Friday 30 November 2012

Squash Tips - THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAINING Part 1 (Training alone)

There's a huge number of skills involved in playing squash. Movement, balance, strenght, coordination, speed, power and raquet skill.

You cannot improve in all of them in the same time (even if playing a lot of matches will make you understand what to work on).
The best thing in order to get good in this game is to (obviously) play a lot, having a coach that gives you ''homework'' and doing them, and if you improve that greatly not only making the homeworks but creating a new series of exercises all by yourself that gives you the chance to improve.

So how do you get the ability to make your own exercises?

first you have to understand the game at a deep level. Here are the basics:

1)throw the ball at the side (preferably in the corners);

2)you  must stay in the center.

Just by knowing these 2 simple concept you can create a lot of exercise in order to improve your game.

You can focus on moving in the best way (not how you think)
or you can think about improving your shot maybe starting by increasing the angle of your plate and by preparing the shot (opening as i say) before.

In order to get a deeper comprehension of the game you need to develop 3 kind of knowledge:
-Intellectual  -Visual  -Physical

So the 3 activities should be:
1) learning about the game, rules, know-how, tactics and info

2)watching squash matches both online and live so that you get to understand movements, tactics, emotions(they play a huge role in the decision making processes) and techinique.

3) Doing exercise/training/ matches so that you internalize (slowly and constanly) all the concept that you need to understand.

It Takes years to become good at something, same is for squash. if you accept this the fun will start soon!

Tips to train alone

Practice alone is very important also because you get to have the control over everything you do.
The hardest thing is to accept that it has to be done.
It can be boring or even feel awkward (i honestly was ashamed of running in public) you just have to practice the thing on ''your level'' and keep on trying to take them over the edge.
Dont waste your time trying the impossible shot if you can't even make a straight shot.

Just do what you can and try to improve both in a quantitative way (i.e. number and speed of shots) and in a qualitative way (i.e. quality/precision).

Time for practice is the most valuble thing. Even a afternoon of just having the raquest in your hands is better than none!


Being oxygenated it's amazing! why? because you have the power to think , Analise and act but yet you don't have so much mental energy that you find yourself having monologues while in a squash match. (this is the worst thing you can do because triggering some bad emotional response will decrease your performance)

Letting your stream of consciousness become full of delusional and sad things will only make you derail from the path of glory that you should be taking in order to win a squash match.

Quality Breathing implemented in a squash match will give you an enormous edge on your opponents.
A way to improve your breathing in general consist of breathing 20 minutes a day while making the conscious effort of  inhaling into your stomach using your diaphragm.
This way you get to have more oxygen , you use more lungs and your respiration rhythm can be slowed.

The next step is training while practising this kind respiration.

The best way is to make a shot every time you exhale.

It should be your shot to match your breathing and not the opposite but that's hard so you can start by consciously exhaling by the mouth when taking a shot and consciously inhaling  while on the T.
Another good thing is to always make 2/3 heavy breaths before serving so that you have more oxygen for the rally. The point is that you keep breathing during the match, never play without breathing.

The paradox of focus 

Now a good paradox for you, breathing hardly down the diaphragm when playing squash will make you feel your head blurry.  Yet, it's the most efficient way to keep a good heart rate and a good oxygenation to the brain so that you can keep your focus (and most importantly  it will avoid you to blowout,like a red mask of blood).
In other words:
          it's better to be high and dazed that low with no energy.

The reason for this is that we have many analysis making structure in our nervous system many of which don't need our conscious effort to be used while planning complicated motorial action-plan.
This means that instead of worrying about what can you do wrong during the game you should simply trust in your faculties and that all the training you put into this game will surely pay.

Tuesday 27 November 2012


Always go back to the center

Staying in the center is very important because you're in the position in which you're closer to every corner of the court.

When going back to the T the first step you should be making is toward the ''vertical'' line of the T this way you are in the center, compared to the side walls. Then you should  go to the T.
Being able to get to the T is possible only when

Throw the ball in the corners

This is the one thing that can make you win just by playing a good serve, if you always throw the ball in the corner of the court your opponent will have to run. (Which is the name of the next tactic, as you realize everything in this game is intertwined). To throw the ball in the corner you don't need a huge amount of strength (even if it's fun/useful), what you need is just to rotate the racket-plate in a more ''positive'' way so that the ball will go deeper in the court.

You walk he runs

Running means that you're reacting to your opponent always walk

This is achieved by understanding that the latter you arrive on a ball the better. To better understand this read this article about moving toward the ball.
The other skill to improve is your anticipatory skill which can be improved by watching your opponent closely, he's body language will tell you where the ball will go. Look at how he rotate his torso, how he places his feet and how he swing his racket, if you watch carefully you'll always know where the ball will go.

Make him pay for his mistakes

This game is about consistency,the one who fails the less will inevitably win

As i said before the drive is a way to achieve PAR, whenever your opponent shot's quality is lower than yours you can always think about some shot that will force him to run.
For example a cross court, a boast and a drop shot.
A good paradigm to use when playing is the Deep/short alternation.

Deep short alternation

Every time your opponent is behind, drop the ball in the front

To make your opponent run, whenever he does a shot which you easily retrieve, make him pay for his mistakes by making a drop shot/ attacking boast, so that he has to run.
Everytime he retrieves that, make a long shot so that he has to run, if you keep the control of the center, you will make him consume a lot of energy while you'll be fresh.

In order to learn this tactic fully you have to stick to it even when you feel like it's better to do something else.

If you get yourself controlled by the emotions while in a game you'll loose focus and it will result in you making mistakes.

Play with equilibrium both in the body and in the mind

Every failure is a brick in your palace of glory

Everytime you make a mistake it is a natural way to tell you what you need to improve.
You shouldn't be angry at this because the only way through which you can understand yourself is by trying and the more you try things, the easier you'll understand how they works.
So not only focus on having a center of balance (which is the fulcrum of your strength) when you make a shot, but also focus on the process of improving your skill instead of just obtaining new trophies!

The basic tactics of squash here explained must be merged toghether since they are intertwined.

Monday 26 November 2012

Squash Tips - THE SHOTS OF SQUASH Part 1 : Drive , Cross-Court and Boast

The Drive
Is the foundation of all the game of squash. Improvement in your game should be measured by the efficacy of your drive, which should be ideally bouncing in the corner never to be retrieved.
Of course ideal is far from reality so what you have to focus on is simply that the drive is good enough that your opponent has to run in the corner.

The drive is fundamental in this game because is the one shot that , if properly executed, forces your opponent to move which is key to make him run even further.

Let's look at a squash rally as if it was a game in golf, we have a concept called PAR which means that you have reached the hole in x number of shot, so the par is a standard by which we can compare the quality of our game, same is for the drive.

This one shot won't give you a lot of points directly, but it is the foundation through which you build every point.

The Cross-Court
A great cross court is a shot that bounces in the corner never to be retrieved, in order to do so it has to go through the center of the court wich makes it a quite dangerous shot because if your opponent keeps ahead of the ball you'll loose you advantage.
This implies that you have to play a cross-court only when your opponent is kept away from the center (by using drives).

This one shot is often misused, not that it's not fun to just throw random shots changing sides everytime, but in order to increase your consistency you should play just a few number of extremely calculated attacking cross-courts.


Watch your opponent , your shot should be designed in a way that your opponent is always moving.

if you always throw the ball in a way that your opponent has to move you're getting a huge advantage
For example if in a rally you're playing drive after drive and your opponent is getting used to that , you will see that he is waiting for your shot on the side of the T which means that he is expecting you to shot in that direction, obviously you should make a different shot. This is when Cross-courts and attacking boasts come in hand.

One last thing, Cross court volley is absolutely fine just try to have the best accuracy you can.

The Boast

A boast is by definition a shot that goes from the side wall or the back, to the front wall.

You surely can realise that by being an indirect shot, it is ''slower'' than a direct one.

But this doesn't mean that it cannot be effective and useful, the fact it's that the efficacy of this shot  is based on misguiding the opponent, so the best utility is reached when your opponent expects you to make a different shot.

The Boast could be both used for attack and defense.

Remember: You should always be able to make a drive, the defensive boast should be the last of your choices. To make a defensive boast just increase the angle of your plate so that it is more ''positive'' if you're making a defensive boast it should be as slow as possible so that it will give you the chance to return to the T.

The attacking boast should be used at max once every 20 shots, it should be just the ''pepper on your steak'' not the steak itself, so don't use it too much.
In order to perform a great attacking boast use all the strengh you have and try to throw the ball in a way that it bounces in the front corner.

Sunday 25 November 2012


It's not about what happens, but what you do with the facts.

Squash it's all about consistency. The game itself is structured so that the average of your shot must be the best one in order to win. You can win by being clutch. But you cannot rely on it. What you gotta rely on are the basics which should be at such a high level that you  can be consistent.

So the way you have to think about every rally in a game is that every point is a world of itself.

You can make mistakes or be lucky but every time the serve comes your head must  be cleared and you have to focus only in the now.

Squash is such an adrenalin rush that it becomes really hard to keep your focus.
How many time have you found yourself screaming or even worse swearing without a logical reason to do so?
That's because when you are playing and consuming energy your body choose to save energy and the first thing it cuts off is the multilevel logical reasoning.
Try to ask yourself something quite complicated when you're playing squash, the answer will be something close to : << ............>> you wont be able to have an answer.

So you cannot rely on hugely intricate tactical plans.

Also if your logical reasoning goes down, your emotional reasoning gets enhanced. This means that you will find yourself feeling , instead of thinking (therefore logically knowing what you're doing) ,
so the problem is that emotion are not logical. How can you trust them?

We can use the principle of flow for this one. Flow is a psychological concept introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book (1990, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience). What he says in his book is that when you perform a task which difficulty is hard but your skill level lets you achieve it with a good amount of effort, you enter into the flow state in which you find yourself not thinking too much but acting as if you already knew what to do in order to achieve the best outcome possible.

So how do we reach the Flow state in squash? 

The easiest way is to give yourself small objective that you can perform in a match instead of big complicated battle plan with counter moves and variations of all sort, you should sintetize it in just a catch phrase, for example: 
-Always aim for the angles or,
-go for the volley or, 
give more pressure. 

If you just choose one catchphrase and think only about of that, whenever you'll achieve your goal you'll find that all the motions are flowing easily. 

In conclusion,  Always focus on just one simple thing and nothing else
Live every point like a different universe, so that everytime someone serve you are restarting and possibly with a positive attitude.

The other great tool for focus is respiration.

Tuesday 20 November 2012


Choosing not to choose

One of the deepest understanding you need to have to become really good in squash is movement into the court.
The best analogy to explain the deep concept that you need to use in order to move perfectly in the squash court is in how to recover a 3 wall boast (a shot that bounces in order from a side wall to the front wall and then bounces of the other side wall).

This really simple example contains in it a deep meaning that i recommend you to try to understand. The best way to understand it is that after you read the article you go try it.

So how do you move if your opponent makes a boast?
The classical newbie mistakes (which show us a natural process in human nature that is to save energy and always try to get the hugest outcome with the least effort) is to rush cross ways moving fast toward the side wall, which is a waste of energy since they'll have to make a step back in order to create space to hit the ball.

The superficial explanation to how to move to hit the ball after a 3 wall boast is to just wait in the center. Fair enough it's actually quite accurate because if you wait for the ball to come to the center you save a lot of energy and the later you move the easier it is that you'll stay far from the ball and therefore hit a good shot.

Now I'll tell you what is the really best way to get the ball : this is the ''technique'' that will make you able to deal with all the possibilities even nicks. 

Choose not to choose

The way to get the ball is to move in such a way that you can always change your movement, in other words that you don't do it wrong because you just never choose. You just slowly and analytically keep on moving closer and closer to the ball till you reach it. In other words you move to a general direction to where the ball is, but by keeping the direction general you are always prepared to change your ''action-plan''.
Practically talking you do this by following these steps:

1) The first thing you realise when your opponent makes a shot is if the ball will be on you right or on your left. As soon as you realise this Open so that you're ready to make a swing.

2)The next thing you'll realise is the depth of the ball, in other words how close is the ball to the front wall , so what you have to do is move along the T line (i.e. stay in the center in proportion to the side walls, move ''up'' or ''down'') 

3)Lastly make the final side step that will make you hit the ball in the correct position.

As you know it's easy to write about this but when you're playing you're making all these processes in 1 second or less. So the only way to learn is to practice this alone and realising the different decision-making processes that are involved while playing.

Hope this will provide new training for you! Why don't you check out my new video tutorial on court movement?

Sunday 18 November 2012


Real learning is behavioural change.

Never get angry because everything is a new experience and you should find positive things to learn from it.
You're not the teacher so you should not think you know everything. also teacher shouldn't.

Listen to all but focus on what resonates with yourself.
You can change 3 habits at a time.
But in the game of squash it's always better to micromanage one at a time so that it progress in a more fluent way and then you can focus on something else.

Baby stepping in the game of squash. 
Every skill-set in the game has a infinite quantity of sub-skill that of course you can improve in.
You just have to be very deeply honest with yourself and train for a long period of time.
Don't think it's all about running. 
If you are a runner and you master the movement in this game (you can train for 30/45min in ghosting every time to greatly improve quickly) you should train on your racket skill full time. 
Of course you'll have to improve in every aspect of the game otherwise it will stale and you'll fail but you also have to focus on the most important things. 
follow these three steps:

  1. Set goals
  2. Try to achieve them
  3. Use the feedback to set harder goals.

For example you might couldn't even be able to play a straight shot. 
To babystep this so that you improve fast you just have to:
1)start playing against a wall and just hit the ball randomly and try to control it. 
2) start taking you wrist up
3) start being on the side while hitting the ball (remember the front straight it's just matter of shoulder movement and extending your arm)
4)take the left feet in the front.

in order to get to step 4 you should be hitting something like one thousand shots. This will give you reference experience to improve the exercise so that you'll go along in your skill set. this will surely provide a lot of training for many many session.

In the end the key concept is : try to understand what you can and practice as much as possible, the rest will shortly follow!

Monday 12 November 2012


The three major key points to bring your squash shot capacity to a new level


1)Keep your feet on the ground!

One of the major things you should be looking for when hitting the ball is to have your feet spread so that you gain a huge base for you to have stability.

Look at how you move to the ball. Do you hit the ball with your feet on the ground or do you tend to raise one of them? 

If you have troubles hitting balls near the back wall you should focus on this.
Having your feet to the ground gives you the chance to bend your knees in the correct way so that you can pick any ball from the back wall.
If you have your feet widespread you can put you weight onto your front foot so that you have more power when you hit the ball.

2)Extend yourself

As you learned in physics the more the distance from the fulcrum, the more the strenght. 
This is doubly important in squash. Because if you stay far from the ball, You get both more power and you have to move less, wich not only reduce the energy waste wich is very important throughout the game but also gets you to keep control of the T.
You should practice extending everytime you can so, you should also realize that the more you stay on the T the easier and slower the game becomes.
A good exercise to practice this consist in starting from the T, and go to the side wall trying to touch the wall with the raquet in just 2 steps.

3)The raquet goes from up to down

You have to make sure you always open and that your raquet head starts by point up and in the impact point (when you hit the ball) it should point as your belly button (i.e. completely in front of you). This does not mean you have to hit the ball in front of your belly button (even tho it's the impact point of the forehand shot)


Squash is fast, and half of the game is in being prepared...

To open means taking your squash raquet over the shoulder, In order that you're ready to hit the ball whenever you want.

A common error in squash is to run to the ball without being ready to hit it.
Let me be clear on this one. You always have to prepare the shot before going to the ball!
From Now on you should be always opening before moving for the ball.

Getting the Habit of always preparing the Shot Before Moving will increase your efficency a lot!


As I said before you have to be ready to hit the ball before moving to it. Taking your raquet up is not necessarily going to let you hit a good shot. In order to be ready you have to be able to swing your raquet from the point in wich you're taking it when you open.

This means that if you have to prepare the shot again when you are near the ball, you are doing it wrong! 

To fix this follow this simple tips 
1) Position your raquet  in the correct impact point

2) Take your arm up so that you can give more strenght to the shot.
Being always ready to hit the ball will have a tremendous impact on your game!

Two other great exercise are:

  1. Staying in the T, preparing the shot and then making a step to the side. (wich could be refered to ghosting) I'm going to make a article on ghosting so stay tuned!
  2. Lean your back onto the back wall,
    take a step in front and then open you righthand shot,
    make the shot, and let the raquet go as you follow through and use it's momentum to open yor backhandshot, then swing the backhand and reopen the righthand, and so forth.
    If You hit the back wall you are opening/swinging too much and you could hit someone, reduce your swing if necessary.
Taking the Habit of doing this exercise to warm up can be very good for a novice player.


How to hold your squash raquet with ease!

Hold the raquet forming a ''v'' with the index and thumb in a way that the index is situated in the highest position.
Settle the raquet on your palm. It's Not necessary to hold the raquest with effort, what really important is that the way you Rotate your wrist Directly influences the angle of your raquet-Plate. 
There should be space beetwen you index and middle finger this is because Index and thumb are the fingers that gives you the real control, the other three fingers are there to support those two.

The inclination of the plate

The inclination of your Squash raquet is directly influential to the depth of the ball you're going to shoot.
The easiest way to make a good shot Is not by using your strenght, just rotate the raquet-plate so that it is pointing upwards, this way the ball will go deep in the court very easily.

Easy exercise

Open your palm so that it is in front of you, put the raquet into the palm so that it is pointing up, close the thumb and the index so that the index is separated from the middle/ring/little finger wich are tied togheter.
You should be able to hit the ball holding the raquet just with the thumb/index combo. the other three fingers should just give you more grip.

Another Great exercise to improve your grip consist of making a series of drive to the back while and after every shot change the grip to a shorter one, then after another shot, go back to your usual grip.
This will make you realize in a practical way how to hold the raquet in different occasion.

To further develop the concept you can read my latest article on the grip




Picture a tennis court , you have your side of the court, the net, and your opponent's side of the court.
The same is for the squash court: the lowest line is called the ''TIN'' which is the same as the tennis's net. If the ball Hits it or goes lower, the ball is down.

The highest line it's the upper limit for the ball, this means that if the ball touch the line or goes above it it's out.

The line in the middle is the service line, you need to throw the ball over this one when you serve.

The lines on the floor are very important for a playing Good Squash, more on that later...


Since the serve must be a fair shot,when you're serving  you have to follow this 3 rules.

-You must have at least one feet into the service box;

-The ball must hit on the front wall directly;

-When the ball hits the ground it must be in the opposite side of where you serve (i.e. If you served on the  
  left side, the ball must bounce on the right side.)


You can use the side walls to get the ball to hit the Front wall. This means that after you have hit the ball, it has to bounce onto the front wall, before bouncing on the ground.


The Match is divided in games, every game is won by the first player that scores 11 points, generally you can play a match  where the first player to win 2 games (it's called 2/3)  or the first to win 3 games (3 out of 5 games) wins the match.
For you to score a point your opponent must throw the ball down or out or the ball must be not-up when your opponent has to it it.
Not-up means that the ball bounces twice on the floor before the opponent hits it.


Follow this 2 simple tips in order to bolster your game!


The T is the central point of the court where the lines meet. By Staying there you can be prepared for your opponent's shot. You should stay one step behind the T because it's easier to recover a ball in the front than it is to recover a ball in the back.
Keep the control of the center makes you control the game and run as less as possible
Staying on the T and extending makes you keep energies and gives you a great tactical advantage


By throwing the ball in the corners you force your opponent to move, making you control the Center and making him run while you're still