Do Something Every Single Day To Improve Your Squash!

Recreational

These articles are suitable for players who just play squash occasionally and for fun. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t be ambitious, it just means your primary objective is to enjoy playing rather than being competitive.

Foam rollers have become quite fashionable over the last few years and for good reason. Foam rollers allow you to massage yourself easily and cheaply. You can carry them in your bag and use them on almost any surface, including the wall.

Foam Rollers

They come in two types: solid foam, with various surface treads and ones with a plastic inner core and an outer foam surface. They are easy to carry and use and provide a perfect post-match/training cool down. I highly recommend you try one a few times, you should notice the difference in a few days. No for my confession: I don’t like them. I find them awkward to use, although I do see and feel the benefit. I have an alternative which I will tell you about another time, but just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean you won’t. Essentially, you roll your body over and around them and your body weight provides the pressure for the massage. They can work the legs, back, shoulders and arms. I’m pretty sure you local gym already uses them, so try and check them out. https://youtu.be/hTXG-0tugUU

The second bounce is often used in squash to talk about where you want the ball to land but why is it so important? Let’s start with some questions.

Why Is The Second Bounce In Squash So Important?

Where do you need to be before the ball bounces?No where. You don’t need to be anywhere at that point. Where do you need to be on the first bounce?No where. You don’t need to be anywhere at that point. Where do you need to be just after the first bounce?No where. You don’t need to be anywhere at that point. Where do you need to be just before the second bounce?You NEED to be near the ball. This is your last chance to hit. If you miss this chance, you have lost the rally and therefore the point. Okay, I may have laboured the point, but the second bounce gives the player the maximum time to get to the ball. Players general leave the ball until the last moment to hit. “Why rush when I can take my time, right?” With regard to a straight drive, you are generally trying to make the second bounce in the back wall nick (the join between the floor and the wall). If the second bounce is too, short you could be giving your opponent an easy shot. If the second bounce is too deep, you could be making it easy for your opponent. Remember, deep second bounces just come back off the back wall. Of course, this is all quite hypothetical because it is very rare that we see a perfect second bounce land in the nick. But why is that? Well, because your opponent knows that if they leave it, it will be harder to retrieve, so that hit it before it gets there. Ideally, you would be hitting it a little longer so that the opponent wants to leave it come off the back wall but then realizes that is going to be harder and has to rush. What all this is doing is putting minute amounts of pressure on your opponent. Over time, this pressure gets too much and…

Just a quick idea today. Slight changes in demeanor can affect how people respond to you and how you feel within yourself.

Head Up and Shoulders Back

Don’t lean over with your arms on your knees. This shows your opponent you are tired. No matter how tired you get, keep your head up and your shoulders back. This will give the impression of strength, both mental and physical. There is also the metaphorical meaning of letting your head drop or having your head down, signifying acceptance of defeat. Keeping your head up displays a willingness to face your troubles. Show strength – feel strong. https://youtu.be/xZA0AY-ZuF4

For this article, I am writing about fitness work, not playing practice. Training with a partner is one of the easiest ways to increase your fitness level.

Train With A Partner But Not All The Time

It helps in 3 main ways: Consistency – Not missing sessions because somebody is waiting for you. Work Level – You always work harder when somebody is next to you doing the same thing, or shouting at you to do one more rep! Quality – Having somebody watch what you are doing, even if they are doing it themselves means they can sometimes see any incorrect technique. I advocate training partners but not all the time. At least some of your training should be alone. Squash is a solitary sport. We have our opponent to play against and that drives us to greater heights but when it comes down to it we are alone on court. Alone, but with the training behind us. However, if we only ever train with somebody, when we are about to give up during a match we become accustomed to expecting a “push from our partner” but it won’t come. Yes, we might hear them from the balcony but like boxers we are alone in the ring/court. Training alone is tough but it make us mentally stronger. That slight reduction in work load compared to training with a partner is worth it in my eyes for the extra grit you develop. https://youtu.be/-1EeNriiRN0

Okay, you may not be a Star Wars fan, but hopefully you got the reference in the title.

Where the ball bounces on the floor is key, but it is a secondary target. Players can make the ball bounce in the same point on the floor by hitting it at different speeds and heights on the front wall. So even though it *is* a secondary target it has to be viewed in combination of the speed at which the ball is moving AND the angle it hits the floor.

Use The Front Wall, Luke!

Phew, that sounds like a lot to worry about when you are running around trying to stay in a rally. Let’s keep it simple. Try focusing on where you ball hits the front wall, specifically the height. You will need to adjust the height based on a number of factors: the time of year, the court temperature, the brand of ball used and the general condition of the court. I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent, but this is one aspect of why playing club team squash can be so good for you – you have to learn to adapt to different courts. Playing on the same courts ALL the time is like playing the same person all the time and hitting the ball at the same speed. VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE! Back to the front wall. Start with the cutline – that’s the horizontal line on the front wall. Try hitting it when playing a straight drive using 80% of your power. Where does the ball bounce first? Is the second bounce near the back wall? It should be. If it is too short, hit a little higher next time, if it is too deep, hit a little lower. It’s not rocket science. As with a previous article entitled “Hit Every Shot With A Clear Intention”, this process of finding your height and aiming for it will automatically make your drives more consistent. For crosscourts, you will need to aim a little higher because the ball has further to travel. Now that you have a solid base to work from you can begin to adjust the speed and height with more confidence. If you have the opportunity, watch yourself play and mark on a piece of paper where the ball its the wall or better still, get somebody to do it for you from the balcony. The resultant sheet doesn’t tell the…

I was recently asked to discuss making sure than when players are not with their coach, they do the right thing.

This goes back to my previous article entitled “Really Understand The Objective Of Any Routine You Do” but it also goes deeper and wider.

You Have To Be Your Own Coach 90% Of The Time

It’s your coach’s responsibility to ensure that you know what you should be working on and the elements to focus on. However, ultimate responsibility of your improvement lies with you. You are the one who actually has to do the hard work and put in the hours of training – and yes, they will be hours. Ideally, you should work WITH your coach in ensuring your training without him or her is beneficial. If necessary, ask him or her for at least one, preferably two and at most three things that you should be paying attention to when you are playing, pairs/group practicing or doing solo routines. Then make sure you report back. If he or she doesn’t ask, tell your coach what happened and discuss ways to improve your next sessions without him or her. https://youtu.be/-kctlZ8KYk8

I can’t find the clip but I remember watching a match between Ramy Ashour and Gregory Gaultier. In one moment, Mr. Ashour was in the forehand back corner and played a crosscourt, but he hit it with a little deception and slower than he had been.

Vary Your Speed And Height

The ball came towards Mr. Gaultier and he mis-timed his straight drive and it dropped short. Mr. Ashour stepped forward and killed the ball in the nick. Mr. Gaultier walked to return serve and you could see by his manner and facial expression he was angry with himself. For me that’s a great example of how varying your speed can cause your opponent to play weaker shots. Imagine this: You start playing somebody and that person hits the ball really hard all the time. At first, especially if you are not sued to it, it is a rush and difficult for you, but over time you get better and better at reacting to the shots. This is a natural thing – the body adapts. It’s how we get fitter, faster and stronger. What smarter squash players do is constantly and consistently vary the height and speed of the ball. Not by much, I’m not talking about smacking it one moment centimetres above the tin and then floating it centimetres below the outline the next. Slight variations cause more problems to players than big ones. It takes practice to keep good length and keep it tight to the wall but it’s worth doing. Essentially, you are trying to break your opponents rhythm. One more thing. Once you become better at this, playing defensive shots also becomes easy. You will feel comfortable slowing the ball down when you NEED to after having done it when you CHOOSE to. Lastly, if you are curious as to why I referred to them as Mr. Gaultier and Mr. Ashour it is because I don’t know them personally and I feel that’s the right way to address somebody you don’t know. https://youtu.be/xZA0AY-ZuF4