Thursday 27 June 2013

Using the "correct" and "wrong" step when playing - Squash footwork - Video tutorial

Squash Court Movement

Moving on court is a skill that must be developed constantly.

Yet, especially for new players there is a controversy: "Which foot should they put in front of the in order to make a correct shot?"
The answer depends on the level of the player.

Why a beginner must use the "correct" foot

The reason why I teach to always place the right foot in front of you when in the left side of the court and the opposite on the other side is that this way you are forced to rotate your body, this way, coherently with the comprehensive shot theory principle, you will make a drive which when you are a beginner is the most important skill to work on.

Now, when you are a skilled player you should simply stop caring about which foot to place. Especially when playing.

When playing you should not think about which foot are you using

What I mean is that when playing you will have already many other things to care about and the usage of your foot should be simply out of your conscious thoughts.

This is why I suggest you to train in order to be able to play all the shots with the same accuracy using both foot in front of you.

Learning to switch foots will help you for the following reasons:

  • You can use both feet
  • You can move faster by using the "wrong" foot
  • You can deceive your opponent
  • You are prepared for unusual situations
  • You can simply stop caring about which foot you use

Actionable exercises to work on your footwork

Make exercises in which you use both feet, for example you can make long drives that reach the backwall and at every shot you can change foot so that you are hitting one drive while having the left foot as your front foot and then switching and having the right foot as your front foot.

Otherwise you can simply make a series of shots in which you using the "correct" foot and another series with the "wrong" one.

Squash Footwork Video Tutorial

Thursday 20 June 2013

How to retrieve the ball from the back wall :The side step technique - Video tutorial

Retrieving the ball from the back wall

To retrieve the ball from the backwall you must abide by many principles, such as:

  • Wait for the ball to bounce out of the backwall before moving for it
  • extend yourself to the maximum capacity
  • Bend your knees
  • Shorten the forearm to increase the space for your swing
  • Position yourself so that you can make a drive
The #1 mistake squash players make is that they move in a way that makes their body face the back corner, by doing so they cannot make a drive.

A huge problem when learning how to retrieve the ball from the backwall is that you need to stay far away, yet you have to be close enough to actually retrieve the ball.

A easy to implement solution I've found to this problem consists of making a side step toward the backwall.

The side step

Try this:
When moving for the ball (remember that you must move in a way that makes you stay in the center relative to the sidewalls and then eventually make a side step), when you are close to the backwall, make a side step toward the backwall so that you are really close to it, and then make a step toward the sidewall.

By doing so you will be able to make a drive which is the foundation of all of squash.

Here's the three step to follow:
  1. Move for the ball
  2. Make a side step toward the backwall
  3. Make the final step toward the sidewall.
By following these three steps you will be closer to the ball and it will be easier to retrieve it.

Video tutorial 

Friday 14 June 2013

How to increase the strength of your shots - 3 tips to improve the strength and speed of your racket swing Video tutorial

Three Tips To Increase The Strength Of Your Shots

Video tutorial

If you have a grasp on the basics of squash, you understand that all the fundamentals are intertwined.
What I mean is that if you move correctly, you will tend to make more accurate shots, if you make accurate shots you'll tend to use the proper tactics of squash and score points whenever you can.

Therefore the easiest way to work on your shot is to work on everything XD

Now, let's get to the meat of this game:

To increase the strength of your shots:
  1. Create a stable base
  2. Open way before the shot
  3. Stay away from the ball

Create a stable base

If you place your legs in a way that makes you grounded you will be able to put more of your momentum and weight into the ball.
The best way to create a stable base consists of making a sidelong step and then bend your knees.

The most common error here is that many squash players tend to make their final step to the front of them, just like if they were on a balance beam.

Instead focus on creating a large base, like a circle.

Make sure to bend your knees and place as much of your weight on the front foot (the one you place in front of you when making a shot).

Open way before the shot i.e. prepare the racket soon

This is so simple and important and yet most of us don't do it.
If you place the racket over your should and then swing it you will use gravity to enhance your strength, but this just one side of the coin.

In fact I recommend opening the shot as soon as you know in which side the ball will go because by being ready to make a shot whenever you need you will be able to capitalize on the occasions that will happen during the rally.

I think opening is the most important foundation to all of squash because it allows you more choices which will lead you to dominate the rally.

Stay as far as you can from the ball

As i said in my introduction to squash video you don't have to walk on half of the court.
That's because if you extend yourself by moving properly and extending your arm you can reach the side wall from the center with just one step.

Plus if you stay far away from the ball your racket will have more momentum and therefore your shot will be stronger.

This is critical because many of the mistakes squash players make in court are due to the fact that they stay too close to the ball.

A rapid way to change this bad habit consists of always touching the red line in the center with at least on of your feet, this way you will build a habit of always coming back to the center relatively to the side walls which is more important than coming to the T.

Monday 10 June 2013

Blindspots and the importance of being coached

Why you must be coached

This game is really fast.
Holding on to a single paradigm can give us a great perspective to start, yet if we are not open to changing our minds and our tactics we can easily held back our progress due to blindspots.

For example I've learned that is always best to make a drive to put your opponent behind and then close the deal only when he makes a bad shot.
Yet many of my opponent never make a clear mistake, they instead tend to make cross-courts which is a way to "escape" from a loosing drive battle.
If (and this is what I'm working on right now) I make a step toward the front and forestall the shot, instead of letting the cross-court pass by and then make a drive, it doesn't matter if I make a really accurate shot or just a decent shot. If I place the ball in the front of the court by forestalling the cross-court I score all the time.

Therefore, yes I'm using the drive to cause my opponent to make a cross-court (which by adopting this new perspective can be considered a mistake) and then score by forestalling it.

This is really cool. Yet only by adopting an open paradigm can I learn this skill.
In fact a friend is helping me, yelling me every time I let a ball slip.

What is a blindspot?

That's a really interesting thing: since for me it's automatic to let the ball pass by and retrieve it in the back wall, I don't even see the ball pass.
I really don't see it. It's like the ball disappear for my brain and the only way I can hit it is by going in the back of the court.

This is an example of a blindspot.
It means my brain is so used to waiting that it doesn't even bother to check if I can hit the ball by forestalling it.

A blindspot is a piece of knowledge my brain is taking for granted even tho I actually have no conscious knowledge of it.

Systematic Blindspot Elimination - I.E. Why you need a coach

The only way to keep improving in this game is by doing the hardest thing, swallow my pride and ask for others what are my weaknesses.
Now, generally some people are conscious of this or they understand it unconsciously.
If you talk to someone that can beat you, it doesn't necessarily mean that his hints will be useful.

You should listen to all advices and use only those that are really actionable.

For example in my case if somebody tell me: You should watch me and realize I make a cross-court.
This advice is useless, i know he makes the cross-court, I have to work on the response to that Stimuli.

A good advice is one like: When I make a cross-court I do it because I'm loosing the exchange and every time you wait for the ball to bounce off the back wall I feel like you are giving me a hand, you should always make a step toward the ball and forestall it. This way you will score.

This is a great hint, because it implies what is not working, the whole paradigm of the situation and what to do to fix it.

If you have a coach you should train at least once a week with him and he should watch you play also.
I believe 90% of the progress in this game can be achieved alone.
Yet is the final 10%, the difference that makes the difference, that matters when we talk about high level players.

-Train hard!

If you are starting out and need to grasp the basics , movement patterns you can check out my free e-book full with actionable tactics and exercise to work on your squash

Friday 7 June 2013

Deception in the game of squash: Video tutorial on shots deception

4 Styles of deception in squash

Video tutorial

There are 4 techniques that I want to share with you:

  1. Vary the time in which you make the shot
  2. Alternate the "correct" and the "wrong" foot
  3. Use the wrist to change shot whilst making the same swing
  4. Move your body in a "wrong-tale" way

Deception in squash can be used in many different ways.
In the video I'm talking about five techniques you can implement right now.

How to learn deception in squash

-Vary the time at which you make the shot.

If you watch the ball closely you will realize that you tend to hit it in the same time, what I mean is that you are used to hit the ball at the same height, if you focus on changing this habit you can gain a tremendous advantage.

That's because if hit the ball as soon as it bounces you will put an enormous amount of pressure on your opponent.
Instead if you wait for the last second your opponent will have probably already reached the T and since he will have his feet totally on the ground, it will be harder for him to start moving at a rapid pace.

-Alternate the left and right foot

This is a really interesting tactic because changing your stance in this game can also change the kind of shots you can make.
By alternating the left and right foot when you make a shot you will give your opponent a hard time in trying to read you.
Remember that when you are in the front of the court you should use as many shots as you can such as:
-Cross Court
-Drop Shot
By making so you assure that your opponent won't expect the same shot ans therefore it will be hard for him to forestall you.

-Use the wrist to make different shots using the same swing.

This is big and very effective.
You can change the shot you are going to make by simply tweaking your wrist.
It is easier done than said.
By using the wrist you will be able to make three different shots whilst making the same swing.
-Drive -> Don't use the wrist
-Cross Court ->Use the wrist at the end
-Boast-> Rotate the wrist so that the racket is facing the side wall (i.e. it's head is pointing to you)

Combine the usage of the wrist with this other simple tactic and you are going to score much more points!
When the ball is near the front court, raise the racket like you are going to throw a strong shot and then make a drop shot.
This works pretty often because your opponent will react as if you are going to make a deep shot.

-Move your body so that it conveys that you are going to make a different shot than the one you make.

This works great if you are going to make a drive, you can rotate your shoulders toward the center of the court and your arm on the opposite direction so that it creates the illusion that you are making a cross-court when you actually make a drive.

Check this tactics in the video for more information!

End Note
This article is full of information that you may or may not know.
If you want to deepen the knowledge of your squash you can download our free e-book here