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Technique

These articles have something related to technique in them.

Squash balls have been on my mind a lot the last few years and I have written quite a lot about which ball is suitable for which type of player. But knowing when and why to try another type of ball is also important, so let’s look at that.

I’m not a huge fan of the blue dot ball. I feel it’s too bouncy. Now, bouncy *is* good, especially when you first start playing squash, but the blue dot just doesn’t feel right. A room temperature red dot bounces more or less the same as a very warm double yellow, which means that new players can become accustomed to similar bounce profiles right from the beginning. At this point it’s worth noting that Dunlop’s blue and red dot balls are larger than the yellow and double yellow. Other brand’s balls are not. At least not in general. Again, given the choice, I would use a standard size red dot. I’m not against making the game easier for new players, especially children, but in this case i don’t feel the larger balls provide any real benefit and the fractured market may only confuse players. As a coach I always ensure that whatever ball I am using with a pupil is the ball that they can also use alone or with their other playing partners. I feel there’s little point in using a yellow dot on court with me, but then not being able to use it when they practice alone. I don’t follow that rule 100%, because they might be an overlap of time when pupils are on the cusp of switching. So, assuming you are playing with a red dot, when is the best time to switch to a yellow, or from yellow to double yellow? The simple answer is to try the new ball and see how successful you are. Yes, that’s an obvious thing to say, but there’s isn’t really an agreed test or hitting pattern that can objectively decide when you should switch balls. If you can keep the ball going and it increases in temperature then that’s a clear sign you should probably use that ball. The easiest way to know if the ball increases…

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…

This article is for newer players who are quite ambitious. It’s easy to improve very quickly and think that in a few months you will be club number 1. I am sorry to be the one to tell you, but you won’t be. Squash has many levels that are not apparent when you first start playing.

About a year ago, I did a video analysis for a player. I talked about the areas where he can improve and gave him some general advice. Everything seemed great until in the follow-up email, he asked me how long it would take to reach the level of the player who he was playing against in the video. I told him two or three years. “Oh!”, he said, “I thought it would be just a couple of months.” The problem was that he was unable to see how little effort his opponent was playing with. Yes, he won a few points and had some good rallies, but his opponent never tried to hit the ball too hard or very deep. I could have easily believed that the player who asked for the analysis was the boss of the opponent, and he was trying to make the boss look good. I felt terrible after telling the player my opinion. Even by text, he seemed deflated. I’ve asked myself many times whether I was wrong to be so direct and honest. I have to balance that honesty with saying things just because the pupil wants to hear them. It’s a very delicate balance. I am a little embarrassed to say, but I can’t remember the person’s name and I looked through my previous analysis videos and searched through my email, but can’t find him. I almost want to be wrong and for him to tell me that he now regularly beats that opponent, but I highly doubt it. If you had a video analysis with me and I told you it would take a few years to beat your opponent and you thought it would only take a few months, please contact me so we can chat! They Only Play As Well As They Need To For some new players, squash is easy and they seem to make such rapid progress that…

This is when a player makes contact with the ball beTWEEN their legs. In general it’s a reaction shot; a shot that the player has no time to think about or plan.

Mid-Court The situation is one that occurs most often in the mid-court where their opponent has hit the ball purposefully down the middle of the court in an attempt to surprise the player. That tactic, by the way, can bring a few easy points in a match if you use it sparingly. Often, the rally continues as the player is able to hit the ball but without much control. However, in the example below, Daryl Selby manages to do more than “just” hit it! https://youtu.be/fJTPGyQzIUQ Off The Back Wall The second way, and this is mostly Mohamed El Shorbagy, is after the ball has hit the back wall. Contact with the ball is made quite low to the ground and he often hits a winner from it. Here are three examples. https://youtu.be/yUFvKdGtDCg Should Club Players Try It? Absolutely! Why Not? Squash should be fun and playing this shot is fun. However, practice it a little alone first, because you need to be able to have some control over the ball otherwise it might be dangerous. And yes, you can practice it. Just stand in front of the short line and aim a shot between your legs, then hit the tweener and see if you can direct it to your forehand so that you can keep alternating the shots; tweener, forehand, tweener, forehand etc. Want To See More Tweeners? A quick search on YouTube for Squash Tweeners brings quite a few results. Go watch them for more inspiration. Final Thoughts The foundation of great squash is deep shots, followed by probing, attacking shots, but that doesn’t mean players can’t get creative, and the tweener in squash is one of those ways. Give it a try and if you manage to do it in a match rally you’ll be smiling all day! Learn To Hit The Ball Softly https://youtu.be/-kctlZ8KYk8

Yes, you can take as many swings at the ball as you want, as long as it is not dangerous or the ball doesn’t touch any part of you, your clothing or your racket (including the strings and grip).

New Players And Beginners This type of thing happens sometimes with beginners, although you generally don’t have enough time to do it. It most likely occurs during a service return when you swing to hit the ball, miss and then turn around to try again. It’s very important to understand that this situation can be very dangerous and you should read the article: What Is Turning In Squash to learn more about it. If, as a new player or beginner, you do find yourself completely missing the ball, I highly recommend read the article: Why Do I Have To Watch The Ball Hit My Strings. It’s very important to watch the ball all the way onto your strings. If you miss the ball a lot, the chances are you are not doing this and looking up just before the moment of contact. So in conclusion for new players, yes, you are allowed to do it, but it’s not a good thing to do. Professional and Very Advanced Players So, in the previous paragraph I said taking more than one swing was not a good thing to do and that’s true until you get to professional level. At that point, you have such control over the racket that multi-swings can be used to deceive and confuse your opponent. A word of warning though: I have seen a player try it and accidently hit the ball at their opponent in an effort to trick them – so please perfect this skill alone on court before trying it for real! James Wilstrop, former World Number One, is well-known for doing this. It’s often labelled as “The Windmill”. Here are two examples. https://youtu.be/1yPnmEVIBsE Don’t try this at home! In the first example, James, swings as if he were going to hit the ball deep, but then hits a delicate drop shot, which is incredibly difficult to do. In the secnd example, he actually swings…