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Tactics - Playing tall people

Published: 13 Jul 2011 - 00:35 by Gurdeep

Updated: 18 Oct 2011 - 23:54

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I am new to this Forum and to the game and not sure why I have not played it before, super game.  I have been playing now for about 10 months on and off but getting better (I think).  However I am playing against a friend and he is a very tall person, hieght advantage of over a foot.  Yes I am short!  Under the tactics section there is a table that gives some direction against different types of opponents, however it does not help for those that are at a disadvantage to height, reach and stride.

Question: To me this makes a big difference and I wanted to know if there are any tactics that I can try. 

His tactics are to play a lot of drop shots and target my backhand which is poor.  The backhand improved for last weeks game as I watched the videos on this website.  He changed tactics and starting hitting the ball passed my face (I was thinking of giving him an ASBO) but I would have done the same. 

Any tips or advice (apart from quiting) are really appreciated.

Best Regards


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From Gurdeep - 18 Oct 2011 - 23:54

One final comment to this thread (maybe) about playing tall people.  There are more chances to be hit in the head by the taller man as I found out over the weekend.  I managed to get my friends racket full on in the face just above the eye.  It required 10 stitches to close the wound and I have a black eye too.  Not sure if eye protection would have helped but you just never know.

Please be safe out there.......

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From Gurdeep - 04 Oct 2011 - 04:50

Hi All,

Well I didn't lose this weekend.  I drew 3-3 with me leading 7-5 in the 7th game when I hit the wall (energy wall) and had to stop.  BTW I was 3-1 at one point and the 6th game should have been mine if it was not for my energy.  So I am slowly turning the screw.  Serves, backhands, forehands, control, reduced unforced errors, stride and most importantly attitude were all winners.  I have to continue at it.  The side wall drop shot mini boast i (if there is ever such a shot) was a shot that paid off but I have to vary it as I think he is getting clued on.  My shots were getting lower and also my returns from deep in the corner were excellent.  Also my foot work switching - from a backhand position to a forehand position freaked him out as I moved so quickly.  It is all coming together!  Maybe next week I will lose but who knows.  All I know is that he is a good player and I made him work hard for the draw at least.

Thanks again for the advice.


PS - this was on 5 hours sleep and a night out in London with a couple of drinks in me.  This is why I hit the wall I believe, Lesson learned.

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From hamburglar - 30 Sep 2011 - 21:03

It is frustrating when the taller player gets to so many balls, seemingly much more easily with their longer stride and reach. They also take up more space so you just have to be quicker and have better footwork.

take hope in the fact that each time you put a good ball in the back corner, the tall player has to reach down and low to get it, using up energy. Same for the front corners. Try jamming him with shots to the body, maybe that will make his long gangly arms move faster than he wants, and he'll lose some control.


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From Gurdeep - 30 Sep 2011 - 19:31

Pippa, many thanks for the advice.  I will put this in to action tomorrow morning at 7.  I feel I am close to beating him just a few more weeks of practice.  My problem is also that I only get to play once a week.  So I have to make the most of it.  Trying to increase this to twice a week but difficult. 

Markus, I like the idea of the deceptive boast I will give it a go.

My final comment is that I need to remember that I should not be hitting too hard as this just comes back of the back wall and leaves him with a clear shot.  Continuous focus is hard after 40 mins of decent 15-20 shot rallies.



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From rippa rit - 30 Sep 2011 - 08:16

Hang in there!  Tall v short can make for a tactical game. Here is a comparison:

1. Short stature - move quicker, are more nimble, handle bending at the front of the court easier, can change direction quickly. Your game plan would be to

keep the ball low, use the boast as a twisting and moving shot, bring the opponent forward and then back, keep the drop shot for when the opponent is caught behind, be patient, make sure your lobs are high and tight, keep opponent moving diagonally.

implement the 10 fundamentals as your basic game plan.

2. Tall stature - slower to turn, takes more out of their condition to keep bending and recovering at the front of the court.

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From Gurdeep - 29 Sep 2011 - 19:52

Many thanks all for the advice. 

Since my last post I have still to win by I have improved my core by doing planks and push-ups - If I can't run then atleast I can continue to hit.  Also I have changed my game, I have started to read his drops and he can not cope with my court coverage.  So he does not play these anymore.  I am also varying my shot selection with some outragous cross court boast that drop on the nick.....not sure how I have done them but they happen.  Last week I still lost, 5-1 but the match was a 7 point difference but I am getting closer and I know what went wrong in this game.  My serve went for about 5 points and my back hand got sloppy on a few others.  Otherwise it would have been much closer and he knows it.  If I continue like this I will eventually win.  Need to perfect my serve.  Get it in and I have a chance of winning - is what I think I need to remember.  His serve has changed and for the better but equally my backhand is stronger, harder and hitting lower.  Slowly but surely. 

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From markus.readus - 17 Aug 2011 - 19:28   -   Updated: 17 Aug 2011 - 19:30

 I second Mike's advice. Tall is good for reach, and for volleying. Its not so good for getting low, twisting around, and moving himself around (tall usually means heavier than short, and squash requiring a lot of acceleration, this can require a lot of energy). Drops, from appropriate places, deception and hold, and boasts are your friend. When I play very tall people i avoid putting the ball cross court, within their stride from the T. I have been working on deceptive boasts from the back - you could try this. You can set up just as for a drive, but rather than making full contact with the ball, you delay snapping the wrist through and skim the side of the ball, its hard to read. If you catch it right, the ball gets a lot of spin, less pace, and flies to the opposite front corner after hitting the side wall. I aim for the middle of the front wall and try to have the ball dead in the side wall nick on the second bounce. They have to be on the T to get it, and even then it can require quite a lunge since they dont have time to collect off the side wall. The ball doesnt get into their volley's reach. Perhaps best of all, from the same set up in the back corner, they know you can play either a straight drive or a boast - opposite ends of the court, and as such they have to stay in the centre which stops them anticipating and volleying your drives. 

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From mike - 28 Jul 2011 - 12:09

 Gurdeep—I highly recommend working on your core strength. It can be as simple as doing front and side planks (different to recent craze of planking) regularly. It's very helpful for back injury prevention in squash.


I had a bad lower back a few years ago, for a few days after squash I could hardly put shoes on. Stretches did little to help, but working on the core strength basically cured it in a week. Needs to be maintaned though.


Glad you made progress with your opponent.

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From rippa rit - 27 Jul 2011 - 20:03

It is good you feel progress coming on.  Keep going back to the basics, keep reading the squashgame library for more ideas.

Just one word of advice, do not continue to play if you are injured; and when you are all warm the injury seems so mild, and then when you cool down the true injury comes to light.  Squash is hard on your back with the low shots into the corners making good movement so important, eg always bend your knees, always have a wide base of support for good balance, do not stoop. Try to develop a routine of  flexibility exercises to remain supple.

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From Gurdeep - 25 Jul 2011 - 22:06

Just an update:

I beleive I was much better this weekend albeit it was cut short because of a back strain (acros my rib cage) in the 5th point of the first game.  Which I won 15-11 with the next two games just as close but I ended up on the losing side of the coin.  Subsequantly I lost the rest to lose 5-1 as my back progressively got worse in games 4,5,6. 

I played him a lot lower to the floor and if he was in the back corners I went short to pick up the change.  Excellent tips from this forum and website.

Thanks for all your help as I believe that if it were not for my back then I would have been much closer.

Speak soon.

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From Gurdeep - 14 Jul 2011 - 23:59

Thanks Mike for your advice.  Pippa I have just read the other forum and many thanks for pointing me into that direction.

As for the points scoring I will let my partner know.  PAR15 is the way to go with an extra 3 at 14-14.

I am away for the weekend and when I get back I will be ready to go.  I have already listed things in my head that I need to do:

Low drives/boast to make him "twist and shout"
Learn to change direction of the shot at the last minute
Hard serves work better
Grip (This helped me so much in my last game - it wasn't so much of a drubbing)
Vary the speed of the shots

Again thanks to you both.  Hopefully the next time I am on here I will have some better news like 5-4 loss rather than 8-1 (85 points to 67) or even 5-1 that would be magic......


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From rippa rit - 14 Jul 2011 - 14:16

I just put in a search and here is the link to the forum article

A good clue when looking for things is to go to the Forum Archives and you will find so much to read.


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From mike - 14 Jul 2011 - 10:21

As far as I know PAR 9 has never been an official scoring format. PAR11 is the new default, and there is also a PAR15 variant, where you have to win by 3 (only if the score reaches 14 all).

PAR 9 is a bit short, not even the pros play that.

The boast can be an attacking and defensive shot. At it's worst your opponent has hit such a good length that they know you are forced to boast, they can move right up the court and counter drop, and you have to run the full diagonal length of the court. It's worth doing everything you can to avoid that situation.

But as an attacking shot it can work really well. If you get a short drive, especially off a cross court your opponent has hit you can shape for a straight drive down the wall to drag them across the court and quickly turn the ball into the wall for a boast. If they have committed to a drive it will be a lot of work for them to change direction to move forward for the boast.

Keep in mind that and boast needs to be backed up. The attacking boasts are often called working boasts, or running boasts, and you need to expect your opponent to get to them and be watching to return their shot. Have your racquet up and be ready to move forward.

The other thing to keep in mind playing someone with excellent court coverage is to try to break their rhythm. If you keep hitting at the same tempo they will probably glide around the court all day returning everything you hit.

Make sure you are placing your shots, not just reacting. Try to find opportunities to hold your shot, make them stop, then play it. Lobs (if well executed) can also be a good way to break up someone who likes a high pace game.

Also very tight shots on the sidwall can negate their speed. For example if you drop, instead of trying to hit lower and lower, focus on getting your drops stuck to the side wall. Even a very fast player will not be able to attack a very tight ball.

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From Gurdeep - 13 Jul 2011 - 18:48

Thank you very much for this advice. 

After watching a few videos on this site last week I made some in roads into the game: grip, mental and boasts.  Boasts was an area that I did not do and you have mentioned it.  This re-inforces that I need to vary the shots.  My problem is trying to go for the kill.  If it happens it is luck at the moment and I need to just practice more.  I also changed my serve as going for the lob serve in the corner is difficult so I have started to go for the hard serve.  This increased my points but again I think variety is needed.

In short (pardon the pun) I need to work him up and down more rather than trying to make him run as he seems to be getting every where.

Also we have been playing the PARS approach but to 9 points.  After reading this site I read that 15 is norm and even 21.  So I have suggested this to my friend and we will give this a go.  This will allow some momentum in the game to gather hopefully from my side.

Thanks again.

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From mike - 13 Jul 2011 - 13:51

 Height has advantages and disadvantages.

Your opponents reach will be good, so when playing lobs you need to be very sure of the height and depth. Cross courts  from the front will be risky and will probably get volleyed unless your width is very good.

The disadvantages to tall players is that it's harder for them to get lower, and often to twist and change direction.

You can try varying the height of your shots. Play a lobby-sort of drive (tight) then a very low, shot, even kills to the front to get the reaching up and down. Quick boasts may be helpful to get them turning. A surprise cross court from behind them could also be useful. All of these shots will depend on good execution though.

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