You will see at most courts up and down the country that very unorthodox player that seems to somehow get these amazing wins over their more adept counterparts. I often hear the complaints from players that ‘this is not proper squash’ and ‘I can’t get into any rhythm’.
SquashSkills co-founder and legend of the sport Peter Nicol is back in the spotlight this week, as he introduces a brand new playlist for us taking a look at basic tactics for the amateur player.
I often observe at amateur level how hard hitters tend to be able to cause a lot of trouble to their opponents and get easy wins by purely overpowering and out-muscling them. In my coaching, when addressing this issue with amateurs, a few simple strategies to focus on can really help nullify these hard hitters and make them tie themselves in knots.
When I watch and observe amateur players it becomes pretty evident that amateur players often make reactive decisions when their opponent is hitting the ball. Everything gets done in compartmentalized blocks starting from the movement, through to the execution of the shot and then finally to the response to their opponents shot. Having to deal with the game in all these separate compartments is hard. It will take time away from yourself, it is mentally and physically exhausting, and then when it comes to the execution of your own shot, it is it limits your tactical options.
Some of the most effective players in the squash clubs up and down the land are the drop-lobbers. They tend to be really accurate, really deliberate in what they do and really frustrating overall to play. They have the ability to really take all the pace out the game and make the court long, wide and high. They attempt to use every spare inch of space available to them and try and get you into the extremities of the court to test your physical and skill levels in these situations. This blog will point out some ways and strategies to cope with these players and nullify the weapons they bring to the game.
Most players would have come across that really tall opponent that feels like they take up all the court space, dominate the middle, volley everything and just take one step to reach any ball you play. This can feel one of the most frustrating opponents to play against as you feel that whatever shot you play or how much you want to get him or her moving they nullify everything. It can almost feel like you are running around like crazy, doing all the work, trying all the shots and they are just casually reaching for each ball you play treating it like a Sunday stroll. So how to combat this opponent who has the feel of Go-Go Gadget arms and legs (80s reference there for the kids)?
Often you will come across an opponent who is what is described as a retriever. This type of player is generally very fit, relatively quick, strong legs and has the lung capacity of a blue whale. These assets tend to favour a more attritional and retriever style of play meaning that they are happy to scurry around the court, getting balls back again and again and generally not really looking to attack as they know the longevity of the match will give them a greater chance of wearing down their opponent and winning.
I’ve just finished playing the Legends Tour events in Aberdeen and Bermuda. Having started on the tour 4 years ago, I honestly thought by now I would have retired a second time but the enjoyment of getting on court with the other players is still too strong to go fully out to pasture! Don’t get me wrong, it’s harder and physically more demanding every time but I still love the challenge and I am now learning as a coach rather than a player.
We’ve looked in depth on SquashSkills before at patterns of play in squash. Lee Drew has been going through some common patterns in his recent playlist to help you understand the likely outcome of certain shots to either take advantage of a situation or recover from a difficult position.