Often these two aspects of the game, power and accuracy, sit on opposite ends of a continuum. It is rare to see at club level a player that combines both power and accuracy in equal measures to a very high standard. If this were the case, I’d suggest that they consider paying their PSA membership and getting on the tour as this is a deadly combination when achieved.
I often see certain ratios of this skill across all the club players I observe and quite often they are skewed to one side or the other. For example, a power player may be 80:20 ratio for power over accuracy. The opposite may be true for a more accurate player. This is not an exact science but tends to be a common theme at club level. A world-class professional may achieve close to equal measures of both and be a 60:40 ratio either way and know when to prioritize one aspect over another in any given situation.
This blog will look at the pros and cons around power and accuracy to give you a better understanding of when they should be applied and in what contexts during a match in order to be as impactful as possible.
- Can be intimidating for the opponent
- Can accelerate the pace of the game
- Makes the ball move faster giving the opponent less thinking time
If you feel you are able to hit the ball hard and clean and feel confident that you will not lose huge amounts of accuracy by doing this then crack on. You have a real asset here. There is not much more rewarding in squash than really feel the ball come off the strings well with good timing and accelerating the ball into an open space. You observe the opponent scrambling and rushing to get the ball back and when they do it is invariably quite loose and easy to dispatch the next shot.
- Can be tiresome and burnout occurs
- Loss of accuracy and control
- Experienced players are not fearful of raw power
- Can make the ball really hot and bouncy and difficult to put away
Be aware, there tends to be an inverse correlation between power and accuracy. If you favour power all the time, then your control and accuracy may suffer, and this can leave you very exposed to your opponent tidying up your game.
Often a lot of the players I coach come to me with the problem of not being able to deal with an opponent’s power and hard-hitting. This is a common fear at club level and one that can be addressed with a few ideas and plans put in place. I have written a previous blog exactly how to try and deal with these hard hitters and here is a quick recap on how to deal with these types of players:
- Favour a slow/medium pace
- Tidy up the game
- Shorten up your backswing
- Be alert and read the game
- Let them burn
- Fight fire with fire
- Can keep you in full control of your opponent
- Energy efficient
- Frustrating for your opponent as nothing to work with
- Can make your opponent feel desperate and take a lot of unnecessary risks
High levels of continued accuracy is a wonderful weapon to have. If you feel that your ball control is of a high calibre then definitely favour this side of your game. Placing the ball onto specific targets deep into the back corners while glued to the sidewall gives your opponent very little to work with. Also being able to place the ball just above the tin with a controlled drop shot makes them have to cover some serious distance as well as having nothing to work with when they get there.
- To stay consistent with accuracy over the course of a match is difficult
- Accuracy tends to come with slower pace hitting so if you miss your target you will be exposed to your opponent attacking you
- Not much on offer if you miss your target area
Playing someone who is really measured and accurate in their hitting is a real tough opponent. They play the game in a way that does not allow you the freedom to play your game and you often have to accept you are going to take your medicine and have to keep scraping the ball back into play again and again. In this situation be patient as it is unlikely that the player will be able to stay accurate for the course of a whole match, especially when fatigue sets in.
In summary, there is no definitive answer that power trumps accuracy or vice versa. This is all contextual. It could be as simple as the context of the opponent you are playing against, for example, someone who’s reaction time is a little slower and not that quick off the mark you would favour power. Alternatively, a good athlete that gets a lot of balls back and is quick, you would likely look to favour a more calculated and accuracy-based game.
The context should also be applied in a smaller setting such as rally specific. There will be moments when your opponent is far out of position in the front corner and you have an easy shot, a low hard power shot to the back could be more appropriate than a floated length aiming for perfect width. In this example, injecting pace into the shot due to your opponent being far out of position outweighs an overly calculated shot which may allow him time to get back into the rally.
The best players are situational aware and have used a lot of trial and error to understand and appreciate which skill is more appropriate in which situation. In my opinion, I do encourage players to gain control and accuracy early on, especially juniors, and then over time when the muscles develop and the timing gets better, power naturally starts to occur but with the foundation and undercurrent of continual accuracy.
Learn to play different styles of play
Make sure to check out the series where David Pearson shows what to expect when playing different styles of players and how to negate their play.Watch now