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Tactics

These articles have something related to strategy and tactics in them.

What is the reverse angle shot? Why is it also called the Leisure Centre boast? Is that an insult or a compliment? Read on to find out.

The Reverse Angle AKA The Leisure Centre Boast

Yesterday, David Holmes commented on the post about creativity and standard. He talked about snobbery regarding this shot and whether there really was a good reason not to play it. I talk a lot about ball snobbery and how too many players force other players to use a double yellow dot because they believe it to be the only ball worth playing with and all other balls are just precursors to reaching the “Double Yellow Dot Level”! By the way, please read my Use The Right Squash Ball guide for more details about which squash ball to use. A reverse angle is a shot that is played first against the opposite side wall of your side. WOT! Okay, so imagine you are right handed and standing in front of the T, slightly to the right of the court, and in good position and ready to hit the ball. You could do a lot of things; straight, crosscourt, high, low, hard, soft etc. A reverse angle is a shot, which in this case, hits the left hand side wall first, then the front wall, coming back into the same corner that the player is standing. I want to state, as I did yesterday, that this shot can be very successful at lower levels. But just like other things that are successful at lower levels, once you start playing better players it becomes a bad choice. But why then do the pros still play it, you rightly ask? Well, the answer lies in two aspects. Firstly, recreational players telegraph that they are about to play it. They do this because they have to make contact with the ball much further in front of their usual contact point and they generally twist their body in preparation. Any player who is paying attention to watching their opponent and not the ball (which by the way gives you zero information) will immediately see the shot…

The connection between squash and chess has been made many times, and most people who play squash and know a little about chess seem to agree with the concept.

The More Serious You Are, The Less Creative You Should Be

I’ve always felt that squash has so much more variety than most other racket sports primarily because of the side and back walls. Whether the rectangle of walls and the similarity with a chess board are important I don’t know, but there’s almost certainly a connection.A few days ago I read the following sentence in a subreddit about a chess website and it stuck in my mind. “The more serious you are, the less creative you will be in chess” I have no idea whether the author of this sentence is an international grand master or the village idiot – not that they are mutually exclusive or that it matters. What is important is whether the statement is true and not being a good chess player, I can’t tell you if it is or isn’t.But it did get me thinking about whether it was true of squash or even other sports. Do you think that the higher ranked a player becomes, the less creative they play? On the surface, I think I agree, but perhaps the creativity is simply more nuanced.You only need to visit any local sports centre or squash club in most countries and watch recreational players to see reverse boasts, serves at the receiver, weird almost undefinable shots that better players would avoid. Play those shots against a better player and they will eat you alive, but at this level they are often successful. Video Squash Coaching from the comfort of your sofa! Most coaches have plenty of stories of trying to convince pupils to stop playing the reverse angle only to be told “but it wins me points!”.So I am going to say that I think in principle, I agree with the statement, but with the caveat that the creativity at higher levels is more complex and subtle than the “Leisure Centre Boast” as the boys from Squash TV like to call it.What are your thoughts?

Watch any professional match and you will always see lots of shots to the back of the court. Pro players seem to hit the ball to the back so much! Buy why? Read on to find out.

The Shot Budget

Money Versus Risk The first thing to understand is that pros play squash for a living. That might sound obvious, and it is, but that means winning is not just about pride and glory, it’s about money. The more matches you win, the more money you win. So losing is bad, really bad. You don’t want to take many risks, and that’s why the ball is hit to the back more than amateur games. They take fewer risks. If the attacking or probing shot is not really on, just wait until it is. Nobody won a tournament by going for nicks at every slightly lose ball. Well, maybe Ramy did, but he was special. Fitness It’s very easy for me to sit here and type the above paragraph, but you need the fitness to be able to wait for the right shot, and of course professional squash players are much, and I really do mean much, fitter than amateurs. Not just “fitter” in the general sense, but faster, stronger, more able to endure long, hard matches, more flexible and more mentally strong, which will lead us onto the next point in a moment. The tempo that they play at might seem quite fast on TV or even when you watch live, but actually on court it’s unbelievable. But even pros can be made tired by hard rallying. The threat of hitting short makes each deep shot all the more effective. Boast, drop , deep drive? Who knows until the last possible moment. The Waves Hitting The Shore It’s not uncommon for a few pro matches to start quite close in the first and maybe even the second game, but then the constant pressure becomes too much for the weaker player and suddenly the match is over. Amateurs often think matches are won with nicks, and it’s true that those shots are the dramatic visual end of a rally, but the…

The better you get, the less important the serve is, but the more important the return. At lower levels, both are incredibly important, yet generally neglected. Change that today!

Practice Your Serve And Service Return

As I said in the introduction, the better you get, the less important your serve becomes. The chances of hitting a winning serve get smaller and smaller, the better you get because your ability to volley or make split-second decisions improves. That’s why you don’t see many, if any, winning serves. Professionals, are simply trying to stop their opponent from having an advantage. It’s also why every now and again, a pro squash player hits a weak serve – they have got into the wrong frame of mind. At lower levels, especially at beginner and improver levels, the serve is a HUGE weapon because returning a good serve is quite hard for new players. The variety of successful serves is also important as new players find it hard to adapt to different serves. Move up the level in skill and this ability to adapt is much better trained. So Let’s Practice Those Serves! The first thing you can do is agree to play a 20serve game with your partner. This will allow you to try for a really high lob-type serve and if it goes out, it doesn’t matter because you have another one. Another option is to have 5 extra serves per game. That adds a new dimension to the idea, because you have to chose when to attempt a great serve. The next thing you can do is actually practice serves. Place a target on the wall as high up as you can reach, a long balloon is my favourite but a folded piece of A4 paper stuck on the masking/painters tape is good too. Then using a red dot, hit 10 serves, remembering to move to the T afterwards. Alternate this with some other hitting if you are doing a solo drill. Alternatively you can agree with your playing partner to practice serves at the end of each game. Video Squash Coaching from the comfort of your…

Yesterday, I explained why playing against different players can be better than playing against better players. Today, I want to explain how conditioned games against weaker players can improve your squash.

Switching From Narrow To Broad Focus In Squash

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. 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. More Limitations 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…

There’s a misconception among club players that you “should only play against better players” and it is so far from the truth. Let me tell you why.

Play Different Players Not Just Better Players.

We all want to be challenged, stretched, made to work hard, and playing against better players does that. We come off court feeling as though we have trained hard. Perhaps we got close in one or two games and perhaps we didn’t, but either way, we are getting better, right? Yeah, probably, but are you maximizing your training time? The difference between you and the better play is important, if it is too big then they win too easily, if it is just a little bit, then that’s better. The problem is that squash, and most other sports, doesn’t have a linear scale of “better”. The world rankings would suggest otherwise, but that’s because humans like lists. The reality is that play A beats player B, and player B beats player C, and sometimes player C beats player A! So who is the best player? it’s not a list any more, it’s a circle. AAAAHHH! I won. Clearly, I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t play better players, that would be stupid. What I want you to do is play different players. Each player represents a different puzzle. A puzzle that must be solved. The skill and fitness level of a player is very important, but it’s more interesting than that. if you have played enough team squash, you have probably encountered players that are really hard for you to beat. At first glance, there is nothing special about their game, nothing that makes them look unbeatable. You see them playing somebody else and think “I can beat them”. But then when you are on court, it’s a different story. Your best shots are easily reached, you can’t seem to find their weaknesses, nothing you try works. BAM! You lose. All you practice with the better players doesn’t matter any more because you didn’t solve the puzzle. This is why playing in leagues, ladders, inter-club team matches, tournaments and club…

If you were to perform a search on the internet, I mean not right now, but after this article, you would find some different definitions of strategy and tactics, but I feel confident in saying that most agree with what I am about to say.

What's the difference between strategy and tactics in squash?

The relationship between business and sport has never been closer, in fact nowadays most sports are businesses! And that connection goes back further in the way players play and the way businesses run. Both are about competing against an enemy, in the case of business we call them competitors, in the case of sports opponents, but sometimes competitors too, especially in sports where you are not against just one individual at a time; athletics is a good example. But enough abstract, let’s get down to details! Strategy is the overall plan to win, tactics are the methods used to follow the strategy. So far, so good. Let’s look at some specific squash examples. Player One Player one is an average club player, who plays two or three times per week depending on their schedule. They may do some fitness training once a week as well. On thing that stands out about them though is how tall they are. Plenty of jokes about “What’s the weather like up there?” and “Bump your head a lot?” the thing is though that Player one wins matches against better players because they volley a lot. They volley a lot because they can, because the have great reach and it’s easier to stick their racket out, block the ball and make their opponent do all the running. Sneaky, or what? So what would be my strategy? Well, the first thing I would try, and I stress that it might not work, but you have to have a gameplan!, is to tire them out. That’s my first option because tall players have to work hard to move around a squash court. It’s one of the reasons they volley – they want shorter rallies. You might think that’s it’s easier for them to get around the court, “they’ve got long legs!” you say, but the bigger you are, the more work you have to do. Ever noticed…