Squash has often been likened to chess on a tennis court. It is quite true that you need to be exercising the grey matter hard to outwit a cunning and worthy opponent. But a well known strategy in chess is to look for a vacant square that you would not like your opponent to occupy. Then you should attempt to occupy that very square yourself. Remind you of anything ?
|Be aware of your opponent's state
|When opponent starts to tire, that's when you should play at your steadiest and most precise, alternating front court shots with rails and lobs. He'll tire more, and sharp kills will get safer to play.
|During the warm up
|Don't just bash the ball back and forth - get up to the front and get your reactions working too. Two or three shots to yourself - low hard drives and steady volley, and then a cross court drive or lob to your opponent.
|Steady regular shots win long games
|Quick fire exchanges are all very well, but they cost a lot of energy for just one point. Learn how to break the pattern with a drive down the wall from a drop, or an accurate lob.
|Use good shot placement
|Aim for all your shots to keep the ball away from the middle of the court - don't make life easy for your opponent. Choose your front wall angle carefully, and for a cross court drive choose where your ball will hit the side wall correctly too.
|Incorporate delay and feint
|Hesitate and feint on the occasional shot - the uncertainty you plant in your opponents mind will linger. If you can do a Willstrop double feint, so much the better. If the ball will pass in front of you before you hit it, use the time it is hidden from opponent to play the feint - he may not see you not hit the ball.
|With opponent behind you, repeat the same rail drive several times, making your opponent guess when you'll swap to a boast or a drop. Or repeat a sequence of two shots - rail, cross court, rail, cross court, rail, drop !
|Dominate the T
|When your opponent is behind you, you are in charge and he is struggling. Keep it that way. Intercept his rail shots early, and vary between rails and cross court drives. Wait for the moment to play the killer drop.
|Beware of dropping
|Don't play a drop shot to vary the game unless the ball is hot and your opponent is tiring. Keep your drop for a winner when your opponent is behind you.
|Get opponent off the T
|When opponent is in front of you, get him to free up the T by playing a drive or a lob shot past him. As soon as you pass him with a rail, he has to leave the T, and you've evened up the rally.
|Don't squander a lead
|If you were cruising, keep dominating. Don't play sloppy shots and let opponent creep back in. Beware of your opponent identifying what he is doing wrong and correcting it. That's when you have to change your approach and play some different shots yourself.
|Never give up - I've won many matches from behind. As soon as you see your opponent build a lead, identify what part of your play is letting you down. Knuckle down and play steadier and safer squash. Opponent is tired too.
|Weigh up your fitness
|At the start of a game, if you think you are fitter than your opponent, play the shot that makes him run. There's continual shot stamina, and there's occasional need stamina. Try to minimise your movement, but surprise your opponent by reaching some difficult returns.
|More on drop shots
|Before a drop shot, think about where your opponent is. Practice flicking the drop to the side furthest from opponent, and practice disguising your drop angle. Easiest is to line up for a forehand cross body drop, but bring your wrist through early and field the ball away from your forehand.
|Deal with power
|Your opponent hits hard. Don't try to counter this with power - you'll lose your accuracy. Use his power against him by returning accurate shots down the wall. If he lingers behind the T for his next power shot, play a drop or a dropping boast when you get the chance.
Copyright (C) Richard Hart 2015 - 2018