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SquashSkills BLOG, Mar 2014:
Hand In / Hand Out
a new series of Blogs ...

Gary Nesbit and Jess debate Court Sprints - one of the most traditional of all squash fitness training drills and widely employed by players of all levels.

But has their importance and suitability been overestimated?

Pros include simplicity and effectiveness, Cons ? there are so many equally effective and safer alternatives ... 
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Thereís a huge range of different fitness tools and devices available now, of a wildly varying degree of use and effectiveness.

Amongst this backdrop of Ďmust-haveí gadgets carefully marketed to part the fitness enthusiast from their money in the quest for the next latest and greatest workout tool, sometimes the simpler things get lost.

The humble Skipping Rope is one such oft-forgotten item, yet for the squash player in particular it is an invaluable addition to your kit bag. Cheap, portable, and easy to use, no squash player should be without one! 
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SquashSkills BLOG, Feb 2014:
Attacking Short from the Front
Peter Nicol shows us how ...

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Iíve always found going short off an easy ball, even with plenty of time, a challenging aspect of my game. Attacking from the middle of the court is much easier for me as I flatten the racquet head and hit through the ball a little harder, leaving my opponent less able to get onto the ball and counter attack due to their positioning and shot type. From the back of the court, I could only ever attack by hitting the ball deep again - my highest quality option being a forehand boast.

So, why did I find it so challenging to attack from the front of the court? From an early age, I did play some open squash - however upon turning professional I realised I was well behind my peers in this style of play, therefore the quickest/most efficient way to improve was to become physically fit, mentally strong and play a more controlled and aggressive game to the back of the court. I focused on developing this style of play, which worked well, but after several years became victim by my own design as I became stuck in the same style of play. It wasnít until the last few years of my career that I began to experiment and break out into a new, more aggressive style of play.

The reason I chose my initial style of game was simply because I was much more able to play this way. I donít have a strong or quick wrist. My racquet head speed is fairly average. My forehand is incredibly flat and I struggle to cut under and around the ball. All of the above means I was not comfortable at the front of the court unless hitting deep. The problem this created was I only attacked half the court and my opponent only needed to cover that area Ė not great to only have 50% of the court to work with.

I felt vulnerable further up the court when I had time to play any shot - I could feel my opponent coming up behind me and got nervous. Feel similar to anyone out there?!

Nearing my late 20ís I started to experiment with going short from the front area of the court and often got burned badly. My opponent would come charging past me and either hit the ball deep quickly or counter my shot - my short game obviously needed dramatic improvement if I wanted to utilise it during competitive play. Understanding that I was never going to play like Power or Shabana, I started working on practical and simple ways to improve attacking a short ball into the front of the court.

Read the full post for more tips
and Peter's Coaching Points

SquashSkills BLOG, Jan 2014:
The Backhand Diamond
"Technique Geek" Jethro Binns loves a good backhand ...

I'm a bit of a technique geek. I get excited by seeing a really good swing in action and sometimes get caught up with what the swing looks like as opposed to where the ball ends up. This is wrong, because if someone is hitting a target time after time despite not having the most aesthetically pleasing swing then they must doing something right.

However, I am a firm believer that if you create and aesthetically pleasing swing where all the bio-mechanics are working as they should, then you will hit the ball more accurately, more consistently and with more power.

For those of you who follow the Facebook page, you will notice that I'm a big fan of shoulder rotation on the backhand side and often highlight this whenever I see a photo of someone doing this correctly. For me having good shoulder rotation at the beginning of the backhand swing is fundamental. It's where all your power, and all your consistency comes from.

I've been on court many times with people for the first time and I ask them what they want to work on. "It's my backhand, I just don't seem to be able to generate any power and always drag the ball into the middle of the court" they say. Without so much as seeing them hit the ball its obvious what the issue is... A lack of shoulder rotation.

By rotating towards the back wall and getting your shoulder to sit under your chin at the beginning of the swing, you are naturally loading up your Trap and your deltoid so that they want to pull your arm (and your racket) back through the line of the ball. You also have the benefit of your torso wanting to come back into its natural position meaning that you are able to generate power at the beginning of the swing as opposed to at the end.

By not rotating at the beginning of the swing on the backhand you will find yourself trying to generate power at the end of the swing.

Read the full post to see how to make your diamond consistently

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SquashSkills BLOG, Jan 2014:
Mental Agility and Strength
Peter Nicol looks at ways of improving your game
 that we often forget about ...

We all know improving fitness is an easy way of becoming a better squash player.

However, one area and element of the game that we forget about that can also dramatically improve your standard is mental agility and strength.

You have to remember that the person who gets the ball up on the front wall last in a rally wins the point. Therefore, if you're stubborn, strong enough physically and technically, then you'll be able to win more points in this manner and thus win more often. I know this from the early part of my career when I had a very limited game and relied heavily on physical and mental strength.

So how can you get mentally tougher?

A very simple way is that every time you go on to court, pick your racket up, train, warm-up - do it correctly. It sounds simple but is rarely done at any level of squash.

An accumulation of doing everything well correctly gives you mental agility, more options in your tactical locker and greater resilience and mental strength. And the reason that should give you strength is because you see everyone around you making mistakes, taking shortcuts, not warming up properly, not doing the physical training (or doing it but doing it halfheartedly), not getting back to the T every time in practice.

If you can do this you're doing everything better, harder, smarter than anyone else therefore walking into play a match against those same people you're going to have more confidence in your own abilities and less fear of theirs - all because of the level of mental focus you've shown yourself that you are capable of.

Read the full post for Peter's tips on Practice, Physical preparation, Movement, and Practice and Competitive matches

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