Okay, so I've been playing squash for about 16 years and I don't have the bottom layer of the squash skills pyramid. It would therefore appear that I have a problem. Having allowed the bottom to fall out of my squash world, the all knowing coach proceeded to sort me out in the usual fashion… by allowing me to clearly demonstrate what I was doing wrong so that he could identify it and I could then correct it.

After the initial warm up game, just to get the muscles warmed up and the T-shirt drenched in sweat, we moved on to picking out this weeks learning point - it was at this moment that the revelation of my basic inadequacy was highlighted - "You've got no base game." To show exactly what this meant we played a game in which every shot had to be played above the cut line. I found myself continuously stuck at the back of the court behind the coach, who casually kept me pinned in the back corners with a gentle array of easy lengths. I however still found myself charging about back and forth just to keep the ball alive and invariably I seemed to have to dig the ball out with ugly boasts in order to stay in the rally. In a usual game with the coach this would have felt acceptable but in this game, with every ball played above the cut line, I felt that I shouldn't have been under nearly so much pressure. I lost nearly every point through my error - either putting the ball out or down or by failing to keep the ball above the cut line.

The analysis of the above game revealed the fault and the remedy. The fault, sorry I meant faults were:

Fault 1

Over hitting the ball when playing the length. The bulk of my shots were over hit to the extent that they hit the back wall before they hit the floor. This gave the coach plenty of time to amble over and hit his return.

Remedy 1

Play a better length ensuring that ball lands well before the back wall and behind the service box. This strategy will deny the opponent time, forcing him to take the ball much sooner and therefore forcing him to work harder. By working the opponent harder, through the improved length, he will eventually falter with a weaker boast or error.

Fault 2

Not taking the ball early enough. I didn't push back to the T, tending to hang back in the court, I therefore failed to volley when the opportunity arose. This resulted in my continuous predicament at the back of the court.

Remedy 2

Push to the T and volley when it's available! This denies the opponent time and also allows you to command the rally from the strongest possible position, with the net result of being in the right place to capitalise on any weak returns.

Fault 3

Not being tight enough. My loose shots presented the coach with easy volley opportunities, and to clearly make his point he took volleyed the lot. This kept him in complete control on the T and kept me scrambling around the back corners. My looseness was generated by a combination of lazy footwork, being under pressure and lack of concentration.

Remedy 3

Ensure each shot is as tight as possible, don't be lazy, if the ball has been hit back to within easy reach, make the effort to have feet and racket in the ready position and concentrate on playing as tight a return as you are able.


In summary it seemed incredible that having played for this length of time that I had a full lesson to determine that I needed to improve my length and width… but that was the crux of this session! The bottom line is - good width and length is the base that sets up the rest of the game… and I thought I just had to hit it even harder!

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