"So how about giving me a lesson on variety then" I quipped. This lesson messed with my head/twisted my mellow/pickled my brain/destroyed my squash karma etc etc.

As a methodical scientist, I knew that my game was a touch predictable, not something that I was particularly proud of, as I'd thought that I could sell a dummy or wee shimmy with the best of them. I had myself convinced that this coach chap was just lucky to be standing in the right place every time that I had really played what was really a masterfully deceptive stroke. With his usual, if somewhat ironically, predictability, the coach successfully shattered my illusions and allowed me to prove to him just how predictable my squash game really was.

Fault 1

Always playing into space. This fault struck me as a bit of an oddball, given that I had always been taught to hit the ball to where the opposition wasn't.

Remedy 1

Don't always play into the space. Consider the sequence where the opponent has played crosscourt from front right… the sensible shot is to play the straight drive to back left thereby moving him across the diagonal. But if he knows you're always going to play to back left, then he knows where he has to run to recover the ball - it's predictable.

By occasionally playing the boast to move the ball back to front right the opponent will be totally wrong footed. More importantly is that he will now have to wait and see if you will play the boast the next time, this time making the original straight drive an even more effective shot.

Fault 2

Dodgy footwork limiting choice of shot. At the front right I was playing every shot off the right foot, my only options were either a difficult to control drop or very predictable crosscourt. (Most of the lesson highlighted how difficult I found it not to play the crosscourt in this scenario - and even when I felt I'd disguised it well the coach was always standing waiting ready to slam it to the left back corner or wrong foot me back to front right!)

Remedy 2

As detailed in the dropshot lesson… make the effort to get footwork right. In the front right corner play off the left foot; this allows you to choose straight drop/straight drive/crosscourt lob… or even a crosscourt drive. If you are able to choose to play a different shot from the same position, you have then got a little more variety in your game and have become less predictable.

The coach did pick out other things I was doing in the game to be totally honest my head just got too puddled to remember the rest.

[After this lesson, I really wondered if I had actually learnt anything! But with a few weeks of trying to apply the points above, rather than just doing the headless chicken thing, I have started to see what the coach was getting at.]

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