11 December 2022 / 4-Min Read
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Let's get straight into it.
There is no substitue for consistent hard training. You know this, you just don't want to do that training. I fully understand your point of view. I didn't want to do it either, but it's one of those things that once you have completed a 6-week program, you will feel as though you earned that improvement. You can't go out and get the latest racket, which might be a few grams lighter than your current racket and suddenly become club number one. No change made by your coach will give an immediate jump in rankings.
Yes, a new racket will feel great for a few weeks and yes, getting coached will help (see below) but you still have to put the work into your squash.
If you don't have that mindset, if you don't accept this truth, then you will almost certainly NOT reach your potential. This is true whether you are 15 years old and just starting squash or whether you are 35 and want to beat your nemesis. It's not about becoming a pro, it's about improving.
Never has a player, in any sport, reached their potential without having coaching. Yes, you can improve for short periods of time without it, but for consistent improvement you need an experienced observer to guide you through the changes you will need to make. And before you email me saying "Arh, but PLAYER NAME HERE doesn't have a coach!". They did. Do you honestly think they never had coaching? Just look around at the best players in your area. How many of them haven't had coaching? Probably none.
What a lot of people don't seem to understand is that coaching is not about knowing how a final swing should look or work, it's knowing about the process of taking your swing and getting it better. Any "armchair Expert" can repeat phrases about "skipping stones" and "weight transference", but have they ever helped people actually do it? Coaches have. Coaches are the closest thing you will get to a cheatsheet. The closest thing to saving you many hours of wasted time effort.
There are lots of other types of training that you can do that will improve your squash: fitness work, drills, practice matches etc, but from a technical point of view, a coach is your best option.
Being young, strong and fit is great, but it's not the main reason players win matches. If that were the case, all world champions would be very young. The reality is that those physical attributes are only part of the story. You often hear about older players winning against new, younger players. Those older players have the experience and guile to "outsmart" their younger, fitter opponent. Of course that's only true up to a point. Once the younger player gains more experience and skill, that difference becomes less influential.
Let me briefly define smart in this context. I am not talking about academic intelligence. I'm talking about adapting their game to suit the opponent, court and situation. For example, hitting the ball hard on a very hot court is probably a waste of energy, but when you are new to the game, that feeling of smacking the ball almost too nice to stop. You forget to analyse whether it actually helps you win. Perhaps winning isn't your goal, in which case, that's great - have some fun and get fitter at the same time. But if you do want to win, being smart will almost always beat powerful but thoughtless squash.
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I know it's easy for me to sit here and type "never give up" and when you are on court sweating, breathing very heavily and dreaming of a long refreshing shower, that abstract idea is easy to dismiss, but like a lot of the mental patterns we follow, they come from habits. At the beginning we need to make a conscious effort to keep fighting for every single point, but over time that action becomes a habit. Something we do without even thinking about it.
I've seen, and experienced, players losing to weaker, slower, less fit, less technically adept, less tactically aware players purely because their opponent kept fighting for every point.
This is almost a superpower. That mental fortitude means that any activity is performed with a focus and commitment that extracts the maximum benefit. You might have even played against players who never give up and know how tiring it can be just knowing there are no easy points. Every point is a tough rally. Every point must be won. It's mentally tiring to play against these types of players. I'm not saying that by being mentally strong you will win every match, but you will win matches that you probably shouldn't have, purely because you kept fighting for every single point.
Boring, right? Who wants to only hit straight, tight, deep drives? Nobody, not me, and probably not you. When you look at a beautiful building, unless you are an architect or engineer, I doubt you are thinking about the foundations, but those foundations are just as important and the fancy features above ground. It's the same with squash. I don't care whether you can hit amazing nicks from behind your head or between your legs, if you play against a player who does hit straight, tight deep shots the chances of hitting enough nicks to win the match drastically drops.
No, I'm not asking or expecting you to hit every shot like that, I'm reminding you that if you can't hit those types of shots you are very unlikely to win matches against good players. The side walls can be your friend or enemy, they can limit your opponents' options and create opportunities for you.
Spend the time and effort it takes to develop those straight, tight, deep shots because in the long-term it will be well worth it.
We all want the easy way to improve, that one little trick that saves hours of hard work and weeks of losing. But the fact is that success comes from hard, smart work. Not tricks or cheats. I'm not saying you have to change your life and work like a pro, but you do have to make some changes.
Now you have read the lost, you need to decide the most important one for YOU to implement. Good Luck!
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