Do Something Every Single Day To Improve Your Squash!

August 2022

Shot selection is an “art”, not a “science”. Put simply: shot selection is what shot you choose to play. There are many factors that must be considered when selecting shots and the “art” part comes from deciding which factors are important. All in a split-second!

A Brief Introduction To Shot Selection In Squash

Let’s start by briefly looking at what can affect shot selection at club or recreational level. It’s not an exhaustive list, but enough to get us started. I’ll add a brief note by each factor. It’s important to note that the list is not in any particular order. After that I’ll explore some basic principles. Your Strengths and Weakness – What you are good at and bad at ON THE DAY ON THE MATCH.Your Opponent’s Strengths and Weakness – What your opponents are good at and bad at ON THE DAY ON THE MATCH.Fitness Level – Both you and your opponent, at the moment of the shot.Court Situation – Is it a hot or cold court? Does it have a high or low ceiling? Is it a fast or slow court?Score – is it 1-1 all in the first game or 9-9 all in the fifth game?Players’ Position – Where are you and where is your opponent when you play the ball?Ball’s Position and Vector – Where is it, how fast is it moving and in what direction?Your Style – Almost the same as strengths and weaknesses, but not quite.Match Situation – Is this an important match or just training?Gameplan – What are your strategic goals and tactical actions? Fitness Level It’s not the most important factor, but at club level it is very important. I’ve seen players making terrible decisions on court, and they get much fitter and suddenly they are making much better choices. Nothing has changed about their game, they were just able to wait a little longer in each rally before attacking. When you lack fitness, you often go for attacking shots because you just want to end the rally. You hope that you’ll win the point, but often you don’t. Getting fitter can help you wait for the right opportunity in a rally. Your Strengths And Weaknesses I’m going to use myself as an embarrassing…

More is better, right? No, it’s not. Well, not in the way you might think it. Let me explain.

What Is The Perfect Practice Duration?

You have probably heard the phrase “Practice makes perfect”. The America Football coach, Vince Lombardi improved it by saying “Perfect practice makes perfect” And another football coach, this time Association Football (also known as soccer to many people), Bobby Robson changed it to “Practice makes permanent”. So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a few idioms that don’t really help performers. I’m not going to get too technical because A: I’m not qualified to and B: you don’t need to know the details, but let’s briefly look at Muscle Memory. There are actually two types of muscle memory, but the one we are interested in is the idea of an unconscious action – something you can do without thinking about. Muscle memory is everywhere – really. From your signature, yes, that’s muscles memory!, to entering your PIN on your phone, to hitting balls (tennis, golf, squash etc), to driving your car and many more things. Some of those; the PIN and signature are not very complex and don’t have any interaction with outside forces. Golf has the weather and the course as an outside influence, and I suppose a musician has other musician as outside influence – keeping time with them etc. But sports is a different category completely, because every shot is based on what their opponent does and must be made in fractions of second. Please don’t think I am saying rackets sports are harder than golf or playing musical instruments, I’m just highlighting one difference. A beautiful new squash ball! How Long Is Too Long? When I was the coach at Wembley Squash Centre, we had a visiting aspiring professional squash player from Pakistan. Not anybody you have heard of, and he never made professional. I saw him from over the balcony and his was hitting straight forehand drives. I passed by a couple of hours later and he was still doing it! I…

I am very pleased to say that I have written 100 squash articles in 100 consecutive days (not including this one).

100 Squash Articles in 100 Consecutive Days

I didn’t publicly announce this as my goal, but I did have this in mind when I started back on 2nd May 2022. I had written plenty of articles before, but not more than about 10 on consecutive days. Overall, I would say it’s been a positive experience for me. I am generally 2 or 3 days in front, except when I was in hospital to have my hip replaced. For those days I had prepared 10 days worth of articles and had the system scheduled to post one per day. I like to think that most of the articles are okay – you may disagree! Some are good and one or two might even be great, but I am sure there are some stinkers (terrible, very bad) in there too. Nowadays, most people want short, to-the-point videos, and those are a great way to educate and communicate, but I also feel that sitting down somewhere quiet and reading is also a very effective way to gain new understanding and learn something helpful. The lesson here for you as a squash player, or any sports player really, is that setting a goal and keeping it private can be a really motivating factor. I chose something hat I thought was Specific (publish one squash article per day), Measurable (I could easily see if I did that) Attainable (about 30 minutes to an hour per day), Relevant (I can’t make videos at the moment, but I still want to help you improve your squash) and Timed-based (100 days – easy!). Astute readers may notice the SMART goals system, which I will write about more in the future. I try to ensure that the range of articles covers all standards, but also different aspects of squash. I also plan to mine the incredibly depth of wisdom from all the vintage squash books IU have as well as explore more non-coaching aspects too. As…

Nobody wants to play a tournament and then play against players that are either way to good for them or way worse than them. Graded tournament address that issue.

What Are Graded Squash Tournaments?

The Wonderful people at Benedikta Squash Club

Back when I lived in the UK and played Squash competitively, there was a graded tournament almost every weekend somewhere in the country. That meant, any time I wanted to meet new people, visit new facilities and play some tough squash, I could. I have said it before1, and I will keep saying it: playing competitively is great for your squash and others agree2. A Quick Reddit Thread In fact, let’s take a moment to quote from some players over on reddit. I posted a question about experiences of playing competitively2. asmos57 put it very nicely: “Having shaky knees the first times I participated in tournaments was a nice feeling. Difficult at first, but it helped my mental game a lot. And I think it’s very useful to play different opponents with different styles.” While sixthcupofjoe mentions the motivating factor: “It’s also really addictive getting your rank up going up a grade and moving up divs.” Other things mentioned include making new friends (yes, sounds cheesy, but really can be true), and visiting better facilities than yours and then feeling bad. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though (An English phrase meaning nice things). A few people complained about having to referee matches. Sometimes you get arseholes who question every decision you make. Wilkox79 mentioned that they stopped playing competitive squash specifically for this reason, which is sad: “The negative (refereeing) put me off competitive squash a few years ago and although I miss some aspects (especially team squash) I’ve never really regretted stopping”. Back To The Tournaments They may be called different things in different countries (please let me know what they are called in your country), but “graded” is what I have always called them. When I played there were N, A, B, C, D and E (maybe F, I’m not sure). At the time, N stood for National and you needed to have a national ranking to…

Do you want warm tea or coffee? How about a warm sauna? Of course not! Some things should be hot, not warm and one of those things is you before you play a competitive match!

Don't Warm Up Before You Play Squash - HEAT UP!

It seems I am fighting the world with this. Even expert, well-respected fitness trainers continue to use the phrase “warm-up”. They argue that everybody knows what it means. They are wrong. You only need to visit any squash club around the world, to see people trying to push one arm around their back and taking 5 jumps in the air and saying they “warmed up”. The words we use matter. They can make a huge difference to what a communicator is trying to say and what the learner understands. Let me press the point just a little more. If somebody said to you “I like you” or if they said “I love you”, that’s an important difference, right? Maybe they mean the same thing to them, but they might mean very different things to you! Right, let’s get specific You should be sweating BEFORE you even hit the ball! I can’t believe the number of times I have heard the phrase “I’ll warm up in the first game” or a similar sentiment. This aspect is one of the differences between an amateur and a professional. A professional heats up before a match or training session. You might argue, that they have all the time in the world to do that and you have to rush from your job or other commitment, and there just isn’t time to do it. As you hit the ball in the knock up, you”l do a few of those stereotypical stretches and that will be enough. And let’s be honest, when you are young, and by young I mean under 25, that might be enough, but as anybody who is older knows, often it is not. You don’t have time for that extra 10 to 15 minutes to heat up before a match, but you’ll have a weeks off because you get injured or because you lost the first game “warming up”. To perform at…

If I were to ask you to stand in front of a dart board and throw your three darts at the board. What would you say? Would you just throw them anywhere?

Why You Should Hit Every Squash Shot With Intention!

The more specific your objective, the more likely you are to achieve success. Let’s go back to the dart board for a moment. If you threw the 3 darts on the board without any further instructions, you would have achieved what you set out to do, right? Well, yeah, but simply hitting the board with all 3 darts is not exactly brilliant. Let’s switch over to the squash court and I now say hit the ball to the back. Chances are you will do it. Next, if I say hit the ball to the back, within the width of the service box and to bounce behind the service box, that becomes a little harder. But now you have a “challenge”. That slightly focused objective has your interest. Let’s bring it into focus even more. Now I want you to hit the ball to the back, within half a service box width and I want the ball to take its second bounce below half the height of the back wall. Getting harder, right? Especially if you have to hit more than 2 consecutively. Right, it’s time to get really serious! I want you to hit the front wall at any height and speed, so the ball takes its second bounce on the back wall at less than the height of a squash racket, and within 3 squash ball width’s of the side wall! Ohhh! Things just got real, baby! Even just typing that objective required concentration. You Won’t Believe Me Too often people hit the ball simply because it’s their turn to hit. It sounds stupid, right? I mean, technically it’s true. But hitting the ball because it’s your turn to hit and hitting the ball because you are trying to do something very specific is the same as throwing three darts anywhere at the dart board because its your turn or aiming for treble 20. So, as the title says,…

Starting Saturday 14th August 2022, I will be sending out a weekly updates email. It will contain links to all the articles published that week, as well as other content I have created.

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Let me start by saying, I will not share your email address with anybody. I have no plans to include advertising, unless they offer me a HUGE amount of money – sorry, everybody has their price! But seriously, the updates email is just a way for you to stay up-to-date with everything I create. I post links to all my new articles and videos (I know, I know, I haven’t been making many recently, but I really do plan to create some new ones as soon as I can get back on court – I’ve had my hip replaced recently), but not everybody has time to follow those types of posts, and I thought a weekly email may save people some effort. The email will contain links to all the articles I have posted that week, as well as occasional links to some vintage squash equipment photos on Instagram, and maybe some other content. I’ll also include a brief (I promise) intro note. If you have any questions about the email or have some suggestions for content, please post a comment, otherwise, please consider subscribing. Links to all my social media accounts can be found on my Linktr.ee/BetterSquash page. Sign up to my Weekly Updates Email * indicates required Email Address *