16 June 2022 / 3-Min Read / Translate↗
The gentleman in the featured image is Jahangir khan. Considered by some to be the greatest male squash player to ever have played. And if he had followed the advice that many people blindly repeat: “You should only ever play with people better than you” he would never have played anybody! Of course it’s not that simple and he did lose to people occasionally.
If only I could move like Jahangir. Actually, I'd like to hit the ball like him too!'
Yesterday, in the article entitled Play Different Players Not Just Better Players – Part 1, I talked about how playing different players can be more valuable than only playing better players. Today, I want to talk about getting the most out of the time you play weaker players. Let’s first of all assume, that you are good enough to win 8/9 times out of 10. If you only win 6 or 7 times out of 10, then I would suggest setting a goal of 6 wins in a row and use those matches as practice for matchplay and concentration.
Conditioned games are a form of practice where one or both players limit what shots they are allowed to play. With careful use of the type of game, stronger and weaker players can both get an enjoyable and valuable training sessions completed.
Are they playing or training? Hard to tell.
The bigger the difference between the players, the greater the limit of the better player. I was lucky enough to spend quite a few hours practicing with Jahangir and for a lot of that time, although not all of it, he was only allowed to hit straight drives to the back. I was allowed to hit anywhere. It might seem like I would win easily, but you would be wrong. Very rarely did I win a game playing this system. You need to be safe, just because you know that they have to hit straight, doesn’t mean you can boasts the ball, walk to the side and then claim a stroke. In fact, because they can only hit straight, there’s nothing from stopping them lobbing!
The straight drive to the back is the extreme and if the other player wins easily, then you can adjust the limit. For example, the better player can hit crosscourt, from either only the front or the back, or perhaps they can volley crosscourt. Again, if the weaker players wins that game, add more options for the better player and so on, until the games are close. This way both players benefit, while making if fun for both.
Up until now, I have been talking about both players agreeing on the conditions or limits, but there might be occasions when you as the better player might want to limit yourself and not tell the other player. That adds a new dimension to the games. Be warned though, if the weaker players guesses that’s what you are doing, some people find it insulting and get annoyed. Perhaps a compromise is far. Play the conditions for the first 5 points and then play your normal game.
Limiting the conditions or shots that one or both players can play is a great way to make a training session enjoyable and beneficial for both players.