Rackets Do Not Win Matches, Brains And Skill Do

Too many amateurs spend too much time, effort and energy worrying about equipment, when they should be focused on improving some aspect of their game.

24 March 2024 / 4-Min Read / Translate

Rackets don't win matches, brains and skill do. Sometimes fitness. Spend more time on getting smarter and more skillful and you will win more squash matches. The word used to describe a player's ability to understand what is happening on a sports court (be it tennis, squash, badminton or any other sport played on a court) is "courtcraft". Older more experienced players often have it, but younger plays can and do have it too.

In my experience, courtcraft can be learnt by consciously paying attention to what happens and looking for reasons and patterns within the gameplay. Rarely does courtcraft become part of a player's arsenal simply through osmosis. Once you have courtcraft, it's likely to stay with you for life - even if your physically ability to play the game is reduced.

Equipment is important but not more important than training!

Skill, is the same. It requires conscious effort to improve and refine. But once you have the skill its decline is much slower than fitness for example. Acquiring skill is a fascinating subject, but for most amateurs it's simply about spending time on court performing solo drills, pairs drills and of course coaching. And none of those this happen by themselves. You have to make the effort to book the court or coach and know exactly what to work on and why it will help YOUR game.

There's no doubt that fitness plays a huge role in success on a squash court. But most amateurs don't have the time nor the motivation to constantly work on their fitness. And let's be clear, "constant" it has to be. You can't training for a few weeks and then take a few weeks off. Over the year that is really not going to work. Yes, consistent skill practice is better than inconsistent skill practice but it is possible to have a weekly solo session and see a long-term improvement in your game, but a weekly fitness session is highly unlikely to generate a long-term gain.

So before anybody tries to twist my words to suit their narrative: fitness is vital to great squash and almost every amateur squash play will benefit from regularly and long-term fitness training. Just remember, fitness comes and goes, whereas courtcraft and skill stay for life.

Is Equipment Useless?

No, of course not. Any fool can say "You can't play squash without a racket!" and you obviously need a racket to play, but that's either intentionally missing the point by being ridiculously reductive or by not realising that rackets are tools and like all tools they are only as effective as the person using them.

Finding and using a racket that feels right for you is important but have you ever noticed that the best players can still play great squash with different rackets?

I believe that too many amateurs, in whatever field of endeavour you want to talk about that requires some form of technology, focus too much on the "latest and greatest". The key is finding the right equipment for you. Not the newest or most expensive.

I encourage everybody to test as many different rackets as possible. That way you have a better understanding of what equipment suits you and your style of play, and what doesn't. I am not saying that you should never experiment with new equipment. It's all about the mindset of looking for equipment that gets the best out of your skill.

Let a learner driver drive a Lamborghini and they won't get the best out of it, give a new photographer a Hasselblad camera and the photographs won't be any better than their phone. Hoping that a new string will suddenly make you a better player is not the right mindset. Expecting a racket that is describe as being perfect for power players to suddenly fix a poor swing and give you the extra power you crave is the wrong approach.

Final Thoughts

Don't become too reliant on the idea that the newest or even just a different racket will make you a better player. Finding the right equipment for you is very important, and I support the approach of constantly looking for something better.

Not in the hope that it will immediately make you a better player, but with the objective of allowing your skill to shine through. Equipment is not a replacement for skill, but a compliment to it. Spend more time on developing your skills and less time worrying about new equipment.

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