Do Something Every Single Day To Improve Your Squash!

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These articles are for advanced players, who almost certainly plays tournaments and other competitive matches.

Bruce once said “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” It’s a wonderful quote and can be adapted to any sport.

Bruce Lee’s 10,000 kicks and How It Can Help You

For squash, 10,000 is not that many shots. A solid solo session should have around 2,000 shots, so a Monday to Friday daily session has 10,000 already. Let’s increase 10,000 to 100,000 shots and pose a question. Which is better?20 sessions of 5,000 shots50 sessions of 2,000 shots100 sessions of 1,000 shotsor 200 sessions of 500 shots Before we try to analyze that question, let me ask you another. Have you heard of the phrase “10,000 hours of practice makes you a master”? If not, Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. A quick web search will reveal plenty of interesting links, including a BBC video. Now, if you practiced for 1 hour per day for 10,000 days that is 27 years, 5 months, 3 weeks and 4 days. Getting a bit silly now. What I am trying to highlight is that the total number of hours is perhaps not the most important thing. It’s the combination of practice sessions and time per session. But there is one more point to consider and that is the time between each practice session. If you leave too much time between each session the benefit of that session starts to fade. There is no scientific research here but experience tells me that, within reason, the more often you do something the better. A thrice weekly session of 30 minutes would be better than a weekly session of 90 minutes. I am sure you can imagine that concept in whatever field of learning you wish to apply it to. So that leaves us with this: number of training sessions, the time of the sessions and the time between those sessions are all important. Let’s go back to my original question. Even though I haven’t performed any scientific tests, I believe that the best option is 100 sessions of 1,000…

I am a HUGE fan of solo practice. Not enough squash players do it and I believe that is partly because they don’t know what, how or why to practice. As a coach, that’s part of my job to clarify those points to my pupils.

Sharing A Squash Court For Solo Drilling

For this article though, I want to assume that you regularly hit the ball on your own as part of your training. When we play matches we feel pressure. Pressure to win points. We get a little nervous in various situations, especially after a long rally when faced with an opportunity to win the point. Ideally, our training should prepare us for what we will face in real matches. The next time you go on court, I want you to have prepared a routine that contains five or six different hitting routines, each with a set number of shots. For example, 30 forehand drives whose first bounce lands in the service box, 30 forehand volleys with one foot in the service box at all times, 30 forehand volleys with you standing about one racket length away from the frontwall, forehand/backhand volleys in the middle of the frontwall, move to the backhand side doing the reverse of the forehand routine. Here’s me trying to get down low! Phew, that’s 7 exercises. Now do then without a mistake in any. If you make a mistake in any of the exercises, go back to the complete beginning. If 30 is too many, start with 10. Do it until the time finishes or you have completed it. I guarantee that when you are close to finish you WILL feel the pressure, especially if the ball is close to the sidewall. It’s a GREAT way to partially rec-create the same pressure you feel in a match and the feeling of doing the routine is so exciting. It makes you want to do more routines like that. Try it and tell me what happens. https://youtu.be/J9MMKkGc_dw

I watched a father and son practice a few years ago and it was very interesting to watch. For most of the time they were doing silly shots while chatting.

When You Practice Next, Do Something Silly

When I say silly shots they were not trying to hit everything hard and perfectly accurate. They were experimenting with angles and speeds and bounces. This can be a very valuable lesson for younger players who are often told (notice that word: told!) to hit the ball hard and to the back. I’m not saying that is bad advice but sport should be fun and pupils should learn THROUGH sport. This kind of activity can be useful for all ages and every now and again you can find an idea that translates into match play. Perhaps you started hitting really high, slow and tight drives to the back and suddenly realized how effective they can be as a defensive shot. Or maybe it’s a different kind of boast. What I am suggesting is the practice can be fun too and should be seen as a hard session. In fact, I often finish my solo sessions with some sill shots just to finish the routine on a fun note. Try it, you may find a new shot. Oh and that father and son were both exceptional players, in fact both were or are professionals! https://youtu.be/hTXG-0tugUU Footwork: https://youtu.be/-1EeNriiRN0

Inside each of us is a number. And it is a VERY important number. That number is a representation of our fitness level and our mental fortitude.

How Many Squash Shots Are You?

Once you consistently take a player beyond his or her number you can begin to dominate. If you take a player way beyond that number, even for one rally, you are almost guaranteed to be in control for the next few rallies and if you continue to take them beyond their number in those few rallies the game is yours. It’s a bit like ten Pin Bowling, you add you score onto the next point. Once you go beyond their number in one rally it can be easier to do it for the next one etc. However, the natural tendency is for players to look for quick winners when they are tired and more often than not they will miss. Doing this over the course of a few points is good but over the whole match is better. As you play a game, get somebody to count the number of your shots per rally. You will notice that they are often around the same number. A few rallies will be shorter than others and a few longer than others, but there will be a small range of numbers. This can depend on the people you are playing but it should average out of a few matches. Now you know you number, it’s your objective to increase it by 1 shot per month. I bet you are sitting here thinking that’s easy, but it’s not. It also means that after one year you could play a minimum of 12 shots MORE per rally than when you started. And when you actually see how many shots you really play, you may be surprised. So how *do* you increase it? By making sure you don’t play anything silly. Against weaker players, see how long you can keep the rally going without “feeding” them. When under pressure, play defensive shots. I am not advocating simply hitting the ball to the back and becoming a…

I want to introduce a idea today that could save you from being injured AND keep your training interesting. I’ve been using it for years but have no idea where it came from. Perhaps I invented or heard about it and forgot from where.

Exercise Rotation Is The Key To Staying Fresh

It can be used for any sports and all sorts of training. As you have already guessed from the title it’s called Rotation. I define two types: Mega and Micro rotation and will give you some specific examples and I am sure you will be able to adapt the concept to your situation. I have 6 types of fitness workout: Agility Ladder (AG), Medicine Ball (MB), Swiss Ball (SB), Plyometrics(PM), Skipping (SK), Floor Work (FW). They are all in addition to my main aerobic sessions of cycling as I can no longer do any ghosting, conditioned games or playing. You may have noticed that the agility ladder, plyometrics and skipping are very similar. MEGA ROTATIONFor my Mega rotation I do 2 types per month. Jan: AG SBFeb: SB PMMar: PM MBApr: MB SKMay: SK FWJun: FW AGJul: AG SBand so on. What you should notice is that I never do any type of exercise for more than 2 months. I alternate between AG, PM and SK because those exercise are so similar but perfect for squash. This rotation keeps my training fresh but also allows my body enough time to adapt to each type of exercise and enough time to improve without over stressing it. I train either 3 or 4 times a week with the occasional 5 or 6 sessions for a couple of weeks. MICRO ROTATIONWithin any one of the above main types of fitness sessions I normally do 6 exercises per session. I have approximately 10 different possible exercises per fitness type I could do and just like the Mega Rotation, in the Micro rotation I rotate those exercises. For Example Floor Workout:Session 1: Exercises 1,2,3,4,5,6Session 2: Exercises 2,3,4,5,6,7Session 3: Exercises 3,4,5,6,7,8Session 4: Exercises 4,5,6,7,8,9Session 5: Exercises 5,6,7,8,9,10Session 6: Exercises 6,7,8,9,10,1Session 7: Exercises 7,8,9,10,1,2and so on. It doesn’t matter if I do 3 or 4 or 5 sessions per week, I just keep rotating. This means that…

Something that has always bothered me from a refereeing perspective is the inconsistency regarding accepting players’ calls.

Refereeing Inconsistency

When a player calls his or her shot down, we applaud their honesty and accept the call without question – at least I’ve never seen any referee not accept a player’s call except me once and that caused a shit storm in that match, I can tell you. We assume that they “know best” and blindly believe them. I use blindly purposefully because often the ref can’t see that particular situation clearly – that’s why they accept the player’s call. Now, when a player says they got a ball but the referee says they didn’t, whose view is upheld? The referee’s of course. And there is the consistency. I am not suggesting that we accept players’ calls when they say they got a ball, I am saying that we never accept a player’s call. If the referee thinks a ball is good but a player calls it down, then either the referee’s decision stands or a let is played. We definitely don’t want more lets in squash, but I do want more consistency in refereeing – as I am sure you do. Video Squash Coaching from the comfort of your sofa! There will always be injustice is sports calls and matches can be won and lost on bad calls, but that doesn’t mean only referees make bad calls, so do players. Who is to say that the player isn’t wrong when they call their ball down? Replays on SquashTV often show players saying they got a ball when they didn’t. I am NOT saying they are cheating, I am highlighting how they get things wrong. I suggest we take ALL decisions out of the players’ hand and keep it in the referees. Honest players can continue to call their balls down but let’s not continue to blindly accept them https://www.youtube.com/embed/xZA0AY-ZuF4

Sports psychologists talk about “Broad” and “Narrow” focus and I thought it might be helpful if I described how this could relate to squash. I don’t claim this is the only “correct” application of this concept, just one that I have used for a while and am comfortable with.

Switching From Narrow To Broad Focus In Squash

Narrow When considering what “narrow” focus could be for squash, or most racket sports come to that, it’s useful to talking about the actual process of hitting the ball.This includes, the way we move to it, the swing preparation, the swing, watching the ball hit the strings, the follow through and the movement back to the perfect spot – probably the T, but not definitely.If all you think about at that point is the above, then assuming you do the correct things then you will probably hit the ball well.Of course, if you don’t know how to move or swing, then no matter how well you concentrate on them, you probably won’t hit the ball consistently cleanly.There’s a school of thought that says that as your level increases the less you need to focus on these things. They become much more automatic (often referred to as “Muscle Memory”) and whilst I agree that it is true, I also believe that you shouldn’t “switch off” and go into cruise control.It’s clear to me that generally you will do something better if you are concentrating on it. That’s said I am also a big fan of the “Inner Game” under the right circumstances.After you have actually hit the ball, your attention and focus should switch to your opponent. Don’t Always Watch The Ball Now, before we talk more about that, I’d like to address a misconception, and that is: “Always watch the ball”. This is just wrong and I am about to explain why.As I just mentioned, this is the point when we switch focus to our opponent and that’s exactly why we shouldn’t watch the ball.Let’s perform a thought experiment for a moment. Imagine playing against an invisible opponent. All you see is the ball flying around. How easy would it be to guess where the ball is going? I would suggest it would be almost impossible to do. You hit…