31 August 2022 / 3-Min Read
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I've said many times that your training should focus on your weaknesses not your strengths. It's easy to fall into the trap of perform drills that you a re good at. It's a re-enforcing circle. Spending time working on the things that need improving is so important. It requires discipline and dedication. Now transfer that concept to match situations.
Forgive me if I repeat this too often, but my favourite shot was the volley boast, followed by the crosscourt from the back. With regard to the volley boast, I distinctly remember wrong-footing some players and it made a lasting impression upon me. The same goes for the crosscourt from the back. I was obsessed with surprising people with a flick when they thought I could only go straight. In both cases the root cause was getting my opponent by surprise. The problem is that just because you catch somebody by surprise, doesn't mean it's a great shot. Once I stop playing both, my squash improved.
So, if your favourite shot is based on false information, then stopping it should only bring benefits. Your more effective shots will be played more and your game should improve. You will essentially be removing "dead wood" and what is left is stronger and more useful. Think of it as a tactical culling.
Now, let's assume you are smarter than I am and your favourite shot is actually effective. What benefits are there to not playing it? Well firstly, you will force yourself to find other effective shots. Of course, a lot depends on WHAT your favourite shot is. if it's a kill shot, perfect, because finding new ways to win points is like learning how to use new weapons. If you only have one way to kill the ball and either your opponent knows it and make it difficult for you to use or it stops working on the night, you will be in trouble.
If it is a probing or defensive shot, the same is true but to a lesser degree. Essentially, by not using your favourite shot you will be forced to develop effective alternatives. In the short term, that's going to make your squash less effective, but mid to long-term, you are going to be more flexible in your tactical approach.
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If you want to try this improvement idea, spend a few minutes selecting your shot and then ponder what alternatives you have - and there are always alternatives. Then create a simple plan of how you are going to develop and practice those alternatives. The plan is always quite simple:
1. Solo practice to ensure you are able to to play the shot with good technique.
2. Cooperative pairs drills, where you move form static shots to dynamic shots in a controlled environment.
3. Competitive pairs drills or conditioned games.
4. Competitive friendly matches. Ideally, with a different opponent who doesn't know your plan.
5. And finally real matches. You could compromise and say that you won't play your favourite shot for the first game or even the first two games. That will allow you to see what happens.
Plato said "our need will be the real creator", which eventually became "Necessity is the mother of invention". If we don't play our favourite shot, we have to find alternatives if we want to win. if you have planned and practices those alternatives you will be make active improvement - that is not just relying on time spent on court to improve.
Once you have develop effective alternatives, you can start to play your favourite shot again, although hopefully less frequently. Your choice of shots has increased, causing more problems for your opponents.
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