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Continuing improvement

Published: 31 Aug 2008 - 20:59 by Fleming

Updated: 24 Sep 2008 - 17:39

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An old squash coach advised me of the 'limiting effect of my environment' and that the only remedy was to either change my environment, possibly by moving home, or to create a new, more appropriate training regime.

I currently practice 4 or 5 times a week with my regular partners, often under the supervision of our club coach and train 3 times per week. I don't feel this regime is delivering and I should be playing faster. Any ideas?


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From chris - 03 Sep 2008 - 10:04


I was involved in the design of the Starttimer in as much as I was the 'guinea pig'.

From a single randomly flashing light, it developed into an all-court training and practice system.

I understand that training and practice are highly specific and I can overload particular areas of my game to the extent that they become stress resistant. It really helps in developing a higher playing tempo.


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From Jake - 03 Sep 2008 - 09:37

To Fleming,

I've also got a Starttimer. I acquired a demo. model through a friend, on loan.

I use the Starttimer once or twice a week to augment my practice and it is equally applicable to shot making and movement. I also like the way that I can measure my progress. If I'm using it for shuttle runs for example, I can reduce my target time by 1/10th of a second every couple of weeks. Really keeps me up to the mark!

I also use the same principle when ghosting and find I'm becoming quicker and more efficient into the deep corners and taking the vollies.


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From missing_poster40 - 03 Sep 2008 - 02:42

Hi Fleming. Yes, I've got a Starttimer. I acquired it through

The advantage I've found is the ability to program the timer to my specific needs and the realism that it can bring to my practice through visualisation. I've been using the timer for about 2 months now, 2 or 3 times a week and find it both enjoyable and beneficial.


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From rippa rit - 02 Sep 2008 - 10:02   -   Updated: 03 Sep 2008 - 09:35

Fleming, with speed, do you mean court speed, or racket speed?  There are 5 components of fitness and speed is just one of them.  Squash is such a great game for your fitness that it requires attention to all of them.  The racket work has to also keep up with your speed and that is why I am suggesting the integration of both into the ghosting movements.

In short, not much use buying a car with great speed capabilities, without the driver also having good steering skills.   Yep, I am a pain when it comes to detailed training. Well, if you try for 100% and you get about 50% to 70% improvement that is great

PS  For fitness and speed the Beep Test is another method depending on the individual needs. This is suitable where there is a squad/group training where each person sort of pushes the other a bit further out of their comfort zone, and in the end performs at a specific level of fitness as determined by the beeps. 


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From Fleming - 02 Sep 2008 - 09:05

Tempo and playing speed are obviously topics of interest . I looked at the 'Footworker' and it certainly had an appeal, but at a fair price.

I also found a item called 'Starttimer' which appeared to offer similar facilities but with an emphasis on speed and at a fraction of the price. It also appears that whoever is behind this product knows what he is talking about.

Does anyone have any experience of training using this 'Starttimer'?


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From rippa rit - 02 Sep 2008 - 08:18

Mike, that video gives a good visual idea of how ghosting works for those who have a problem with the ghosting concept.  That flashing device is a novel idea.  For those who do not want to spend the money just place some balls on the court in specified positions, for particular shots, starting with 3 and progressing to about 6 or 8 balls.  This drill done in pairs is good too where each person calls the specific shots for their partner and can time or count the length of the rallies if necessary, eg

  • Ball sitting in the front, call lob, either cross court or straight
  • Ball sitting at mid court, call length, or drop shot
  • Ball sitting mid back court, call length or boast.

The Coach or partner is best standing in the middle of the front wall area (same position as the flashing light device), and points their finger, as the call is made.

We have spoken many times about how to follow/track/watch the ball, so I cannot emphasise strongly enough the need to watch the ball from the time you swing, to the point the ball lands in the court, and it is better to call the next shot appropriate to that ball position (rather like playing a ghosting pair routine).  Back-pedalling from the front of the court is not on especially once the ball goes to length.  You must visualise where the ghosting shot lands, and strive to get the fluent momentum moving into position for the return shot. 

To begin this new ghosting experience, start without the racket, and concentrate on the footwork and body positioning, then progress to carrying the racket; then progress to swinging the racket.  Whilst this exercise looks easy in the video, it does take some practice to perfect.  Do not over-run the ball, and in fact put a racket on the floor at right angles to the ball/wall to make sure you keep a good distance from the ball.

About the racket work - after swinging at the ball, keep the racket up in a "ready" position while moving into position, and truly simulate good footwork and technique; and, during recovery to the T be sure to watch the ball's imaginary flight path.

Any problem with understanding what I am on about?

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From mike - 01 Sep 2008 - 22:12

Yep, this YouTube video demonstrates the device -

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From Patten - 01 Sep 2008 - 20:32

Fleming, I got to chatting with my opponent after our game on the subject of speed of play. Apparently, one of his friends is a rep for one of the sports manufacturers and he'd seen a player training by 'ghosting' using a timing device with flashing lights. It seemed to be some sort of random speed trainer.

That's all I know but it might be worth looking into.

Dave Patten

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From mike - 01 Sep 2008 - 10:27   -   Updated: 01 Sep 2008 - 10:28

Fleming - what are your current weaknesses? If you don't know then it'll be hard to improve, and if you do know make sure at least some of your training targets those weaknesses.

I know you've mentioned pace, so what isn't working when you play at pace? Unforced errors, loose drives, bad shot choices, sloppy movement?

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From rippa rit - 01 Sep 2008 - 07:41   -   Updated: 01 Sep 2008 - 07:50

Fleming, you sound a keen player.  The quality of the practice is what counts as opposed to the quantity. You said a coach is supervising training, so what is the coach actually doing?  Is the training structured? Are goals set for you to concentrate on for the sessions? Are the players you are playing with keen to improve as well? Does the coach give any pointers by watching the games, eg help with technique, tactics, etc.?  Can you find a mentor (an older veteran) to guide you along?  What now?

Try to set yourself some goals, or even just one goal, and for each training session make your play revolve around that goal, eg good length.  The associated goals for good length, eg

  • Technical - to improve the swing technique for the drive
  • Tactical - to get the drives tight and deep within the court and move to the T
  • Solo practice - driving to length.  Ghosting, with court movement moving to all corners of the court.
  • Pair Routines - Rally down the forehand wall; then change, Rally down the backhand wall.
  • Match play - Play good length before going for a short shot.

This may, or may not be appropriate to your level of play, however, no matter what the standard the same method still applies. The Squash Library tab has various menu items covering all of the above, eg Strokes/Movement, Tactics, Drills/Routines.

Keeping a Diary will help heaps as well.

Good luck.

PS: Check out the "relevant content" tab on the left.


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From Patten - 31 Aug 2008 - 22:33

Fleming, I know exactly what you mean. I don't know where you live, but I moved to the London area about 5 years ago and the playing environment can make a remarkable difference. Competition is much more intense and it is the playing tempo, particularly the reaction speed that makes the difference. When I play back home, it's like comparing rural traffic with London driving!

Structure your practice/training to target tempo and reaction speed and let other aspects of your game take care of themselves and you'll notice the difference.

Remember, though, that how well you ultimately perform will depend on how  best you can handle the stress and keep your game together, regardless of the playing standard.

Best of luck,

Dave Patten.

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