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Improving - more solo practice or coaching ?

Published: 22 May 2006 - 09:40 by Viper

Updated: 24 Sep 2008 - 14:47

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In a rut

Do people think hitting more balls in solo practice is a better way to take the next step or is coaching a better option.

I know  my technique is sound, so what benefit would a coach be I wonder ?

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From rippa rit - 05 Jun 2006 - 11:26   -   Updated: 05 Jun 2006 - 11:42

Viper -  Some days the information does not come into my head, better late than never
You quote -"I know  my technique is sound".  Good.  Test it.
  • Test out your abilities with the targets, markers, etc as suggested in my posts below.
  • If your technique is good, from a static situation, you should be able to aim for the targets/markers and be in the ball path.
  • If your footwork is sus, it will be reflected in your ability to move into position, and still hit the ball into the target/marker areas. 
  • If you are still passing the test, see how the test goes when introducing another shot into the equation, as in playing a pair routine, eg drive/boast.   Still doing fine?  Yes, balls landing in right spot.
  • Add a third shot into the pair routine, eg drive/boast/cross court lob.... Still doing fine?  Yes.
Does it now all string together in a game situation?  Keep evaluation your training/performance.
It could be that at a slower pace/speed you are more accurate - I suggest going for control in the first instance, and gradually increase the pace/speed of play as the accuracy improves.  This really now becomes a matter of speed of racket preparation and footwork to achieve the fluency.

The other question was - " what benefit would a coach be I wonder"? 
  • Depends how well organised you plan your training sessions, and how methodical you are in your planning and approach to each segment of your game.  
  • Yeah, and how organised and analytical the coach is too will depend on the results.
Viper - You just got me  looking for our Match Evaluation, Training Evaluation Section/Forms - alas they are already in the making in Gold so that is coming soon..soon..soon

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From rippa rit - 05 Jun 2006 - 08:20

Viper - coaching and solo practice go hand in hand.
No good having coaching and then playing expecting it to work - nothing ever does by flicking the switch unfortunately.

If you are self-coaching and being methodical, eg putting targets on the wall, markers on the court floor, setting up a video camera, doing some ghosting, and setting some sort of benchmarks, it could be done individually, or in pairs with both players learning together, so each one can "nit pick" and encourage each other.  Leave the playing bit till you have at least spent an hour sorting things out.

Best idea is to chose a theme for the session, eg good length.  I would do the theory, ie drive, then the practical solo drills, then start with a pair routine specific to the effort expended earlier, follow up with a restricted game, still specific to the theme you have chosen.

Finish off with a couple of games - and don't try to WIN - try to put into practice what you have just been concentrating on, eg confine the shots into the target areas.

Does that make sense?

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From raystrach - 30 May 2006 - 08:57   -   Updated: 30 May 2006 - 08:59

hello again viper - working my way thru some of these

i only agree with BizarreCo on this one up to a point.

improvement is a spiral - hopefully one that keeps going up. you have to keep relearning the same things over and over again but at a higher level each time. any player can have perfect technique when playing a mug but might be hopeless when playing a champion. i reckon there are an infinite number of levels

there are a lot of factors which affect this including confidence and fitness, but the major one is time. all things being equal, it is the time between hits and/or the time you have when hitting the ball which affects the technique the most. you will find plenty of stuff about  these in the forum and the library - there are a lot of things which go to make up the time factor in squash.

 the world is full of players with good technique, but not all of them can produce it quickly and under pressure - even the best break down under certain conditions.

  • solo practice will help espcally if you keep increasing the intesity/tempo
  • pairs practice helps to put you in the groove in real situations  again increasing tempo/intensity
  • the right coach can help to identify where you need to improve when you are put under pressure then back to the solo practice and pairs drills (i know finding the right coach is not always easy)

a rut? what are your goals and how have you set out to achieve them and what do yo do to review them. identifiable progress is a great motivator

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From BizarreCo - 24 May 2006 - 23:38

Well I've sort of taken my own advice in this one! My words earlier in the post were:


"After very careful consideration, I think I'm in stage 3, but finding the right type of coach is a nightmare! "

I know that certainly in my current club (and those surrounding) no one is a great level 3/4 coach, and many of the really good players have had to travel quite far to find someone suitable. I've decided that I'm going back to my roots to find the perfect 2 coaches! Two old friends of mine are former national coaches at U17 and U19 levels and both know my game very well (they should as they helped develop it!!). I'm going to use them as my coaches, but the 120mile journey to see them might cause a problem!!


First off I have a match on Friday with one of them that I've never beaten before! Should be a bit of a laugh, and now I can really guage how much I've developed in the last 18 months since we last played.


I'm predicting a 3-2 (and hoping that I get the 3!!)


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From JJSOOTY - 23 May 2006 - 03:06

I'd say that coaching was best and then solo to really perfect the techniques you work on in training.  But then I'd say that I'm a level 2 so coaches are still a lot of help at my level!

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From Viper - 22 May 2006 - 21:43

Thanks adz.

Yes I am at stage 3, I have had my technique looked at and it is good.

I am in a flat spot and I think you are right an objective mind might help.

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From BizarreCo - 22 May 2006 - 21:11   -   Updated: 22 May 2006 - 21:14

Has someone told you that your technique is sound? Or that you're playing the right shots?


Development comes under 4 different levels:

Stage 1:

No skills but lots of enthusiasm to learn. Here you need someone to be very explicit in their instructions of what you need to do. "This is how you hold the racket", "Here is how you put your feet", "This is how you should move" etc.


Stage 2:

Some skills but enthusiasm has gone down. "I'm crap at this and it's a stupid game anyway!". At this level you'll need someone to talk you through what you're doing well and how you can improve on the things that you're stuck with. That person will need to give you a confidence boost along with some skills work!


Stage 3: (Your post sounds like you're here!)

Moderate to high skills with varying enthusiasm. Your skills will be good to excellant, but some days you just can't get into the mood to play. You begin to get "flat spots" in your game and are struggling to get that push through to the next level. At this point you'll need a different type of help. Where are with the previous two stages the coach was there to instruct you, here they are needed to work with you to develop your game. They are there to act as a sounding board to develop tactics that match your game style, providing support when you want/need it as opposed to providing instruction!


Stage 4:

From a sports point of view a stage 4 person is the profressional! You have all the skills and you love and understand the game better than any other stage. The challenge here is keeping the mind on the job and not to let yourself lapse back to an earlier stage - especially not stage 2!! The coach is no longer someone who teaches you, but someone you talk to / get a second opinion from.


I hope that helps with trying to find the right type of coaching, but your comments on the solo practise:


Make sure that you really are practising the right things otherwise you'll start over playing both your strengths and weaknesses. Solo practise is great to keep your eye sharp, but make sure you've worked with a coach to get the technique right first.

After very careful consideration, I think I'm in stage 3, but finding the right type of coach is a nightmare! Most coaches I know in my area are great at stage 1 and 2, but haven't got a clue when it comes to 3, let alone 4!! Where's Malcom Willstrop when you need him!!!


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