Do Something Every Single Day To Improve Your Squash!

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June 2022

Hard training describes the amount of effort you put it. Smart training describes doing the most effective training. Often we train “hard”, sweat, feel like we accomplished a lot, yet it could be the totally wrong thing required to make you a better squash player.

What's The Difference Between Hard And Smart training?

Let’s take a real example. You have a fantastic forehand kill from the middle of the court. You have this great shot because you have specifically practiced it. You did that because when you first started solo practice, it was one of the things you did better than the others shots. It’s nice to hit good shots, so you did it for longer than other shots. pretty soon, you love practicing this shot because you have become really good at it. You have even developed a reputation within your club as the “Forehand Killer”. Every time you practice other shots, they just don’t feel as smooth as this forehand. You do those other shots, but you probably do the forehand for twice as long. It’s enjoyable and you feel as they you really have a good training session. Who wants to hit shots they are not good at? Phew. I probably laboured that point, but I really wanted to drive it home. When we are good at something we tend to enjoy it. We tend to enjoy it because we are good at something. It’s a training-performance circle. We are not lazy. Those workouts and training sessions are hard work. We sweat and we ache the next day – it must have been a good session, right? Yeah, maybe, but was it the best use of your time? Time For Some Smart Training! Smart training requires you or somebody else asses your game and produce a list of 3 top priorities. That can be difficult, e specially if you don’t have a coach or experienced player to help you. However, if you are honest with yourself you can probably find one or two things that you know need serious improvement. Perhaps that backhand service return, perhaps that forehand drop shot, it could be anything. It’s clearly something you are not very good at – probably something you don’t like practicing.…

Solo practice is one of the best things you can do to improve your squash. It mostly works on your skill, but with the right planning can also work on your fitness.

Sharing A Squash Court For Solo Drilling

Most squash players believe that solo practice is something you do because your partner is late or has cancelled. For most, it’s a boring at worst and not fun at best. I fully understand that point of view, but with a small change in your approach to solo practice, it can be one of the most challenging parts of your training. Do It Regularly The first thing to understand is that you must commit to performing solo practice for at least 6 sessions, and those sessions should really be once-per-week to fully benefit. Any less than 6 sessions and you might not have had time to improve and if it is not once-per-week or about once every ten days then the space between each session is too much. Strengths Versus Weaknesses Work mostly on your weaknesses not your strengths. Too many people perform drills that they are good at and enjoy, and that’s fine as long as you spend more time working on the things that you need to do. A good example is the figure of eight. It’s a drill that is fun to do and can be impressive to watch if you are new to squash. But unless you need to work on your volley timing, there might be other drills that are more useful for you. Here’s me trying to get down low! Never Do Any Drill For More Than 5 Minutes Too often, I’ve seen people advocate doing drills for 10 or even 20 minutes. It’s too long. It will actually have a negative effect on your skill acquisition. What will happen is that you will get tired and your technique will falter and you will essentially be teaching your body to do the drill the wrong way. It’s much better to do something for less time, more often, ideally with a sleep in between. Keep Switching Drills As mentioned above, don’t do any drill for…

It’s a natural question. It’s hard to do at first and seems to make watching the ball after you hit it really hard. So why even do it? Read on to find out more.

Why Do I have To Watch The Ball Hit My Strings?

Let me start by explaining the process of what to watch and then I will explain the benefits. When the ball is coming towards you, you should keep watching it until the moment it hits your racket. At that moment, keep your head still, don’t try to follow the ball after it leaves your racket. When you keep your head still, you will see the blur of the racket head and the blur of the ball, but the blur of the ball will stop at the point of contact. Keep you head still for a moment longer and then look up to where the ball went. Remember, you can’t watch the ball hit your strings and immediately move your head to follow it. Not only is it impossible, but it will give you a headache pretty quickly. Your first thought might be, “but don’t I need to see it hit the front wall? How will I know where it has gone otherwise?”. No, you don’t need to watch the ball hit the front wall. Look at the photo below. In it, you can see Gregory Gaultier watching the ball hit his strings. After you have hit the ball you can then direct your attention to your opponent. You will get more information about where they intend to hit the ball from watching their body and timing than you will from staring at the ball. Once they hit the ball, you can then direct your attention at that. What Are The Benefits Of Watching The Ball Hit My Strings? The first benefit is better contact. You will hit the ball with more control and accuracy. It’s hard to believe until you try it. For some it’s easy to do, for others it takes a little more work. But it is simply a matter of developing the habit. The need to look up to see where the ball is going is less…

The pandemic has been the catalyst for squash to fight its way out of the dark and dingy corners of sports centres or private, often elite, clubs and into the sunshine (and rain!)

Squash Plus

One of squash’s problems is that many courts are never seen by potential players. They are often in private clubs, that are either very expensive or in not well-maintained. In the public sector, i.e. sports centres, squash courts are nearly always in the corner of the building you never walk past them to get somewhere else. It means people don’t see them. Just think about tennis for a moment. When Lawn Tennis was first created, it was because a King of France wanted to play Real Tennis outside. At least that’s how the story goes! The point is that once something is visible to more people, more people want to try it. At least that’s how the theory goes! Not only that, but many outdoor tennis courts are free to use. So if those two principles could be used in squash, that would help, right? yeah, probably. Squash+ is a company that was specifically created with the intention of building and promoting outdoor squash courts. They are focusing on two approaches. The first is almost an “off-the-shelf” solution. The image above comes from a padel club in Cáceres, Spain. Where they are continually developing new materials and construction techniques to ensure that this type of court is as effective as possible. That includes cost, maintenance and the ability to even move it. The second approach is for custom designed courts and surroundings. The image above is a render of a proposed facility with two courts. This type of specifically designed facility would obviously be more expensive than the other approach, but clearly has advantages. What’s crucial is that more people get to see squash in locations that they wouldn’t normally. Professional tournaments have been erecting squash courts in all sorts of unusual locations; train stations, airports, tops of skyscrapers and possibly the most icon, near the Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt. I am sure we all wish Squash+ success and can…

Overall, this is a well-performing racket, if a little too powerful for my liking. In this review, I talk about what it does well and what it doesn’t do so well, as well as three types of players it will suit.

Grays Illusion 110 Squash Racket

Techs and Specs As supplied this racket weighs 144grams and has a balance point of 370mm, making it quite head heavy. Once I put a grip on top of the one supplied, which is always too thin for me, it become 156 grams and has a 350mm balance point. Don’t worry too much about the difference in the name “110” and the actual weight “144” because manufacturers always use the base frame wight, i.e. no string,s grip, grommets etc. The frame is quite wide giving it a very solid feel and making the racket quite stiff. The strings are “Graytech” and seem acceptable. The tension was a little higher than I like, but that is expected and is the right thing to do – that way they can loosen over time. Visuals You certainly couldn’t miss this racket if it were in a pile of other rackets. Some will like the bold colourway and design, whiles others won’t. I do like the yellow myself. I’m a little unclear on the addition of the spade symbol, but perhaps I am missing something?! I suppose it’s simple a love it or hate it design. Power Baby! Of all the rackets I have tested recently, this one has the most power. That’s not an important aspect for me, as my game is bsed on control, but for some that could make the difference. Unlike some other powerful rackets, the Grays Illusion 110 never felt over-powerful, as in I could still control the ball. It impresses you the moment you first start to hit the ball Touch and Kills This racket plays best when hit with a lot of slice or flat. Anything in between doesn’t seem to get the best from the frame. if you style of game is attacking the ball, then this racket should suit you. Forgiveability Forgiveability describes a racket’s ability to respond when the ball is hit outside of…

Essentially, one is a physical process, the other mental. Reaction Time is how fast your body can move to a stimulus. Anticipation is making a decision based on what you see AND what has happened in the past.

The Difference Between Reaction Time And Anticipation?

Let’s Start With Reaction Time Reaction Time can be decreased by training. There are plenty of drills, exercises and equipment you can buy to help you do that. There is something called a Reaction ball, and the video below shows how to make a cheap and easy homemade version. As I just mentioned, there are plenty of drills you can do, and you have probably seen videos of coaches throwing balls for players to catch or reach starting on the T. These are great because they require very specific squash movements that should include racket preparation or even swings. Anything longer than a second’s worth of work, which I know doesn’t sound very long, starts to work other system of the body, not just your reaction time. This type of training should be performed at the beginning of a session, as it requires fresh muscles to gain the most from it. Of course, in the real world situation of a competitive match, you will be required to react ALL through the match, the training is what actually matters. I really like the reaction ball as it’s one of the easiest things to use on your own. Most other reaction training requires another person because you need that element of “unknown” involved. However, there’s more to reaction training than simply moving as quickly as possible to a stimulus. You also need to be able to control the racket and ball, so I like my pupils to stand near the front wall and hit forehands and backhands to themselves, either standing closer and closer to the wall or hitting the ball harder and harder. The reaction training comes from having to move the racket as quickly as possible to unexpected positions. Do a hundred shots then do something else. Do it three times each time you go on court and that should help. What is he going to play? Moving Onto Anticipation…

It’s so easy to see other popular racket sports and almost blame them for squash’s decline. padel and pickle ball are popular at the moment and perhaps some squash players have moved across, but the chances are they weren’t happy with squash anyway.

Other Rackets Sports Are Not Squash's Enemy!

I’m using the term “racket sports” and I define a racket as something with strings. If it doesn’t have strings, then it’s a bat in my mind, but that’s not an industry standard. Many people in table tennis call their bats “rackets”, so just be aware that basically I am talking about sports where you hold something and hit a ball and then your opponent hits the ball with their something, normally on a court. Phew. So with the definition out of the way, let’s address the title. It seems to me that too many people view other rackets sports as competitors to squash and I can understand why people would think that. We have all heard of people trying squash and having fun, but then preferring tennis or badminton for example. The problem with this thinking is that the logical conclusion would be to ban all other racket sports except squash! Clearly that’s a stupid conclusion. Why would we want to stop people from enjoying other sports? In some ways, they are right. squash does compete with other rackets sports in terms of budget at local sports centres. Many places have limited budgets and need to allocate that budget to a variety of different sports and racket sports get bundled into one category, in the same way that invasion team sports do too. Do we say that rugby is the enemy of football or hockey? I don’t think so. people who play hockey, would not play rugby if hockey was not available to them. Just because they are similar in some aspects, doesn’t mean that the people who play them would switch if they couldn’t play their chosen sport. You don’t play ice hockey if hockey is not available, do you? What we need to do, and it seems to be happening more and more, is accept that people like different racket sports, but also recognize that a lot…