Squash is an extremely demanding game requiring many elements to work together at the same time often at high speeds. Rallies can be short and points disappear quickly if your opponent takes charge. For this reason, we need to keep things simple in training and in matches. From the perspective of a coach, this is difficult as there are so many possible areas that can bring improvement and better results. Choosing the right areas to focus on and managing to stick to them and finish the job is a challenge especially during the season when each match can show a new area that needs attention. For this reason, a clear plan and timescale are crucial.
Making a development plan
- Decide the areas to focus on within the: technical/tactical/mental/physical framework. For example: forehand technique / pace variation / speed
- Identify how you will improve them, for example, coach feeds / solo practice / off-court training and how many sessions per week this requires.
- Set the time frame eg. 4 weeks
- Stick to the plan and continuously review and check progress, tweak and change as needed.
This simple approach also applies during matches. Without a doubt one of the main struggles for all players is making composed and effective choices during the rally. This is where some tactical foundations are vital. Set some defaults to ensure you do the simple things well.
- Start the rally with a clear intention every time – SERVE WELL with attention to where your opponent is standing and their technical weaknesses. For example lob high to the backhand side. Take time over this shot and see it as a potential weapon every time.
- RETURN WELL – as with the service, this shot can also set the tone for the rest of the rally. Use straight and deep as default with occasional variations when the opponent’s serve allows is weaker.
- Use the template of hitting two shots in a row to hit the back wall before considering any short options – if you feel by this stage you have a great opportunity and control of the rally then a straight drop is a good option.
- Volley where possible – the player who spends more time on the T overall is most likely to win the match so cut the ball off and push the opponent back to dominate the middle. Volleying the ball is a sign of confidence and purpose.
- When the rally feels hectic and you are not in control play high, straight, and deep to hit the back wall.