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Playing unconventional players

Published: 17 Feb 2009 - 11:26 by Eddy01741

Updated: 26 Feb 2009 - 21:14

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Alright, this is kindof a venting rant, since I just lost my last game against this kid 11-0. The thing is, if you look at his fundamentals, he's awful at squash, awful form for the stroke, almost non-existant backhand, runs funny, and has a huge tennis serve. But yet, I can't beat him, this isn't the first time this has happened, out of maybe the 10 times i've played him, he's beaten me 9 times (all I remember is that I beat him once, not sure how many times I played him total though). It frustrates me to no end (I literally want to either smash my racquet against the floor/wall or just decapitate him with my racquet). Now let me delge into why it is so besides his lack of fundamental skill.

 

This guy just has to be the luckiest squash player alive, he always hits these "fluke drop shots", which means a shot that is from at least mid court (like service line or farther backcourt) that UNINTENTIONALLY becomes like a long range dropshot. Like I can handle people that do drop shots up front since I almost expect it, but he just unexpectedly plays a amazingly lucky dropshot from the back court 75% of the time. THe most annoying thing is that he does this even more so when volleying. Let me play out how a point starts if I serve first. I serve, he is STANDING AGAINST THE WALL next ot the service line (like i said, semi-nonexistant backhand), he has his racquet out/above his head on his forehand side. if I serve my regular hard serve, he will just get a lucky volley which goes right above the nick at about 2 mph (aka, LUCKY DROP SHOT), like, my serve will be really hard, and then he'll just touch the ball, and it'll be a kill shot just like that. Now imagine that, but for almost every shot he does.

 

It just frustrates me so much that a guy that has no fundamental squash playing skill can actually win just because he somehow manages to hit low powered shots that are right above the tin all the time. I am faster, have more control, hit harder, and basically have better shots in every category than him, but he still wins, it's so frustrating. I feel that whenever I hit something mid-high level, he returns it with a "fluke volley drop" , and then whenever I hit like a really hard kill shot, he'll miraculously somehow get to the ball, and seeing as to how he literally has so little power behind his shot, it'll again be a miraculous "fluke shot" . Then if I put up a bad shot (long time to react and right to the middle), he'll do something wacky with it, much of the time hitting it right at me or just miraculously hitting it to the corner. See, the thing that frustrates me is that he can hit his miraculous "fluke shots" ONLY unintentionally basically (only against a hard shot in which he just holds his racquet in place and somehow always hits right above the tin at 2 mph), and can never do such a thing when he has time to place the ball.

 

I'm sorry if I came off as kind of just an angry squash player, but I just can't seem to beat this guy even though he is clearly worse than me in so many ways. The only thing I see him having better htan me is 1. luck, 2. unpredictability. I emphasize the unpredictability since his swing is so messed up, both backhand and forehand, that it is literally impossible to predict where he is going. And then of course these "fluke shots" that I spoke of are even more unpredictable and miraculous.

 

Any tips on beating this guy?

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From rippa rit - 26 Feb 2009 - 07:57   -   Updated: 26 Feb 2009 - 21:14

So now if we tie this post in with the one "Backhand loop" that will be a perfect example of how a player can have what looks to be a fluke shot.  They have this huge loop and generate lots of power, and on some shots will hit the frame (especially close to the corners and walls) and it will come out at all sorts of angles; and they keep doing these shots much to your disgust.  They have no control over it, and are using the loop unconventially; however, give them a tight shot in the corner and it is likely they will muff it up.  Mind you if they are fast players, get to the ball early, they will get away with alot more than a slower mover.

So if you are playing a person with a looping swing/shot who has power, keep the shots tight and not necessarily hard, and they will lose power and make more mistakes.

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From dave - 25 Feb 2009 - 17:21

You can get players that just instinctively know how to play a certain type of shot, and they can do it consistently.  This sounds just like that type of situation.

The only solutions are:  avoid playing the shot they're reacting to, or anticipate the shot.

Because the shot is instinctive, they'll play it every time.  They literally can't help it.  You can use that to your advantage.

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From rippa rit - 23 Feb 2009 - 14:36   -   Updated: 23 Feb 2009 - 14:46

Eddy - At the weekend I watched a Masters Tournament where players are not necessarily that good, but  very keen, and some have played for years and still never really reached great heights.  Eddy, you are young and have a lot of time ahead to learn about the game, not only skill, but placement, match evaluation, learning to read a game, recognising the opponent's strengths and weaknesses, etc.. I will go into some details on this match I watched and it will show you how simple it can be to lose 14:13 after a close contest.  I got interested in this match, my coaching collegue had been giving some lessons, and I got a bit of background on what problems this player was having with his game, and a lot of it is frustration - playing well, fast, moving ok but having bother winning the crucial points, and the more shots he muffed, the worse it seemed to get, until you could see him simmering like a boiling kettle; angry he could not put the critical shots away, but he was so busy focussing on his "errors" to even think about what his opponent was doing, and the match started to look like the fight and flight senario. Once this feeling begins to happens it must be stopped immediately, and turned around into something positive, or the match just becomes more of the same.  All the opponent really did was make sure he returned every ball no matter where it was hit, short/long or hard/soft, and this frustrated bloke lost the match, his opponent did not win it, if you get what I mean.

Sometime later I spoke to this frustrated guy, and he was consoling himself with the fact that he just lost it by a fraction, eg a couple of close tinned volleys, but assured me he would win next time.  Yes, the reason the "tin" shots happened was he was rushing like a mad bull and when he got to the T did not watch the opponent closely enough, but stood firmly in the middle of the court and threw himself at the return that whistled past him, which he could not easily track as he really was not watching due to his bad body positioning.  The reason for the tinned shots was basically lack of racket preparation. Also when he did a good shot he tended to stand thinking it was a winner, or when he did a not so good shot did not chase it.  My advice is:

  • Chase every ball till it is "dead" even if the opponent is right there to hit it.  Why? Because when you keep running down every ball it has a psychological effect on the opponent who then tries to change their mind, or take the ball earlier, or make it tighter, because they know you are chasing it....pressure causes panic.
  • After hitting a great drive, move into position quickly, and keep your eye on the ball all the time, even if that means taking a few steps to the side, and be ready to move quickly to intercept or chase the ball. You will get better cues and move earlier if you are watching the ball, and hence be better prepared for the return.
  • It is one thing to increase the pace of the ball, but do not just try to bash and thrash the ball in an attempt to win.  Uncontrolled hard shots are easy to return and require little physical effort to get back into play.
  • Try not to do a "hole in one" in desperation, especially going for drop shots at the wrong time.  Use the boast to make the opponent run, and make sure the drop shot is played when the opponent is stuck well in the back of the court.

I hope you can relate to this as I thought of this post immediately I realised what was happening in this game I was watching. When you are beaten by an opponent and feel frustrated that you lost, try to watch this player in a match to see if you can pick out any pointers to help next time you meet.

 

 

 

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From mike - 23 Feb 2009 - 10:28

You need to stop thinking of them as "lucky drop shots" because you're creating an excuse in your subconscious as to why you can't return them. Sure, his technique may be dodgy but if it happens again and again it is not luck!

It may be that when he has to scramble he makes poor contact with the ball (feathering the shot, taking power off it) and that despite flailing arms he may be striking with an open face which floats the ball up to kiss the front wall low and soft? It may look terrible, but it's obviously working.

You do yourself a disservice to write them off as lucky shots. Instead take note of what shots he plays them off and where on the court they are hit from and take responsibility to avoid giving him those opportunities. Don't get caught up in the injustice of the situation jet yet :)

 

Once  you can analyse your games with this opponent in a dispassionate manner and figure out how to shut down his game you'll win. Don't persevere with losing tactics just because they should work!

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From Eddy01741 - 23 Feb 2009 - 01:33   -   Updated: 23 Feb 2009 - 01:33

Well, most of the time I am frustrated at myself, but that frustration kind of "transfers" outwards to my opponent (it's a bad cycle for me, frustration leads to bad playing which leads to more frustration). One of the key reasons why I am so frustrated is because I play the same shots against people that are 6 spots above him on the ladder, and they usually can't pull off a half decent return, but he somehow can (desperation shots for him turn into lucky drop shots).  However, I guess if I play tight and deep like others suggested, he'd have a harder time pulling off said shots.

Yes, I lost 11-0 in PAR scoring, his serve wasn't really messing me up in particular, just his lucky drop shots.

 

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From aprice1985 - 22 Feb 2009 - 20:58

This post brings a couple of things to my rather limited squash mind.  Firstly you are getting angry at your opponent?  Possibly controversial but why get angry at him, get angry at youself, you let him play these shots, find the place where he can't hit them and put the ball there.  If it is off a serve lob it over his head, even if it comes off the back wall this is a more difficult shot for him, you have more time to be on the T and more time between him hitting the ball and you reacting to that.,  if he always does this on the backhand, serve to his forehand and see if he still copes as well.

Secondly you were beaten 11-0?  If you played PAR this means that you failed to win a point, even off his serve which suggests that either his serve is good and you can't  cope or you aren't playing the right shot off it, if you can get that ball deep to the back corners off his serve, you can win points off good length if you opponent doesn't have the skills to return it.  Get your ass on the T, make it yours and you can respond to his shots, don't hang back if he likes to play it short be up there and ready.  Good racquet preparation lets you get under his tight shots easier.  And the one things that i have found makes a difference to all shots - give yourself space to hit the ball, dont rush to it.

In essence go back to basics and think how your game can step up to counter his.

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From Eddy01741 - 22 Feb 2009 - 02:03

I'm so sorry for using bad language, I have since edited it out. I was just really really ticked off after I just lost 11-0 to a player like him, so I'm sorry for using the bad language.

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From paul-sf - 21 Feb 2009 - 17:33

Eddy.

It took me a few minutes, but I'm guessing that "cheap shot' = "jew shot"? The bigotry section of my brain must be running slow today, so help me out.

Paul

 

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From aprice1985 - 19 Feb 2009 - 02:08

Unconventional players are annoying, you can never quite anticipate where to move i find which can cut a large part of the game out for a retriving player.  Their swing is abnormal so cant be analysed so easily, the key thing is to get the ball back, be on your toes and ready to move, if you see a shot they always go for, try to cover it.  I always find the people who continuously hit the nick frustrating, yes they may aim for it and it is part of their game, but people who can jsut attack without any thought for good technique will always annoy those who try to improve their shots.  I think grip is very important in fluke shots, a very closed grip seems to aid these strange attacking shots, but always rememeber it will really inhibit them in the back corners.

Without wanting to sound like the annoying politcally correct one, regardless of how you mean the phrase above, some people will consider it offensive and i don't think it needs to be posted on the forum when a phrase like fluke shot is more comprehensible to the average player.  You have acknowledged that it could have occasion to offend so why use it, put the word lucky into a thesaurus and see what sounds better.  I could give you a psychological view of subconscious prejudice and its effects but that is very boring!

Remember deep and tight will limit his ability to get racquet to ball, even top players can fail to return a ball glued to the wall

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From rippa rit - 18 Feb 2009 - 13:53

Eddy - take a look at the Relevant Content tab and you will find you are not the only one who has experienced this problem.

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From raystrach - 18 Feb 2009 - 09:13

eddy

as jack niclaus once said,  "the harder i work, the luckier i get"

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From Eddy01741 - 18 Feb 2009 - 00:57

The problem is that it clearly is luck, he can never "purposely" do this "great drop", only by accident (he sticks his racquet out for a volley/desperate shot and always ends up with this "great drop"), whenever I hit an awful ball to the middle and he has lots of time to make a good return, he is literally incapable of reproducing said "great drop".

 

 

Anyhow, I guess I will probably stick to using more slow, high and long rails against this guy instead of harder lower rails (aka, perfect oppertunities for a desperation miraculous "great drop") which seem to work on everybody but this guy.

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From Adz - 17 Feb 2009 - 17:17

Erm...... 75% of the time he hits what could be called a "great drop"......

That doesn't sound like luck to me!

I think I might be a useful person to comment on this one as I've been told that my game style is incredibly disruptive and extremely awkward to play against.

What I think you confuse with "luck" might actually be an extremely clever shot that this player has taught himself to play. He sounds like he has good retrieval and has developed a style of play based on a "jerky" swing, great touch, stretchy retrieval and completely unorthadoz choices of shots.

Frustrating isn't it!

AIW has given some good pointers in that post..... Keeping the game basic. Hit to the back.

 

But I feel the most important thing against a player like this is to play TIGHT and SLOW.

 

My reasons?? Firstly you said he can retrieve and plays unorthadox shots off the more difficult retrieval shots...... If this is the case then GIVE HIM MORE TIME to play his shots, thus giving YOU MORE TIME TO GET IN POSITION. This will limit his options in terms of attacking shots, as if you can get into the right positions it will limit his options significantly. Secondly by playing the ball tight it becomes increasingly difficult to play great touch shots as if the racquet hits the wall (even a little bit), it can take massive amounts of power out of the swing and you'll end up not even reaching the front wall!

 

For reference, my style of play is extremely unpredictable, but also quite orthadox. I rarely hit "unusual" shots, although I don't play the normal shot from the normal place. At the front I don't play crosscourts, and rarely drive the rail. Normally I either lob straight, cross or drop straight/cross. This attacks ALL four corners without giving away strokes if the opponent is stood right behind me. I've come to realise that if you have enough disguise then you can really mess people up at this point. If they hang back and you drop, you win. If they come forward and you lob, you win. But your drops and lobs have to be very good (I need to work on my drops!).

As for back court, I already know I can play tight down the rails. That's my fall back game and people don't know how to switch back into it once they've got used to playing the more unorthadox style.

My advice to playing the guy you described is the same advice I'd give you playing me......

1) DON'T get caught up playing his style of play...... He's better at it than you are!!

2) Keep the ball TIGHT to stop him hitting his drop shots

3) Keep the ball SLOW to allow YOU time to get into POSITION

 

Unless you have some pretty awesome attacking shots, you won't beat this player on the counter attack. His shots will be too unorthadox to read at speed (if you've been taught a standard game and someones plays a shot you don't normally see, your brain doesn't process it as quickly and you struggle). One thing I've always told my students...... If you can PLAY it, you can SEE it. Case in point.... The Volley Boast or the Reverse Angle Boast. These shots are a lot less effective against a play who can play them well, as they read them quicker.

 

Your best bet is a standard length game. Tight, straight and deep shots will do the trick!

 

Good luck and enjoy!

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From aiw - 17 Feb 2009 - 15:50

First, if he is going short very often and has no decent length to speak of, you should definitively stand forward up the T. Get to the front court early and maybe counterdrop, since he's probably out of position.

Second, keep your game basic. That is, hit tight to the back corners, maybe lob every now and then. By your post, it sounds that your opponent volleys a lot. If you are hitting proper drives, he shouldn't be able to. You need to avoid opening up the court and giving him opportunities. If he goes short from the back of the court, you are standing forward waiting for it and you counterattack.

Good luck.

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