Don’t Boast Too Much

I remember reading that Geoff Hunt said that you should wait until the tenth time you wanted to boast before actually boasting.

Of course, the game has changed a lot since then but it is still good advice.

I also remember watching a match between James Wilstrop and Nick Matthew, where James didn’t play one boast until midway through the second game.

The reasons could be many; Nick is very good at moving forward, James’ boast are easy to read and/or not as good as they could be, the court made boasts a bad shot to play etc.

What that shows is that all advice should be taken in context. The context of your skills ON THAT DAY, your opponent’s skills ON THAT DAY and the situation, which includes the court and its condition (temperature etc) and the importance of the match.

That said, trying to avoid boasting is a good thing to try to practice as it will force you to play better drives to the back and also work on your straight short game.

Try it and see what happens.

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Mental Imagery Exercise 5: Short Drives

Mental Imagery Exercise 5: Short Drives

This is the fifth in a series of mental imagery exercises.

Ideally, you would have completed all the previous exercises before attempting this one. Not because you need to know anything from the previous ones but because it is a gradual process.

Just the same as you wouldn’t start with trying to run a marathon your first day of training. You would increase the distance slowly. It’s the same here but with a focus on details rather than distance.

Allow me to review.

Firstly, let’s quickly define what Mental Imagery is.

Mental Imagery is the action of visualizing events in your mind. The benefits include greater confidence, ability to deal with adverse situations, better control of emotions and commitment to sticking to your gameplan.

A guided exercise is where somebody, perhaps your coach, sits down with you and talks you through the event and you, the player, imagines it happening.

This is a semi-guided exercise because you will read it first and then do it on your own.

For this exercise I want you to imagine everything from the first person – that is through your own eyes.

It may sound like the science-fiction idea of learning in your sleep but it really works.

The objective of this exercise is:
1. To continue to notice the exact movements and feelings of hitting a ball.

This article is part of a series that will ultimately allow you to visualize yourself playing a tough match.

You should do this exercise at least 5 times before moving onto the next in the series.

Let’s get started. Please read the whole exercise slowly and carefully and when you are ready start begin.

——-

As with the last exercise, this exercise actually requires you to do the real activity BEFORE you perform the mental imagery exercise.

Firstly get on court alone. Make sure you have performed a short warm up. I want you to stand about 3 metres from frontwall and about 2 metres from either sideawll.

Now step forward and start to hit soft shots along the wall. You are trying to keep the ball quite close to the sidewall and hit it hard enough so that you don’t have to move.

Try to hit 10 with no mistakes.

Now close your eyes and try to visualize exactly what happened in your mind. I don’t mean the ball has to bounce exactly where it did in real life, just the feeling of the swing and the sounds of the ball hitting your racket and the wall.

Repeat this process at least 5 times. Each time your mental process should be clearer and more detailed. The more you do this, the better.

Now more over to the other side of the court and do the same.

I fully understand this is a bit strange and you might get some funny looks, but be strong. This WILL make your mental imagery exercises better and therefore your improvement faster.

What is the difference between strategy and tactics?

What is the difference between strategy and tactics?

Put simple, strategy is what you want to happen and tactics is how you are going to make that happen.

If I were to play against anybody under 40, I know that it is unlikely I would be faster or fitter than they are. So my strategy would be to try to take away their physical advantage. My tactics would be to slow the ball down and use the full width and height of the court.

I need a way to make my skill more important than their fitness and speed.

Easier said than done, of course.

Strategy might include tiring out an opponent, forcing them to make mistakes, rushing them, confusing them etc.

Tactics might include deception, fast, low boasts, more volleys (even at the risk of tiring myself), variety of height and length.

Strategy is more long term, whereas tactics might vary over each game.

There is also the point of yours and your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

Sometimes changing your tactics each game is important, but the problem is that knowing when to change tactics and when to stick with what you are doing is more art than science.

Remember, think about the best overall strategy to win a match and then start to consider tactics that will achieve that objective.

Hit at 80% your Maximum Power during Matches

Hit at 80% your Maximum Power during Matches

Set aside at least 2 minutes every solo or group training session to hit the ball as hard as you can for as long as you can.

During the match, you will probably be hitting the ball at 80% you maximum most of the time. The rest will obviously be either faster (less often) or slower (more often).

What’s important is building up your power but a power that can be sustained for all of the match.

But power alone is useless without control and that’s why you should be hitting at 80% most of the time because that power level allows you to still control the ball.

With your practise sessions of hard hitting, over time you will be able to hit the ball harder WITH control.

That 80% might eventually be more powerful than your current 100%.

2 minutes might not sound long but I guarantee that you WILL be tired.

Over time increase that to 3 then 4 minutes etc.

Take skipping to the next level.

Take skipping to the next level.

I hate to admit it, but I am a terrible skipper. I practice almost everyday but I never seem to get much better.

The actual activity is so good for squash players that it is worth doing. If you are like me and have two left feet, worry not, there are alternatives.

The first one is possibly the best and most realistic for squash players in terms of movement.

Standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, start to jump but try to keep your knees straight. The objective is to use your calf muscles to do the work. I find that if I try to make as much noise as possible with your feet hitting the floor, it has the desired effect.

As you are jumping or tapping, move you feet wider apart. Going from the starting position to almost as wide as you can should take about 6 seconds. You are NOT trying to go from narrow to wide as quickly as possible. You are trying make as many taps as possible though.

Go narrow and wide a few times and take a break. If you have done it properly, you will really feel the burn in your calf muscles.

This is stage 1. Do this for as long as you can or want and as many times a week as you can or want.

When you feel comfortable doing this, it is time for stage 2.

The basic movement is the same but instead of remaining in one place and orientation, you are going to try to move is a circle with one foot remaining in the same same spot but still jumping. Go clockwise for one revolution and then counter-clockwise. Don’t forget, the foot that remains in the same spot is still jumping.

Now swap feet and keep the other foot in the same spot and go clockwise and counter-clockwise.

As with stage one do this as many times as you can or want in each training session and for as many training sessions as you want.

Stage 3 uses the same basic jumping motion but instead of going in a circle, you now must try to move forwards, backwards and sideways. Essentially, you jump up and down but move yourself to various parts of the court.

The great thing about the above exercises is that they can be done anywhere without worrying about timing of jumps and ropes etc.

One last thing, with a skipping rope the area you need is larger than without. You have to consider the height of the room and you can’t get too close to other people. With these exercises you can get over ten people on one court if you wanted to.

Forget The Score

Forget The Score

One of the best times I have every played was when I completely forgot the score. In fact, I specifically remember winning a rally and picking the ball up to serve and watching my opponent walk off court.

I looked at the ref and heard him say “Game to Herga” (In those days you used the name of the club not the player).

Should we play differently because of the score?

In general, I don’t think so. If it is the right time to attack, then it is the right time, irrespective of whether you are 10 – 0 up or 0 – 10 down.

You could easily argue that you need to play defensively when you are close to losing a game, but perhaps that attitude got you down in the first place!

The actual score certainly makes a difference to motivation and drive but for most club players the score should be a secondary result.

Your first objective is to choose the right shot. Well, actually, it’s to watch the ball hit your strings, but you know what I mean.

Mental Imagery Exercise 4: Simple Drives

Mental Imagery Exercise 4: Simple Drives

This is the fourth in a series of mental imagery exercises.

Ideally, you would have completed all the previous exercises before attempting this one. Not because you need to know anything from the previous ones but because it is a gradual process.

Just the same as you wouldn’t start with trying to run a marathon your first day of training. You would increase the distance slowly. It’s the same here but with a focus on details rather than distance.

Allow me to review.

Firstly, let’s quickly define what Mental Imagery is.

Mental Imagery is the action of visualizing events in your mind. The benefits include greater confidence, ability to deal with adverse situations, better control of emotions and commitment to sticking to your gameplan.

A guided exercise is where somebody, perhaps your coach, sits down with you and talks you through the event and you, the player, imagines it happening.

This is a semi-guided exercise because you will read it first and then do it on your own.

For this exercise I want you to imagine everything from the first person – that is through your own eyes.

It may sound like the science-fiction idea of learning in your sleep but it really works.

The objective of this exercise is:
1. To begin to notice the exact movements and feelings of hitting a ball.

This article is part of a series that will ultimately allow you to visualize yourself playing a tough match.

You should do this exercise at least 5 times before moving onto the next in the series.

Let’s get started. Please read the whole exercise slowly and carefully and when you are ready start begin.

——-

This exercise actually requires you to do the real activity BEFORE you perform the mental imagery exercise. In the first three exercises we have just spent time in our club or centre surroundings. There has been some interaction with the environment but this exercise is a little different.

Firstly get on court alone. Make sure you have performed a short warm up. I want you to stand near either service box and hit about 10 drives along the wall. Don’t let the ball bounce off the back wall.

Now close your eyes and try to visualize exactly what happened in your mind. I don’t mean the ball has to bounce exactly where it did in real life, just the feeling of the swing and the sounds of the ball hitting your racket and the wall.

Repeat this process at least 5 times. Each time your mental process should be clearer and more detailed. The more you do this, the better.

Now more over to the other side of the court and do the same.

I fully understand this is a bit strange and you might get some funny looks, but be strong. This WILL make your mental imagery exercises better and therefore your improvement faster.