Become a Time Machine

What the hell do I mean by the title ‘Become a Time Machine’? Literally speaking, I suppose if it was possible, you’d never lose another squash match whatever your standard. Just imagine it, you could keep turning back time until you play that perfect shot. How cool would that be?

Ok let’s get back to reality.

All great squash players understand the concept of ‘time’ during play, by instinct they know when to attack and when to defend. Years of intense quality matches and practice routines would have helped to engrain this vital fundamental into the minds of the top professional players.

Squash is about controlling the central area around the ‘T’ and depriving your opponent of ‘time’. Essentially, this is how you win a game of squash; by making your opponent move faster and cover more distance than yourself. Generally, the loser is the player unable to continue to keep retrieving balls due to the onset of severe fatigue caused by a persistent lack of ‘time’.

To reduce your opponent’s ‘time’ – take the ball up the court; early on the volley, on the top of the bounce or even on the half volley.  The shot should be hit hard and/or low just above the tin. The key is to hit early and put your opponent under pressure.

Let’s run through a scenario on court to help you understand the concept I’m trying to get across better.

Imagine you’re positioned well up the court and hit an early straight volley to the back of the court. Your opponent scurries and scrambles back a loose straight ball running parallel, about a metre, from the side wall with no real pace. You’re in control. You see the ball early and move even further up the court.  Please note that this act will take more ‘time’ off your opponent. Now, you show the short shot but decide to smash another accurate straight deep volley because you sense your opponent frantically moving forward to cover the anticipated short ball. Incredibly your opponent somehow stays in the rally. He nearly repeats his previous shot but this time it’s even slacker. His extreme deep lunge and dynamic movement makes it almost impossible to play a tight shot. You move even further up the court and play the obvious straight volley drop winner. You’ve hit much better volley drops in your lifetime but that doesn’t matter because your opponent just didn’t have any ‘time’ to retrieve the ball and stay in the rally.  Notice how you gradually moved up the court taking more and more ‘time’ off your opponent causing them to move faster and faster until a lack of ‘time’ prevented them from staying in the rally.

Now let’s look at the same scenario again but this time swap roles so you are the one scrambling at the back.  The alarm bells should be ringing in your head! You’re the one under pressure lacking ‘time’ so you need to play a shot that gives you time. A high soft deep shot is required. This shot will create enough ‘time’ for you to move back to the central area and even increase the likelihood of being able to ‘counter punch’ your opponent if they choose to play short too soon.

In a nutshell, become a ‘time machine’:-

  • Attack – generally by hitting early, hard and low; when you don’t need ‘time’ (not under pressure) and preferably when positioned around the central area near the ‘T’.
  • Defend – generally by hitting high and soft; when you lack ‘time’ (under pressure) and generally when you are along way from the ‘T’.

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