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.
What struck me at the events were the different styles, physicality’s, techniques and personalities of all the players. From John White playing at a furious pace with the ball going everywhere to Thierry Lincou, a model of ball and pace control. Not one was better than the other; they were all different and worked perfectly well for each of the players.
The only consistency was that the young guns, Lincou and Palmer, were both physically much stronger than the rest of the field and this made a huge difference in the events. Playing at a faster pace than the rest and with undoubtedly a heartbeat barely getting over 150 showed yet again that being physically fit is essential to play squash at the highest level. One of the other players (ahem, White) wearing a heart rate monitor showed 214 beats per minute during a particularly tough period in the match!
It was the differences that made the matches interesting with all of the players pitting varied styles and techniques against each other. Below are just a few thoughts I have immediately about the former No.1 players:
Palmer – physically strong, technically precise, movement structured, tactically defined, great balance, tough counter drop
Lincou – physically strong, movement controlled, early volleying, tactically distinct, use of height, varied hitting
White – powerful hitting, fast pace, tactically unique, long reach, relaxed and imaginative, hits outright winners
Beachill – solid hitting, weight of shot, controlled and unhurried movement, focused tactically, tricky hold especially on backhand
Power – weight of shot, long hold and therefore continually deceptive, strong movement, fast pace, flat low hitting, uses angles on court to maximise opponent’s movements
The consistent aspect all the players have is their ability to focus mentally and stay on their game plan whatever the pressure or stage of the match.
This clarity allows a level of freedom from frustration and self-doubt that I see in so many players where confusion creeps in when the game does not quite go as planned or expected. Staying true to your style and principles helps keep you on track in matches. If you have no particular style or understanding of how you can play best, now would be a good time to figure it out so you can either work throughout the offseason on creating one or start your season with more focus on how you should be playing.
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