Friday, 28 December 2012

Squash Tips - The Volley

The volley is the one shot that separates you from a novice player, you have to train this shot so much that you can make it in every occasion.

Wherever the ball surpass you in this game and you couldn't make a volley, probably your the one in defense.

I see a lot of player ''training'' only in deep drive shot of the back wall (most of them without bending their knees). When i took my squash to another level gaming i realized that i was good  on the drive, but i couldn't make a volley.When you know how to make a drive you should switch as soon as possible to train in the volley, the straightness of the shot will follow.

When hitting a volley you have to hit the ball when it's over your shoulder, of course you can hit it at a lower height but you're probably been to slow.
The volley is about high paced shots and controlling the T. When you'll start making it you'll see that you'll make points even with mediocre quality shot.
To improve the volley start simple, go toward the wall and start making simple volley even with the racket down. Babystep this exercise by making a step back everytime you make 50 volleys in a row.

The Volley is about high paced rallies and taking control of the T.

I'm sure this will give you months of training in court and you'll improve your squash greatly. To spice this exercise up i recommend you to do the ''butterfly'' drill in which you stay in the T and make volleys alternating the right and left corner in a way that gets you the ball in the center.
If you're very good you can switch this exercise to drive volleys and move both toward the back wall and toward the front wall, then return to the butterfly drill.
You'll inevitably feel pain in your arm. If it happens slow down and change exercise (maybe some drive off the back wall).

An exercise you can do in two consist of playing a forehand drive drill and occasionally making a volley by extending from the T, in the exercise don't move before your opponent makes the shot because that's cheating and your learning curve will get worsen.

If you'll stick to these routines you'll get such an improvement you won't recognize yourself one year from now.
So....Improve your squash, Start today! 50 Volleys -> One step back. Go! HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR!

Saturday, 22 December 2012


When you get some racket ability in squash the next step is understanding that the simpler you make everything the better. For example the BEST shot you can make it's done by understanding that when your arm is extended and you feel no resistance in the movement you get to do the most powerful and fluent shot you can.
The same goes for the shots, to make a drive you just have to change your impact zone so when you hit the ball your racket is parallel to the front wall.
To make a cross-court you  just have to make sure that the ball hits the central part of the front wall, and to make a boast you just need to make the ball bounce onto the side wall.
In order to do so we teach that you have to make specific movement patter such as:

Drive: point the side wall with your belly button
Cross-court: Point with the leg nearest to the front wall the front corner on your side
Boast: point with the same leg the back corner.

The Way to improve in forestalling skill requires that you know how to move on court and put your focus on the ball when the opponent has to hit it.

This way you get to change all your body positioning so that by doing the same racket swing you have a different shot. If you are reading this and are not able of doing so you have a lot of work to do. Check my Anatomy of a shot article and how to babystep a skill for a insight on what to do

The quick tip to forestall your opponent movement is: Watch the position of his back, since we can infere that the impact point of the rackt will always be perpendicular to the belly button and at the same time perpendicular to your opponent's back.
Providing that your opponent doesn't consciously change the impact point, the direction of the shot which is defined by the impact point beetween racket and the ball. The shot can be preemt by watching the position of the back the opponent since the impact point should be in front of it.

Advanced players only from here on:
Knowing this should let you hasten most of your opponents shot.
The step further is to get a new way of playing which is less reactionary and more proactive. This means that instead of watching how the opponent is going to make a shot and forestall beforehand you should move in a way that makes your feet never stale and by watching not only your opponents body positioning but also his racket moving pattern you will understand the way he makes the shots.

I strongly recommend to use the first game as a sort of warm-up game in which you keep on running and play drive after drive just to get a understanding of the racket movement patterns of your opponent. Since the thing that has to change in your opponent to make a different shot is just the position of racket and ball, every person will tend to have a different unique motion pattern but you can quickly understand it by watching him in the warm-up and in the first game.

What i recommend you to try is to watch some filmed matches (possibly also of yourself) and try to understand where the ball will go before the player hits the ball and ideally before he even swings the racket (it can be done you just need a lot of time).

By Knowing this you can make a new step in your game by making feign shots, try to fake your shot-movement-pattern and see the results!


It's all about the plate

The shot has many particularities, the most important thing is the plate which must be ''positive'' otherwise the ball will go down.
If the racket plate is not watching upwards the ball will inevitably bounce on the floor.

In fact every aspect of the movement , preparation and swing of the squash's shot has to do with having a positive plate.
To do so: When preparing a shot rotate the wrist in order to have a positive racket-plate. More on Opening on this article.

Learning the correct swing

The perfect racket swing for the forehand is as simple as closing  your arm-pit while having your arm extended.
The one for the back-hand requires you to open your arm pit while extending your arm.

To Understand the perfect swing you need to do it slowly, even without a racket. Set your arm on the imaginary impact-point with the ball, then take your arm up to ''Open'' (i.e. Prepare) the shot, then extend your arm while closing/opening the armpit (close it for a forehand and open it for the backhand) and try to make your swing without feeling resistances into your elbow/arm, you need to use your proprioceptive senses, when you feel your swing to have no resistances you have achieved a good swing, then try to use the same racket-shot with the ball.

As in many field of life, Less is better

Managing your momentum

The other key component of the shot is managing your momentum, you need to spread your legs to create a big base for the shot so that your balance is great and you can put all your power into your shot.

To do so, learn the habit of moving properly on court. Long story short, your final step toward the ball should be with the left leg on the right side of the court, and with the right leg on the left side of the court.
The ''side-step'' shouldn't be straight toward the side wall, but more diagonal in order to create a good base, try this: make the final ''side-step'' toward the ball and see if you can maintain your balance, if you can't your doing it wrong. I push my junior-athletes to see if they have a decent base.

When running to the ball i ''kick'' my leg in a way that make my talon land first and then your toes, this way you have a perfect base for your shot.
Try to always make the shot after having ''landed'' your feet.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Going to the center

The center is the nearest point to all the corners. If you always come back to the T you can Control how you'll move next. All this movement are intertwined. The better you do one , the better you'll do the next.

Being in the center is a clear sign of the fact that your leading the game.

But the only way you'll be in the center is is you develop the habit of always going back to the T.
The real center is one step behind the T that's because it's easier to move toward the front-wall than toward the back-wall.

Reach the ball in a way that you can always play a drive and eventually choose not to

The objective of your movement is to be oriented in a way that you're able to play a drive. This means that you need to end with your belly-button pointing at the side wall.

Moving toward the ball

First move toward the front/back wall, then make the side-step.
A big mistake we tend to do is to move crosswise when heading for the ball, this is useless because most of the time you'll find yourself too near to the ball and you'll have to back-off.
Instead analize the ball movement pattern like described in this article.

Going to the central part compared to the side wall first is the more profitable way of moving because if you're on the side the opponet will easily know where to make the shot.(In the position your not.)

To understand this and put it into practice you need to train yourself at least 10 minutes per training on movement.

Here's how:
1)Start from the T
2)Decide where to make the shot (upper left- upper right- lower left -lower right )
3)Move by walking in the center, parallel to the side walls and make the last side step.

If you need a step pattern it works like this:
For shots on the upper right side (you have to put your left foot toward when hitting the ball) : start with the left foot and make a step in the front, then make a diagonal step with the right foot and lastly make a side step with the left foot.
For shots on the lower left side (you have to put your right foo forward when hitting the ball) : start by making a step behind with your right foot, then make a diagonal step while going back with the left foot, then make a side step toward the side wall with the right foot.)

Move as less as possible and keep on moving

When coming back to the T you should slow down so that when your opponent makes the shot you're still moving, this is because keeping momentum makes you move faster and save energy.

Considering this and the moving pattern i previously talked about:

You should always walk if you can, this is because hitting the ball sooner is not necessarily helpfull.

An advanced techinique is to go toward the ball pretty fast and then wait for the opponent to reach the T and put his feet down, then making the shot. This is a pretty nice way to mislead your opponent without making some feign shot.

Check out my video tutorial for more informations

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Practice is key

Practice is key. key key. The only way you can improve in squash is by training. But that's not enough.
You have to practice on your weakness in order to improve in the best way possible. The funny thing is that We prefer doing what's easy to us

We like to keep on moving, to say that we like to focus on activity but we tend to prefer those in which we are already specialized, both because the law of investment (the more you do something the more you'll like it) and also because if we can do something with a good result, it's a nice boost of self love for our self image. Even in little things like training the self image can slow your improvement, that's because you'll tend to do the things in which you are already good just to avoid making mistakes (which are the true foundation for improving)

So The best approach would be to do the things you need and surround them with the things you like, for example let's say you need to improve your drop-shot and decide to train alone, the best exercise that would force you to move would be to make a boast and then run to the front wall to make the drop-shot. Of course after 5 minutes the ball will become cold and you'll be annoyed. But what if everytime you make the drop-shot you try to recover the ball and start making increasingly longer volley so that you can go to the back wall, keeping the ball warm, exercising on another maybe for you funnier skill (i love to volley), and being able to train for a straight half hour without any pause. WHAT ABOUT THAT?

The 80-20 rule tells us that the 20 most important percentage of things we do does the 80% of the work for us. So instead of playing for two hours without thinking, just train yourself for 20 minutes and focus on your weakest skill, you'll get amazing results.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Squash Tips - THE SHOTS OF SQUASH Part 2 : Drop shot, Lob and Volley

The Drop

The drop is the one shot that will make almost every point in the game, both for you and for your opponent.
This shot backfires a lot and you'll find that whenever you're not confident on what you are doing your accuracy will decrease. But implementing this shot in your game is a key step to improving.

The drop shot is the second component to an aggresive-style game, the drive being the first part.

When should you make a drop shot? Everytime your opponent has to run to get the ball.
If you haven't checked out yet you should read the tactics post.

You'll notice that everytime you are leading the rally in squash you're the one that's closer to the front wall( generally on the T).

So when you find yourself leading and your opponent gives you a easy shot, make a drop-shot, so that he has to run for the ball.

Now let's clear two important concepts:
1)Don't worry about scoring points . 2)Use the drop to mix things up.

The reason you play the drop-shot is to make your opponent run and by doing so increasing the chances he will be tired and he will make more mistakes.
The frame of mind from wich you should come from is that the more he runs the more you will walk, don't focus on making points cause this will lead you to throw th ball under the tin. Focus on making calculated tactical shot that forces your opponent to ''obey to your will''.

A good thing is always to keep the game full of ''variation''shots so that you're not predictable.

The Lob

Using the Lob means adding class to a rough game

This one shot is extremely funny to do but also very hard.
This can be used in a rotation of shots when you're always in front of the court mixing the shots with drop/lob/cross court or reverse boast (if you like them)

The best lob you can play should be on your serve but you can use it whenever you find yourself in advantage.It is better to use this shot when you're nerar the front wall so that it provides the time to come back to the T and it is also a fruitful shot.

Generally speaking the only time you shouldn't do this shot is when you're on the back wall. That' because if you do it you give an almost always easy killer shot top your opponent.
Use the lob as much as you can and remember to do a good lob you need to throw a weak ball near the upper line of the front wall. Key concept: Weak shot. High shot. 

The Volley

The difference beetwen a novice and an intermediate is generally the consistancy of the volleys. You should make as many volleys as you can, mostly making Drive or Cross court or drop shots.

Avoid using the volley when you're near the back wall becaue you speed things up when you should slow them down.

Remember volley is an attacking shot, it forces the rhythm of the game to be faster and this is important mostly because it will give you the chance to lead the game.
The progress that you make on the volley are the general progress you make in the entire game of squash because if you can make a volley it means you have a good racket ability!

A basic basic exercise that it's so good for improving consists of simply making volleys, as easy as you are able to do them in series of 50 shot per group. Everytime you can make 50 shot make the exercise a bit harder by throwing the ball faster or by straying farther away from the front wall. This is applying babystepping to the volley. I have written an article about learning you should check it out