Squash tipsSquash tips: We compete for sex to propogate our own genetics. We have an inbuilt system which mimics successors and imagination to improve our chances. Why not use this to improve our squash.
Developing a System for Squash
You may ask the question: Why a system?
The answer is simply this: Without a system (program) to follow, the progress of development would be extremely haphazard with great difficulty in finding and fixing weaknesses. With a system to follow, the participant or student can take each individual section or routine of the system, develop it separately and then slot it back into the complete system for an overall improvement. Coaches can organize programs to do the same and also break a student's performance down into the separate bits of the system to isolate problem areas and then devise a training program to fix the bit that is not working correctly.
The concept of a system is a powerful development tool and is not as inflexible as many people may think. In this article I hope to give an outline of a simple squash system that you can develop further. This system may initially cause your game to suffer for a short time as you grasp the concepts, but I assure you that the long term benefits will far outweigh any short term lapse in performance. The system may require a shift in your present game, especially if you are a club player. Those who are trained at the highest level and in the world rankings may already have developed a system. If not, they should have!
How The System Works: The various parts of a rally (both players exchanging shots) are broken up into important pieces that if not done well will cause that whole part to suffer. These parts are organized in a way that the second part relies on the first part being successful and same for the third part relying on the second. I broke the rally up into six major parts as taught separately in most coaching texts but not organized into any order or system.
These important sections are:
> READY: Waiting for your opponent's return or service. You must be totally alert, in a good position, have your racket ready, watching for the ball to leave the opponent and have your feet ready to move very quickly in an instant.
NOTE: During a rally, good position depends on where the opponent is hitting the ball from (dynamic positioning), but, if you don't already know them, have a coach point these out to you or if just beginning then use a position as close to a step in front of the 'T' (center) as you can without interfering with your opponent's swing or shot at the front wall. If waiting for a service, then a good position is between the inside rear corner of the service box in your quarter and the center line.
> PROJECTION: This is my term for guessing a likely path for the ball to follow from the opponent's racket. It must allow for changes due to odd bounces from joints and ball spin. Since if you are close to the correct place and the bounce alters, then you have the chance to quickly adjust your movement and still position yourself to make a great shot.
> SPEED: This is an often misunderstood concept, but it is basically the ability to take long strides, dive and lunge into position quickly so you have plenty of time to place your shot. Too many players run straight forward to the ball and find that they not only waste energy but are too upright on reaching the ball to hit it well. This also lessens their ability to recover from their shot.
> AWARENESS: A not very well taught aspect of squash but extremely important, as you must watch both the ball and your opponent (loose or 50% focus) to check on your opponent's movements. This makes the game safer as you are less likely to hit them and means you will also know the best place to aim your shot.
> STROKE: With the above parts done well, you should be in prime position to play a great shot and know exactly where to put it. Now your racket skill comes into the game. Here is where a lot of matches are won or lost. Racket up high, take your time, watch the ball onto your racket (tight or 100% focus) and place it where you want it to go with the correct power for the chosen shot. Needs tons of practice. I gain better focus on the ball by pointing at it with my non-racket hand just before striking it.
> RECOVERY: Now you must charge back to a 'Good Position' to cover any returns from the shot you just made. Here you must start moving as soon as the ball leaves your racket and be watching both the ball and your opponent's movements (loose or 50% focus) so as to avoid collisions and interference. From here you start at READY again if your opponent reaches the ball.
Applying The System:
1 - Ready:
[ ] I am in a good position?
[ ] My racket is up high?
[ ] I am watching the ball meet my opponent's racket?
[ ] My feet are ready to move quickly (moving and on toes)?
2 - Projecting:
[ ] I am watching the ball leaving my opponent's racket or body (if behind)?
[ ] I am starting to move towards the best place to hit a return for that shot?
3 - Speed:
[ ] I am taking large strides, sidesteps, diving and lunging into position?
4 - Awareness:
[ ] I know where my opponent is or where they are going?
5 - Shot:
[ ] I am in a good position and balanced?
[ ] My racket is up high?
[ ] I am watching the ball onto my racket?
[ ] I am hitting the ball accurately and with correct power for my chosen shot?
6 - Recovery:
[ ] I am moving back towards the center of court as soon as I strike the ball.
[ ] I am watching the ball (loosely) and moving towards a better position to cover any shot my opponent can make.
Finally: With plenty of practice all sub-actions and main actions will become automatic and you will be able to execute them all in sequence without even thinking of them.
Then you will know you are going to be a great squash player!