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Sensing the opponent.

Published: 10 Nov 2007 - 10:16 by adam_pberes

Updated: 27 Nov 2007 - 23:42

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A large part of shot selection is knowing where your opponent is. It is easy to see where your opponent is when they are in front of you, which therefore makes it a bit more obvious where you should play your next shot to.


BUT, if your opponent plays a weak-ish boast, and you move forward, what are the best ways to sense where your opponent is.


Not necessarily off a weak boast, but at anytime when it is your shot, and you are infront of your opponent. Sure, the best way would be to sneak a peak, but there has to be better ways, not only do you  lose the ball this way,,

 but they know you're looking for them, and if they saw you look at them and they were behind you for a drive, they would move across for a crosscourt and snap you.


So what are the ways of sensing your opponent?

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From Adz - 27 Nov 2007 - 23:42

I've "scented" my opponents quite a few times in the past....... usually after they've had a curry the night before or haven't washed their kit properly in years......


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From rippa rit - 18 Nov 2007 - 12:19   -   Updated: 18 Nov 2007 - 12:20

Maybe it should be "scenting the opponent" as referring to a fox terrier chasing a rat. That is really what chasing after this ball is about too, knowing the opponent's every move; hunting.

An interstate junior manager once said "your players seem to be hunting for the ball" so if you can relate to that it may change your way of moving to and from the ball.

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From Adz - 13 Nov 2007 - 19:02


Personally I always try to move my body into a position where I can see my opponents position out of the corner of my eye. Sensing is something that can take years to master and execute to perfection. Start by getting your body into a position where you can get a glimpse of where your opponent is. Also try to study how your opponent moves in quick rallies. If they follow a set pattern when under pressure (e.g. always back to the T, or fully into one corner etc), then you can force them to move out of position and leave you clear lines for winning shots. This is a pretty tough thing to achieve, but when it works correctly you can predict what an opponent is going to do before you've even contacted the ball in your shot! By forcing an opponent into this state of mind their play becomes easier to read and anticipate allowing you the opportunity to win easy rallies.

But a simple rule applies here: The better the player, the harder they are to force into instinctive shots and the more variety of recovery shots you will face! This makes it much harder to anticipate the position and shots of a better player. However, by the time you would have reached this level you should have already developed a sensory aspect you your game and be able to add that to your arsenal instead of anticipation.

Not really an answer on "sensing" as from experience different people use different "tells" (body language, last known position of opponent, usual movement patterns, sound, ESP, shot selection - take you pick). One solid rule of thumb has to be: If you don't know where your opponent is, play the safest shot you can (usually a tight, high lob from the front or a tight drop from mid-court or a tight drive in the back).



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From rippa rit - 12 Nov 2007 - 21:05   -   Updated: 12 Nov 2007 - 21:07

jimbob - to me the clothing does not make any difference to being able to sense/feel or get a glimpse of your opponent.  The best thing is to turn as you go to the front of the court enough to get a slight glimpse of the opponent out of the peripheral vision; it is often only the toes/shoes which give enough idea of the opponent's court position.

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From jimbob1965 - 12 Nov 2007 - 10:47

Something I have always wondered is whether the colour of clothing has any bearing here, i.e. if you are playing on a traditional court with white walls, is it best to wear all white to try to use 'camouflage' to any extent, or is this of such little significance that it is not really worth taking into account? 

There is such an array of clothing available these days, much of which is now in bright colours, making oneself more visible on court.  This is no doubt due to a sense of fashion creeping in to the modern professional game (witness Wael el Hindi's sleeveless tops!), plus sposnsors wanting to get their brands more noticed, which is all good for promoting the image of the sport.  Whilst this on court visibility effect is probably negligible for the pros in terms of any effect on tactics, by wearing such clothing and being more visible to an opponent, could this at more amateur levels be inadvertently handing the less garishly dressed opponent a subtle advantage?!!



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From rippa rit - 11 Nov 2007 - 09:05

Yeah that listening bit is a good thing too, but not to replace the turning of the body to get a sense that there are most little shadows of feet, and movement behind.

Some people are just like elephants on their feet so give their plot away. Try to sneak about the court when moving about.

Well there is the breathing bit too, some players just sound like they are in labour, and that gives away a few secrets too, eg fitness, and court position.  .

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From dazza_16390 - 11 Nov 2007 - 08:55

i deel that if it is off a boast while you are running to get the ball you should also listen out for footsteps of your oppenent as you move forward. if you hear many footsteps you can gather that they are on the T but if you hear non/little, best to drop!

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From rippa rit - 10 Nov 2007 - 20:29   -   Updated: 10 Nov 2007 - 20:45

adam - the golden rule in movement is, always watch the ball - never take your eye off it irrespective of where it is on court - do not turn your back on the ball.

When in front of your opponent, waiting for a return, movement must be side on watching the ball, flexing and moving your feet/body ready to get into position; and I would go as far as to say if you cannot see an opponent turn your body/feet around so you can, and if you can see three corners, and no white shoes or body out of the corner of your eyes, the opponent is surely in the other corner.

The relevant videos show this feature quite clearly as far as watching the ball in recovery. Here is the Squash Library/Strokes Movement link.

The more you move and cover your opponent's return the more pressure you put on the opponent.

Give it a try and let's know.

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