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mens v ladies squash

Published: 07 May 2007 - 07:14 by aprice1985

Updated: 24 Sep 2008 - 17:39

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I was watching videos of Cassie Jackman v Vanessa Atkinson and then Jon Power v Peter Nicol and was just wondering what the big differences are between mens and womens squash, why do men seem to be so much better, is it stroke play or physicality or what.  Obviously JP v PN is two of the best men in recent times and it was their 2001 Canadian match which went to 5 so it may be unfair to use them as a comparison but again the two ladies were both world no. 1s.

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From rippa rit - 23 Sep 2008 - 08:56

aprice - it is a pity any stuff requiring brawn/strength gets down to hormones.  If players have equal skill, then equal fitness, the hormones win every time. 

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From aprice1985 - 23 Sep 2008 - 05:53

yeah clearly a gulf in class with some interesting comments, firstly the man should have had m ore int the tank having not played rachael grinham recently but nicol david said "no doubt strength and speed won out" but yet also said she was playing a touch player, so presumably he did not just blast her off court.  It does suggest that the top women really wouldn't be near the top men, although  it would be interesting to see if the best woman ever v best man ever!  I guess i wonder if it is just down to sheer physicality or if there are other aspects as well like mentality/thought process?

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From mlongobard - 23 Sep 2008 - 05:36

There was another battle of the sexes earlier this year -- world #1 Nicol David lost to the #1 ranked men's player in Singapore, who's essentially a talented club pro. I would have thought David could take him easily. Shows how huge the gulf really is between men and women at the elite level.


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From rippa rit - 20 Sep 2008 - 09:06

The background mainly applying to the two players:

  • Alison Walters is the current 2008 British National Champion
  • Peter Nicol Winner of Tournament of Champions 2001/3/4; British National Champion 1996 &2003; Retired in 2006.

This video came to u-tube via the Southgate Squash Club and this match was probably for a club promo hence the light attitude towards the match. I counted the first rally with 27 hits, second with 16, and third with 9 so if you give that a try the next time you go to the courts, using pace, especially with a few drop shots thrown in I bet your little heart will be racing too.  It is true the high level of fitness does drop off quickly.

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From aprice1985 - 20 Sep 2008 - 02:21

Interesting video, i dont know how highly ranked alison waters is/was but she was playing one the best ever in my opinion.  Peter was clearly not playing "competetivly", a very different style to how he played as a pro and yet he still won.  He did look very tired, again something he never really showed as a pro.  This does suggest that there is a quite a big gulf in class to me, i always heard ex pros tended to drop off quite quickly, ok they never lose the intrinsic skills but fitness and "match sharpness" can go quickly.  Very enjoyable video although i am not one for the banter with the ref, exhibition or not

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From weiran - 19 Sep 2008 - 21:27   -   Updated: 19 Sep 2008 - 21:28

That is very interesting, either Alison seems to miss a lot more deep length retrevials, or Petel Nicol hits better lenghts? She is fast though, although Peter is looking very tired very quickly!

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From rippa rit - 19 Sep 2008 - 16:10

aprice - here is an interesting match. Peter Nicol v Alison Walters

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From aprice1985 - 07 Jun 2007 - 21:36

Just wondering if anyones else saw on the italians played a mens v womens match which was actually quite close.  Does anyone have any more details on this as in where the various players are ranked in the world and how the games were played?  In essence how even a comparision was this cause it suggests that the women could go toe to toe with the men.

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From rippa rit - 08 May 2007 - 08:27 Factors
aprice - I think we have sparked off an interesting debate here.  Now let's keep to the topic
So the link above gives some good results from experiments on reaction time, so the males won, but the females won in response to reaction to sound. 

Like I said there is not one formula but a lot of variables that make the result.  Personally, squash has taught me co-ordination, quick reflex, and anticipation.  Females are said to be able to concentrate on more than one thing at a time, so how does that equate during a game?

As for power, well, females in the main do not bulk up muscle like males, hence the lack of power and strength in comparison to male squash players. 

I still think good placement, good skills, good tactics, good head, together with selective power is hard to beat, and makes for an interesting game.

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From rippa rit - 07 May 2007 - 21:29   -   Updated: 07 May 2007 - 21:33

aprice - I only speak from my own knowledge and experience.
Squash can be as scientific as you like or as simple as you like and, in the main, most do what they find easiest.  Often players work on their strengths and try not to deviate into areas they do not enjoy, or find to uncomfortable.  Not recommended for top performance.
Often players get to a top level relying on a combination of natural attributes, together with heaps of practice of course, eg
a) speed, and power, and fitness;
b) agility, fitness, and skill;
c) reach, strength, athletic;
d) mentally strong, fit, skillful.

and so it goes on.  Then of course add a few more ingredients like nutrition, dedication, determination, stability, opportunity, etc. and it is a whole new ball game.  Genetics do play a part too including family involvement in the sport.  Players can have lucky breaks too by being associated with a mentor, coach, so it is not easy to find a single winning formula.
Probably we could also theorise why a Doctor excels in certain areas of medicine, some make better GP's etc...same sort of senario could apply to tthat.

Where a player develops a high skill level firstly, while still young, has a natural athletic body, is exposed to good coaching, and opportunity, has a steady mind, the other skills can be nurtured along the way.  Male and females who are tall and strong while still juniors tend to reach high levels early, but sometimes that is not enough to sustain their progress, while the  late  bloomers  have to  develop  other  areas  of their game to  compete equally, eg skill, agility, finesse, tactics.

Unfortunately not every one can make the grade and sort of bottom out and stay at that level for years.  Weaknesses seem to creep back under pressure when the player is least expecting it too.


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From nickhitter - 07 May 2007 - 21:25

it's not just power which testosterone develops, but the cardio vascular and muscular skeletal systems in general. studies I have seen (can't remember the exact source but I think it was by the american college of sports medicine) have also shown that male athletes have on average greatly improved reaction times and reflexes compared to their female counter parts, aswell as increased spatial awareness which is key to squash (how many world class female snooker players do you know? or actually - ever seen a woman try to parallel park a car! - ok just kidding but you get the idea).

anyway this reduced reaction/reflex ability is also why on the whole women find it difficult to compete at the highest level in motor sports, for example, or other reflex/reaction sports to the same level as men. Even if they're not enitriely physically based. Although i'm sure they'll be some feminist here who will produce evidence to the contrary!

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From aprice1985 - 07 May 2007 - 19:17

So essentially there is (or should be) similar stroke play but men have better physicality for squash and once you add in tactics it gets even more complicated!  Do the women generally play with weaker tactics and is this possibly due to the comparable lack of depth in the women's game.  I would have thought that in squash while hitting the ball hard is useful a really skillful player could play more lobs and drops and still be able to beat a hard hitter so why then does there seem to be such a wide gender gap, it seems that combining good tactics with stroke play could even it up.  I guess reach and acceleration will have a bearing

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From rippa rit - 07 May 2007 - 08:45   -   Updated: 07 May 2007 - 08:46

aprice - this will be something for you to touch on in your studies of the endocrine system.
Before the release of testosterone in males it seems their strength is much more on a par with females.  However, once adolescence sets in their is a significant difference is growth, strength and power in males. 
For females, adolescence can be more difficult with the increase of estrogen tending to lead to more adipose tissue, all of which seems to slow down their speed and physical performances.  This has been said to cause some of the drop-outs in sport at this age.

It is a scientific fact that hormones levels are altered by excessive physical training.  A whole new study.  However, it cannot be changed that females have ovaries, and males have testes.

With that in mind, the strength and power is greatly driven by physical training and hormone levels all of which in turn effect the metabolism. 

True, the women's game is not as powerful, and a power game can look quite pathetic in both male and females without some finesse, deception, and tactics. At a national ranked level, there is no excuse for the lack of shot play, and tactics.

A story - After watching one of our female AIS students (47 WR ranked I think) play a 47 year old male ex ranked national player (kelvin) in comp last week, I could only shake my head to see a woman try to play the style of a male, using all her physical strength (running and hitting hard), and, I felt  he gave her a squash lesson in tactics.  She was so frustrated at her lack of her ability to control the match.  (I would have thought that if a person had a weakness, the idea would have been to try to exploit that).  Yeah, so instead of putting her thinking cap on just threw the racket against the wall, etc. and that did not help.  Kelvin, has a bad knee, so hit the ball firmly with control, generally knew where the ball was going (female lack of variety and deception), moved into position for the return, caught his opponent on the wrong foot, intercepted the shots, and really brought home the fact that squash is a clever game, not just a physical one.  Yeah, Kelvin did get a bit red in the face but was not exhausted while his opponent probably could have played for another hour....little consequence when your opponent is too smart.

Did I answer your question after all that?

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