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Squash Tips K to U

Jenny Duncalf

(k) There is never anything wrong with playing a good hard straight drive that dies away into the back corner.

(l) Put your tactical plan into action as soon as you can.

If your opponent gives you a weak serve, play a straight drop immediately - on the first point if possible. You then have the serve and you have started the doubt. Also, most players are not warmed up enough at the beginning and are initially slower to the front.

(m) Warm up well yourself.

You should be just beginning to break sweat as the match starts.

(n) If your opponent guesses where you are going to hit the ball (even if he guesses right), this is a good sign.

He is desperate and the end is in sight. Keep to your game.

(o) The same if your opponent gets very tired or injured.

Keep to your game. Don't try to finish it too soon.

(p) The fitter you are, the longer in a match you will be able to concentrate on and implement the tactical side of your game.

(q) If you and your opponent are involved in a horribly hard rally - with oxygen to the brain fading fast - the temptation is to "Go for it".

Don't. The first player to hit a good deep drive will normally win it.

(r) Use the lob more than you think.

It is an excellent way to turn defence into attack and it is also an underused attacking shot in its own right. Most players are weak and predictable high in the air, particularly on the backhand.

(s) For goodness sake play a decent serve - your one chance to dominate immediately.

So many players waste this opportunity, with many actually being immediately on the defensive instead of the offensive. From the right court, play mostly lob or step across to play a backhand sliding down the wall as tight as you can. (Obviously, the further you step across, the tighter you can be). From the left court, step across and play mainly a forehand tight down the wall. Serves should also not come easily off the back wall.

(t) Return of serve.

Mostly straight, particularly on the backhand. Some variety creates doubt. If you receive a very good lob serve (putting you 80/20 down potentially) just content yourself with a simple straight reply (don't worry about power) to get back to at least 50/50 for the next shot. Anything else is suicidal.

(u) Be particularly careful about playing a drop shot off an (even slightly) awkward ball - even if it is from a (nearly very easy) central position.

This situation will often arise when the opponent has hit a badly directed shot that you can therefore take early - often a volley - but not in total control. The opponent will generally expect you to play short off such an apparently easy and early ball (particularly if he is out of position - probably stranded deep) so he will immediately be moving forward anyway to cover it. If you can in fact play a good short ball from this postion, it is often right to do so but if you cannot play it with 100% control then the risk/reward cost benefit analysis dictates that you should actually play it deep to await other more controlled opportunities. To play it to the obvious place (short) and badly is the worst case scenario. His body weight is already moving in the right direction and you will immediately lose the "half-opening" advantage and go from attack to defence in an instant.

(v) Front corners (normally following your opponent's boast or drop).

If the ball is loose then, as discussed above, a drop/cross-court/straight drive combination is normally appropriate. However, as the ball becomes tighter to the side wall, then the cross-court element should be played less and the straight element more. There is, however, still scope for adding value to the straight shot by holding for the boast but playing straight and, of course, if you play the drop shot off a fairly tight ball, then the angle allows you to play it tighter than if you play it off a looser and wider ball. Indeed, it is often correct off a tighter ball to simply play a good tight drop - even though it is obvious. This gives your opponent a really difficult escape route. If, however, you are not totally in control, it is generally too risky to play the tight ball as a drop and you should (depending on the time available) dummy the drop and either play straight drive or cross-court/straight lob.

Robert Forde

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