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Ghosting Drills / Game sense.

Published: 29 Apr 2009 - 18:57 by adam_pberes

Updated: 30 Apr 2009 - 14:13

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Ghosting drills, some people do them, some people don't. I am one of the people that DOES do them.

I've found though, when playing games I dont feel what I've practiced is actually being used much.

When I (and other people?) do ghosting drills, we run and position ourselves as if the ball was in the corner. For that I can easily get my footwork correct (most of the time), but really in a game (anything A Grade and below really) how often does the ball end up in the corners, tight when we practice.

I am trying to stick with traditonal footwork, as found in the australian coaching guide! (Edited by rippa and ray, co-incidentally =D )

I find my footwork starts getting out of place when the balls are a bit loose. Normally, its 3 steps to the corner, and my footwork is in the correct position, but if the ball is a bit loose or short, I find I only need ot take 2 steps to the ball... Which leaves me on the wrong foot.

I find this also happens when the ball is only 1 step or not even step reach away, instead of stepping and getting my body side on/ front foot forward, i just take a quick easy step (or reach) and I'm still facing the front wall. If I wanted to do this properly, would I just split step / jump to face the side wall?

Also, with the 2 step balls, Should I practive ghosting to these shots that would be loose, or how should I ghost these? Should I try to get there in a big step/lunge rather than 2 steps? 

I find I normally also have these ( 2 steps to the ball) shots when I start going for the volley (off the t), but then I realise I wont reach, So I take 2 steps back and reach it, most the time on the wrong foot.

Bit of rambling, but i think my point was asking, how should I practice landing on my front foot if I've only got 2 steps? (using traditional footwork, as in the coaching guide) 

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From raystrach - 30 Apr 2009 - 14:12   -   Updated: 30 Apr 2009 - 14:13

hi adam

you might be interested in reading a related post about footwork, here

i think rita and dave were on the same wavelength. from what i can tell you are striving to be a very good player, so the answer has got to be every foot.

squash is so dynamic that it is near impossible to have copy book footwork in every situation.

the coaching guide you mentioned (written almost 10 years ago!!) was designed for beginner coaches to teach the basics of squash technique. in that world everything is structured to give a novice some basics to work with.

as you become more advanced, you need to be able to improvise so that you are not locked into a specific pattern.

as you get better and more skillful, pure ghosting drills become less important for your skill and more important for your fitness. i know you are already pretty fit, so try to introduce a ball into the exercise. this creates the uncertainty of not knowing exactly where the ball will be so you are practicing a infinite range of possibilities

rita summed it up well with the last line in her first reply

forget the backfoot and frontfoot stuff and concentrate on balance when swinging.

think like a jazz musician. they start off by learning their scales and practicing them over and over. they will then practice more complex scales before finally being able to fully improvise.

no one wants to listen to a jazz musician playing scales. they want to hear the improvisation.

start off by making your practice less predictable and more complex and before you know it, you will be able to fully improvise in your matches.

keep up the good work

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From rippa rit - 30 Apr 2009 - 07:04   -   Updated: 30 Apr 2009 - 07:13

Well described Dave - the only comment I have to make is about the "skip" bit.  If you ghost moving fluently and never bring your feet together (a bit like a dance) your base of support will stay in rhythm, without the up and down body movement, saving time, and keeping long balanced strides. Yes, if you have time, when you get to the ball, shorten the lunge to take the weight/balance on both legs would be good, if practical.

I went through a phase with court movement spending half an hour a day in a relatively small area under my home getting a good movement and weight transfer from a central point, then to left front, back to T (central position)  to right front, in various long and short bursts, and that increased my fluency and speed immensely.  I did this without using the racket swing, just carrying the racket, and getting my racket/shoulders in position only.

After a short time of doing this exercise, you feel as though the racket arm and the body are all part of you and not a separate component within the movement.

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From daveamour - 30 Apr 2009 - 00:08

Hi Adam

I too beleive that ghosting is a very important part of practice.  But I beleieve that you should have a large repatoire of ghosting routines and drills.

When in the T you can ghost to these positions:

Right behind you (a loose one of course!)

Back left corner

Midway between back left corner and front of left service box

Front of left service box

Midway between front of left service box and front left corner

Front left corner

And so on right around the court giving you 12 points to hit the ball from

You can then move to many of these points with a variety of movements which all have their advantages and disadvantages - one might be quicker for when you have little time while another might leave you in a more optimum positon in terms of which leg you are hitting off but takes longer so this is fine when you have more time.

You need to appreciate that movements in squash should utilise the skip a lot.  what I mean by that is that you might move forward on your left leg but then realise you need two more steps to get where you want to be but really want to land with your right leg leading.  To achieve this you could do move your left leg again in a skipping motion and then move your right leg or move your right leg and then skip again on your right leg.

When I first started ghosting I spent a few sessions figuring out what all my options are and then started practicing them and mixing them up until you can do them without thinking.

So lets say we are in the T and need to get back to the back left.  You have at least these options.

Very Large stride on Left then large stride on right

Left leg then skip on left then right

Left leg then right then skip on right

Left then Right then Left (Not so good)

And so on - you get the idea.  Note that all these start with the left leg as you should base your initial movement off a split step just as your imaginary opponent hits the ball.

Once you have practiced these off the split step you can do routine where you don't stop on the T - you move fluently from one position to another as you would in a fast rally.  So you can practice stopping in the T and watching your imaginary opponent hit the ball - or moving fleuntly from one posiiton to another when the split step won;t be so prominent if there at all.  You can then also mix up routines - some splits some fluent movement.

Also note that with your forehand drive you will feel comfortable hitting off both legs but with your backhand your leading leg (right if you are right handed) will always feel more comfortable.

Take your time and find all your options and then practice them in various routines.  Youll also find doing this for a few minutes at a time is fantasic exercise!

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From rippa rit - 29 Apr 2009 - 21:05   -   Updated: 29 Apr 2009 - 21:08

adam - with ghosting it is the fluent movement that you are striving for and weight transfer when changing direction, as well as the racket preparation as it works in harmony with your footwork, so you do not have to ghost into only corners for practice.  Change the position of the balls, nominate the stroke to be hit (imagined) at each ball (you are using balls or marks on the court floor as a guide), eg

  • Balls placed in the front of the court, if close to the walls, make the shot a drop or lob.
  • Balls placed in the front but away from the wall make it a nick kill, followed by length.
  • Balls placed a metre from the wall and about half court, a volley nick, followed by a drive, or lob.
  • Balls in the back court, a metre from the side wall, volley boast, or deep drive.
  • Balls right in the back corner tight, a boast, followed by a drop shot.

It may only be necessary to take one step for some shots and/or 2, 3, or 4 for others depending on the set-up.

If necessary, place a sign under each ball nominating the shot to be attempted, and keep moving the balls around the court, and then chose the most advantageous return on court from that particular position, taking into account where the opponent would be most likely in this situation.

If this is all too hard, just ghost routines and/or solo practice drills, eg

  • Drive/Boast/Drop Shot/Drive

Make a lot of short sharp twisting and turning movements as that will challenge your racket work as well as your footwork.  Forget the backfoot and frontfoot stuff and concentrate on balance when swinging.


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