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October 2022

It may seem like a silly question, especially if you’ve been playing squash awhile, but it’s also one of those questions people are afraid to ask. Luckily, I’m not afraid to answer it.

Believe it or not, there was a time when you could because it wasn’t specifically against the rules. That changed on 1st May 1985 after the Annual General Meeting of the International Squash Rackets Federation in October 1984. Originally the rule stated: The game of squash rackets is played between two players with standard rackets ……pre 1st May 1985 And after the meeting it said: The game of squash rackets is played between two players, each using a standard racket…….post 1st May 1985 So, there you go: No, you can’t use two rackets at the same time. Even if you could, you would have to be very good with both hands to even try. But, perhaps we should ask the question… Would Using Two Rackets Be Better? Just like the article about swapping the racket between your hands, it raises the question of “would it be better?”. Well, the first issue is to realise that you would have to play forehands on both sides. For most players, the forehand is the side that allows them to hit the ball harder, but is it more accurate? Not for me, but I might not be representative of club players. Another racket would definitely be in the way in this situation! The second point is one of safety. Holding a second racket would make many club matches dangerous. It can be hard enough to avoid your opponents’ rackets when they have one, imagine with two! You would have to put it out of the way for each shot and it would limit your ability to reach and balance yourself, or at least it seems like it would. You know what? The next time I go on court, I’ll try it and report back here. Final Thoughts Questions like these are asked in sports centres around the world by new players. It’s natural to want to push the boundaries and find new tricks to…

The mental aspect of sport is often neglected by amateurs, but that’s slowly changing. In today’s article, I want to highlight the importance of mentally preparing for a match.

What Is Your Squash Mantra?

This article was inspired by a private chat I had with a reddit user. I currently can’t do any on-court coaching, so I really enjoy chatting with club players about squash as it keeps me in-touch with their point of view. The chat started when the user, who shall remain anonymous, told me their one and only adjective from my What 3 Adjectives Describe Your Squash? articles would be “inconsistent”. Inconsistent It’s a common theme club players have; some days they play well, other days terrible. I mean, pros suffer from that too, but to a lesser degree. The problem non-pros have is that squash is just a small part of their life. So many other things are more important. So let’s look at what they said. He is brown text and I am green text. My main squash adjective would be ‘inconsistent’ lol. It’s much more of a mental game for me. How I play always depends on my mood when I get on court. Focussing just seems impossible sometimes! The key here is the “mood” phrase. It’s hard to suddenly switch off from work, family, school or any multitude of non-squash issues. As I said in the title; you are not a robot. You can’t just switch on “Squash Gameplan” and switch off “Electricity Bill”. Concentration doesn’t work that way, at least not for most people. So I replied: yeah, I hear ya. Being able to switch over from “non-squash you” to “squash you” is hard for many. Not enough people realise that that is why a proper Heat Up is so important. it allows you to switch for, for example father/worker/student etc to squash player. No different from the “slow down” time for a child before bed or an actor psyching themselves up before going on stage. We wouldn’t expect them to just get changed and suddenly be ready, yet squash players do. I’ve talked about Heating…

It Depends. If you are loud enough to distract your opponent, then no, and they could even ask for a let. But if your opponent can’t hear you, then yes.

Know Exactly What You Are Trying To Do In Each Squash Drill

As I’ve just said, better to say nothing during a rally as it may cause issues, but much more interestingly is the “trash talk” between points. Putting aside the actual rules for official matches for a moment, squash is so very different from many sports in this regard. It’s one area that is not often talked about when discussion tournaments and inter-club matches. I clearly remember times during those club matches when my opponent would make a snide remark about the previous point. people often call this aspect “mind games” and it can be as blunt as the image below or so subtle than you take it as a compliment. Reverse Psychology “You’ve got a great backhand boast”, said one opponent to me. “Thanks” I replied and stupidly played too many in the next game, nearly all of which my opponent hit winning drops off. We laughed about it during the team meal afterwards, but I still hope that guys steps on lego every day for the rest of his life. I was “played”, which for non-native English speakers means I was manipulated. I was young and impressionable, I honestly thought he was complimenting my boasts, which by the way are pretty good and quite hard to read, but that’s not the point. Another time, I heard people talking about my opponent and how he had just retired from the SAS (a well-known regiment of the British army, famed for their toughness and expertise). They also mentioned how he rarely lost close matches. From being calm, I suddenly became nervous. I lost the match due to my mindset rather than my or my opponent’s skill or fitness. Lambs, the club in central London this occurred in is gone now, so I’ll never have to re-live that disaster. I could probably recount a few more times similar things happened to me, but you get the point: DON’T PAY ANY ATTENTION TO…

Yes. More is not better. This whole topic is closely related to rest and giving you body and mind time and energy to grow, develop and progress is so important.

Sharing A Squash Court For Solo Drilling

I recently saw a post on Instagram entitled “No Days Off” and showed somebody training, with the idea that any days off are a waste. It’s a misconception and theme that permeates throughout sports and exercise. There certainly an element of pushing hard to improve and using all your training time effectively, but resting per se is not bad, in fact, it’s absolutely required. The misconception is that rest is something you do because you are too tired to continue, sometimes it’s even framed as a “reward” for working hard. This is also part of the “hustle” culture that I feel is misrepresented on social media and even mainstream media. It might seem that I have gone “off topic” already, but I wanted to address the idea that resting is not wrong. Practicing and training are not exactly the same though and while most people understand the concept of “over-training”, the idea still persists that you need to accumulate 10,000 hours of practice, and that all practice is equal. It’s not and you can forget that 10,000 hours idea too. Weight Training I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say most gym users know that when training with weights, you do sets; limited number of repetitions, repeated a few times. yes, there are other ways to train, but for most people it’s the best way. they also know that you don’t do those sets every single day. You do different parts of your body on different days of the week. Nobody thinks it’s okay to do a 100 reps of one exercise and say they have finished for the week! You do those reps in sets and take a rest between each one. It’s the same when it comes to practicing. Don’t hit 100 straight drives to the back continuously. Break in down into 20 or 25 and then do a different shot. It keeps things interesting, keeps you…

Too many club players approach practice matches in the same way they approach real matches: trying to win. Sometimes that’s perfect, but many times you should be looking to improve.

What Is The Working Boast In Squash?

Many years ago, when I played tennis in a little Tennis and Squash Club in north west London, a new player joined the tennis section. He was pretty good and soon started to beat some of the better players. One Sunday afternoon, he faced the club number one and beat him. The number one, was relaxed about the whole thing and simply said he had been working on some aspects of his game. The new player said that he should just accept that he lost and not make excuses. That was the only time he beat the number 1. He never beat him in the club tournament or club nights. I asked him if it were true that he was working on his game and he told me that practice matches only matter for people’s egos. Sure, we all like to win, but he said he would rather improve during practice matches than “win”. The only time it’s important to win is in real matches. Whether that was bullshit or true, I don’t know, but the lesson has stayed with me these last 35 or so years. You Either Win Or You Learn The above phrase is definitely bullshit! Yes, you probably learn more from losing, but you can still learn a lot from winning. The point is that when you are training, you are trying to improve. You can’t “win” drills unless they are scored and not every drill should be scored. When you perform solo drills, you are not trying to “win” rallies. You are focusing on improving your technique, which in turn improves your shots. Take that same attitude into practice matches, club nights etc. Before you even walk onto court, you should know exactly what you are trying to improve, what you are going to work on and what you hope to achieve at the end of the session, whether that’s with a coach, a partner…

Today’s writing is an essay more than an article. In addition, it’s a thinly veiled piece about beginners spending too much time worry about squash rackets and not enough time working to improve their skills.

This topic seems to be one of my favourite because I keep writing about it. In case you haven’t guessed or in case you didn’t read the intro: Beginners spend way too much time and effort worrying about squash rackets. But today, I realised that I am just like new squash players worrying about which racket brand, model, weight, balance, string and string tension. And I realised it because I do the same with video cameras. Let me explain. I started making squash videos back in 2013. I came back into squash after a long break and wanted to “give back” to the sport I love so much. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money of equipment in case making videos wasn’t like I hoped, so I bought a Kodak ZX5 PlaySport for about 100 Euros. Then after a few years, I decided to invest in something better, so I bought a 500 Euro 4k Panasonic camcorder. Now, I’m dreaming about the latest Sony FX30 (about 2,500 Euros with lens). The above image is not a perfect or even fair representation of the actual quality of the cameras, but clearly the phone is good enough. The problem is that my actual technical knowledge has hardly increased since the first videos. Yes, I definitely have a better understanding of basics like shutter speed, frame rate etc, but after almost 10 years making videos, I’m really not as good as I should be. Therefore, any camera I get above a point and shoot would be wasted on me, unless I actively begin to learn some skills. Even if I could afford that Sony FX30, I wouldn’t be able to really use it to its potential. And in my particular case, with the terrible lightning the squash court I use to record has and the limited scope for “quality” would it really make any or much difference? No. But it doesn’t…

A few days ago I posted an article about my 80-80 philosophy and I was asked how I know that many players hit the ball too hard.

The first answer is that they have a reduction in control. The harder you try to hit the ball, the less control you have over it. The same is true of very soft shots, but that’s another article. Notice that it’s “The harder you TRY to hit the ball”. Players can hit the ball harder than you, but with less effort. In those cases they can still control the ball. I’m not saying you lose all control. It’s a linear scale: the harder you try, the less control. The second reason, and the focus of this article is the combination of hitting speed and moving speed. I haven’t been on court in many many months, and when I did, it was just to record a video, so in the last 2 years I’ve been on court a handful of times. But I bet I could still hit the ball quite hard. Certainly not as hard as I did in my twenties, but almost as hard as most good club players. And here lies the problem. I’m slow. The good news is that I know I’m slow. The bad news is that you might not know you are slow! Now, you might not be objectively slow, but you will almost certainly be slower than you need to be if you hit the ball very hard. Let’s look at why it’s important. I suspect he is about to hit the ball quite hard, although he could equally play a trickle boast or even a drop! Getting Out Of The Way A lot, and I mean a lot of club players hit crosscourt way too often because they know they would be in the way of their opponent if they hit straight. This is evident from all my years of coaching, as well as the video analysis that I’ve done with club players in the last few years. it’s especially prevalent on the…