Squash News From Around The World - Serious Squash
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Feb 5 2016 2:44PM
Yes, 2 posts in 2 days! That's what happens when I actually get a day off :) I think you're going to find today's post pretty fascinating as it's about something I believe its revolutionary in terms of organizing and running a junior squash program. Let's see if you agree.
Relinquishing control as a person in charge of others can be an extremely challenging thing to do. We are brought up through an education system that tells us what to do, what we should learn and how to behave. Imagine a classroom where a teacher told the students they could do anything the wanted in class! Kids are young and how could they know what they should be doing? Because what they should be doing isn't going to match up with what they want to be doing. We feel like we are assisting with their development as we tell teach them what is right and wrong and what they need to learn to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Kids must be exposed to a number of different subjects, sports and activities; kids don't get many choices these days, yet somehow we expect them to be able to make important life decisions later on in life and to enjoy us always telling them what they are going to do next. It's no wonder kids live on their phones these days! We mean well, we want to help our kids and share our knowledge so they can learn from our mistakes. It's a great feeling to help others, but I believe that sometimes less is actually more and can actually assist with their development. Today I'm going to discuss a new practice model I'm currently experimenting with the kids that I coach.
I bought a book a year or so ago called 'Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us' by Daniel Pink (pictured above with a link to it on Amazon). As a coach I know motivation is the most important factor for a kid loving sport and wanting to dedicate extra time and work hard to become the best they can be. Many of us love squash for a variety of reasons, but I'm always curious how I can increase motivation with the athletes I work with so they will not just enjoy squash, but love it. If a kid is motivated they will work harder and in the end set more challenging goals while improving their chances of attaining them.
When I was a little kid I played my first squash tournament at the age of 9. My home club in Pickering, Ontario just happened to be hosting the Canadian Junior Nationals. I signed up for the boys under 12 and I had no expectations because I didn't know what the competition would be like. To my surprise I won the consolation and realized I was actually pretty good at squash which I had jus been playing with my family recreationally. I was a small kid so contact sports weren't up my ally. But after realizing that a person of any size could be a good squash player I began a journey to become the best I could possibly be. I was probably the most motivated and hardest working kid and the following year I started winning most of the tournaments I entered. I would do anything anyone told me to improve my squash game. I wrote daily in a journal about squash (pictured below with the very legible handwriting!), I solo hit for an hour or more almost every day and I had a home gym I used all of the me even though I didn't necessarily enjoy training.
So what does my previous experience have to do with motivation? Well, basically I had no idea what it took to become the best I was just so highly motivated. I wasn't working with national caliber coaches and I didn't belong to a group setting program like the one I currently run. I didn't have court time set aside for me each day. I became the best because of how much I loved squash and how badly I wanted to be the best. I wonder how many kids go through a similar phase like this when they are young. It got me thinking about telling kids they have to be at practice and that today we are going to do this or that and this is how I want it done. It got me thinking that maybe it was the way junior squash programs are being run that is the problem. Maybe if I backed off a bit and let the kids decide what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it they would enjoy practice more and in turn be more motivated and engaged with their learning process.
Well this is the concept I am now playing around with and have learned from the book, Drive. Every Tuesday for the past month I let the kids pick and choose what they want to work on. I will still pick who they work with so there is still interaction among all of the team members, but after that they run the practice. I bring out the ball machine and the other coach and I tell them we are at their disposal, that they can use us for feeding, running a drill or for playing a game with them. I'm still thinking of ways to tweak this so it works best, but I believe that if a kid is engaged at practice no matter what they doing they are better off than doing something that I tell them to do and that they do not want to be doing.
At the beginning I was very excited about the concept and I read how much companies have advanced because they give their employees more autonomy. I began to think about the possibilities of implanting this into my training and wondered how it would influence the kids. The first time I tried this I think a couple of the kids looked at me completely lost; they don't get to make choices about anything in their lives, let alone what they want to do in a group training session. So far nobody has said they want to do court sprints, and I'm fine with that! I feel the kids have surprised me thus and have made good use of this time. So although there is a set time for practice, they still have the freedom to practice anything they like.
For those interesting in the dynamics of my practice settings. Our Tuesday group trainings run for 1.5 hours and we have 2 groups back to back. Each group will have between 4-8 kids in it depending on the day. I will group the kids in pairs or 3's and let one of them pick first what they would like to work on and how they would like to work on it; a drill, condition game, ball machine, with a coach or with some feeding. If they know what they want to work on, but don't have an idea on what would be a good drill I'll give them a few suggestions and they will pick one of them or tweak it make it their own. Generally after 10 minutes I'll let the other kid pick what he or she would like to do. We will then switch up partners and go through this again for most of the practice.
So far I believe that the older kids have been a bit better at running their own drills and knowing exactly what they want to and need to work on. Some of the younger kids I feel don't like to practice what they have trouble with and prefer playing games. I must say I enjoy watching the older kids take charge of their own squash game and I'm excited to see how this develops.
I've only attempted this with high school students that have played squash for a minimum of 2 years so far. This is something I am considering to try with the middle school kids (11-14 years old), so I will need to post an update on this down the road. I know it goes against how we were brought up and how we think learning should take place, especially in a school setting, but I always enjoy trying new things and finding methods to improve practices.
In lessons I always ask the student what they would like to work on and it's finally time I began to do this in groups. I like this in the group setting because the kids can work on an area that they would like to, which is probably an entirely different area than the kids on the next court. With this method of training the kids will get more individualized practice and hopefully this will help their development and love of the game. I also feel like this gives the kids more creativity in their game and in how they want to practice.
When I was a kid I wanted to be the best in the world and practiced relentlessly. Many kids have dreams like this and I'm hoping that by relinquishing control of practice (at least for 1 day per week) that this may light some fireworks and for others rekindle their passion for squash. I know some of you must be wondering about that extra little push we need from time to time to become the greatest we can be and to make the most out of each practice? And what about the kids that don't really want to be there? Well if they don't want to practice they don't have to; I don't want people like that at my practices anyways. If someone needs a push I can still give it to them, but I can give it to them while they are designing and running their own practice. I'm now not the one telling them one to do and how long to do it for, but am their assistant; the athletes are in charge. I can want to produce a World Champion all I want, but in the end it isn't up to me and I wouldn't take credit for it. I may have come up with the idea for Training Autonomy Tuesdays (kudos to Daniel Pink!), but whatever level the kids achieve it will be because of their effort, passion, goals and dedication.
How much control is the right amount to give up as a coach? What about teachers? Can they give up any? Should we? Squash is a sport and kids play mostly because it's fun. Many of the top musicians and artists became the best because they wanted to practice, not because they had to practice. Even on the biggest stage Ramy (above) is in his natural element and enjoying himself; that's part of why we love watching him play. As soon as I start telling kids what to do and that they must practice x number of hours and days per week the fun can quickly disappear. When I start calling all the shots the kids are practicing so they can achieve the goals that I've set for them, which just doesn't seem right. If a kid wants to practice more and sets challenging goals I can let them know what it takes, but I want that to come from within, as it did with me as a young boy.
Feb 3 2016 10:09PM
Welcome back to Serious Squash! It's a busy time of year and my posts seem to be happening less frequently these days. I have not forgotten or given up on my side project. I have a lot of planned interesting topics on the horizon. Hopefully today will be an interesting one for all of you. Before I get into today's posts I should thank all of you over the past 19 months that have commented and written me emails about my posts and Serious Squash. I just reached 200,000 page views so I guess someone is reading what I write and finds it interesting. I hope I have got you thinking about squash more in-depth and most importantly I hope that I've helped improved some squash games along the way.
Today I'm going to talk about the psychology of playing who we perceive to be stronger players, perhaps even people we believe are out of our leagues. I don't think I can go a post without using a quote and this topic reminds me of this one, 'limitations live only in our minds.' I truly believe we are all capable of much more than we believe. In sports we often give our opponents too much credit and undervalue our own abilities and strengths. Today we are going to look at some ways to change our mindset to help us prepare for success even when we are a self declared underdog.
I've played a lot of matches over the years. I've played as the underdog, the favourite and many that could have gone either way. It is no doubt easier psychologically going into a match as the underdog as we have nothing to lose. Although when I hear someone say this I do joking point out that 'you do have the match to lose!' Even though I'm joking I don't want a player going into the match thinking it's a forgone conclusion and there is nothing left to play for. If we go into a match believing that we are a major underdog and have no chance at winning, we might be wasting an excellent opportunity to improve, measure our game and perhaps even pull off a big upset.
Redefine Success: I remember often being nervous when I played someone I thought was better than me. Nobody wants to get embarrassed on the squash court. There's nowhere to hid if things aren't going your way. When I was young and playing a stronger player I would always try and protect my ego by saying that one day I will get to this level, I'm just not quite there yet. I feel like by doing this I didn't give myself the best chance of being successful at that moment. Maybe success wasn't winning the match, but perhaps success was something different, like proving that I belong. If we just keep telling ourselves this we will eventually be more focused on the future and missed out on wonderful opportunities in the current moment which we could have potential won.
Staying Focused On The Process: sometimes I found myself doing better than I expected in these matches and a few times I let near wins slip away. We see the light at the end of the tunnel and it distracts us. It can be much more challenging than it sounds, but when you're near the end you can't be thinking just that. When I got close to beating someone I thought was stronger than me I started thinking too much about the possibility of winning and beating this great player. Once we start to see the finish line or that we actually have a chance our focus often shifts and we lose the zone we were in that got us in this great position. Regardless of level I assume this has happened to all of us at some point. Maybe some of us undervalue our own ability, while other times our opponent is just not quite up to par that day and we have a real chance of winning. So how do we go in believing we can win? And how can we prepare ourselves psychologically to take advantage of these rare opportunities when they present themselves?
Anything Can Happen Mindset: when we go into a match as an underdog I know I often tried to do too much, thinking I needed to do something extra special to beat this person. When I did this, I simply gave my opponent free points and easy openings. We need to make these players beat us and prove that they are better than us on that day. Just because someone has more rankings points or has a more successful past, does not guarantee that they will be successful on this given day. Go in and play to win regardless of who you're playing! We play the game because anything can happen. This is why even you can bet on even the most lopsided sporting matches. It may not always happen, or even often, but it doesn't mean that it won't today.
Give 100% For Every Point of Every Match: Everyone has a physical and psychological breaking point, even those that seem indestructible! You never know when it could happen or who it could happen to, so you have to keep you head down and keep battling for each and every point. Someone may look great in the warmup, but as soon as they get into an extended rally you can tell that their game begins to show some cracks. Even if you lose that match, you may have been close than you thought. Maybe all it takes to crack through and get the big win is getting a good start or 1 or 2 extended rallies; maybe then the person you thought was on a pedestal is within your grasps. If you have any doubts just remember that your opponent does, they just may be better at hiding it.
Prepare For Competition To The Best Of Your Ability: all we can really do is prepare the best we can for competition. We can't worry about what our opponent has or hasn't done. If we're playing a player of a high caliber we may give them more credit than they deserve. You don't know how they are feeling and how well they have prepared. As the saying goes, 'failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.' If you've prepared for the match you have to believe you always have a chance. If you've prepared properly you should feel confident. If you've prepared you should also be able to withstand the extra running you may have to endure. I've seen many more technically skilled players lose because they weren't fit enough; this is why proper physical preparation for competition is so important to success.
Winning Breeds Confidence: sometimes it just takes a win against a top player to believe in yourself and your ability to compete at that level. The more chances you get to play a stronger player the more likely you are to get that win. Losing too much isn't good ether, but neither is winning all the time. The top players that always win will feel pressure to continue getting these flawless results. I think it's important to play against people weaker, stronger and at your own level. Many people prefer only playing people at their level or stronger, but it's against weaker opponents we learn how to handle that pressure of being the favourite and also get to work on closing out games/matches and controlling points. And as this subtitle goes, winning breads confidence, regardless of the opponents level.
Set Mini Goals: when playing a stronger player I like to set mini goals. Sometimes it will be to get a game, or get a certain amount of points. Other times it will be to extend the length of the match and the duration of the rallies. If I'm playing a stronger opponent I should always leave the court completely spent. Other goals I like to set include my tactics. I like to focus on something simple like getting my opponent behind me and off the T. I don't know many players that can consistently beat me from the back of the court. At the end of the match I really want to make sure that my opponent had to work hard for the win. I may be exhausted and have covered more court, but I want to see that they are tired too. If I can do this against a stronger opponent I will feel pretty satisfied with my progress.
Slightly Shift Your Tactics: today seems to be the day of quotes, so here's one more! 'The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.' In squash this isn't so straight forward. It's can be difficult to tell if we have the right ideas, but are just unable to execute them well enough. If you believe your tactic is right, keep trying it over and over. I see many people give up on their tactics, because they are trying to do too much to beat this superhuman player. Although if you keep trying the same type of game and it isn't working, maybe it's time to switch it up just a little. Sometimes 1 small change is all it takes. Changing your serve, the pace your hitting the ball or your shot selection can pay real dividends. Even strong players have areas that aren't as good as the rest; do you know what it is? Can you exploit it? Or maybe you've become too predictable and you need to try a new trick. Make sure you don't play outside of your ability though or you will be giftwrapping the match to your opponent.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this topic as it could really be an entire book or series of books all in itself. The mental game is something under-taught and difficult to measure. I know the toughest opponents I've ever faced were all fearless and always gave 100%; they didn't care who was on court with them or what the score was and they were always prepared for a battle. The good news is that being mentally tough and always giving 100% is a goal that is realistic for all of us, regardless of our skill level. If you want a good book about underdogs check out David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. This book will probably get you to think twice about how we define underdogs and favourites. Here's the link to it on Amazon:
Thanks again to everyone for reading my blog and sending me feedback. If you have any suggestions for future posts please feel free to send them along. Working at a school I also have some flexibility in the months of June-August each year. If any of you would like me to run a squash camp at your club or come to you for some personalized coaching sessions feel free to send me an email. I've also recently started doing some private video analysis for some clients across the globe. I'm always looking for opportunities to expand my squash networking around the world. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any topic post suggestions or business related inquiries.
Jan 2 2016 3:24PM
Today I'm going to talk about percentage squash. I don't like telling people when to hit which shots, but there are clearly times where a specific shot is a superior choice to another. Some players are more attacking or defensive in their nature; this could be due to their preference in style or their current technical skills. The challenge for the less skilled is that they are so focused on immediate results that they don't always play the most tactically sound shot. Defensive or attacking minds alike, the game has become faster and more attacking. This means there are times were the defensive players will need to learn how to take advantage of the openings they get, while the attacking players need to walk the fine line of forcing the action and being too patient waiting for the perfect opening.
I recently read an article written by my old coach from university, Jack Fairs. The article is called 'Playing The Percentages - The Corner Stone Of Effective Play' and was published on September 16, 1985. Knowing how much the game has changed over the past 30 years I though it would be interesting to see how the tactics of squash have evolved as our equipment, training methods, scoring and our knowledge of the game have advanced.
Jack's main concept in this article is that you should play percentage squash; basically hit high and deep from the back and low and attack when in front of your opponent. Jack further explains that when you receive a loose ball and you fail to attack you let your opponent off the hook and are not playing the high percentage, attacking shot. So although it may at first appear like a defensive strategy it really isn't, it's just about setting up a higher percentage attacking shot. We often see kids go for nicks when it's not really on. They may even hit 1 every so often, but playing winning squash is about setting up higher percentage openings and limiting your number of errors. Below is a decent decent model of this I found online. It's a basic stop light model about where on the court to attack or defend from.
The basic strategy of defending from the back and attacking when in front sounds simple, but I still don't see it performed on a consistent basis. If you want to get better at implementing this tactic try and play condition games were you can only go short when you're in front of your opponent, or you can even try one where you must go short when you are in front of your opponent; this will allow you to commit to your short shots. I see a lot of players that only hit length and pass up these golden opportunities that they create. You can also try using some markers to section off the court so you must hit beyond them when you are in the back corners. This will ensure you are hitting your length deep and high enough while attempting to play smart, high percentage shots.
I believe the biggest challenge is to stick to a basic strategy like this for the entirety of a match. Learning how to stick with your game plan for a prolonged period of time can be challenging physically and mentally. Sometimes we lose patience or our focus for just a second and then the next thing we know we are trying to hit a drop from a low percentage situation. We then get rattled about our foolish decision and give away another cheap point. Next thing we know our opponent has done nothing and won 2 or 3 rallies in a row. Top players very rarely have these prolonged blips in performance.
Another way to practice playing the percentages is to use a 20+ year old racquet. I feel like many people today try and do too much because of modern day equipment, but this doesn't always mean the shot they are hitting is the correct, high percentage shot. If you play with an old, heavy frame you will realize quickly that you need to become more basic and need to set up a golden opportunity if you want to attack short effectively. Pictured below is a picture of the old school, but new Harrow racquet. I have one of these and enjoy practicing with it.
So when does the above strategy not apply? When I play, I'll go short when I notice my opponent hanging back to far on the T, if they are slow to the front or are getting tired. If you are going to go short from the back, just make sure there is a reason to why you are doing it and that you are properly balanced and set when doing so. Most people just get impatient and force the ball short trying to do too much. Watch the pros and notice how rarely they will attack from the back of the court and they have the best racquet skill in the world and they also play on a lower tin. A well disguised attacking boast in the women's game can be extremely effective and is one shot I really believe is essential to playing at a high level.
If you want to attack from the back you must 1) know when the right time is and 2) know who this will work against and 3) be able to attack with a high level of skill. Another area I noticed as I developed as a squash player is that many people like to just hit length and if you do this you will make very few mistakes but you will be out there all day playing the match. So I would like to throw in a working boast at some point in the first game to find out what they do. Some players will always hit it back deep and to your backhand side so if they fall into this predictable trap I will do it over and over to shorten up the match and avoid the long, drawn out length rallies waiting patiently for an opening.
When you're nearing the end of a game or match most of us begin to think about the finish line. The person leading often begins to force the play instead of sticking with their strategy all the way through. If you're down in this situation you have to realize that the person ahead is prone to losing focus and making a few cheap mistakes and then will likely get tense about giving up a lead and missing out on the previous game balls. So when you're down in a game and the end may seem near, just play very basic squash and you may be surprised what can happen. While if you're the person leading in the game your best strategy is to keep doing what you're doing and not let any game balls go to waste.
Even though attacking only when in front is an extremely effective strategy and if you followed this you would be much tougher to beat, there are times when attacking from a lower-percentage court position can actually be a high-percentage play. It takes a lot of practice and experience to know when these situations are in a match and how to implement them. There's your strategy talk for the day. Keep it basic and simple and you'll be tougher to beat and you'll ensure that if you lose, it's your opponent beating you, not you beating yourself! For the more skilled, advanced and experienced players there is a time where being less predictable is the right play, but don't overdo and force the play or you'll be asking for trouble!
Dec 24 2015 10:17AM
Today I'm going to talk about the importance of focus and concentration while you practice. Being focused is generally about being present on the task at hand, in the current moment as opposed to thinking about the past or future. We all know how critical focus is during competition, but it's during practice where we influence the quality of our practices depending on the state of our mind. Two players could be doing the exact same practice routines with the same opponent, but one player could improve more from an identical session. Today I will give you some tips on how to enter this deeper focus level in practice more consistently so you make the most of every minute and every shot.
I've worked with a lot of kids and finding ways to get them all to be engaged for as much of practice as possible can prove to be challenging. As we get older and improve our ability to maintain our focus and also learn how to get into the zone quickly this becomes less of an issue. For some kids this can be quite a challenge. I find that this happens most when the kids are doing something quite simple or too difficult.
We need to be challenged to improve, but for a kid or someone new to the sport this can be a delicate balance. If we ask too much of someone or put them on court with someone much stronger or weaker there can easily be a loss of focus and effort is diminished.
On the other side of this issue is when the task is simple; let's say drop, drop or boast and drive. Many people even at a high level will just go through the motions and do the drill and are prone to lapses of focus. When someone is given a simple repetitive drill I find that the most coaching is usually required to reap the benefits of it. I will normally work on technique or use a goal and time them or give them a certain number of attempts to keep their concentration high. Again when you do this the number or reps allowed cannot be too high or the time too long or the player is prone to a lapse of focus; this is especially true f they get off to a slow start and know that they can't reach their goal.
It takes a lot of time to learn how to get certain players going and keep their practice quality high. I've designed many great practices designed specifically for what people need to work on, but if the kids aren't in the right mindset it ends up wasting everyone's time. When this happens it can be extremely frustrating as a coach, but I've learned that once in awhile you have to give the kids some leeway; they are just kids after all and don't always want to work on technique or something they struggle with. So being able to scrap a practice and do something fun is sometimes the best option. Even when I was playing competitively I would have the odd off day where you're just in a bad mood or not feeling it. When I had an off day I learned that I needed to do something different. Mixing it up might mean going to the gym, doing court sprints, playing 3 corner court, or even playing a nick game.
One method for making the most of each and every practice is by having a goal for each and every practice or for the week. Make a plan on what you want to do and work on before you even get to the squash club. You should even decide which drills or condition games you want to play before you get to the club. You should also keep your season and dream goals nearby in case you need that pick me up when you're a bit fatigued or a bit low on motivation. Keeping a journal or having some positive statements to remind yourself anytime you catch your focus drifting could be a big boost. You could also think back to that last match you lost in 5 or about those high ambitions you have for an upcoming tournament. Learning how to stay hungry will help with your work ethic and will keep you more focused during practice day in, day out.
Learning how to maintain focus at practice is an essential skill for excelling at squash. Not everyone enjoys just hitting straight drives or doing figure 8's; I always enjoyed this, but I have to realize that not everyone does. Being able to get into the zone for practice is for me the most important trait of an effective, high quality session. I feel that many kids now have difficulty focusing while training because they are always on their cellphones, watching television, surfing the web and often doing all 3 at once! Some off the court training methods for improving focus include yoga, floating or meditation. There is also a test I've seen where there are random numbers scattered throughout the page and you have to find out how many of a certain number are on the page. Puzzles like this one, crosswords or sudoku can all be beneficial for improving sustaining your concentration for a prolonged period of time.
There is also a maximum length of time that someone can stay focused for. Just like there is a set amount of physical work we can do at one time the same implies for our concentration. We all lose focus here or there and learning how to refocus is extremely critical, but if you're practicing mindlessly for any sustained period of time don't fight it, just take a break and grab a drink or snack or maybe it's time to change up the drill.
I always tell my athletes that the warmup is as much or more for your mental preparation as it is for your physical preparation. Most people skip warmups when they are practicing because they know they can ease their way into it. If you are taking a long time to find our zone in practice I recommend doing a warmup before your practice sessions. This is also why I like scoring in practice to keep it competitive and keep an edge to it.
If you find yourself losing focus, simply design a refocusing routine to get back on track. I prefer wiping my hand on the side wall and taking a deep mindful breath. If you focus on your breath you are automatically brought back to the present moment and I find it an effective method for getting my mind back on the right track. Find what works for you and be sure to use it, especially in your practices.
If you want to improve faster and make the most out of your practice sessions, learning how to become and stay focused is an essential skill. We all have heard about deliberate practice, so many of us are simply counting our hours until we get to 10,000 yet there are some people that improve faster with equal or less practice time. Practicing more if unfocused in my opinion will make you worse because you get mentally sloppy and lazy and this will influence your ability to stay focused in future practice and competitions.
Squash can be an incredibly physically and mentally draining game. Knowing when to take a day or week off, or even just when to mix up your training can ensure you are challenged and ultimately focused. Also understanding that practice doesn't have to always be maximum physical effort for you to benefit from it. Solo hitting is one of my favourite methods of training and I also find the most effective for improving.
If you want to improve faster, train smarter and learn how to stay completely engaged for the duration of your practices. If you have to practice less, alter practices, add goals, or just play some fun games you will enjoy practice more and in the end get more out of it. If you still struggle with focus try yoga, floating, meditation, or some puzzles to learn how to quiet your mind and improve your concentration. If you made it through this entire post in one read I'm betting that your focus is already pretty good. Maybe I should write a condensed post for those that need it most!
Being able to maintain your focus in practice is a great start, but knowing what to focus on is where your coach can really help you with your game. Just having any focus will improve your concentration. A good bet is you could improve your racquet preparation or spacing so try thinking about either of those the next time you're doing drills and I bet you're focus will improve and you will be practicing smarter! Don't just whack the ball to an area, us a goal, target or focus on your technique to get the most out of your time on court. Improve your focus, improve your practice, improve your game.
Dec 17 2015 6:59PM
I know it's been awhile since my last post, but it's been a busy time of year. I have a few interesting topics on the horizon, as I believe this one will be. I can't believe that today is my 200th post! I'm going to talk about the importance and challenges of both discipline and creativity in squash. In squash we have players that are very basic, but extremely effective. There are others that look as though they are creating poetry with their creativity and flare and are some of the most enjoyable people to watch. As a coach the challenge is knowing how much creativity to allow and foster in the development of an athlete. For some coaches it may be cut and dry, but I'm somewhere in the middle. You'll hear why shortly.
When it comes down to it, almost every player would perform better and will improve their chances of winning if they play disciplined and basic. Most kids like to play tricky shots, but are unable to play the basic and more effective shot, which makes their tricky shot even less effective! This is why that when I'm working with kids I like to ask them if they want to be Globetrotter or a professional NBA player? I don't know the stats, but I doubt there are many or any Globetrotters that would be able to make the NBA, but I'm certain they all would like to if they could. This is an analogy that I like to use because many kids like to play flashy and normally ineffective shots. But not the other side of this argument if we look at the NBA there are plenty of basketball players that are creative and do things that are beyond the basics of basketball. These moves were practiced more than likely on the street rather than in a team practice structure and have learned how to play them effectively at the highest level; so tricky and fancy shots can work. So how should you practice your squash game? Basic and disciplined or creative and fancy?
Although from the previous paragraph it may sound like the answer is quite simple, that discipline and hard work is the way to go, it isn't quite that straightforward to me. Both a basic disciplined player and a creative one can be equally effective and have a passion for squash. I believe the main issues with this have to do with individual differences. Although I feel that most kids likely need more discipline to become a top level competitive squash player. It takes a lot of time on court and repetition to be able to hit your targets consistently.
Also learned while working on your shot repetition and disciplined practice is the training of your concentration. Every squash player knows the importance yet challenge of maintaining their focus for the entirety of a match. I believe that players that have been well disciplined will be better able to maintain their focus during practices and matches. Being in the zone is something that any level of athlete can attain, but takes time to be able to learn how get into it quickly and stay in it for the duration of a match. Simply put, concentration and the zone are skills that have to be developed and I believe they are better learned through a disciplined practice structure.
So back to creativity. I think some kids are more engaged when they are allowed to be creative as they initiate more areas of the brain. If these same kids were forced to practice a basic repetitive drill it does not engage them as deeply and I find many will just go through the motions because they find this boring. Finding a balance of both is the key here. Nowadays with so many distractions and stimulation around us (video games, computers, tvs and cell phones) people crave constant stimuli. So I believe the key is to give the kids challenging goals/targets when they practice blocked drills to try and keep them engaged. At a certain skill level most kids will learn to enjoy the simple challenge of hitting 1 shot over and over again as they finely calibrate their swing. Also crucial is setting up practices which foster creativity. Even for the basic disciplined player, some extra thinking within a practice can help them practice out of their comfort zone; which can happen in competition.
As a coach I don't like to say 'don't do this or that.' I believe there is a time and place for any shot to be played. But I also realize that making the same mistakes over and over is Einstein's version of insanity! I like a balance of these two. Is the shot something that could become a weapon when it's executed better? Or is the shot just an extremely low percentage and the wrong play? It can be difficult to play creative and potentially risky shots in competition until they are very well rehearsed. Players like Jonathon Power and Ramy Ashour are some of the most iconic and exciting players to watch of all time; they were able to play creative squash, but also did the basics extremely well. What would have happened to Jonathon or Ramy if they had never been allowed to explore their creative sides of their squash game? I think player like Jonathon and Ramy had an understanding of the basics and also knew there was a part of squash that had not been explored before. If I had to guess I would say that they both liked creating a new style all their own as much as they did winning!
I think the best way for kids to explore new swings or shots is while they are solo hitting. This doesn't impact anyone else and will not upset the coach. Also, the athlete can attempt a certain shot as many times as they like trying to perfect it. Similar to a skateboarder trying to do a certain trick for the first time and failing over and over. Once the skateboarder gets it they spend hours, days, weeks, months or even years learning how to perfect it. It's one thing to be able to do something in practice and another to be able to do it in competition.
Squash is more than just serves, volleys, lengths, boasts and drops. Finding the balance of the basics and the creative ways you can make your own game unique is what makes squash so fun to play and to watch. If we all played the same and only played shot x from position y squash could get pretty boring! Even though shot x might be the right shot almost all of the time, knowing when to play shot z is what makes squash so dynamic and unpredictable. When I went to watch some international tournaments (Penang Junior Open and the Canadian Junior Open) I see a lot of similarities among the kids. Most of the top kids are fast and hit the ball hard, but I see very little variation of pace or deception and a general lack of volleying. I get that pace and speed are two of the biggest weapons in squash, but I'd still like to see more variety from different players. This makes me feel like most kids are being taught and trained the same way these days, but certainly this will only favour some players and not others.
I've always been one that's enjoyed finding alternative ways to do things. I also now understand that if your basics aren't top notch it won't matter how creative you can be because you will never have the time to express yourself. At least for people like me, I believe there is a balance between the two. As a coach it is our job to teach the fundamentals, but I believe it is also our job to give some slack and encourage our players to try new things while learning how to play the game. So are you practicing to become a squash Globetrotter or an NBA player?? Don't forget that a Globetrotter still has to be able to sink a free throw :)
Oct 27 2015 2:19PM
I am back! And today I'm going to talk about the importance of volleying when your opponent is in the front of the court. This is generally much more difficult than volleying when your opponent is behind you as you have less time to react. When your opponent is up at the front of the court there are a lot of factors that will determine if you will be able to volley their shot or not. First let's discuss why this is such an important strategy to employ.
As you improve in squash you get to a level where attacking shots to the front of the court are not often outright winners. Instead these attacking shots create pressure and this is where you should be looking to trap your opponent in the front of the court and follow up your attack with a volley. If you do and can hit a decent volley length you have a great shot at winning the point or at the very least keeping your opponent on the run.
Above you can see a picture of Mosaad hitting a backhand straight drive from the front. You can see Ramy hasn't left the T yet so Mosaad must have disguised his shot well. If Mosaad had not, Ramy would be right behind him hunting the volley. Ramy does have cat like reflexes so it is entirely possibly that he was still able to cut this ball off, but I would guess this is going to get by him if it was hit with enough pace.
When you're at the front of the court and your opponent is hunting to volley the ball you can feel trapped up there. Look at the picture below of Willstrop and Selby. In this situation Willstrop is under a moderate amount of pressure and I'm guessing was about to drop or lob because he has a short racquet preparation. It would be tough for Willstrop to drive the ball by Selby in this situation. The more pressure you are under the most challenging it will be to get the ball by your opponent. This is why in the above photo, Mosaad is at the front with plenty of time and not under any pressure making it difficult for Ramy to volley. If Mosaad was under more pressure he may be forced to lift the ball.t
Hopefully you can now have a better understanding as to why volleying when your opponent is in the front of the court creates so many problems. If you want to try to implement this into your game here are some things that will help you do so.
I believe there are a couple of essential things to being able to volley when your opponent is in front of you. The first is the ability to read your opponent and anticipate where they are going to hit. As someone is under more pressure they will be less likely to disguise their shot and are more vulnerable to you jumping on the volley behind them. This leads to the second essential factor, pressure. If you put your opponent under pressure as you bring them to the from you are more likely to get a weak reply and will make your volley far easier.
A third factor that will allow you to volley more around the middle is quick feet and good footwork moving laterally. This includes being able to hit open stance and having a quick racquet preparation. You also need to be able to hit a good snappy volley with a compact backswing. To hit a short snappy volley with accuracy you need to time it perfectly. This is again why putting your opponent under pressure and being able to read their postural set up is so key to early preparation. You can even adjust your T position up or sideways when the situation dictates. If you move up and take the ball even earlier you give your opponent even less time to get the next shot.
Key Note: If your opponent is under little pressure and disguises their shot or has good holds you will need to make sure your attacking shot is more accurate if you want to implement this tactic.
Here are some of my favourite drills, condition games and exercises for working on volleying the ball while your opponent is in the front of the court.
1) Boast, crosscourt length, straight drive
2) A hits straight or court length, B tries to volley drive to self and then boast, if B is unable to volley drive then they boast
3) A plays straight or crosscourt lob, if B can volley drive they switch, if B cannot volley they boasts
4) Short vs. deep and switch on a volley drive
5) Boast, straight or crosscourt drive, straight drive
6) Straight or court length, straight or crosscourt length, anything short
7) Length game with the option to boast, must hit deep off the boast
8) 3 corner court while I attempt to not let any balls being hit from the front get into the back corner.
9) Quick mid-court volleys in pairs side to side. This is a great exercise for getting on your toes, having your racquet up while learning to react quickly to the ball.
10) Work on your lateral court movement. Try 1 person posting to either side or shadow ghosting a partner to make this movement more challenging and specific. Be sure to shape up with your racquet quickly while ghosting to prepare yourself properly.
11) Learn to hit open stance volleys with some snap on them. Try doing solo mid-court volley drives on your back foot. Most people can generate adequate pace when they have time, but when you have to shorten your backswing can you still generate enough pop to execute the desired result?
Many people are aware that especially from the front of the court on their forehand side most people have a tendency to hit the ball crosscourt. If you pick up on this shot pattern try and take advantage of it and cut the ball off. This is why you see the pros play many shots down the middle and extra wide crosscourts. They've played so much squash and have to use the entire court height and width to get their opponent of the volley.
Learning to bring your opponent to the front and then follow it with a volley is what I like to call a shot combination. Try and see if you can find one that will work and if they don't adjust keep taking advantage of their predictability or lack of precision.
This post could be written entirely backwards about how to keep your opponent off the volley when you are at the front. If you practice some of the drills above you will also be learning how to do this. This is why there isn't always a set perfect width; because this depends on your and your opponents court position. But I digress. That's enough. I know it's been awhile since my last post, so I hope this was interesting and worth the wait! Remember that taking the ball early increase your area to attack and decreases the time allowed for your opponent. The less time you allow your opponent the weaker their response will be.
Sep 17 2015 1:21PM
Today I'm going to talk about furniture, a clock and Amr Shabana. I know strange combo, right? Well I'm going to use pictures of Shabana to demonstrate how to vary your swing path for different types of drop shots. The furniture and clock parts are things that I like to use for visualizing the swing paths of various drop shots. As you learn to do this your swing path will stay on line and your drops will become more consistent; perhaps even resembling the great Maestro!
|Shabana hitting a forehand counter drop|
Dropping From The Height You Want To Hit On The Front Wall
Below we have a low coffee table. I like to use this as an image when explaining how to hit drops that are hit just above the tin. You are hitting the ball at a height that is already at the target you want to hit on the front wall, so you simply swing right across the low coffee table. I find many people drop their follow through or start with their racquet to high for this shot. The length of the swing can greatly vary even at the highest level.
We can also look at this picture of Shabana and visualize how his swing would have been right along the above low coffee table. Basically the height of the ball is just about where he is aiming on the front wall so we will be swinging parallel to the floor and following through on this same line. Considering I don't see his opponent in sight, I think it's safe to assume he won this point!
|Shabana swinging across the low coffee table with a relatively flat racquet face on this forehand drop.|
Dropping From Above The Height Of The TinIf you are going to hit a drop from higher on the bounce or the volley you want to aim down, meaning you will have to swing high to low. The amount you swing from high to low depends on the angle you have. The higher the ball is at contact the more severely you can cut down on the ball. You can either lift the back part of the coffee table, or think of a the hands on a clock as an example. For example if using the clock, you can swing from 2:00 to 8:00. In the example below you would swing from approximately 2:00 (high) to 8:00 (low).
|Shabana about to slot this into the nick swinging from high (2:00) to low (8:00) with an open racquet face.|
Also important to note here is the angle of the racquet face. If your racquet face is closed and your swing path is from high to low you have a good chance of hitting the ball into the floor or the tin, or at least hitting the ball too hard. So having an open racquet is an important characteristic of a drop when making contact from higher than your target on the front wall. I don't want to get too complex here, but very skilled players will actually swing from high to low (like the clock above) and will finish up again, close to the height they initiated their swing from. This means their swing path is high to low, straightening up through contact and then back to high again. This allows them to put a lot of slice on the ball and also keep the ball above the tin as the follow through has a major influence over the direction of the shot.
Dropping From Below The Height Of The Tin
If we look at a drop which is struck from under the height of the tin it is easy to visualize how we need to start our swing low (under the ball) and finish higher then we started (see another great example of Shabana doing this below). You can tell Shabana had struck the ball below the height of the tin and because of this the ball is rising on the way to the front wall. This is how he can get the ball over the tin. The problem with this is that we are hitting up on the ball and that once the ball hits the front wall it is almost surely to still be rising slightly. If you also include that the swing preparation for hitting a drop lacks deception, you can tell why it isn't hit very often from below the height of the tin. If done it is almost only done so well from the very front of the court as counter attacks where deception doesn't matter and we are hitting the ball so softly it won't rise much (or at all) after contacting the front wall.
|Shabana swinging with an open racquet from low to high on a forehand counter drop.|
In the above picture you will see that Shabana has received a tight ball and it was pretty low to the floor. To get under the ball and keep it tight, Shabana used a slight overspin/topspin shot. You'll see the pros do this most of the time when the ball is really tight and once in a while from mid-court if they are really feeling it! It's a much easier to play on the forehand side.
I felt like it was fitting to pay some homage to the recently retired Maestro, Amr Shabana. I normally wouldn't use a lefty for examples, but he is one of the very few lefties that I've ever seen with an exceptionally smooth swing. If you want to have a smooth swing path and drop it like the Maestro, try visualizing a clock, low coffee table, or some other piece of furniture you have in your house. It goes back to what an earlier post I wrote about the follow through. The ball 'usually' goes where our swing is aiming. If you want to ensure you hit your target, make sure that just prior and just after contact your swing is going towards your target and you will increase your accuracy.
You can visualize different objects to help you with all types of shots. For some people the clock works, others like to use items. You could for example hit a lob from below your hip to above your head. Or to a kid you could say you want them to swing up along a slide. There are lots of ways that people learn. Find one that works for you. If you're good at billiards or geometry you will probably enjoy squash. If you've played any net game you should also have a decent understanding about angles and when the best opportunities are to attack vs. defend based on the reception height of your shot.
Sep 14 2015 10:36AM
Alright, I'm back after a busy start to the season. I know that some people play and train all season while others haven't touched a racquet in months. If you're the latter group, this post is for you. If you trained and played all summer, then you're probably already feeling fit and playing at a high standard and you can come back and read this post for after you have a long break.
Over my years of playing squash I've played year round, and I've also taken a few months off. As we get older taking time off makes it tougher to get back. When I was a kid I could miss a month and within a week be back to where I left off. Nowadays I think it's more about doubles the time I miss to get back to where I was. When I was in my early 20's and didn't play for the summer it would take me 3 or 4 months to feel like I was back playing well and fit again. This is why I learned to always keep playing over the summer, even if it's just once a week.
If you're one of those people that have take the summer off and are all ready and set to get back into full swing I have a few tips for you. (and no, that picture above is not me, lol)
1) Ease your way back into t - almost all of us will overdo it and this can lead to injuries.
2) Don't play a hard match your first time back on court.
3) When you play your first match, make the next day an easy one.
4) A cool down/stretch can save you a lot of pain the first few times back on the court.
5) Have realistic expectations. Don't expect to be right back where you were when you stopped playing. Sure, some people you were close to before may be ahead of you now. Just focus on yourself and the long term goals. Write them out and set time lines.
6) Don't play any tournaments until you've been back for at least a month or your asking for trouble. At least if you play at a high level.
7) Use your first 2 or 3 tournaments of the season as training tools. Have lower expectations and just go see where your game and fitness is, while remembering that your bigger goals are focused on more important tournaments later in the season.
8) Remember that especially in these situations, less is more!
If you follow these steps you are more likely to get back to where you left off and stay healthy. Sometimes the hardest step to take is the first one after a layoff. This is why I suggest not getting right back into matchplay.
Squash is such a tough sport if you've taken a layoff. You'll likely get squash butt and hurt in places you haven't felt in months or years! That's why it's important to ease your way back into it. Maybe you start with a solo hit, some easy drills; a few days later maybe get up to a single game at the end of your drill session. You can also do some ghosting or movement drills to get your body prepared for the squash specific movements that your body will about to endure.
Easing back into squash is extremely difficult. We want to work hard and get back to where we think we should be and often do too much too soon. Knowing when to say enough is enough for right now and I'm not quite ready for that is key. Normally we never want to admit we can't do something or that we're too exhausted, especially to do well in squash. Give yourself some slack the first month 2 back and you're body will thank you for it later in the season!
Aug 30 2015 8:23PM
Today I'm going to talk about tactics. Do you know what your style of play is? It is what suits you best or is it just how you've been taught to play? What do you do well when you play your best? Do you always play the same way versus or do you vary your game depending on your opponent? And most importantly do you have a game plan each and every time you step onto the court?
I find tactics are often overlooked in squash. Most coaches and players at least in North America seem to promote a traditional style of squash, keep the ball in play and wait for a good opening. To me it seems strange to coach everyone to play the same style of squash. I believe many of us would benefit from finding our own personal style. Also if we can learn to slightly adjust our game plan depending on who we're playing and what's happening it can make the difference between winning and losing. Below is a questionnaire I asked some of the kids I coach to fill out a recent camp. This questionnaire is designed to help them come up with a game plan.
I got this idea from reading Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants. Gladwell talks about how we incorrectly view giants. This happens in sport as well. Often before we step on court we already have a good idea of what will happen. This is especially troublesome when we think we can't win. We may feel that our opponent is so fast, is so mentally tough, or has such good length that we have no chance to defeat them. We can easily point out our opponent's strengths and have difficulty seeing their weaknesses as well as our own strengths. The questionnaire below can help you find out what areas you may be stronger than your opponent and can be used to come up with a game plan to counter your opponent's perceived unbeatable strengths!
If you've read Gladwell's book you'll know that just because someone has an overwhelmingly obvious strength, it doesn't mean they cannot be beaten. There is a style that is most effective against people that hit hard, are left handed, are shooters, and so on. I'll get into some of these topics in future articles, but today I'll just focus on learning more about tactics and coming up with a game plan.
You vs. Opponent: A Self-Analysis (opportunities and threats) – play to your strengths, exploit your opponents weaknesses and learn to minimize your own weaknesses
Who Has The Upper Hand? - answer the following questions with either 'me' or 'my opponent'
Confidence/belief in winning:
Will to win/who wants it more:
Can change pace/ use height on the front wall:
Movement is more efficient:
Decision making/shot selection:
The above areas are what I would consider the most vital for developing a game plan and winning squash. Even if your opponent is stronger than you in a number of the above areas you can still find another way to improve your odds of winning by playing to your strengths, exploiting your opponents weaknesses while learning how to avoid their strengths as much as possible.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you're interested in tactics you should also read Brad Gilbert's book called Winning Ugly. Gilbert talks about how he used tactics and really thought his way to the top 10 of the tennis world. Gilbert wouldn't just go in and play the same traditional style of tennis because he knew he didn't match up against people with superior talents (the perceived giants!). When there's a will there's a way and Gilbert discusses all the little details that made him one of the toughest and most frustrating players to play on tour.
The challenge with changing tactics during a match is when we become to analytical and overthink. This is where the often heard motto of KISS (keep it simple stupid) comes to mind. If we overcomplicate things we normally won't perform. This is where coaching can make a big difference. It's also extremely challenging to have an objective view while performing. We are often too concerned about the scoreboard and use this to judge how we are playing. If you focus on the process and game plan you are more likely to play in the zone and your best squash. Find your balance of strategizing and playing instinctively. This is why various styles and adjustments needs to be practiced over and over so they become automatic and instinctual.
Maybe your strengths will suit an attacking and deceptive style of play. If so then you should come up with a game plan that fosters that style of play. If we coaches and parents try and get everyone to play the same, conservative style of play we have little chance of succeeding. If we play the same way as our opponent, but they are better at it, doesn't it make sense to have an alternative? Sometimes you need to take the path less traveled because that is what suits your game. There are a lot of ways to win and finding the way that works best for you is part of the journey. Hopefully the above questionnaire will give you some guidance on becoming the best you can possibly be.
That's it for today. I hope you think a bit more about your style of play and what suits you best. Even a bad game plan is a plan. Go out and try and to execute your game plan and then if it isn't working have a plan B. After a game or match (or even quicker as you gain experience) you can ask yourself whether the game plan was correct and if so did you execute it to the best of your ability. Then it really comes down to trial and error. You learn how to play different ways against different opponents and ideally this will give you the best chance of being successful against a variety of opponents.
Aug 11 2015 1:24PM
Today I'm going to talk about some 3 person drills you can do. Most of us know a lot of drills we can do with 2 people, but are unsure of what we can do with that 3rd wheel. Some of the drills are repetitive, others 1 or 2 players will have options and some will be conditions games and really make you think. I enjoy doing a combination of them. Find which ones work for you and try and implement them the next time you are training in a group of 3. What you're capable of doing will depend on your skill levels.
Three Person Drills
- Three person boast and drive (1 in the front, 2 in the back). You can do 1 shot or 2 shots (which means 1 shot to yourself).
- A hits straight drive, B hits volley drop, C hits straight drive, B hits straight volley drive.
- A and B hit drives on one side of the court. They both have the option to hit a volley crosscourt drive to player C. If they hit a volley crosscourt drive, player C hits a straight drive and then the person that hit it to this side goes over and continues the rally.
- A and B can hit straight drive or boast. If A boasts, B has to return it with a straight drive to C's side.
- A and B can hit straight drive or boast. If A boasts, B has to return it with a straight drive or straight drop to C's side.
- A and B can hit straight drive or boast. If A boasts, B has to return it with a straight drive to C or can hit crosscourt back to player A (keeps them from being lazy after playing a boast)
- A and B play a straight game on one half of the court. A and B both also have the option to boast. When one of them boasts the other has to get it and hit a straight drive or drop to C's side.
- A drives straight, B volleys crosscourt drop/kill, C hits crosscourt, B hits volley drive, repeat
- A hits straight drives, B hits straight drive or boast, C hits straight drive
a. A hits straight drive, B hits straight drive or boast, C hits straight drive off drive and can hit straight drive or court lob off boast.
- A hits short mid-court drive/feed, B drives, A hits another short mid-court drive feed, C drives
a. A hits short drive feed, B drives and then ghosts laterally, repeat 5 times and C goes.
- Chase the hole/rotating boast and drive. A boasts, B drives, C boasts, A drives, B boasts, C drives.
- A drives, B drives, A boasts, B drives, C drives, B boasts, C drives, A drives, C boasts.
- A boasts, B drops, C drops, B drives, C boasts, B drops, A drops, B drives, repeat.
- A drops (from back of the court), B drops, C drive
- A drops (from back of the court), B drops, C drops, B drives
- A drops or boasts (from back of the court), B drops, C drives
- A drops or boasts (from back of the court), B drops straight or cross, C drives or crosscourts
- A hits boast, B hits straight drive or crosscourt drive, C volleys to straight length and if cannot volley they let the ball go back to A and they drop or boast again (as demonstrated in diagrams below).
- If C isn't able to they have to get the ball off the back wall and drive it.
12. A boasts, B hits straight or crosscourt drop, C hits straight drive (as diagramed below).
13. Three person rotating drives (no volleys allowed)
a. each player has the option to boast or drive, off the boast the next player just hit straight drive
14. A hits a straight drop, B drives, A hits a straight drive, B straight drives, A hits straight drop, C hits straight drive, A hits straight drive, C hits straight drive, repeata. A can straight drop or straight drive, B hits straight drive (go until they cannot get the ball back then C's turn)
15. A boasts, B drives, A drives, B drives, A boasts, C drives, A drives, C drives
16. A boasts or hits a straight drop, B hits straight or crosscourt drive, A drives, B drives, A boasts, C hits straight or crosscourt drive, A drives, C drives, repeat
17. A drives, B drive, A boasts, B hits straight drop, C hits straight drop, B hits crosscourt (or crosscourt lob)
With 3 people I often do king of the court 2 person drills or condition games and rotate after each rally. I enjoy making these types of drills competitive. For example you could do drive, drive boast with 2 people and then then winner of the rally stays in and gets a point. You could also do the drill until someone hits a target and/or wins the point. You can do this for any drill and with the odd breather you'l find that you can work harder and that keeping score will help the intensity and focus stay high.
With 3 people I often do king of the court 2 person drills or condition games and rotate after each rally. I enjoy making these types of drills competitive. For example you could do drive, drive boast with 2 people and then then winner of the rally stays in and gets a point. You could also do the drill until someone hits a target and/or wins the point. You can do this for any drill and with the odd breather you'l find that you can work harder and that keeping score will help the intensity and focus stay high.
You can have a lot of fun and really mix things up with 3 people on the court. I've given you 17 drills, many with slight variations which will make the drill different and in many cases much more challenging. Enjoy!
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