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Delaying Shots?

Published: 19 Jan 2007 - 23:25 by SamBWFC

Updated: 24 Sep 2008 - 16:17

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At training last night, a guy in my club said that I should delay my shots and be more patient, as it is obvious what shot I am going to play when I move to the ball. He says he stands back when he plays me as he knows I am going to play a length.


He told me to delay my shot so that I can look where the opponent is standing, then I have the choice of a drop, boast or whatever with the same backswing. Is this a good idea? I always thought it was better to hit the ball as early as possible.


I do admit I hit a lot more lengths than drops and boasts, I prefer to have my opponent in the back corners than at the front of the court.

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From SuperSage666 - 04 Feb 2007 - 19:04   -   Updated: 04 Feb 2007 - 19:16

LOL, that's true jbs.

But the "Sweet Spot" is the best area on the face of your racket to strike the ball for power and control and it has to do with the design of the racket.   A long narrow racket also has a long narrow sweet spot and a broad racket has a broad sweet spot.

As far as deception from the front of the court.  This is mainly achieved with the use of your body to hide the ball at the strike from your opponent.  You cannot comfortably delay a shot from the front of the court and expect it to be deceptive (except for a poor shot into the centre of the court), since you are up the front and the ball is often moving quickly, except for off a  soft drop or boast, the more time you spend with the ball, the more time your opponent has to move to a position where they can capitalize on your position, no matter which of the range of possible shots you have to choose from.   

One of the finest players in history at this was the late Torsam Khan (Jahangir's older brother) who could cloak his strokes with his body from the front of the court that his opponent had absolutely no idea where the shot was going.   I've seen some of the worlds best like Peter Nicol use this often where would run up to the front of the court, putting his body between his opponent and the ball and then push the ball the the other way from his preparation by forcing angle on the face of his racket around with his wrist.  I've tried this myself many times and it surely works well.    Though some of my opponents asked for and got a let by saying that they didn't see the ball off the front wall.   I'm sure they really did see it off the wall and really shouldn't have been awarded a let for going the wrong way.

I don't know how many words I type, hate counting  




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From hamburglar - 01 Feb 2007 - 05:48   -   Updated: 01 Feb 2007 - 05:48

Hey, I'm no expert and just trying to give a concise answer to the original question in 100 words or less.

Your sweet spot is what it is, YOUR sweet spot. It can vary for different shots. Sometimes you might take the ball high, sometimes low, sometimes on the stretch or on the run.

I would say that deception shots from the front court are used to try and win the point, if not with that shot then maybe with the next or the next. Deception from the T can be quite different, but you're still trying to get your opponent to run more than they want to. Deception from the back is lower percentage and any decent player will be all over it.

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From SuperSage666 - 31 Jan 2007 - 22:29

Like Adz and Jbs, I have the same preparation (called preswing by jbs) of a very high racket for all shots except the disguised lob from a low drop shot preparation.

I differ with jbs on the position for holding a shot, it is true that you must be on the ball early, but if you are at the normal point for striking the ball early (in front of or at the highest point of the bounce) you will still be forced to play the ball rather earlier than later, as it will shift past the point of maximum accuracy, power and control too early.     You should position yourself behind the highest point of the bounce, so the ball is dropping to the floor at your position.  This gives you maximum time for the hold (call maximum 'hang time' by some).  This then gives you an option of taking the ball early by quickly moving forward if your opponent is out of position or wait on the shot until the ball has almost bounced twice.   To wait at or in front of the highest point of bounce, is to lose control in the delay by moving back to play the shot (a giveaway move) and also lose control and power over the shot.

I find that holding your shot does more than just unsettle your opponent.  Waiting on a shot to the ideal point of impact for a stroke, will allow better control and accuracy than if you play the shot early.   So I will often hold the shot to regain accuracy, when my shots have become too loose.  

Holding the shot also gives the striker a few extra milliseconds to gather their thoughts, in a frantic rally that has gotten out of control.  I will slow the rally down by holding shots to regain composure and rethink my game plan on the run.



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From Adz - 31 Jan 2007 - 19:47

There's some risky stratergies there jbs!

The best disguise players I've ever seen have the ability to play disguise shots even from a stretched position. This really adds to the confusion as everything in your brain is screaming at you that they are going to play one shot, when in fact they end up playing another. What makes it worse is when the position these players are in obscures your view of their racquet face making it much more difficult to read.

Also playing a drop if you don't hear them moving can be very risky against an opponent who is quick to the front and light on their feet. Putting in a tight drop shot is fine if you can do this EVERY time, but make one mistake against a fast, light-footed player and you're immediately retrieving in the back corners and lost your advantage.

Always play the player and never just one style. If they are a hard hitting runner then chances are you'll need to play slow and tight. If they are a slow drop/lob player then chances are you'll need to play low and hard kill shots to get them moving at an uncomfortable pace.


One thing I've learned in only the last 3 years is that being on the T is useful but not always the best place to be! You need to be in a position relevant to your opponents and their most likely shot tradjectory. I love it when I come across a player who isn't as strong as me that likes to purch themselves on the T religiously. They don't really like it when you play tight shots into the corners that they can't reach due to being out of position. You try reaching a tight, low drop off a boast from a standing start on the T! It certainly ain't easy!


I have to say I completely agree with JBS about the swing. I always teach juniors to use the same swing but take the ball at different positions relative to their body position. In front of them will take a ball cross court. Level with them will take it straight and behind them will play a boast. Once they master the basic swing then you can start to employ small variations in the wrist position to add even more variety to the swing e.g. a dropped, moved forward and tilted back wrist is perfect to play a trickle boast from the right position whilst still allowing you time to correct to play a straight drive or a cross-court drive or even a lob if push comes to shove!



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From hamburglar - 31 Jan 2007 - 10:13

In order to hold shots, you need to:

be in a comfortable position with the ball in your sweet spot. Most likely near the T.

get your opponent moving/guessing before you hit the ball

mix in drop shots so your opponent has to cover the front of the court. If they're just standing at the back, a hold doesn't do very much.

have a pre-swing that looks the same for a drive, boast, crosscourt, drop or lob.

If you hear them moving, drive, if you don't, drop/boast

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From SuperSage666 - 29 Jan 2007 - 20:59   -   Updated: 29 Jan 2007 - 21:24

LOL, love those long matches.

Had a beauty yesterday myself, I was playing a person that I'd never played before, so I just moved with the ball off his racquet for the first game and played a basic, tight to length game plan.  We ended up the first game with a 47 shot rally that nearly took the wind out of my sales.  It was a great rally, not a single miss-hit from either of us and I managed to deceive him in the final shot with a drive/trickle-boast deceptive shot.  Phew.    My opponent was a lot younger and fitter than myself, so I had to really work hard for my points.  

I found that playing a pressure game (cracking the ball down the wall deep to the back corners and then cracking short kill shots and kill cross-courts in a random sequence to keep the rallies moving at a fast pace, kept him moving, but allowed him an edge with his greater fitness.  Still, I was able to get him reacting quickly to the early cue and let me put him under extreme pressure by simply slowing the rally mid way through.  The appearance that I was cracking a drive got him moving across quickly, so when I slowed it down a fraction, it caught him moving too early and having to play the return from an awkward position which stopped him from making it a tight return.   The same goes when I start a slow rally with drops and lobs and suddenly start cracking kill shots, length drives or volleying deep, using my wrist strength.  With these shots he was often caught moving a little slow and have to stretch after the ball for another loose return.

It was a superb 5 gamer with lots of marathon rallies and though I lost the last game 8-10 we both felt like crawling off the court.  So you can get the type of long matches Adz mentioned, even when you've never played or seen your opponent play before.  But, there is a big advantage in being able to switch pace or game plan during a game or during a rally. Had I not been able to do that, considering my opponent's fitness and shot ability, he would have cleaned me up in three games.



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From Adz - 23 Jan 2007 - 21:09

Yikes, TY for the compliment Sagey!

At some point in the near future I might actually try to qualify as a coach, up to a level 3 or 4 I think. For now I've been quite content to help people when I can and pass on what experience I have to those who are interested in hearing about it.

SAM, I had a thought about your original dilemma after refereeing a match last night. Two players who play each other every week and have close games, meet each other in a team match. Now that they have played each other so often, they know each others game style and disguise shots so well that they couldn't wrong foot each other and had to resort to good old fashioned rallies. Both were moving into positions to receive the ball knowing exactly where the other was going to play to.

Eventually one player realised that the best way to win was to change his game style completely and started using different types of disguise on his shots. Instead of hitting a lob after shaping for a drop, he twisted into a trickle boast etc. He added an adaption to his game and this was what seperated the two of them in the end.

Having the abilities to change from one style of play to another is a huge advantage in squash. It can keep your opponent guessing and if you can do it well enough, it can give you a deadly attack or a steady defence. Over the years I've tried to develop a tight, high and deep game for defence, and a short, sharp and fast game for attack. Now as I continue my learning into the game, I understand that there is so much more to learn about positioning RELATIVE to the opponent and that being on the T is not always the commanding position!

Try to watch ads many different players as you possibly can. When two players play (especially at a high-club level), who wins? Why do they win? How did they impact of their opponents game? Did they make their opponent move faster than they could cope with? Did they slow the game to their pace? Did they play deep or short? High? Disguise? What worked well and what didn't? Why didn't some things work? Who won most of the points - the front player or the back player? I could go on for hours analysing a match (Sky Sports are you reading this? I need a job!!).


Let us know if you need any pointers Sam!


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From SuperSage666 - 20 Jan 2007 - 23:27

I like both Rippa and Adz replies.

I wish I had a coach that gave me wizdom like that when I was starting out in this sport.

I had to learn the hard way, by getting tortured on the country club court where there were no players who had played outside the local club or even bothered to read a rule book.  So having to learn from some very strange players and a very strange interpretations of the rules of the game. I floundered around for twenty odd years in mud.    The mud suddenly cleared when my daughter wanted to learn to play and I decided to go to the city and do a coaching course in squash, so I could teach her properly.

Boy did I get a huge shock.   I thought that delaying a shot meant to turn around and  chase after it instead of playing it.   I also called "Turning" when following a ball around the corner and thought that nobody can get a stroke if the ball came off the back wall when somebody was in direct line with your shot and the wall. 

I found out that I had already developed the tactic of delaying my shot, without even knowing what I was doing.   On certain shots, like front court shots, I would position myself just about where the ball would make it's second bounce and sometimes wait to hear my opponent's footsteps or breathing to determin their position or direction of movement before striking the ball, sometimes this would take the ball to near the second bounce.   A cheeky young player that I was guiding, would do the same to me, but he would often turn his head around and look me straight in the eye before striking the ball as if to say "ha ha, bad luck, I've got you".   I would do just as Adz described and change a straight drop shot into a lob or cross court drop, depending on where my opponent was going, apparently this was my only good point.    Everything else I did in my matches was totally wrong and the city players all called me a country hack as I played too many boasts, let the ball go to the back wall instead of volleying and played many stupid shots that I thought were tricky.

Now I hit the ball as early as I can to maintain pressure, only delaying my shots when my opponent has reached the "T" or centre of the court and is in too good a position to cover my pressure shots.  Because my opponent has been quicker than I and has gained a position of control over the rally, I have little to gain by playing the ball early and likely predictable to my opponent, so I hold the shot (waiting for it a little longer) when the bounce allows me to.  This gives my opponent time to relax and drop his heals or to start moving early.  

Then if my opponent starts moving, I have just enough time to change the stroke or if they drop their heals (flat footed), I will play it away from them and tight, so  they will have a hard time moving to it.  With the players in our club, my favourite tactic is to delay the shot from the back of the court, while they are on the "T".   From there I can see which way they are looking and if they are  flat footed.    If flat footed, I will hit a fast but low boast that moves the ball very quick and tight to the front of the court.  This gets them every time I do it.   If they are not watching the ball off my racquet, I will play a straight drop.  Because, by the time the ball gets into their vision, it is too late for them to react to the drop and again, this beats them every time.  I have gained excellent control over the turning shots as well, instead of calling "turning" like I used to, I will delay the turning ball and either play a straight kill drive or a reverse boast off many of these with absolutely no danger to my opponent.  

 I believe now that the skilled players can control a turning ball as well as they can control any other stroke, so the turning rule should be different for the top 200 PSA players and considered as safe as any other shot.  At the lowest levels, turning should be totally disallowed.  In between, it probably should stay as in the current international rules.

So my School(4) on Tactics:

Play as early as possible to keep pressure on your opponent, but if that is not working and your opponent is getting settled with the pace game, delay your shot to slow the game down and unsettle your opponent.

Trick shots are another issue:  My trick shots at club level were never really trick shots, I gave them away too easily because they required individual preparations for each shot and were easy to spot, even for those players.  So trick shots are not actually trick shots.  The best trick shots are variations of shots played from the same preparation as other shots, and only varying late in the downstroke to allow your opponent as little time as possible to pick the cues.  My favourite now is the sliced drop.   My preparation and downstroke are identical to a straight drive, but I open the angle of the racquet very late and continue the stroke downward longer to slice to a very tight drop shot.   The top players can sometimes scramble to make a loose return off this drop, often setting me up for a winner. While all my club opponents just stand in awe with their jaws dropped.   They never see that one coming.  "Gee mate, I was sure you were driving that, you must have miss-hit it".    I just laugh.

Keep yr racquet high.




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From rippa rit - 20 Jan 2007 - 08:43

Sam - what Adz is saying is sound thinking.
Young fellows who can run all day often find it easier (less mental) to keep on running down the ball and hope the opponent runs out of steam.  And, blame the racket too.
Poor tactics though
Sam once your game has developed a full repetoire of shots, it is then time to learn how to use them against different opponents; yep all the shots have more specific purposes depending from which part of the court, and position of the opponent, etc..  The opponent must always be doing more work than you are if possible.
Squashgame's tactics rate highly on the search engines, and I think working through all the aspects of tactics would be a good thing to do. 
Here is the link to About the Opponent and that should keep you busy.  Digest the content of the other tabs in that section too and I am sure you will have some training goals for some time to come.
I know the pros make it look so simple, but there are many aspects to this great game and it takes a long time to train all the skills, and that is why I am so impressed with a 19 year old defeating the WR No. 2 (just imagine a person having 10 years plus experience up their sleeve!) Wooow

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From Adz - 19 Jan 2007 - 23:42

There are a few schools of thought on this:

School1: Hit the ball as early as possible to stop the opponent from getting time to position themselves for the return.

This works great if you can play at a faster pace than your opponent, but is absolute rubbish if they can play faster than you.


School2: Delay the shot to play it when you are ready and ignore where the opponent is. If your shots are good enough then the opponent will struggle no matter how much time you give them.

This works well against a player who is a worse shot player than you, and defeats the advantage that a faster paced player has over you. Of course if the opponent has better shots than you then you're going to struggle!


School3: Apply a variety to your game to firslty keep your opponent guessing but secondly give yourself options to vary depending of what style is most effective against your opponent.


It's nice that your opponent gave you some constructive feedback about your game. Perhaps you should learn to add some holding shots into your game. Holding the ball at the front of the court can usually draw your opponent into making a decision about whether to move forward for the drop or hang back for the length. Work on disguising a lob as a drop. This can be great for drawing in an opponent before putting the ball over their head. At the end of the day, everything you can learn becomes a weapon or a tool that you can use in your playing. The more you know the more you can employ!


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