Give 100% From The Beginning

It's easy to think that with the best of 5 games, you have plenty of time to start playing hard, but from the moment you hit the first ball, you should be playing at your maximum intensity.

31 December 2022 / 3-Min Read

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Thirty Three points. That's all you need to win a squash match. Not very many really. Interestingly though, it's possible to win more points than your opponent and still lose. I'm not sure I like that aspect of squash. I understand why we have "best of 5", but I almost feel the "first to 33 points" would be purer. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

One positive aspect of the current scoring system, especially for club players, is that there always feels as though there is time to come back from the brink of defeat. I mean, it's quite possible that you have been match ball down and still won the match. Probably not very often, but it does happen.

How much easier would it have been if you hadn't lost those silly points at the beginning of the match?

Heat Up Not Warm Up

I constantly talk about heating up not warming up. You should be sweating before you even hit the ball in the knock up. Club players don't realise how important that is, both physically, but also mentally. By performing a proper Heat Up, you are also preparing yourself mentally.

I know it's a little silly to suggest this, but imagine the "match" consisted of 5 points, not 5 games. How seriously would you take each point then? Probably a lot more seriously than you do now!

it can be difficult starting at 100% intensity, but it's a habit that is good to develop. You can find yourself 4 or 5 points up before your opponent starts to "get going" and those 4 points can really make your life easier.

Two male squash players focused on the match

Original photo by Petteri Repo

No Gameplan

Another reason club players can sometimes take half the game to play seriously is they lack a gameplan. Remember, a gameplan doesn't have to be some complicated algorithm or based on some detailed analysis, it can be as simple as you like, e.g. "play 10 shots deep before going for a short shot".

But having something is better than nothing. By having a gameplan, you start the match with a clear objective, and many club players lack that. They play each point as it comes and that lack of planning is a result of short-term thinking. A lack of intensity from the first point is also a reflection of that short-term thinking.

Walk onto the court with a plana nd try to implement that plan from the very first hit.

Mental Habits

I know all habits are "mental", but what I mean is that instead of some physical unconscious action, like throwing your keys in the tray when you get home, here you are repeating the same approach to squash as you always have. Unless you consciously make a change, you will continue to behave in the same way you always have.

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You will have to actively think about changing the casualness of the first few points. As you walk onto the court, touch the door and mentally leave all your non-squash issues behind. Effectively, you are placing them in the door until you take them back at the end of the match. They can't help you play better squash and will almost certainly hinder your concentration. From the moment you walk onto court, you should only be thinking about squash.

two female squash players trying to win the point.

Original photo by Petteri Repo

Intensity Not Power

When I say "100%", I don't mean hitting the ball as hard as you can, I mean taking every single shot seriously. I mean playing every shot with a clear intention. I mean not giving up just because you hit a weak return. I mean fighting for each and every point. Some people exude that intensity and playing against them can feel a little intimidating. Become one of those players. Become of of those players that other players dislike playing against because they know that there are no easy points. They know that they never have "easy" matches against you. Intensity is see in their eyes and in the effort they give to every shot.

Final Thoughts

Your intensity can be improved. Even if you are normally very laid back and relaxed, it's possible to learn how to turn on your intensity as you walk onto court. It's okay to have a different personality on court than off court.

Never Give up, give 100% from the first shot and have a gameplan.

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