Do you often get wrapped up watching the Shot of the Season videos on the PSA and be in awe of what you have just seen? Or watching how Tarek Momen effortlessly puts in his backhand volley drop inch perfect? Or Ali Farag’s backhand cross-court nick? Or Daryl Selby’s backhand topspin volley? Or Mohammed Shorbagy’s forehand booming kill? Or Nour El Tayeb’s forehand volley kills? Or Raneem El Welily’s forehand to spin deception?
I do, a LOT over and over again and sit in awe and look and study how they have been executed. The subtle turn of the wrist, the impeccable positioning and timing, the outright audacious risks taken and I am blown away by it. I want to get down on court as soon as possible and try it out and be as perfect and as effortless as these players make it seem. I go into my next match with all these images and ideas of what I want to do and how exactly how I want to do it but…there is a big pitfall that I and many others encounter when trying to more effective with finishing shots.
With the better filming of the game than ever before and with the world of sharing and social media it is now very easy and quick to see the plethora of nicks, kills, flicks, holds, flair and outright showmanship than ever before. This is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but all too often what is shown, and is amazing, is the tiny piece of the big puzzle that is squash.
What I am trying to allude to is THE BASICS. Underpinning all of this amazing finishing is the players near perfect basic game. The clips shown are just that, clips. And they tend to sit in isolation of everything else as the viewer’s eye is drawn to (and rightly so) the amazing finish of the rally and the opponent left completely stranded and dumbfounded. What has started to really interest me and drawing me in is how the sustained basics of the players is allowing them more and more opportunities to be as attacking as they are. It is no fluke that these players are able to play with such flair and freedom, they are allowing this to happen as their basic structure and bread and butter is given a lot of focus and attention.
One thing to notice is the few shots or the few rallies leading up to these amazing attacking finishes. I am starting to look closer and closer at this and what is striking me is the quality of the line and length hitting that is underpinning everything. It is there being plugged away at shot after shot, rally after rally, inch by inch. There is such a focus from the elite players and they are constantly asking the questions of their opponents. They are playing chess on legs trying to force openings for themselves to make that killer finish move. With the athleticism and retrieval skills of the pros these days, I do not believe they can go and be as gung-ho as recent times as they will get picked off all too easily now.
So the pitfall that I alluded to earlier that we may fall into is that we see the end product and that is what gets focused on without the right to earn it as much. Maybe we take more risks from positions we should not as we have seen how great the finishing is from the pros. This tends to either gift a massive opening for the opponent if the shot is not executed too well (as we are slightly more out of position) or we take such a risk and aim so low for perfection that we end up hitting the tin.
If I could be as bold to put forward the notion that if you would like to be able to finish the rallies more effectively and to be more attacking then shining a light on your basics would be a great starting point for this. If you are able to increase your length hitting by say 5-10% I believe this would allow you to be overall more effective with your attacking/finishing game by an estimated extra 25%+. The opportunities you will receive will be greater because of the better line and length you are hitting and the ability to be under less pressure when playing your attacking shots also will appear more often. You should also feel your risk:reward ratio, when looking to play the finishing, should be more favourable with much less risk on the shot but high rewards at the same time.
For the risk of stating the obvious, it would be a good idea also to really focus on your ability to finish the ball. Do drills/solos/condition games to fine tune this particular part of your game as you will not do yourself any harm by working on this. Just do not get blinded that this is the only answer to be more effective with your finishing. It will help but what will be underpinning it all is the ability to get into these positions more often and with less pressure consistently in a match. Doing series of condition games that favour this aspect of building a rally with the bonus of finishing a rally would be highly recommended and beneficial if you are looking to get those rallies finished with more clinicalness in your next big match up.
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