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Improver

These articles are for players who have been playing over about 6 months. The term “improver” really refers to somebody beyond the total beginner stage, but not quite a club player.

It’s so easy to see other popular racket sports and almost blame them for squash’s decline. padel and pickle ball are popular at the moment and perhaps some squash players have moved across, but the chances are they weren’t happy with squash anyway.

Other Rackets Sports Are Not Squash's Enemy!

I’m using the term “racket sports” and I define a racket as something with strings. If it doesn’t have strings, then it’s a bat in my mind, but that’s not an industry standard. Many people in table tennis call their bats “rackets”, so just be aware that basically I am talking about sports where you hold something and hit a ball and then your opponent hits the ball with their something, normally on a court. Phew. So with the definition out of the way, let’s address the title. It seems to me that too many people view other rackets sports as competitors to squash and I can understand why people would think that. We have all heard of people trying squash and having fun, but then preferring tennis or badminton for example. The problem with this thinking is that the logical conclusion would be to ban all other racket sports except squash! Clearly that’s a stupid conclusion. Why would we want to stop people from enjoying other sports? In some ways, they are right. squash does compete with other rackets sports in terms of budget at local sports centres. Many places have limited budgets and need to allocate that budget to a variety of different sports and racket sports get bundled into one category, in the same way that invasion team sports do too. Do we say that rugby is the enemy of football or hockey? I don’t think so. people who play hockey, would not play rugby if hockey was not available to them. Just because they are similar in some aspects, doesn’t mean that the people who play them would switch if they couldn’t play their chosen sport. You don’t play ice hockey if hockey is not available, do you? What we need to do, and it seems to be happening more and more, is accept that people like different racket sports, but also recognize that a lot…

What is the reverse angle shot? Why is it also called the Leisure Centre boast? Is that an insult or a compliment? Read on to find out.

The Reverse Angle AKA The Leisure Centre Boast

Yesterday, David Holmes commented on the post about creativity and standard. He talked about snobbery regarding this shot and whether there really was a good reason not to play it. I talk a lot about ball snobbery and how too many players force other players to use a double yellow dot because they believe it to be the only ball worth playing with and all other balls are just precursors to reaching the “Double Yellow Dot Level”! By the way, please read my Use The Right Squash Ball guide for more details about which squash ball to use. A reverse angle is a shot that is played first against the opposite side wall of your side. WOT! Okay, so imagine you are right handed and standing in front of the T, slightly to the right of the court, and in good position and ready to hit the ball. You could do a lot of things; straight, crosscourt, high, low, hard, soft etc. A reverse angle is a shot, which in this case, hits the left hand side wall first, then the front wall, coming back into the same corner that the player is standing. I want to state, as I did yesterday, that this shot can be very successful at lower levels. But just like other things that are successful at lower levels, once you start playing better players it becomes a bad choice. But why then do the pros still play it, you rightly ask? Well, the answer lies in two aspects. Firstly, recreational players telegraph that they are about to play it. They do this because they have to make contact with the ball much further in front of their usual contact point and they generally twist their body in preparation. Any player who is paying attention to watching their opponent and not the ball (which by the way gives you zero information) will immediately see the shot…

Watch any professional match and you will always see lots of shots to the back of the court. Pro players seem to hit the ball to the back so much! Buy why? Read on to find out.

The Shot Budget

Money Versus Risk The first thing to understand is that pros play squash for a living. That might sound obvious, and it is, but that means winning is not just about pride and glory, it’s about money. The more matches you win, the more money you win. So losing is bad, really bad. You don’t want to take many risks, and that’s why the ball is hit to the back more than amateur games. They take fewer risks. If the attacking or probing shot is not really on, just wait until it is. Nobody won a tournament by going for nicks at every slightly lose ball. Well, maybe Ramy did, but he was special. Fitness It’s very easy for me to sit here and type the above paragraph, but you need the fitness to be able to wait for the right shot, and of course professional squash players are much, and I really do mean much, fitter than amateurs. Not just “fitter” in the general sense, but faster, stronger, more able to endure long, hard matches, more flexible and more mentally strong, which will lead us onto the next point in a moment. The tempo that they play at might seem quite fast on TV or even when you watch live, but actually on court it’s unbelievable. But even pros can be made tired by hard rallying. The threat of hitting short makes each deep shot all the more effective. Boast, drop , deep drive? Who knows until the last possible moment. The Waves Hitting The Shore It’s not uncommon for a few pro matches to start quite close in the first and maybe even the second game, but then the constant pressure becomes too much for the weaker player and suddenly the match is over. Amateurs often think matches are won with nicks, and it’s true that those shots are the dramatic visual end of a rally, but the…

This drill is also called “The Butterfly”, but I prefer the name “infinity” as the shape the ball-path makes is more like the infinity symbol than an eight
(∞ vs 8), also the idea that you could do the drill for infinity if you were good enough!

The Figure Of Eight

This is one of the most common solo drills seen performed by professional squash players. In many ways it’s like the speed ball used by boxers. It doesn’t have any direct relation to what you do in a real match, but it does improve your timing, control, concentration and believe it or not, your core strength. Start With The Bounce Version The first version you should try is on the bounce. This allows you more time and space to make adjustments if your shot is not very accurate. Hit a forehand into the left corner (assuming you are right handed), aim the ball to hit the front wall quite close to the side wall, it will then come back towards you on your left side. You then hit a backhand into the right corner, aiming to hit the front wall near the side wall. It will then come back to your forehand side, and so on. Start with a rd dot or single yellow dot, it’s better to make sure the ball is quite warm before you start, but it’s not necessary. Don’t hit it hard to begin with or too low. You objective is to build a rhythm that feels comfortable for you. The temptation is to begin to hit harder and lower, try to resist that urge at first. Play the video below to see me performing the bounce version. Highlight: Figure of Eight with a bounce Move Onto The Volley Once you feel comfortable with the bounce version you can move onto the volley version, although you don’t have to have mastered it to try. It’s exactly the same, except you volley the ball. Volley means to hit the ball before it bounces (that’s why volleyball is called volleyball!). Volleys in squash are generally more difficult than shots that bounce because you have less time to prepare to get into the correct position, less time means a…

Are you looking for that one trick that will suddenly make your squash great? Have you tried the latest fitness equipment that promises to maximize your time and abilities? Are you using the latest training methods that will help you unlock your hidden potential? Do you eat the right super foods and take the newest supplements? Are you using the lightest racket currently available, with quantum-grade technology? Because if you are, then you are being lied to, you are being misled, you are being cheated.

The Secret To Great Squash

I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but it is true! There is no “Secret to Great Squash”.  No new racket with revolutionary technology you buy will suddenly make you a better squash player (yes, you may hit the ball better, but that’s different). No one new training method will turn you into Super Squash Player Hero®. No new super-clever tactics will make you beat your nemesis. And that’s the good news, because if there were then everybody would be their own Super Squash Player Hero® and nobody would be better than the rest. It’s like everybody suddenly grew 5 centimetres overnight. The people who were tall are still tall. WAIT! That’s The Good News? Yes, although it’s not the news you wanted to hear. We all want that easy trick, but luckily there isn’t one. So why is it good news then? Because the secret to great squash is hard work. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard it all before, and you are right, you have heard it before and do you know why you’ve heard it before? Because it’s true. In all my years of coaching, I have never seen anybody who put in 6 weeks of hard and smart training and not see a significant improvement. There is no such thing as overnight success. Those people who seemingly became successful overnight, have put months, if not years of hard work into their game (or whatever it is they do paint, play instruments, dance etc) before that success. Mr. Gaultier has spent many thousands of hours on court training. 6 Weeks! Six weeks may seem like a long time, but any less and your body doesn’t have time to really change. Remember, getting stronger is actually growing new fibers, getting more flexible is growing longer fibers (not exactly, but close enough as descriptive aid). of course, training is not about just physically getting fitter, it’s…

The better you get, the less important the serve is, but the more important the return. At lower levels, both are incredibly important, yet generally neglected. Change that today!

Practice Your Serve And Service Return

As I said in the introduction, the better you get, the less important your serve becomes. The chances of hitting a winning serve get smaller and smaller, the better you get because your ability to volley or make split-second decisions improves. That’s why you don’t see many, if any, winning serves. Professionals, are simply trying to stop their opponent from having an advantage. It’s also why every now and again, a pro squash player hits a weak serve – they have got into the wrong frame of mind. At lower levels, especially at beginner and improver levels, the serve is a HUGE weapon because returning a good serve is quite hard for new players. The variety of successful serves is also important as new players find it hard to adapt to different serves. Move up the level in skill and this ability to adapt is much better trained. So Let’s Practice Those Serves! The first thing you can do is agree to play a 20serve game with your partner. This will allow you to try for a really high lob-type serve and if it goes out, it doesn’t matter because you have another one. Another option is to have 5 extra serves per game. That adds a new dimension to the idea, because you have to chose when to attempt a great serve. The next thing you can do is actually practice serves. Place a target on the wall as high up as you can reach, a long balloon is my favourite but a folded piece of A4 paper stuck on the masking/painters tape is good too. Then using a red dot, hit 10 serves, remembering to move to the T afterwards. Alternate this with some other hitting if you are doing a solo drill. Alternatively you can agree with your playing partner to practice serves at the end of each game. Video Squash Coaching from the comfort of your…

Did you know that every year there is an event called the World Squash Day? No? Read on to learn more about it and how you can participate.

World Squash Day

The World Squash Day was started back in 2001 by Alan Thatcher, who also runs SquashMad and is an annual event to promote squash through club-organized activities. The range of activities is only limited by your imagination, they include, but are certainly not limited to, club open days, free taster sessions, free coaching sessions, tournaments, club nights, playing squash in unusual location and parties. Social media is used extensively to promote the event, with a 100-day and 50-day countdown. Squash players safe distancing at Chennai Squash Centre in India on World Squash Day 2020 Food, Glorious Food! Who doesn’t like cakes? It’s not just sporing events that happen during World Squash Day, many clubs have barbecues and other cooking events. These all go to show the friendly and welcoming nature of the squash community. Another tradition during the World Squash day is to bake cakes with a connection to squash. Those cakes below look very tasty to my hungry eyes. Check out these scrumptious cakes from Leamington, UK The last few years have been very difficult for squash players and squash clubs, but these events remind people of the community spirit that has always been seen in squash. The date for 2022 is 15th October (my birthday, cough cough), so start thinking about what your club, group, team, facility could do to be part of such a special event. World Squash Federation & The Professional Squash Association When the World Squash Day started, it was just a few unofficial events, but it is supported by the WSF and the PSA, both promoting and contributing to its current success. Of course, national associations around the world all participate too and it really does have a global feel. Visit the WorldSquashDay website to find out how you can participate this year. Let’s make it the biggest and best yet!