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These articles contain training advice, tips and ideas to ensure you maximize your squash training.

Every month, I receive about 2 or 3 messages from juniors asking me if they could become a professional squash players.

We all like to dream, especially when we are young. I remember being around 14 years old and wanting to become a professional tennis player and it’s probably rare that children of that age don’t have some similar dream with their chosen sport. Becoming a professional athlete is very difficult, and I have seen plenty of very talented, hard-working and intelligent juniors go on to become very, very good squash players, but not professionals. If you are an aspiring junior and dream of becoming a squash professional, please read the following letter, and read it all. The Brutal Reality The harsh reality is that 99.9% of juniors who write to me will not become pros. That’s 1 out of every 1000 juniors. That’s a guess, but it seems about right. In fact, it might be 99.99%, so 1 in 10,000, or even more. Of course a lot depends on many factors, some of them out of your control. For example, do you have easy access to squash courts? Are there coaches near you that work with juniors? But even having your own court (one person who wrote to me has) and having a few coaches available, don’t automatically mean it’s going to be easy. “But I could be that 1 out of 10,000, right?” Yes, you could be, but the other 9,999 say exactly the same thing! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try though. A Thought Experiment Imagine that you could see the future, and you saw that you spend thousands of hours on-court and off-court training, you saw yourself smiling when you win and crying when you lost. You saw yourself getting injured and recovering, your saw yourself travelling to tournaments and waiting in train stations and hotels cold, tired and bored. You saw yourself play some fantastic shots and some absolute clangers. You saw yourself shouting at the ref for what you thought was a bad call and…

This article is for ambitious, competitive players who are looking for the slightest edge. Visualisation, also called mental rehearsal is the process of seeing yourself perform actions in your mind’s eye.

Heart Rate Monitors

I’ve previously discussed visualisation in my Tips For Maximising Your Ghosting, and even made a video (see below), but today I want to extend the idea to all parts of your squash training. Visualisation can be used almost any time, any where, and just like fitness training used to be something only “crazy people did” but has become mainstream now, I am sure that visualisation will become the same. There was a time when you only played your sport to prepare for it. It was considered enough. Not now. Oh no. even juniors regularly perform lots of fitness training outside of the court. It would be fascinating to see the difference between athletes who perform all the modern training techniques compared to athletes who only play their sport. The difference would be huge. So, how can you use visualisation for non-squash training? Well, at its core, visualisation is a person sitting down and imagining themselves playing or perform som other activity, for example remaining calm when receiving a really bad call at game ball. So if you can do it sitting down, why not do it when actually training. Which is why I talk about if during ghosting in the link above. Some Other Specific Examples At the time of writing this article, I haven’t been on court for over 9 months due to pain, but I am considering a return within the next two weeks or so. As part of that return I have been doing daily Shadow Swings. As I am doing them, I imagine myself hitting the ball. I imagine the feeling as the ball hits my strings and the sound it makes against the strings and against the wall. Before I do those swings, I also spend 35 minutes on the spinning bike at the gym. I don’t listen to music, podcasts or watch TV (fortunately there are no TVs in this part of the gym).…

One of my objectives for this site and channel is to encourage potential players from all backgrounds and situations to try squash. In the past, squash was seen as an elitist sport, but thankfully, that’s changing.

Many years ago, I was chatting with somebody in the bar of the Wembley Squash Centre, where I was coach, and they said that they would love to try squash but were “too big”. “Nobody is too big unless they couldn’t fit through the door” I replied (partly joking, but looking back, quite true too), and the next week he was on the court with me. Admittedly, he really didn’t do very well, but that wasn’t due to his size. Being “big” and you know what other word is associated with big, but I’m not going to use it, has always been a stumbling block for many who want to exercise. And let’s be clear, being big does cause some problems with regard to exercise, but unless there is a medical reason then I personally don’t see a problem in trying different sports. Another time, I had an inter-club team match (my club versus another club) and the person who I was sharing the trip with warned me that “Mr. Smith” (yes, that really was his name) was a rather large fellow and I should not pre-judge him. On seeing him, I pre-judged him (silly 20 year-old me!) and thought it would be an easy night for me, but I was wrong, very wrong. I managed to beat him in 5 hard games, and he was one of the quietest players I had ever played. He seemed to glide around the court rather than the expected thump. The Lesson: Big players can move surprisingly well sometimes. If You Are Big And Reading This, Yes You Can Try Squash I am lucky. I recognise that until recently (I am getting old), my body never stopped me from doing any activity I wanted to. Or more importantly my and society’s attitude never limited my options. Not everybody has that luxury. There should be nothing stopping people of all shapes or sizes from…

Here’s another short article that for most players will seem obvious, but not for everybody. Over the years, I have been asked this question a handful of times.

Yes, you can play squash all year round. The problem is that squash developed this reputation for being a “winter sport”. I mean, technically it is because the professional circuit happens over the autumn, winter and spring seasons, with a break in the summer. But for amateur plaeyrs, playign sport should be on their own terms, not strictly following the professionals. Here are some phrases I have heard: “The ball gets too bouncy”, “You sweat too much”, “The ball is supposed to be cold” and “In the summer, the rallies go on for too long”. And probably many more I have forgotten. Let me be very clear: YOU CAN PLAY SQUASH ALL YERAR ROUND IF YOU WANT TO. Taking a break is a good thing though, but take that break when *you* want to. Benefits Of Playing In The Summer A bouncy ball is normal in squash. If you play and the ball doesn’t get bouncy, then you are using the wrong ball. Playing in summer, especially for beginners, means less effort to get the ball hot. A bouncy ball produces longer rallies because players can’t simply “dink” (hit softly) on almost every shot. Longer rallies means your fitness increases and the chances of some great rallies also increases. Yes, it’s true you might sweat more, but as long as you drink plenty of water; before, during and after, then there’s no problem. Basically, all the things people complained about are good things. Another point is that your body is warmer and people tend to get less injuries during the summer. I should stress that is just my experience and is not backed up by empirical evidence. Bouncy ball and some style! Australia, Egypt, Pakistan It was always my contention that players from Australia, Egypt and Pakistan were more creative and adventurous than players from colder countries. Yes, the are exceptions, but I felt that playing in those countries gave…

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…

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…