd thinking is was just 2 metres high. It's over 4 and a half metres high and that's just the out line. The actual ceiling is higher. Highest court I coached on was at the BBC in white city. The ceiling was nearly 10 metres high. Best lobs EVAR! Learn to use the full height in the court. If you don't hit the ceiling once in a match then you are not trying.
I is for intention. Hit every shot with a clear idea of what you are trying to do. Don't hit it because it's "your turn". Hit it because you want to win the point.
J is for jump rope. Often called skipping rope, this form of exercise is almost a lost art. For less than 10 Dollars, Euros or pounds you can get a versatile piece of exercise equipment. In fact, the best I ever bought was for 2.50 at a garden centre. I was so impressed I went back the next week and bought 5 more.
K is for kill. Too often people create chances to win the point and then don't take them. That's partly because they can't, partly because they don't know it's a chance and partly because they somehow feel they are supposed to keep the ball going. Unless you have some fiendishly clever longterm strategy against your nemesis - kill it when you can!
L is for length. Second bounce in the nick is the perfect length. However, as with most things, it's more complicated than that. Learn how to slightly vary your lengths and speeds to cause the most trouble for your opponent.
M is for mistakes. Too often players play the wrong shot at the wrong time. Learn how to cut out sill mistakes and learn when to be defensive and attacking. Make your opponent EARN every single point they get. Don't just give it to them.
N is for nicks. Know the angles from each part of the court. Love them but don't worship them. They are false gods. They will lead you astray from the straight and narrow. A nick should be a bonus not an objective in itself.
O is for observation. Come of that court knowing more about your opponent that he or she knows about themselves. Playing is a learning process. Not just about your opponent, but about yourself too.
P is for practice. Oh God! If only I could get more players to spend half as much time practising as they do on fittest. Sure, fitness is really important but fitness comes and goes, whereas skill is for life. If you game is based on fitness then you are seriously limited.
Q is for question. Ask lots of questions. "Why did I lose?" "Why is my backhand straight drive weak?" "How can I improve my footwork?" Etc, Etc Etc.
R is for return. At club level more points are lost on weak returns than on almost anything else. Practice taking away the servers advantage and getting the ball into the corner.
S is for serve. Considering how close to tennis squash is, it's amazing the different attitude that players have towards the serve. In tennis, they want to win the point ON the serve. In squash, it often seems like it's just to start the rally. You can get you opponent on the back foot right from the word GO! if you know what you are doing. Learn to do it, then DO IT!
T is for Tee. Feel it! Control it! Own it! It should feel like home to you.
U is for understanding. Know your weaknesses and work on them. Review matches that you have played and look for things to improve. NEVER STOP LEARNING!
V is for volley. I'm a tennis serve and volleyer. Volleying is very natural for me and I am constantly looking to take the ball early. I give my opponent almost half the time to get ready. If you take one more volley per game, each game, you will quickly become accustomed to it.
W is for width. Cross courts are one of the most overused shots and generally the are not wide enough. They should stop the opponent from volleying too much. If you hit a lot of crosscourts, it's probably because you don't have enough confidence in your straight drives.
X is for xenogenous. Meaning "Of foreign origin". Accepting responsibility for failure is very, very important, but too often I hear players saying they lost because they weren't moving well, or hitting the ball cleanly. Well, maybe that's because your opponent didn't allow you too. Xenogenous is attributing a cause to an outside agent and in this case it's your opponent. Accept that THEY were the cause of your loss, but also understand it was because YOU didn't adapt to the challenge they presented.
Y is for yoga or any other form of stretching exercise. Squash players generally don't do enough stretching. It improves your movement and helps prevent injuries. If you hate doing it, that's the perfect reason FOR doing it.
Z is for zeal. You really gotta LOVE squash. Feel it in your bones, through your sweat, in each pump of your heart. It's one of the things that set squash players apart from other sports players. Tennis players "enjoy" playing tennis. Squash players "LOVE" it. We are the modern day gladiators. Once you walk onto that court and feel the previous battles that have taken place there, you know what I mean.
Well, there's my A-Z of Squash. Hopefully, you disagree with some, because discussion is a way to learn more. Just post your alternatives as a comment and let the discussion begin!
This was originally published on Squashsite.co.uk on 22th March 2014
© Copyright 2020 Phillip Marlowe