Ten mistakes on the squash court that can impact your game

Do you make the same mistakes on the squash court, over and over again? Squash Mistakes 4

If you do, you are not alone.

Some mistakes are harder to fix, some are not. If you recognize a mistake as soon as you make it, you have hope. You can try to avoid it the next time around. Bad habits acquired over a period of time are hard to shed overnight. But if you feel that you do make some of the mistakes shown below, you can pick a couple to work on.

So, here’s a look at ten mistakes on the squash court that can impact your game.

Advertising your shot: A good squash player always keeps his/her racquet back while approaching the ball to play a shot. This makes it difficult for the opponent to anticipate the shot and prepare for it. Approaching the ball with the racquet in the front, limits your options. A smart opponent will take advantage of your situation and prepare to counter your shot even before it is played. Your winning drop can quickly turn into a let or even a stroke.

Admiring your shot: How often have you played what you thought was a winning shot only to find that your opponent got to it and put it away? Club players often forget that a point is never won until the ball dies. Shots that win you points against a lower level player may not yield the same results when played against a player who is better than you.

Crowding your shot: Have you felt that some players seem to be able to cover the court with minimal effort? It is all about footwork. Many club players often overrun and find themselves too close to the ball to play a shot with accuracy or power. In effect, you end up wasting your energy and hitting a bad shot.

Rushing your shot: Good players seem to have all the time in the world to get to their shots? Very seldom do they appear to be in a scramble. They pick and choose which shots to attack versus which ones to keep in play. Occasionally, club players forget that there are walls around the court. Most of the time, the ball does bounce off the side and back walls back into play. Patience is sometimes a virtue in squash.

Punishing the ball: Squash is not only about raw power. While there is a time and place for power, hitting the ball too hard often gets it back in play, essentially giving up any advantage that you may have had. A ball that dies in the back corners of the squash court is worth a lot more than a shot that bounces off the back wall.

Committing early –Do you often get beaten by your opponent because you committed to your shot too early? A low hard cross court shot can leave you stranded if you commit, with your body turned, in anticipation of a rail shot. Good players seem to turn their heads to watch the ball without turning their bodies.

Not getting back to the T: How many times have you been told that you don’t get back to the T? If you hit a good length shot or a tight drop, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage by not getting back to the T. Good players control the T.

Flat-footed on the T: Do you have trouble pushing off the T to get to a ball? When you serve and move to the T, you may be cementing your feet to the floor. This makes it harder for you to do a split-step or move quickly to your next shot. Staying on the balls of your feet will enable you to move quickly off the T or turnaround.

Not calling your lets: If your opponent has a tendency to poach and take away a portion of the front wall from play, stop. Call a let. If you chose to play on, you are technically limiting yourself to one half of the front wall making it easy for your opponent to volley or play to the far corner making your next shot difficult.

Volleying shots that you should not: While a good volley takes time away from your opponent, a bad volley just leads to a weak return. Knowing which shots to volley and which one to play off the floor or off the back wall differentiates a good player from a not so good one.

So, do you make any of these mistakes?

Should you challenge the referee? And, ten other questions for squash and tennis players…

In sports, rules have to be followed. But, etiquette is open to interpretation!
Ten questions for Squash & Tennis players

There is also conventional wisdom on how each game should be played. Occasionally, it makes sense to pause and wonder what would happen if you went against the grain. So, here are ten questions for squash and tennis players that you may not get from your club pro.

Do you challenge the referee when you clearly feel that a call should have gone your way?

If you are good-natured and let doubtful calls go every time, you may not be doing yourself any favours. There is a reason that Jonathan Power and John McEnroe perfected the look of disbelief when calls didn’t go their way. While, the introduction of Hawk-eye and similar technologies have lessened the influence that tantrums on the court can have, it still is used effectively by many club players to sway decisions in their favour.

Remember, it is always the squeaky wheel that gets the grease!

If you picked up a low hard shot on the second bounce and the referee called it good, will you stop play and give the point away?

Technically, it is not your call, it is the referee’s.

But, referees are human and make mistakes; especially when they don’t have a clear line of sight to the ball. At the club level, it may make sense to admit to the double bounce. But, I would be surprised if the pros feel obliged to do any such thing.

If your opponent does not clear and the referee only gives you a “let”, will you prove your point by taking a shot that hits your opponent?

This is another tough one!

Personally, I would not. I would resort to challenging the referee on it. However, many people do chose to prove their point by taking the shot and earning the point. If you do chose this option, make sure that you do not do it on a turn-around shot.

If you are down one game and 1-9 in the second in a PAR 11 squash game, will you try to come back, or save your energy for the third game?

This is a tough one!

If you have the fitness, I would suggest trying to come back. Losing 11-1 can be bad for your morale as you go into the third game.

Do you play more aggressively when you play squash under the “hand-out” scoring format vs. the PAR format?

If you play the same game under the two formats, it’s time to stop and think. Under the hand-out system, you can be more aggressive when you are serving. You don’t run the risk of losing a point if your opponent wins the rally.

If you did not hit tin in an entire squash match, is it a good thing?

Most errors in professional matches are made when a player hits tin. If you never hit tin in a match, it would imply that you played safe and were not aggressive enough.

Have you won, or, lost more matches, after having led by two sets?

On reflection, I would say that I come out even on the above question. But there are some who are better at winning matches than some others. You may be a better player in many cases, but, can you win matches?

Do you take more risks when you are ahead?

It never hurts to put pressure on your opponent when you are ahead. The alternate option is to play safe and hold on to your lead. I would pick the former.

In tennis, if you served an ace which clipped the tape resulting in a “let”, would you try the same serve again, or go for something else?

I would say go for the same serve. While you can argue that the surprise element is lost, you can counter argue that your opponent expects you to do something else and the same serve would be unexpected.

If you didn’t make a single double-fault in an entire tennis match, is it a good thing?

I would argue that it is not a good thing. To me it means that you played safe by taking something off the second serve to keep it in play.

If you have a clean overhead shot in doubles tennis, and your best chance to win the point is to hit your opponent, will you hit away?

The right shot is to go for the opponent’s feet. Going for that shot would mean that you do run the risk of hitting the person’s body. Overhead shots are not soft; so, if you are on the receiving end of things, it is wise to stay out of the way of the shot than blaming your opponent for hitting you.

Clearly, the answers to the questions above would vary based on the situation and context.

Hopefully, now you have some perspective!

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Tennis is about shots, squash is about strategy!

What are the three shots that a good player must perfect? Squash Strategy

I asked the question to some of my squash buddies. Most of them paused to think. The top three answers that I got were: length, serve, and return of serve. The answers got me thinking – Squash is about strategy!

Tennis is more about the repertoire of shots that you have.

So, I asked the same question to my tennis buddies.

Without hesitation they rattled off the first two – serve, and return of serve. The third one I got was the return of the return of serve, or, the third shot. If you are saying to yourself “the third shot?” check out this short video of Djokovic’s return of serve that leaves Federer stranded. Perhaps, this one is part fluke and part bravado. But, it’s a fact that most tennis players have a weak second serve. If you don’t have a good third shot, you may be in trouble.

Hitting length in squash is more than a shot, it’s a strategy. Keeping the ball close to the wall while hitting a rail shot is another strategy.  The serve and return of serve are important but less so than in tennis. The concepts of aces, second serves, and double-faults, and the advantages or disadvantages that you gain from a serve is unique to tennis.

I would argue that

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Let’s take a quick look at some basic shots of squash and compare them with those of tennis. Some shots in tennis are definitive and end in a point unlike the equivalent in squash.

Squash vs. Tennis shots

In the graphic shown here, you can see that there are at least two shots in tennis that can definitely end a rally. The only squash shot that can definitely end a rally and earn a point for the player is the nick. At the club level, not a lot of players can hit a nick at will and close out the point.

This definitely makes squash harder for players to get good at. Because, it comes down to strategy.

There are no rally ending shots that you can practice in squash. If anything, you practice to keep the ball alive. Lobs that get you out of tight drops, defensive boasts that let you dig the ball out from the back corners of the court, and getting back to the T are all part of the strategy. If you are hoping to win at squash with a big serve, return of serve, or volley, you are playing the wrong game.

This does not imply that there is no strategy in tennis.

Serve and volley is a strategy; attacking the backhand is another strategy. So is “chip and charge,” when you get your opponent deep in the backhand corner.

However, there is a reason that tennis statistics are maintained for points won on serve, percentage of first serves in, and double-faults. Serve is the biggest shot in tennis and even club players get the odd ace in a match.

There is no equivalent in squash. You have to win through hard work.

And, strategy!

Are tennis players better dressed than squash players? Here’s how you can look like a million dollars on the court.

Are tennis players better dressed than squash players? Tennis players better dressed?

If you have to think about the answer, all you have to do is look at online images of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Gregory Gaultier, and Ramy Ashour.

It can’t be the money.

Clearly, professional tennis players – or their handlers – seem to spend more time on picking the right accessories to ensure a coordinated look on the court.

So how important is a coordinated look to your game?

Not at all.

So here are a few things to consider when you invest in tennis or squash gear.

Shirts and tops: When it comes to shirts, the younger players are going neon.

If you are unsure whether you can carry one-off, check out this post by Liam Mannix titled Nike designs fluoro range for male tennis stars. Apart from Serena Williams, the women players appear to be slow to adopt the fluoro look.

Shorts & Skirts: In the world of tennis and squash, shorts have gotten longer.

While the shirts have gone neon, the shorts continue to be largely white, black, red, or blue. Skirts, on the other hand, have become marginally shorter when compared to a few years ago. Not surprisingly, they are often sold by the length of the skirt. Here’s a sample from Tennis Warehouse. Matching a top to a pair of shorts or a skirt should not be difficult to do.

Racquets: This is the most expensive piece of equipment for both tennis and squash players.

Picking a racquet based on its colour would be like betting on a horse based on its name! If you have a favourite racquet, it may be worth checking to see if the manufacturer offers options in terms of the colour of the frame.

Grip: This is an easy one to fix.

Players rightfully pay attention to the type of grip that they use, but largely ignore its colour. A red frame with a bright blue grip will do the job, but is certainly not aesthetically pleasing. Grips come in multitude of colours. Pick one that works with the colour of your racquet frame.

Coordinated Look in Squash & TennisShoes: Court shoes are not cheap.

Most players that I know don’t own more than one or two pairs of shoes. One for tennis and another one for squash is the norm. With court shoes becoming more and more colourful, matching them up with the rest of your outfit may become a challenge. If your shoes are largely neutral – black, white, grey etc. – you may be able to use colourful laces to create a look that is closer to the rest of your gear.

Socks: This is another easy one to fix.

If you are wearing bright blue socks with red shoes, make sure that the rest of your ensemble follows suit. At the very least, you can pick wristbands or headbands that bring it all together.

Hats and Visors: This one is for tennis players.

Hats and visors are popular with female players and come in various shapes, colours, and patterns. Hats act as sun-shades, make a fashion statement, and help hold your hair in place.  Pick a couple that match your favourite tennis outfits and you are off to a good start.

Headband: Tied headbands are in and the slip-on ones are passé.

If you wear a headband when you play, you may want to consider buying a couple that match your shirt, shorts, or skirt.

Wrist band: Wristbands come in all colours and sizes.

Wristbands can easily be matched up with your headband, shirt, shorts, or your racquet grip. You can also buy multi-coloured wristbands that enable you to mix and match when needed.

Protective glasses: This applies to squash players who are smart enough to wear protective glasses on the court.

Your favourite pair of glasses may not come with a bright yellow neon frame to match your shirt. You can always go with a neutral shade to ensure that it blends in with any outfit that you choose to wear on the court.

Bag: This one is a nice to have.

Like everything else, discussed above, colour is lower down on the list of features for people looking for a squash or tennis bag. If you are planning to invest in a new bag, you may want to add colour to list of things that you want.

So there you have it.

At the end of the day, what makes you feel good, and comfortable is what you should wear. Contrasting colours maybe your thing. Finally, it is about the game and not the clothes or the accessories.

Unless, you are a tennis player!