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An assortment of tips to help your game ...
WATCH THE BALL
All professionals say "watch the ball". But, did you know that there is a certain way of watching the ball. During a rally your opponent will be either in front, behind, or parallel to you. There is only one way to watch in each of these circumstances.

When your opponent is in front of you, it is easy to see where and when your opponent is going to hit the ball. The secret is to stay as close to your opponent as possible, without crowding, as he or she is striking the ball.

This adds mental pressure to your opponent because by doing this your opponent knows you're ready, especially for a drop. If your opponent is in front, remember the drop is the most likely shot to be executed. And this means trouble. So get close to your opponent when he or she is in front of you.

When your opponent is next to you or behind you, try not to look directly at the ball. Use your peripheral vision. The reason to do this is that it may be physically impossible to follow a fast crosscourt and turn your head at the same time. Use your eyeballs instead of your head and neck. A good reference point is the serve line that runs across the floor of the court. Follow the ball with your eye to this line and then lock your eye at the serve line area and let your peripheral vision track the ball to your opponent's racquet.

The only exception is if you've hit a high length shot that comes off high on the

back wall. In this instance you need to watch your opponent closely. Just make sure you're watching from the front while on the "T".

GRIP FOR POWER:
Holding the racquet correctly is very important in squash. But, did you know that the speed of your wrist and power can be enhanced with a slight adjustment to your grip.

The standard grip says to hold the racquet at an angle as if shaking someone's hand. It also says to hold the middle of the grip. Combining both keeps your swing steady.

But, sometimes a fast wrist is needed for a quick kill or a quick reflex shot; and sometimes a players needs that extra power to drive the ball deep into the corners. If you've ever fallen into this sort of a situation, which I'm sure all of you have, then a little grip adjustment could give you an edge.

If you hold the grip up high or choke up, you'll notice a faster wrist immediately. Practice hitting the ball with adjusting your grip. Hit a few shots in the middle grip position, then hold the grip higher. You'll notice a faster and lighter racquet head. This is ideal for a quick volley and digging out those hard to get deep back wall shots. The higher grip shortens your swing radius helping to make your wrist roll through a shot more comfortably.

The more comfortable your wrist, the faster you'll snap it. Use the high grip for all tight shots from the back corners to delicate drops. For drops a quick wrist isn't needed, but the higher grip helps your racquet handling to hit the winner.

Keep practicing alone and now hit the ball while holding the end of the grip.

You'll notice a shift in weight to the head of the racquet. This will increase power. I always slide my hand down to the end of the racquet for that crushing power sometimes needed. But, since the racquet feels heavier, I use it when I have time to take a full swing at the ball.

If you practice adjusting your grip, it'll become subconscious during match play. The best titanium or graphite racquets will never improve your wrist or power game unless you know how to do it yourself.

SQUASH STAMINA
Squash is a sport requiring stamina. Every squash player realizes this fact as soon as rallies get a bit longer.

Many top players train outside the court. Some of them run. Others swim. But, did you know that the top players realize one thing before starting to train outside the squash court. They realize that there are two types of stamina in squash.

Cardiovascular fitness is described above. But, striking the ball with consistency is by far much more crucial. And the pros know this. What I mean is that your arm needs the strength and endurance to hit the ball continuously for an hour with good control. If this is unattainable as of yet, don't waste your time training outside the court until your arm can endure an hour of hard hitting. The pros know that without ball control, you're dead on the tour no matter how fit you are!

Have you noticed how much work your arm does as compared to your legs? If your arm goes, your legs can help you retrieve a bit longer before losing.

If your legs go, your arm can still hit winners because you don't need to run for every single shot. But you do need to hit every single shot with your arm.

So practice hitting the ball as hard as possible without injuring yourself and see how long you can do it. Keep in mind that you're not just blindly hitting the ball hard. Try to control a twenty shot rail drill and then crosscourt to the other side for another twenty shot rail drill. Keep the ball moving at a high rate. Hit boasts, cross courts and rails and go for the nick. Watch the ball! Have you ever really watched the ball for an hour without interruption. It's not easy until you try it. Feel the lactic acid build up in your arm.

Before you know it, you'll sense an improvement in your endurance and in your ability to concentrate on watching the ball. Time yourself! Lengthen every practice session by five minutes until you're able to hit relatively hard for a solid hour without let up. After you've achieved this, do what the pros do: Start training outside the court.

START TO WIN:
THE SERVE

The point starts with a serve; it continues into a rally for position; and then either you or your opponent finishes the point with a winner or a mistake. Let's discuss how you should start a point.

The point starts with a serve. This makes the serve important, but many squash players focus on the wrong aspect of the serve. I have seen players try to get their serves tighter and tighter. But, you should know that developing an ace serve is a waste of time. A good serve should be hit close to the walls to restrict your opponent's swing. That is all. Nowhere will you find that you need to develop a service ace. You should concentrate more on your opponent's return. You need to differentiate a rail return from a crosscourt or a drop. What I'm getting at, is that, squash serves don't count as much as reading your opponent's return of serve and the way you prepare for the return.

The best way to prepare for a service return is to get in the crouch position. Get ready to pounce on the ball and make sure your opponent sees this.

It'll add mental pressure to his or her return. Mental pressure works best when your opponent sees you hovering on the "T" in the crouch position right after a tight serve. Try it!

   

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