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Tactics

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

A professional squash match is filled with hundreds of shots. Some spectacular, some brilliant and some seemingly boring. But which ones really matter? And which ones can you learn from?

When you watch professional squash, it’s easy to focus on the kills, the nicks, the flashy, unusual shots. And while it is fun to do that, there’s more to be learnt from other shots. Sure, the shots that I will be taking about in this series of articles and videos will never win “Shot Of The Month”, but for club players they might bring more benefit. As you have seen from the title, the very first one in this series is a simple crosscourt from Joel Makin. But simple, doesn’t mean easy, neither for the striker nor for the opponent. It comes from the Qatar Classic 2021 Quarter Final game one, between Joel Makin and Mazen Hesham. See the game on the PSA Squash TV YouTube Channel. I highly recommend you watch it. The Crosscourt I’ve already written an article about crosscourts called 3 Crosscourts Every Club Player Should Know, and if you haven’t read, maybe now is the time. Joel’s crosscourt is one of those 3. Oh, BTW, there are other types of crosscourts, but those are important ones. When you hit a crosscourt, you are trying to move your opponent off the T, the same for most shots really. You hit it to stop them stepping across and volleying your straight drive. It adds variety to your game and makes it harder for your opponent to guess or anticipate your next shot. Hit it too wide and the ball will hit the side wall near the service box and be easily volleyable (new word?), hit it too directly into the corner and it will come too close you your opponent and again be easy to volley. The sweetspot is a crosscourt that hits the side wall just behind the service box. Let’s call it the Goldilocks Crosscourt Angle. All this assumes that you are rallying from the back and your opponent is on the T. But it can’t…

No, I don’t believe you can. You can improve your fitness, swing technique, movement, mental strength, and tactical awareness alone, but ultimately, to bring all those improvements together you need coach.

Vary Your Speed And Height

Who doesn’t love the idea of fighting to become the best player they can without any help? Proving to the world that you, and you alone, have the intelligence, ability and spirit to conquer your chosen sport. From nobody to hero is a theme in literature going back centuries. But it is just that; fiction. It’s hard enough to become a professional squash player with all the help available, but to do it alone? Impossible? No, not impossible, but almost. If you follow sports, and I don’t, you can probably give me examples of great players who said they didn’t have a coach. I think I remember it being said that Ramy Ashour didn’t have a coach, and that may be true for part of his career, but I don’t believe for a second that at no time did he have coaching. So that leads us to two questions: what is the role of the coach? What is the difference between having a coach and having coaching? What other help can a player get that isn’t coaching? Two great squash reap the success with the help of their coaches The Role Of A Coach A lot depends on the age and standard of the player when a coach becomes involved. This article would become more like a book if I were to discuss “coaching”, so let’s keep it focused on a player who wants to become a professional. Most professionals start playing squash before they are ten and in many cases before they are 8. Does that means that anybody older can’t become a pro? No, it just means that as each year goes by it becomes increasingly more difficult. Nowadays, if you have reached a certain standard by 13 or 14, the chances are almost zero. A coach must guide the player’s development. Specifically ensuring that their technique doesn’t have any serious issues – it’s NOT to make them…

Yes, maybe, no! There are a lot of “ifs” in this question, so let’s look at some of them.

It’s always a good idea to have coaching as soon as possible after starting a sport. Ideally, you first time on court would be with a coach, but the reality is that’s highly unlikely. The longer you wait to have coaching, the more bad habits you will have developed and the harder it will be to replace them with better ones. I’m sure it’s not difficult for you to imagine how much easier it would be for you if you visited a coach after 3 months of playing than after 3 years of playing. But not everybody has access to a coach. That’s one of the reasons why people read squash articles and watch squash videos. So why not try to copy a pro player’s style and develop good habits that way? In general, I think it’s probably a good idea, but you need to be careful that you copy the right things. But what are the right things? And why can’t you copy everything? One of my taglines is “You are not a pro!”. I say this because I want viewers to realise that they haven’t spent thousands of hours on court. They don’t spend hours, both on court and off the court, each week working to improve their game. Specifically, you don’t have the physical conditioning to allow for certain movements or actions. Your forearm, shoulders, core and legs are as strong as a pro’s. Also if you misunderstand what a pro is doing and try it yourself, you may get injured. An example of that is a pro flicking the ball with their forearm at the front of the court. You could easily injured yourself if you bend your wrist instead of rotating your forearm. Enough Warnings! Okay, with the warnings out of the way, let’s look at what is a good thing to copy. Swing Technique Let’s start with the obvious one. Copying a player’s swing…

“Rally Construction” is a phrase I’ve seen and heard a few times over the years and I feel it needs clarifying.

A Brief Introduction To Shot Selection In Squash

What It’s Not The phrase itself gives the impression of a very detailed and clear objective for each rally, almost as if the player is trying to hit something like “12 deep shots, 4 volleys, 2 short shots and at least one disguised swing, followed by getting their opponent 2 metres behind them and slightly late”! Nobody can construct a rally when both players levels are similar. If a professional player were to play the average club player, then yes, the pro could be in complete control. During a rally they can wait until the club player has run around the court a lot and is a terrible position, before playing their killer shot. Yes, they could probably hit a winner from almost any shot, but it has become a habit to not simply gone for the winner each time because that doesn’t win matches and also because I think all squash players have a streak of sadism inside them and enjoy watching their opponent run around in total disarray. I also happen to feel that squash players have a streak of masochism inside us because we seem to enjoy being run around! What Is It Then? At its core, I feel it’s “Patience combined with tactics”. I mention about not going for winners at the first opportunity and to newer players that concept might seem crazy. Why wouldn’t a player want to win the rally as quickly and as easily as possible? The problem is that hitting winners is not as easy to do as it is to say. But more importantly creating opportunities AND selecting the RIGHT opportunity is a mindset skill that cane learnt and improved. Practical Application So how might it work in reality then? Well, if I were working with a player, we would have identified their strengths and weaknesses, and during practice sessions, specifically practice rallies, I would watch and if I felt a…

The foundation of good squash is the ability to get in front of your opponent and keep them deep in the back. The alley game focuses on developing tight shots with early off-the-ball movement.

I always recommend starting this pairs drill with a serve. In fact, I always recommend starting EVERY drill with a serve if possible. It builds good movement habits. Anyway, the objective of this drill is to focus on your straight shots, length variation and movement. You can only play the ball on one side of the court. Depending on your skill level, start by using half the court. I know that sounds a lot, but I would prefer you to start too easy than too hard. If you find half the court too much, and you almost certainly will, make it the service box width. That means if the ball bounces outside the service box width, it’s out. Ideally, you would put some tape on the floor to use as a guide, but it’s not that important unless you or your training partners argue about whether the ball was “in” or “out”. Safety is key, so even though you know which side your partner is going to hit the ball, remember to play safe shots. If you score this drill, there are not strokes, only lets. The same goes for swings; be careful if you are close to your partner. It’s the prefect opportunity to practice your Back Court Circling in a more open type drill. I recommend using a ball lower than you usually do, so if you normally play with a double yellow, play with a single yellow and if you normally play with a single yellow, play with a red dot. Red dot balls are great for these drills. Let’s look at some drill progressions. And don’t forget to play both sides of the court. Drill One Start with a serve, but don’t score it. In fact, your objective is to keep the rally going for as long as possible. Not by hitting very easy or weak shots, but by not trying to win the point. Play…

Today, I want to talk about how the importance of each game over the course of a match, and how that might affect your tactics.

Does The ball Have To Bounce In Squash?

Does The ball Have To Bounce In Squash?

Let’s start by clarifying the difference between “game” and “match”, just in case you don’t know. A match is the total number of games, which are usually up to 11 points. Some matches are the best of 3 (games) meaning you need to win 2 games, and some matches are the best of 5, meaning you need to win 3 games. There are some exceptions to that but nothing we need to worry about today. For this article, I will use the best of 5 games system. Game One This should be used to “set the tone” of your approach to the match. If you plan to play long rallies, your objective here is to make each one as long as possible. Clearly, this is an approach that requires confidence in your fitness, as well as mental fortitude. It’s also the opportunity to look for weaknesses in your opponent’s play, especially if you have never played them before. Who wins the first game is rarely an indicator of who will win the match. That’s one of the beautiful things about racket sports, split into games, is that each game can be completely different from the previous one. More important, although again not a definitive guide, is the manner of the win. Before you think I am advising making the first game as long as possible, if your approach is to take your chances early, then commit to that. I’m not saying go for crosscourt nicks on every service return, just be clear on what is and what isn’t a chance. That approach favours the brave, but it also has lots of risks, so use with caution. I want you to finish the first game knowing that you have made your opponent work hard and that you have a better idea of what to try in the next game. Importance Level: low Game Two Things need to change or things need…

It doesn’t matter if you think of Soccer or American Football when I say “football”, all that matters is you think of a team sport where each player has a different role.

My local team Athletic Zornotza: Aupa Azules! (up the blues!)

Clearly there are huge differences between individual sports and team sports, and benefits and drawbacks to both. Sometimes squash players need to view things from a different perspective to get a better understanding of their tasks and goals on court. I have always found it useful for individual sports players to imagine themselves as a complete team, because the reality is you ARE a complete team. You have to do all the jobs: you are the strikers, the play makers, the defenders , the manager and the trainers. After reading this article, I hope that you walk onto court with a new idea about how to approach playing. A planned approach rather than a “hit and see what happens”. Let’s look at each basic position and relate that to squash. In the introduction, I mentioned Soccer and American Football, but I will be using Soccer/Association Football as the template. I freely admit I am not an expert or even a fan of football, so forgive any errors related to specifics. Play Makers Over the years, these have been called different names, but a general name has been midfielders as that’s where they spend most of their time, but I prefer the term “play maker”. Your role in this position is the support the defenders and feed the forwards. Nothing you do should be risky, your task is to calm the panic, create opportunities without exposing your team to risks and to keep the pressure on your opponent. In squash terms, I call these types of shots “probing” shots. They are the working boasts, the deep drives and the volleys. Taken in isolation, no shot allows your opponent an easy return, but you also hope to create a weaker return from them. All those deep rallies you see in pro squash matches are variations of probing shots. When played well, they don’t even look spectacular, but they open the court for…