Squash News From Around The World - Serious Squash
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Mar 17 2016 9:28AM
I will continue posting articles from time to time. I actually have a lot lined up at the moment. But I have been doing a few more videos recently and have published some skill challenges along with some other drills that can help you improve various areas of your game. I won't be posting every video link on this site, so if you'd like to stay informed please follow my Youtube channel (cchsquashpro) or on Instagram (serioussquash). Hope you enjoy some of the videos and I welcome anyone who has a new challenge or can better me on one of my challenges! Please tag me in your video or send me the link so I can check it out. Cheers!
Mar 16 2016 9:53AM
Here is my 7th skill challenge. This took me a few minutes to get the hang of it. I can do figure 8's and side wall volleys both pretty well, but mixing the two was pretty tricky. I give this a difficulty rating of 6 out of 10. Can you do this? Enjoy and good luck!
For the record, I think my next skill challenge is my best to date! Coming soon :)
Mar 15 2016 10:04AM
Today I'm doing a relatively simple skill challenge. If you can do figure regular figure 8 volleys you shouldn't have too much trouble with these. It's just a nice little variation and keeps your feet moving. Here it is:
I give this skill challenge a difficulty rating of 4 out of 10. Enjoy and good luck!
Mar 13 2016 9:51PM
Here is my 5th Skill Challenge. It's much more difficult than it looks. I've seen many people do the sidewalk version of this exercise, but this is more challenging. Have a look and see for yourself.
If you can't do this yet try the version using the sidewalls. Not only is this a good exercise for your hand-eye and improving your racquet skill, but it also forces you to keep your follow through high after the volley (which is key for a volley drive). Stay tuned for a new Skill Challenge release in the next few days. You can also find small sneak peak clips of me working on some new challenges at my new Instagram page at serioussquash.
Mar 13 2016 5:01PM
First off I just want to mention that I just started a new Serious Squash Instagram account (username serioussquash) where I will post squash video clips and tips. Today I'm going to discuss an issue that all of us contemplate and often we don't even know we are. I'm gong to talk about your shot selection and are you making the choices you do because you want to win now or to win later? This isn't always the same thing you see. Most people will avoid playing lob serves because they are afraid of hitting it out which would impact their odds of winning today. I feel like most of us are so caught up in winning this point, game and match that we don't dare try to play shots out of our comfort zone.
So do you play high percentage squash? That's clearly the best way to win, right? Minimize risk and avoid making poor mistakes. I like to think about Ramy Ashour when I talk about this subject, because he clearly has hit a pile of tin over the years learning to play low percentage shots and I'm sure he lost a lot of points and games he could have grinder out, but was committed to his long term goal; at least that's my best guess.
When I watch a lot amateurs and especially juniors play, I see then pass up a lot of good openings and hit it back to their opponent. I understand there are big points late in games and matches where playing a big more conservative can be beneficial, but passing up going short for the fear of making an error or setting up your opponent may make you tougher to beat that day, but what about long term? I feel that passive players will learn how to be disciplined and physically fit because they learn to play attritional style of squash. But are there consequences too?
If kids are taught just to avoid mistakes how will they learn to play the tactically sound shot? And there are a lot of different ways to win at squash. Have you ever played someone that was very aggressive on court and attacking short a lot? They may make a lot of mistakes, but they don't allow you into a rhythm. A player that is willing to take some risk in the short term, I believe will also have more room to grow long term because they are open minded. The one concern I do have is the value of discipline and focus that are taught by playing long boring rallies. But I digress. I guess you can see which side of this argument I am leaning towards.
Here is an old clip of me playing when I was 11 and 12 years old. For more squash videos check out my Youtube channel at cchsquashpro. Yes, I'm the little one. The first match is when I lost in the semis of Canadian Junior Nationals (under 14). I know the video isn't the greatest quality, but it was the early 90's! Anyways, what I want to talk about is my style of play in this first match and how it relates to today's topic. I'll let you watch it now and then I'll discuss it below.
So I was a tiny kid and not very fast, but I still liked to play super attacking. I hit as many balls short as I did deep. Yes, I lost this match in 3 but the games were close. It's easy to look back now and say 'wow, what the heck was I doing out there?' I could have used just a little bit of balance in my game and I probably would have won that match. And then perhaps I would go on and win in the finals and repeat as a national champion. I mean, what kid wouldn't want that?
As much as I would have liked to win that match, I do enjoy being the one dictating play and my fearless style of play. I liked hitting winners; I still do! I would solo hit almost everyday and work on my attacking shots. Back then the game was to 9 and you had to serve to get a point, so this probably didn't suit my style. This is also when the racquets had just become oversize and lighter and you could actually start to do more with the ball.
What do you think would happen if someone developed as a junior from the bottom with the style I liked to play here in this video? What if they were actually fast, a little bigger and could hit with a bit more pace? I'd like to think this is what some of the Egyptians do now. I don't see a single player in Canada playing like this now. And of course there isn't. All top kids have a coach and as a coach how could you let your athlete play so risky and shoot from all over the court? It's our job to help them.
I certainly don't coach anyone to play like I did here. But it makes me wonder what I would do if I came across a kid like this, would I try and get them to play more traditional to be more successful in the immediate future or would I be open minded to let them experiment with a variety of shots and this open style of squash? I'd like to say I'm pretty open minded, but I don't know for sure what I would do. I guess the main thing I would say is that they would have to work on their attacking game non-stop. I would also try and help them learn when their opponent is starting to hang around up front and to bury them back a bit and then go on the attack again. I believe in coaching the kid to a style that best suits their game. Some of us are better suited as grinders than others. I do feel like a lot of kids are all being coached to play the same style and it just comes down to who works harder and can do it better.
So you may be wondering what happened to me? That I'm a perfect case study to show that playing this style as a youth is not possible. But I still believe it is. I got to a pretty high level, but had some other areas hold me back. For the right person, with the right passion, dedication and physical traits, I believe they could develop as a super aggressive player and have a successful career. I think finding that right person to play that style is few and far between though.
This post was focused on shot selection and how we can play to not lose or play to win. I believe we should play the right shot, given we have a decent skill set to do so. I don't worry about making errors if it's the right decision. The shots will get better if we try them, if we avoid them because we're not very good at them we may never get better at them and our ceiling for our potential will be lower. This doesn't mean I'm suggesting you go out and start trying to hit nicks from all over the place, but just think about what shots you avoid playing because they are difficult.
Some of the most often passed up tactically correct shots I see are lob serves, volleying a tough serve, hitting counter drops, hitting straight from the front of the court, hitting straight on the forehand off the bounce and the volley and attacking short on loose balls from mid-court. If you want to achieve your potential you should work on all of these areas and any others you feel you are avoiding in your game. If you want to win more now, practice those areas more and more and the results will come sooner than later.
If you do make a mistake playing the tactically correct shot in matchplay, learn to tell yourself that it was the right shot and to continue playing it. In the end I always wanted to become the best I could be and I knew to do that I had to make mistakes and play shots I couldn't execute 100% of the time. I believe you can play to win now, while also not comprising your ability to improve and becoming the best you can be in the future. But if you could only pick one, which would you choose? I find that kids generally will take more risks than adults and if they can't do something they will continue trying to do it until they can. Adults are more 'sensible' and generally play within their abilities. It's no wonder kids improve faster!
Mar 11 2016 9:02PM
Here is my 4th skill challenge. I hit a forehand figure 8 into the front left corner and then a backhand one into the back right. Believe it or not but this exercise is much more challenging than the 4 corner butterfly figure 8 volley routine. Oh and did I mention that you get to see me mess up in this one! I told you it's a tough one and I have trouble keeping it going for 10 or more shots. It's certainly a challenging exercise for me. I give it a 9 out of 10 for difficulty. If it's easy for you, wow I'd be seriously impressed! Good luck!
Mar 9 2016 9:50PM
Today I'm going to talk about a proposed change that I feel would assist with the development of the up and coming professional squash players. As juniors we are normally promised 3 matches and in some international events the tournament is played out to the final positions. I mean, who would want to travel all the way across the country or the world to get 1 match?
Professional squash players matches lose and go home, or onto the next tournament to try again a week or two later. When I graduated school I couldn't dream of playing any pro tournaments because I had student loans to start paying back and I knew I wasn't going to make a living by playing professionally. But like myself, it's a lot of kids dreams to play professionally, travel the world and meet new people and attempt to achieve our potential in this sport we love.
In PSA events if you lose first round in qualifying you don't even get a paycheque, so it's no wonder very few ever stick with their professional squash careers. I wonder what the annual turnaround is for memberships? There is a lot of pressure involved here, no points, no money and just 1 match! With my proposed change the up and coming pros will have less pressure on their result and can focus on becoming more comfortable in their environment and gain experience playing a variety of opponents at various facilities.
I don't know anyone ready to start making a living by the time they finish juniors. But still they go and sign up for a PSA tour card and register for some small events. It takes years to be competitive against older and more experienced players. Over the past decade I have seen an extremely low number of Canadians stick through this process for more than a year or two. It's a losing battle and after they put in so much work and go home with nothing or very little they think twice about what they're doing with their life and usually decide to settle down and take a coaching job!
Unless someone has a lot of sponsors or wealthy parents or is so skilled that they begin winning right away (which is incredibly rare) this is a real dilemma with squash players looking to transition from junior or college squash and become a professional squash player. It makes the idea of becoming a professional squash player pretty unrealistic for most people. So what can we do to improve this process? Hosting more smaller PSA events is a great start but I have another idea.
I feel that at 5k events the players should be guaranteed 2 matches. Yes, that's right. This means that if you lose first round you go into a consolation. This means for a draw of 16 you will get an extra 7 matches for the tournament organizer and it also offers the young pro players some much needed experience competing on the world tour. Or if you include the first round qualifying losers you have a draw of 12. I don't know how that would work, but I guess they could randomly assign byes to a few of the players.
I feel that the PSA could offer a small number of points to people who win matches in the consolation rounds and this also keeps these players around the main competition longer to watch their peers, to bond and to see how they perform. The main goal of this concept would be that all of the players leave the tournament gaining more experience; even for a young player in this situation 2 loses is better than 1. With the price of flights and the lack of small professional tournaments in Canada I believe this would be a welcomed change and it could go a long way in keeping some of our young talented players in the sport. This could only trickle up and make the PSA stronger and deeper and it may be just enough to keep a future champion or top 10 player in the game.
I realize that this proposition means that the 5k events may become 6 or 7k if they are to pay out the consolation winner and runner up. But I believe many young people playing these events will be happy getting the experience as they aren't going into these events expecting to make money, only to get their moneys worth. Also the tournament promoters would have an extra 7 matches to sell tickets for so could probably come up with the extra bit of money from ticket and beverage sales.
What do you think? Can you see the PSA going this route? Should it extend to 10k events? Would they have to penalize players that pull out of the consolation? I believe our young talented players would get twice as much out of this type of experience and it wouldn't be much extra work to arrange. I'm all for the idea. Come on PSA, the ball's in your court!
Mar 9 2016 2:07PM
Here is my 3rd skill challenge. It's the backhand version of #2 and it's quite a bit tougher. I would give this one a difficulty rating of 8 out of 10. How many can you do?
It takes a lot of forearm strength and control to do this skill challenge. As with many of the skill challenges I'm posting you also need to be able to adapt your swing with your wrist to hit a variety of targets when your body is often not in the ideal position. I will post challenge #4 over the weekend which is one of the most challenging exercises I can do. Good luck!
Mar 7 2016 1:04PM
I hope you enjoyed my 1st skill challenge. Today I am posting #2. In this exercise I am doing figure 8 volleys but with only forehand shots. You may think this is easier because I'm only hitting forehands, but try it and you'll quickly see that it is not.
Here you go. Have a look. Can you do this? If you can you have excellent control on your volley. If you can't, try on the bounce or regular figure 8 volleys first and build up to it.
I hope you enjoyed this exercise. I'm open to suggestions for the name of the exercise. I have a lot more skill challenges coming soon! I will post #3 later this week. Follow my Youtube channel at cchsquashpro for more skill challenges and other squash related videos.
Mar 3 2016 9:52PM
Over the years I've spent so many hours hitting squash balls and in particular solo hitting that I have come up with a number of unique skill challenges. Some are for warming up while others are just incredibly challenging. When I was a boy I spent a lot of time trying to get to 100 figure 8 volleys. Most of us have also seen or attempted the 4 corner figure 8 volley drill which I first learned about 12-13 years ago. So today I am posting my first video of a skill challenge to Youtube. I will continue posting a new challenge every so often so follow my Youtube channel at cchsquashpro.
Here's my first skill challenge. Let me know how many you can do. I don't have a name for it, maybe I should come up with one..how about the backhand butterfly? I'm open to suggestions. You can only backhand volleys and you hit in the front right corner and then turn around and hit it into the back left corner (if you're a righty). And for the record I got dizzy after 7 or 8 of them! Stay tuned for the elite skill challenge #2.
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