Friday’s Practice: Straight Volleys Across the Court.

Friday’s Practice: Straight Volleys Across the Court.

Starting about 2 metres away from the frontwall and face the side wall and stand close to it.

start to hit some volleys to yourself (forehands if you are right-handed, backhands if you are left-handed).

Keep you writs firm and make the shoulder do the work. Hit about five and start to slowly move away from the sidewall but parallel with the frontwall.

When you get near the left sidewall wall, move a little further away from the frontwall and then start to move forward again.

All this time you should be volleying the ball.

If you make a mistake, go back to the beginning.

Your objective is to make it past the short line, so about mid court.

Advanced players should be able to make it all the wall to the back wall.

This is a touch exercise, both mentally and for your shoulders.

Give yourself 5 minutes break by doing something else and then try it on the other side.

Keep a not of how many volleys you do without a mistake.

Those with Claws eat those with Hooves

You often hear about “being in the zone” and that refers to your level of focus but it can also refer to how aggressive you are.

I played my best squash when I was angry. Not angry enough to verbalize i.e. shout but very close.

Personally, I dislike the displays of aggression from any sportperson but in the heat of battle it’s hard not to let them overflow.

However, what I really want you to start doing is playing from the first point with the same internal aggression as you do when the score is 8-8.

In fact, a good practice is to start at 8-8 for a few games every now and then. It will teach you to not waste any points.

I was often too relaxed at the beginning of matches because I knew there was a long way to go, but I wish now that I had fought with the same intensity in the first few points as I did in the last few.

I can’t exactly say how you develop that skill, but start by finding out what your mental approach and state of mind is when you have played your best.

As I mentioned above, for me it was when I was angry but also had a clear gameplan that I could stick to.

Remember, nobody won a tournament for being too relaxed and friendly on court. I am not saying be rude and nasty to your opponent though.

Sure, you can be nice for a few points but you need to be motivated for 99% the rest of the time.

What I am saying is generate that fire in your belly from the first point.

Imagine a best of five game match where each game was one point only.

How hard would you try for those 5 points?

Play THAT hard for EVERY point!

Use The Front Wall, Luke!

Use The Front Wall, Luke!

Okay, you may not be a Star Wars fan, but hopefully you got the reference in the title.

Where the ball bounces on the floor is key, but it is a secondary target. Players can make the ball bounce in the same point on the floor by hitting it at different speeds and heights on the front wall. So even though it *is* a secondary target it has to be viewed in combination of the speed at which the ball is moving AND the angle it hits the floor.

Phew, that sounds like a lot to worry about when you are running around trying to stay in a rally.

Let’s keep it simple.

Try focusing on where you ball hits the front wall, specifically the height.

You will need to adjust the height based on a number of factors: the time of year, the court temperature, the brand of ball used and the general condition of the court.

I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent, but this is one aspect of why playing club team squash can be so good for you – you have to learn to adapt to different courts. Playing on the same courts ALL the time is like playing the same person all the time and hitting the ball at the same speed. VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE!

Back to the front wall.

Start with the cutline – that’s the horizontal line on the front wall. Try hitting it when playing a straight drive using 80% of your power. Where does the ball bounce first? Is the second bounce near the back wall? It should be. If it is too short, hit a little higher next time, if it is too deep, hit a little lower.

It’s not rocket science.

As with a previous article entitled “Hit Every Shot With A Clear Intention”, this process of finding your height and aiming for it will automatically make your drives more consistent.

For crosscourts, you will need to aim a little higher because the ball has further to travel.

Now that you have a solid base to work from you can begin to adjust the speed and height with more confidence.

If you have the opportunity, watch yourself play and mark on a piece of paper where the ball its the wall or better still, get somebody to do it for you from the balcony.

The resultant sheet doesn’t tell the whole picture but it may highlight where you need to improve.

Lastly, what we really need is “Smart Walls” that provide a printout of where the ball hits. Not sure how it would know which shot is from which player but even if it were for both players it would still be very interesting, don’t you think?

Learn And Then Forget

One ability is try to develop is learning from each game and match you play but then forgetting those games and matches.

Let me explain.

After you come off court after a game, you need to be able to analyze what happened, think about what you need to do to improve and what errors, mistakes and weaknesses your opponent has.

BUT.

As soon as you walk on court for the next game or match you have to assume it’s the first game. Just because you won or lost the previous game easily doesn’t mean it will be the same in the next game.

Just because the opponents boast was weak in the last game doesn’t mean it will be weak this game.

You have to approach each new game with a fresh attitude.

Remember, they are going through the same process as you. When something isn’t working you have two choices; stick with it until it improves (hopefully) or change it.

I am sure you can guess what the smart players do.

Being able to move on from a 9/11 or 10/12 loss is something the better player do.

Make no assumption about each new game. Each game is a chance for you to be a different player. Be that type of player.

Improve Your Concentration

How good are you at concentration?

Not as good as you could be, is probably a close answer.

Many of you probably train hard, at least physically.

Sure, being on court and doing conditioned games and practices etc all improve your concentration but have you ever tried to focus on that alone?

Probably not.

Over the coming year, I will be suggesting ways to do it.

Let’s start today with a very basic exercise.

Get yourself into a comfortable position, somewhere quiet, not too hot or cold.

Take a book or novel, something with no images or pictures.

Start counting the number of words on each line and keep going until you reach the end of the page.

Try to ignore all other stimuli, focus solely on the number. Use your finger if you want to.

Do that at least once a day for a few weeks.