Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Squash Tips #1 The grip + Video

Video Squash Tips #1 The Grip, How to hold the racket

This is the first step you need to be taking to learn how to play squash.

Learning how to hold a racket with the proper grip is foundation to everything in squash so i suggest you to take the time to understand carefully how to do it.

I also made a pretty crappy video to teach you how to do it. It's the first of a series of video that surely will improve it's quality over time!

So let's get on with the how to:

  • Form a V with your index and thumb, then hold the racket with only this two fingers, the racket must be put on your palm so that you can control it.
  • When you can comfortably do this, close the hand.
  • Make sure there is a space between your index and the rest of your hand.

Since the racket is the extension of your arm, the inclination of your wrist will affect the inclination of the racket. Learning the proper grip will allow you to learn how to open properly which will be the topic for next week's video.

Advanced tips for squash grip

The first thing you will ask yourself when able to play at a decent level is:
-What influence does changing the grip's height has on the shots?

What changing the grip's height does is allow you to perform the swing at a variable angles, this means three things:

  1. You can perform a swing with less space (i.e. near the back wall) or by moving less (if you extend it)
  2. You can make a stronger or more controlled shot (the more the leverage the more the power)
  3. You can use different angles for making shots.

I suggest an exercise to train this 3 aspects of changing the racket grip:
-Go near the backwall and perform drives while in the meantime you change the grip's height at every shot.

Do this exercise until you can switch from a long grip to a short grip in a matter of instants, as you know preparation and speed are everything in squash.

The first two concepts are pretty easy to understand but the third one is the most interesting, if you change the grip's height to a shorter one you can more easily try shots like hitting the nick in volley.

I suggest you to find out how to better enhance your game by changing the grip as much as you need.

See you next Tuesday, Gallo.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Squash Tips - How to make a great shot in squash: The 3 Step Formula


When starting out in squash we have so many things we have to think about that it can become really messy.
To stop getting confused you can apply this simple 3 step formula. I make it Yell it to my students when they make these action so that they remember it easily.

The 3 Steps: Open, Step, Swing.


When making a shot, you always must Open before moving so that you're ready to hit the ball whenever you need to. Implementing this habit will give you the chance to forestall the shot you now usually miss.

After your racket is ready to make a shot, you can move.

2) Step

When starting out the only thing that matter is that you make your last step in a way that lets you make a drive.

To do so, simply make the last step with your left foot when on the right side of the court, and use the right foot on the left side of the court.

When "landing" the feet make sure to make your talon gets to the ground before the sole this way you create a great base for you to make the shot.

When making the last step you always have to make sure that you have your feet completely landed on the ground before making a swing.


When you have your feet on the ground, you can easily make the swing. The best swing is the simplest, just extend the arm in front of you and use the shoulder to move it.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Squash Tips - Managing the learning curve of squash skills

Clearly we cannot work on our squash skills all the time, we have to choose one to work on so that we can get tangible results in a moderate period of time. This implies effort and time.

Howhever when you go in court you should have one single objective to work on. Coherently with the principle of babystepping.

To do so i reccomend you to read just one article in this blog, write down a squash skill to work and possibly an exercise to use in order to work on it.

So what should you put first to work on in order to improve as fast as possible and as efficiently as possible?

-Squash Skill Number 1: Racket Swing

-Squash Skill Number 2: Court Movement

-Squash Skill Number 3: Tactics

1) Racket Swing

Work on this to make it as natural as possible. Start simple! You can begin by simply hitting the ball against the side wall and  using half of the racket swing.

Watch your impact point, the position in wich your racket head points exactly in front of you (the impact points for forehand and backhand are different, so watch it!)

From the position of the impact point take the racket slighly back , you will use this position as a starting point for your shot. Take the habit of placing your racket in this position before trying to hit the ball.

The best swing is the simplest, to make it just relax your arm and close your arm-pit for the forehand or open it for the backhand. It's as simple as this!

2)Court Movement

When you know how to hit the ball decently you will realize that the way you orientate your body determines the direction in which you will throw the ball.
Hence you will have to work on how you position your body, this squash skill is crucial.

The forward leg is the one closer to the front wall, it will determine how your body is oriented. Always have your left leg on the right side of the court and your right leg in the left side of the court.

The other squash skill concerning court movement is that you always have to move back to the center.

When starting out you will tend to wait for the ball and then run like a crazy. Instead you have to move constantly and slowly. If you know how the ball bounces you can save a lot of energy and improve your shot in the meantime.

If you need to work on your cardio and be fit you can make a  exercise that will both be healthy and will also teach you to always move for the center of the court

Simply run toward each wall and touch it, the go back without turning around (retrorunning, which is healthy!)

After you master this you can advance toward court movement advanced tactics.

3) Squash Tactics

Don't worry too much about tactics when starting out, you'll soon learn them by playing.
Although it's good to know that the more you throw the ball in the corners, the more your opponent will have to run.

A great fun way to learn the tactics consist in watching squash games and making comment on them!
If you want to learn more i made an in depth article on tactics.

So to wrap up i want to remind you to work single handedly on one skill at a time
Start with simple things and work your way through. Persist and you shall learn!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Squash Tips - Habits to mantain a high concistency during a squash rally

The drive means PAR

Once you got a grasp on the fundamentals of squash : Moving efficiently, Controlling the center, Throwing the ball in the corners. You have to implement this three concepts in every aspect of your game.

The drive will be the foundation of all your exchanges in squash.

The habit you have to develop is that unless your opponent makes it really easy on you with his shots, you have to make drive.
This single habit will change your game drastically.

Whenever you're near the back wall and your opponent is in the T, make a drive.
When you don't know what to do make a drive.
That's because and exchange of drives in squash is like the PAR in golf, you need to make at least a drive as good as the one of your opponent, otherwise he is leading the rally.

All the other shots are less proficient than the drive, because if your ''reacting'' (he is leading) to your opponent and you make whatever shot, it will backfire on you. Instead the drive will always help you at least take control of the T.

Always Push, Never Close

The only thing you don't need is to throw the ball under the tin. You should always playing the best shot you can. But never force it, it's better to consume some more energy than to waste a point.

This is a particular thing because when you'll begin to do this you'll end up loosing your matches because your depriving your squash of your aggressiveness. This is not what i mean.

You have to always make the best shot you can, just never exaggerate.

When you're thinking of anticipating your opponent's serve to make a Shabana style nick closure, think again and make a drive!
Also you should never think that your shot will lead to a point because if proven wrong you'll loose the rally.

Focus and breathing are a part of you

There is an underlying concept in these habits: You have to be fit. Being fit is a prerequisite, otherwise everything in this article will be impossible for you, so focus on being fit first.

Be Fit, then implement a good respiration pattern

Then implement a good respiration pattern, make it a habit to consciously manipolate your breathing when needed.
Breathe deeply ,slowly and constantly when playing and make hard fast breaths between rallies.
Check the article for a in depth explanation on how to implement this habit in your squash

Every rally is a world of itself

Considering that you have no reason to make mistakes and you must be an efficient moving machine on court you have to keep calm, and after every rally make a habit to reset your mind.

Squash is so fast paced it is easy to become angry or loose focus, do the exact opposite, find a personal ritual that renews your focus and use it every time between rallies.

Watch your opponent especially if your leading the game

Anticipating your opponents shot can be a powerful skill to have, but an even more powerful ability in squash is to know where your opponent is when you are making the shot and possibly tweaking your swing so that you trick him.

Knowing where your opponent is will make you understand which shot to do

When you'll have your Open and have your on court movements together you  can start thinking of watching your opponent while your going toward the ball, this skill is incredibly powerful for if you know where your opponent is you can always make the right shot.

Think game, don't think points

A squash game is a combination of worlds (the rallies) but there are two constants: You and your opponent,  proving that you're fit, calm and focused you should always be the one who is in better shape.
This will be the determining factor when playing and you'll need to work on this one a lot.

When it ends, it is ended.

Psychological studies have proven that player that keeps themselves focused on the court tend to perform worse than player that when the game is finished just go away and focus on something else.
I reccomend you to NOT be talking about what to do in the next game in your 90 second pause, instead do something you like, go talk to your girl, listen to empowering music or motivational speakers.

Just think of something else!

This way your brain will be more focused on the next game!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Squash Tips - Retrieve the ball from the backwall

After you know how to hit the squash ball and eventually make the shots , Drive, cross-court, and Boast you'll want to recover the ball from the back wall.
This is a great challenge for it proves that if you have a good technique you'll learn fast and if not you'll have to work harder.

The following squash qualities outlined here will make it easy to learn:

  • Always keep your feet on the ground when making a shot. 
  • Extend the arm. 
  • Have a positive plate.

To understand how to recover a ball from the back wall, do this: Try to extend your arm with the racket and touch the side wall then look at your feet. 
Don't walk over there!

To recover the ball from the corner you have to wait for it to bounce back from the back wall and then make your step toward the ball. In squash this tactic will pay, because you save energy.

To begin training in retrieving balls from the back wall place your racket against the wall with a positive plate and just hit the ball. (You can hand feed or find someone)
This is easy, now let's make it harder. Place yourself near the back wall and with your torso facing the side wall, try to catch the ball by making the final step and bending your knees.

This exercise is faster if done in two , but you can learn it solo as well , by following these instruction:

  • Standing near the back wall, with your rear feet (right on the right side and left on the left side) on the T line, throw yourself the ball against the back wall.
  • Wait for the ball to bounce against it and then make your step toward it while bending your knees and stretching yourself as much as you can.
  • Hit the ball when it is in the height possible (the lower, the farther from the back wall).

When training on this squash skill there are two different aspects to work on:

The more you move centrally relative to the side walls the faster you'll get to the T.
And if you bend and extend in a good way you'll make great shots.
You should be focusing on this skill as soon as possible to enhance your squash, and when you master this you'll be ready for intermediate routines!
As with all this is a matter of time. Just practice.
You can check the video tutorial to further understand