Do Something Every Single Day To Improve Your Squash!

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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…

The simple answer is NOW! There is no reason to wait. Well, there might be, for example don’t start coaching if you know you have to miss the next month or more’s worth of lessons!

When Should You Get Squash Coaching?

The ideal time to have lessons from a squash coach is when you first start playing, I mean BEFORE you start playing, but that’s not easy or possible for a lot of people. But I am guessing that you already have started playing, right? That’s fine, and the sooner you get coaching, the better. The longer you leave it the more bad habits you will develop. We all know that it’s harder to stop bad habits than it is to start good ones. How Often? Right, so we have established that the sooner you get squash coaching, the better. So how often should you have lessons? Well, a lot depends on how much you play. If you only played once a week, then a lessons every 2/3/4 weeks would be fine. If you played three times a week, then a lesson a week would be great. It’s about getting the right balance between practice/games and coaching. You need time in real matches and games to put into practice what you learned from the coach. If you don’t play enough in-between the lessons, there little time to improve. But, if you want to just visit the coach and not play other people that’s fine too. Only Coaching?! In the past, I have had pupils who only came to me – that’s right, they didn’t play with anybody else – ever! That’s clearly not the best way to improve, but there could be valid reasons for that. In one of my cases, it was because they just wanted to have some exercise and try to improve. They weren’t a competitive person and the thought of playing against other people didn’t interest them, even for fun. The reality is that improvement is much, much slower if you only go to the coach. I’m Too Old! Are you? Are you older than 84? Because that’s the oldest pupil I have ever had and YES!,…

Whose responsibility is it to make a sport grow? National organizations, The World Squash Federation, The Professional Tour? Club coaches? Equipment manufacturers?

Introduce A Friend To Squash

Yes, all those people and groups I just mentioned do have some responsibility towards keep squash alive and growing, but you know who else could do it? YOU! That’s right, you. Of course, you don’t have any actual responsibility or duty to do that and I am not suggesting you stand on a street corner with a sign saying “TRY SQUASH – Ask Me How”, but if an opportunity arises at work, or college/university then don’t be afraid to encourage people to at least try it. Set An Example What better way to do that than to offer to play with somebody. I feel that squash players are generally very friendly and I feel confident that I could walk into nearly any squash club in the world and say that I am in town for a few days and looking for a game, and would be welcomed. Nobody is expecting you to suddenly become a coach or trainer, but offering to let somebody try squash for the first time can be like a domino effect. perhaps the person you introduce to squash loves it and then introduces it to two other people and 10 years later squash is popular again! Take the first step to helping somebody start squash. Set A Goal I challenge you to introduce one new person to squash before the end of 2022. All I ask is that you spend 15 minutes with them on court, letting them hit the balls and run around a little. Then after that, if they didn’t have fun, at least you can say you tried. The more people play, the better for everybody. The more courts will be built, the easier it will be to find clubs, tournaments and opponents. Everybody benefits and all it might take is for each person who plays squash to encourage one other person per year to try it. Never To Soon So often I…

There are different kinds of coaches. Coaches whose objective is to get as many people playing and enjoying squash as possible. Coaches who focus on elite performers and helping them become the best they can be.

Participation Coaches

The first thing I want to say is that reaching the top in any given should not be the objective of every player that plays squash. As a community and sport, I feel we often put too much emphasis on the skill level of players rather than the enjoyment level. Organizations promote the “elite” coach pathway as the expense of the “participation” coach. As coaches we are fed the idea that to be considered a successful coach, you need to coach “elite” players. This article argues against that idea. This is an issue that plagues all sports. If I ask you to name a famous coach in your given sport, I have little doubt that you would mention the coach of a famous player or team. The fact they the coach is famous must mean they are connected with professional sport. And I am not saying that those coaches and players are not important to the sport, they are. But they are the tip of the triangle. The top, the elite, and the chances are that without the base of the triangle they wouldn’t exist. What Is A Participation Coach? A participation coach is a coach whose primary objective is to encourage players to enjoy playing squash. They don’t have to be well-trained or highly experienced. In my travels around the UK with the Dunlop Roadshow, I was lucky enough to work with many excellent participation coaches. In fact some were “better” at this sort of coaching than professional coaches – especially young professional players who thought that simply being a great player was enough to make them a coach (That really annoys me!). Being a participation coach is not about knowing exactly how to swing a racket or much more importantly about how best to transition from their current swing to a better one, it’s about providing a challenging environment for groups of people of a similar standard to…

What does it matter if you are a “Beginner” or “Improver”? Honestly, not much, but for some, knowing more about the types of players around can help them enjoy the sport more.

What Type Of Squash Player Are You?

I care about your enjoyment. Honestly, I really do. I love squash and want it to be more popular. The best way for “me” to do that is to help “you” enjoy it more. If I can help you love squash, you might play it more. The more you play it, the more likely you are to introduce to somebody and so the cycle continues. Sounds easy, right? Well, maybe it is, but if I just focus on what I can do, then I will let the rest take care of itself. So how does that little speech affect what type of player you are? Well, knowing the different types of player standards can help orientate yourself in the wider squash community. But I want to be clear, I do not want everybody to want to become an advanced player. That is certainly NOT my objective with my articles and videos. I do believe that being able to play all the shots, have a good understanding of tactics and being quite fit makes squash more fun. And FUN is my real objective. Here’s me trying to get down low! Quick Disclaimer The standards I describe below I just my designations. The ones I have used for years and the ones I categorize articles into on this site. Other people may use different names, other coaches may have more standards, other players feel these types of things aren’t helpful. Withing each of the standards below, it is possible to split them down further, but honestly it’s not important for this article. Lastly, this article is just a guideline. many people don’t fit into these names, and that is perfectly fine. Beginner A beginner is almost certainly somebody who has been playing for less than 6 months or less than about 25 times. I say 25 times because that’s about once per week for 6 months. Now, just because you start playing…

I’ve got to be crazy, right? Suggesting using an old racket. What a waste of time, right? Wrong. Read on to find out why it’s good for your squash.

Play With A Vintage Racket Once A Month

The first thing to know is that this article is not for beginners or recreational players. If you are just starting to play squash, keep with a modern, but not expensive racket and if you just play for fun with your friends, then this probably won’t interest you – but who knows, maybe it will. In my mind there are three periods of vintage racket that matter: WOODEN – basically anything from around the early 1970s to around the mid 1980s. Rackets before the UK boom of around the 70s are less common and probably should be kept on the wall for display rather than risk breaking them. They were heavy and unforgiving, but if you hit the ball it the sweetspot, they felt great.EARLY GRAPHITE – These are the types of rackets Jahangir Khan (Unsquashable), Jansher Khan (Ascot) and Rodney Martin (Prince) made popular. They were quite heavy, at least compared to today’s rackets, but were a significant step up from the wooden Dunlop Maxply Fort’s that were the king racket at that time.LATER GRAPHITE – These rackets are from around 1995 to around 2010. The can look very similar to today’s rackets and twelve years old (at the time of publication) might not seem that far back, but in terms of technology, it’s a big difference. This is the Grays Illusion 110- not vintage, but just as beautiful. So Which Should You Play With? Well, all three eras have something to offer, but put simply, the better you are and the better your swing technique, the older the racket to practice with. Do I have an exact formula for deciding how god is good enough to sue a wooden racket? No, but unless you would describe yourself as an advanced player, I would avoid the wooden rackets if I were you. How Will It Help? Firstly the weight. Using a heavier racket for at least 30 minutes certainly…