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Getting down to the ball

Published: 03 May 2008 - 07:54 by mike

Updated: 09 May 2008 - 09:16

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I'm a reasonably tall player (6"1) and I've noticed recently that I'm not doing a very good job of getting down to the ball when hitting. Particularly when returning a drive.

I stay too vertical and probably too close to the ball, and end up correcting my position with my wrist.

Just wondering what training or practice is best to strength my lower half so I can get low (and back up) more quickly?

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From rippa rit - 08 May 2008 - 20:17

The use of a towel or skipping rope hooked around the foot/leg can help with the PNF stretches.

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From mike - 08 May 2008 - 17:41

Thanks for the input.

Just being aware of the issue has helped a bit, but I will look into doing more specific training and maybe a few of these fancy PNF stretches

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From raystrach - 08 May 2008 - 12:37

hi mike

i have found it quite instructive, especially in recent years to see how hard it is for many players to get down to the ball. especially when it is apparently very  fit, strong athletic types.

most of what has been written below is valid, but i will make the following points which have come from getting people to improve in this area:

  • generally, the wider the stance, the easier it to get down
    • this can apply quite a bit in the back court where the split step can be used to advantage
    • in the front court, the lunge is effective, usually lunging with the racket side (ie rigth handed, right leg both forehand and backhand)
    • you need the strength to be able to bend the knee and straighten again - many people simply cannot support their own weight with a bent knee, let alone recovering from the bent knee position
    • when you go forward, the front knees should bend and act almost as a shock absorber as you transfer weight onto that front foot
    • a vartiety of squats and lunges will help build that strength
  • work also needs to be done on core strength and stability as the stabilisers take a lot of strain in  these situations - this is vital!
  • good technique is also important - little or no back bending depending on the situation - bend the knees, spread the feet, keep the racket shaft nearly parallel to the ground
  • last but not least is the question of flexibility. adam is correct in saying that static stretching is not as effective as was once thought - (things have changed pretty rapidly with this - i would say our squashgame library needs updating)
    • pnf (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation from memory) stretching and selected dynamic stretches will help prior to play, but work should be done on general flexibility and agility (static stretching after the game is worthwhile)
    • pnf stretching can be done to some extent using walls and in some cases yourself to apply the opposite force required

overall i would say it could take some time to carry out this strategy. it has taken one of my students almost 12 months to get to the point where he has now incorporated these techniques into his game without conciously thinking about it.

have fun!

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From rippa rit - 08 May 2008 - 07:41

Especially with a tournament and match after match the PNF is very helpful.  However, PNF is difficult to do properly without a partner to help hold the stretches and give the progressive load and then resistance necessary.

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From adam_pberes - 07 May 2008 - 17:19   -   Updated: 07 May 2008 - 17:22

Just a note on the stretching!
Correct me if I'm wrong, someone.

Before training and games it is better to do PNF (Proprioneuroceptive stretching or something) rather than static stretching right?

Static stretching reduces the strength available until they have been used in a more game-like situation. Its better to do PNF stretching Beforehand, as this not only is strecthing, but it still keeps a certain amount of tension in your muscles, right?


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From SamBWFC - 07 May 2008 - 08:37

Along with what Rita has said, I believe that a good stretch and warm up prior to training really helps. Focus on stretches of the glutes, have a search round on the web if you don't know any.

I've been training to increase flexibility these past couple of weeks and I must say it is definitely having an improvement on my game, especially reaching for those low shots!

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From merlejea - 05 May 2008 - 03:46

thanks for the advice

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From rippa rit - 03 May 2008 - 08:39   -   Updated: 03 May 2008 - 21:17

Mike, the quads take a lot of the work in the bending and lunging.  However, the ghosting and games should strengthen that.  Also the glutes get sore in the bottom from any training that takes you to the front of the court repeatedly because of the stride length (quads and hams).

I see in some of your replies that you speak of ghosting, so that is the time to really practice the court movement, and tall people do not like the bending and twisting.  Boasts and cross courts are good armoury for tall people, oops! What to do?

The lower your base of support the better balance (lunge and loping type movement), so widen your stride and that will bring your base of support more stable and lower when swinging, and more particularly when retrieving shots that die into the front or back corners.

PS Gold video showing  moving to the front of the court to play a variety of backhand shots. Notice the lunging movement starts immediately the player moves from the T making fluent footwork.

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