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Try not to send your opponent a message

Published: 11 Jun 2008 - 09:23 by rippa rit

Updated: 11 Jun 2008 - 22:29

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At the weekend at the Masters there was a top match between a just O/60 male versus a really fit guy about five years his junior.  Each player, on the face of it, looked equal enough in their style and movement, except the experienced older player frustrated his opponent to the extent that he could hardly get into his game, and hit his straps, and use his fitness and strength.  He was so frustrated. When a player can read the play so well, it seems they are always waiting for the shot, no matter how good it is, and replying with an even better shot.

When retrieving from the front of the court whether it be a drop shot, lob, reverse boast, or drive be careful not to send an early message with your body and racket movement, showing your intentions.  For those people who run onto or into the ball and never really take up a firm stance before striking the ball, and wait just a fraction, are more predictable.  The lob is a shot that must be disguised, and done very well to have the proper effect against a player who can "read" the game, and has a good overhead volley.  So what happens?

As soon as the player shapes, sends out clues:

  • that the ball will be hit overhead, the opponent steps back about  two steps (having previously decided that a drop is not going to happen), and overhead volley-drop the lob right into the front corner nick.
  • that the ball will be a short shot, the opponent steps forward, hits a length shot, putting the player under a lot of pressure at the back court.

Yes, it would have been a good idea for the fitter player younger player to rush this opponent into the back corners, and play some drops too, however as soon as any shot was not "spot on" or deceptive, the opponent took away the initiative.


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From Adz - 11 Jun 2008 - 22:27   -   Updated: 11 Jun 2008 - 22:29

Yes...... and no!

The lob needs to be disguised the same as any other shot, especially against an experienced player. Just think about a tennis lob...... if it's played up too obviously and an opponent gets back to cover, it's rare that you'll see the lobbing player get another shot that ralley! Same thing in squash, it can be as high as you like, but unless it's a very tight and difficult lob to volley, an experienced player could hit it anywhere on the court, especially if the ball is loose as you have to give them full view of the front wall, usually leaving the rail shot wide open for them to attack you.

Personally I'd say that the lob is a great shot (and I use it often), especially if you can get the shot high and tight and deep enough to bounce off the side wall along the back wall on the way down. It takes a lot of practise to get right, and best done with a coach who can instruct you on how to move to the ball, which type of swing to use (you can't lob with your racquet on top of the ball!), body position, aiming places on the front wall etc.


There's loads to get right in this shot which is why you usually only find the more skillful shot player getting it right time after time even under pressure.


I find the real trick is to stretch low (a slow lunge) into the shot so that the body is low and under the ball. The extension of the body due to the lunge makes it difficult for an opponent to get into a good position against you, and if you play a tight drop and they're too far back then they won't get a let if they can't reach the ball. This forces them to come almost alongside your back leg which is when you can really catch them out with cross-drops, lobs or a simple straight drop. The key is getting them out of position first. Draw them in and lob or cross-drop, or let them hang back and play a straight drop. Either way you need to choose your shot based on their position, NOT yours!




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From mike - 11 Jun 2008 - 21:16

I've never thought of the lob as a shot to disguise, but I guess it makes sense if you don't want it punished by an experienced opponent. If high enough it should still buy the player some time wheather it was read or not.

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