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July 2022

“Get Fit To Play Squash Or Play Squash To Get Fit?” was more or less a slogan used by the Squash Rackets Association (England) back in the 1980 or there abouts.

Get Fit To Play Squash Or Play Squash To Get Fit?

I believe its objective was to encourage people to do extra fitness work and take squash more seriously, in the hope that they would play more. It’s one of those phrases that sounds cool the first time you hear it and is a great sound bite, but what does it really mean and is it useful? One problem is that it forces people to decide which group they are in, and that might limit them. Get Fit To Play Squash So if you would describe yourself as part of this group, then the chances are you take squash seriously. You have separate fitness sessions, probably multiple times per week. You realise that the fitter you are, the better you play. That’s true for everybody, but you have the motivation AND the discipline to wake up early and go for a run, or spend time on stretching core strength work and even lifting weights in the gym. All with the hope of playing better squash. Now, if it sounds like I am being a little negative towards this type of player, that’s not my intention. I used to be one of these people. I relished the sweat pouring down my face and stinging my eyes. Seeing a t-shirt that looked like it had just come out of the washing machine soaking wet, was part of the enjoyment. I knew that my hard work now would pay off in the future. And that I think is the key. For people who “Get fit to play squash”, the fitness work now is for your future squash performance, and will hopefully be worth all the extra hard work. Fitness is not one of the end results for you, it’s part of the process of being a better squash player. Play Squash To Get Fit Your objective if you are in this group is to get fit and squash is one way to do that.…

Just because you can perform a shot in practice, doesn’t mean you can do it in matches. In this article, I talk about the progressive process of turning practice skill into match skill.

Squash Tips: Turn Practice Skill Into Competitive Success

What I am about to introduce you to is just one way of acquiring a new skill (skill acquisition) and being able to use it in a real match situation. It’s not suitable for every type of shot or for every person, but as a starting guide it can be useful. Bear in mind that it doesn’t have to be strictly followed. Feel free too skip steps, jump forward or backward, and even introduce new steps based on your experience. At the end, I will also detail how you can adapt this concept into a practical training routine to ensure you don’t become too complacent in your drills. Step One: Technique/Skill Acquisition The first thing you need to ensure is that you have the correct technique! There’s no point in performing the following steps if your technique is faulty. The best way to do this is via coaching. A coach will explain the technique and its reasons, and then work you through a series of increasingly difficult drills. This happens over a period of weeks or even months, and its aim, as well as the steps below, is to achieve what is commonly referred to as “muscle memory”, i.e. the ability to play a shot from a variety of situations without consciously thinking. An example of this increasing difficulty would be the coach feeds the ball to exactly the same place each feed, at exactly the same speed. When you are able to perform the shot well most times, the coach would adjust one aspect of the feed, most probably the location of the bounce, then the speed. Each change forces the pupil, you, to adapt and develop that “muscle memory”. over time, the coach feeds the ball with more variety and will also include a second or third shot to introduce decision making into the learning process. This is the basis for what is called Skill Acquisition: learning new…

We all have players who we never seem to play well against. Why is that? Is it because they are better than you? Generally no. In many cases you beat everybody that beats them.

Why Don't I Play Well Against Some Players?

When you play squash against somebody, you are comparing your strengths and weaknesses against their strengths and weaknesses. But not just that, you are comparing those things “on the day”, meaning if you played the same person every day for a week, the result might be different. The closer you are in standard, the more likely the result will be different. If you play against somebody that you are either much better than or much worse than, then the result will be the same. A tricky squash player is one whose strengths and weaknesses cause you the most problems. We like to think that “tricky” means playing unusual or deceptive shots, and that can be true, but it’s not the only valid definition. Tricky in this context simply means something that you find difficult to respond to. Older, more experienced squash players are often called tricky by their younger opponents because those older players know what works and what doesn’t work against many types of player. Let me give you tell you a squash story. On Monday, you are feeling fresh after a nice relaxing weekend at the beach or garden. Your body has had time to recover from a hard previous week. You play your opponent, who by the way has a great working boast, and do quite well. Normally, you find it hard to reach those boasts, but now that you are fresh, those boasts are a little easier to reach. Your drops are a little bit better because you are in a slightly better position. Today, the problem of his boasts are diminished due to your freshness. You agree to play again on Friday, but as I am sure you have guessed, by then you are tired compared to Monday, but because you did so well against your opponent’s boasts on Monday they decide to not play them so often. You might have thought that I was…

Tennis players sometimes switch to playing squash and vice versa. However, just because they both use rackets and a ball doesn’t mean they are similar. Read on to find out how tennis players can improve their squash.

Tips For Tennis Players Playing Squash.

The Serve The serve in squash can be equally important as in tennis, but in a different way. In tennis, the server is trying to win the point immediately. In squash, the server is trying to STOP the receiver from hitting a winner. However, at lower levels of squash, serves can definitely win points for servers. The better you are, the less chance their is of winning the point from a great serve. So, does that means you shouldn’t try to hit great serves? No, of course not, but because you only get one serve in squash, you can’t take chances like you do in tennis. A good serve in squash is one that hits the side wall before the receiver can hit it. I’ll talk more about side walls a little later. Serving directly at the opponent is definitely a thing in squash, but only at lower levels. Try it and if it works, use it occasionally. One last thing to say about serves. High, over head serves1 generally don’t give you good angles, so avoid them. You can and do see some people playing them, especially when they hit the ball hard, but you never see them at professional level – so that tells you something! Movement Be aware that tennis shoes are NOT suitable for a squash court. You MUST wear non-making shoes2. While the movements that the feet make are very similar, the shoes are very different. I am talking about shoes because shoes affect movement. Tennis shoes are often designed to slide, whereas squash players almost never slide on purpose – they can’t because of the floor of the court. When moving around a squash court, you need to staying low a lot of the time and your leg strength is very important. You need to make lots of little steps prior to reaching the ball and then one longer lunge to transfer your weight…

The split-step in squash is the little jump you do just before your opponent hits their shot. It allows you to move faster and more effectively.

What Is The Split-Step In Squash?

The split-step is effective because it utilizes the effects of plyometrics. Chances are you have been using plyometrics since you were a child. Skipping is a fun form, as is most types of running. Think of it as “bouncing”. Essentially, you can generate more force and power by doing a little jump before a bigger one. Now you might say “but Phillip, I’m NOT jumping when I play squash!”, and that’s kinda true, but you are: just not straight up! Sprinters train for years to perfect the start from a low, still position. For squash players that action is not needed. The chances are that during a match there is almost no time that you are completely stationary. Beginners and improvers sometimes have the terrible habit of hitting the ball, standing still and watching what their opponents hit, and then running as fast as they can to where the ball is, often over-running because they are moving too fast, standing too upright and lack the leg strength to stop themselves. Rinse and Repeat! Better players, hit the ball, move to the T fast, wait until their opponent is about to hit the ball, split-step and then move to the ball. Let’s Break It Down Firstly, the split-step is not a big jump. You feet barely leave the ground. Just enough so that when you land, you have that “bounce” potential in your legs. The width and exact position of your feet depend on the situation, but in general, you probably want you feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on level with each other, rather than having one foot in front of another, although a slight difference is not that important. The key is the timing. Too early and you will lose the benefit of the bounce effect. Too late and you will be in the air when you should be moving. This is why a little deception or disguise can…

Sting once wrote “Poets, priests and politicians have words to thank for their positions” and even though I can’t match the alliteration, I also believe that “coaches, trainers and educators” also use words to great effect, and just as importantly, players do too.

The Power Of Self-Talk

In many cases, and this post being one of them!, using words is the main way we communicate with our pupils and players.  As an English teacher, I am fascinated by not only the words we use (I’m slowly working on a book I want to call “Definitions and How They Define Us”), but how we use those words.  As a quick side question – as coaches, do we spend enough time considering the words we use and their effect on pupils and players?  I’ll be writing more about that someday.But what if we can’t use words?  What if we can’t speak?  Can we still communicate effectively?  How would our pupils and players respond?I’d love to share your experiences of *not* using your voice during coaching sessions, so please share. There was this one time that I had 6 hours of lessons with no break between each lesson.  They were a combination of 30-minute and 60-minute sessions.  I was able to have a drink between each one, but no other break.  By the last one my voice had gone and I was unable to speak without pain.  I didn’t want to cancel the lesson and there was nobody else to cover for me.  When my pupil arrived, I explained the situation and told her we were going to do an experiment.  I was not going to say a word during the lesson and only use visual and tactile communication.  Luckily she agreed and off we started.This lesson was working on her volley and without going into the details it went really well.  When necessary, I would approach her, move her racket into position and move it to emphasize the swing I wanted.   From that lesson forward, I often did “silent lessons” and the pupils seemed to enjoy them.Many years later, I was working with an up and coming junior who would often lose concentration during matches.  I decided to try…

It might sound like a silly question because you can see the T just by looking at the court, right? Well, yes, you can see a T, but it’s not really that simple.

Where Exactly Is The T In Squash?

To be able to reach your opponent’s shot quickly and effectively you need to position yourself in the right place. That’s on the join between the short line and half-court line, right? Wrong. I want you to think about the T being eqi-time distant from all corners, considering the direction you are facing and how long the ball would take to get there. To clarify, the T is not the exact centre of the court based purely on measurement i.e. half the distance from each side wall and half the distance from the front wall to the back wall. It’s the place where getting to the front corners and to the back corners in the time it would take the ball to get there. Let’s look at the three most common T positions and when you should be there. One thing to mention before we look at these position, if you watch a professional squash match, you will almost certainly see them stand a little further forward than amateur players. That’s because they play more volleys than most amateurs because they have faster reactions. In addition, the exact position is partly related to your playing style, so a person how doesn’t volley very much might hang back more than a person who loves to volley. It’s an interesting question as to whether the T position defines the playing style or vice versa. The red area is where you opponent is playing the ball from. You will notice that the blue area is an ellipse because it is okay to move slightly to the side that the ball is being played from. Lastly, this is not an exact science, it’s just a guide and you must adapt the principles to suit the situation. Position One You would stand in this position if the ball and your opponent are in the back corners. You are closer to the back because even though…