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my first real match - advice on tactics needed

Published: 28 May 2012 - 21:47 by Chuchorax

Updated: 14 Jul 2012 - 23:48

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I have discovered squash game about two years ago and played at very basic level (at local club on Sunday evenings, with my wife mostly). Since December 2011, I play it more regularly (1 or 2x a week) and try to understand all aspects of it. Somehow, I am usually able to be good in things, which I well understand. That is why theoretical aspects of any sport or game is very important to me. I hardly can improve by drills when not having a clue why such drill is performed:-) During last couple of months I believe have improved reasonably my technique, endurance and hopefully tactics too. I did a lot of solo drills, playing with few friends and with my wife (who used to be a tennis player). There is a local tournament organized for non-registered players and „my coach“ adviced me to join it, for having a first real match experience. I like the challenge and would like to make my best there. It is held next Sunday 3rd. We expect about 15+ players and it seems that everyone will make 5 matches as minimum. I would highly appreciate some advices from more experienced players, how to prepare myself for the best performance and result. I see my actual weaknesses and strengths as follows:


short and heavy player (172 cm, 88 kg)

weak return of lob serve (mainly backhand)

no experience in competition

uncomfortable when playing with „hard hitter“

too many serving mistakes (lob serve mainly)

forehand crosscourt


well motivated


able to think of my game and of the game of opponent to learn quickly from mistakes

able to observe and analyze

able to vary pace and apply tactics

reasonable lengths and volleys

defending T and pushing opponent to back corners

good endurance


I usually like to play around midcourt, hunting volleys and looking for attack opportunity. I really love drops aiming at nick on both sides. I prefer the game when both body and brain play:-)


Thank you for your great advices in advance.

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From Nick Hunter - 13 Jul 2012 - 21:44   -   Updated: 14 Jul 2012 - 23:48

Hi Chuchorax,

My advice for general strategy is to keep the ball in play and try and keep your opponent in the back quarter of the court. Roughly 60% of all shots in top level tournaments are played into the back quarter.

You mentioned too many serving mistakes when lob serving. Then don't lob serve. Top players will just serve safe and get it into the wall. I did an analysis of the Canary Wharf Classic from 2004 and throughout the whole tournament there was only one service that went out of court. In fact the number of times the ball went out at the sidewalls during play could be counted on one hand!

Only attack with drops when you have your opponent in the back quarter and they play a loose shot that you can comfortably volley drop. In this situation you can afford to play a drop 3-5 inches above the tin and your opponent will still be unlikely to reach it because a) you have them in the back of the court and b) you have denied them time by volleying. Even if they do reach it they will have used a lot of energy picking it up.

I could go on for pages and pages but instead I refer you to this - - awesome advice 99% of which I agree with. Read all of these articles and save me writing too much stuff :)

Also watch top class squash as much as you can. If you can't see it live then buy some DVDs from here - - Jean is a lovely guy with a passion for the game so buy his DVDs - he deserves it. Look at the movement and play at half speed to see how players attack and defend and strike the ball. If you're broke then these vids on youtube are good for analysing ball striking - 

Also understand the difference between defensive drives that your opponent takes off the back wall and attacking drives that die before coming off the back wall. The former buys you time and gets your opponent behind you. The latter forces your opponent to take the ball before it reaches the back wall so pressurises them and denies them time.

As I mentioned I could go on but for now just play as much as possible, play matches, solo drills, drills with a partner and get in the gym and strengthen those quads - it will save you from knee injury in the future (patellar tendonitis).

Have fun.

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From rippa rit - 07 Jun 2012 - 07:41

That was good reporting.  I am pleased you did well and now have plenty of things to work on. The different styles is just another area to cope with too.

Make a list and gradually work on each one of them over a period.  Try not to tackle too much at once.

Return of serve and straight drives are pretty basic skills and if you start with them as part of your training that will be a big help.  Keep looking at the Squashgame Library for more ideas and variety to keep the training more interesting.

Good work.

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From Chuchorax - 07 Jun 2012 - 04:53

Hi.  well, ím back to share my very first tournament experience with you. to make the long story short, it was just great!:-) But let me to give you some more details.  First of all there were 14 players and i have played 7 matches starting at 1pm and finished aroun 5 pm. I have won 2 matches and the rest had lost sometimes with very small score difference. i am proud on that result. the weakest game i played was against some senior 'jedi' player and my lowest score was 5:11 in the game. every player was quite different and i have enjoyed the event very much. I have played Runner, Berserker, Proffesor, Complete player and some more names could by find for their individual styles. i have learned a lot andi will work on improvements. Especially my forehand drive and my return of serve really need it. i was not able to keep them tight on the wall when needed.  i also made too many unnecessary mistakes, probably due to lack of drill and maybe a bit due to fatigue leading to loose of centering. sometimes i was able to find my best weapon too late and could not win with it. it was simply too late. the most difficult for me was to adapt to high pace. i had to lob and play high lengths to slow down a bit, especially when playing much younger guys in a longer rally. it  was also nice test to my equipment  and it was all fine. Asics gel blast are very good shoes and my oliver racket suits me well. 

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From rippa rit - 31 May 2012 - 16:04

That is why squash is soooo good.  It allows for as much thought as you wish to put into it....the cat and the mouse tactics.  Always start with the basic game, see the ten fundamentals for that, and that should sort out the opponents strengths and weaknesses too.  If it is your first real competition you might like to look at  the mental skills for a few ideas on how to control the anxiousness, breathing, centering, etc so you are not overcome when the pressure is on.

Variety is good too, 'cos as soon as you exploit a particular area of the opponents game he will wake up to your plan and be ready.  As soon as this happens, change your tactics as a surprise, and this can catch the opponent on the wrong foot, and so it goes on.

Good luck. and let us know how it goes.

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From Chuchorax - 31 May 2012 - 04:59

 Thanks rippa rit for your advice and the link. it is very helpful. anyway, i am yet not sure how to use my strengths and which "counter tactics" to choose if opponents apply those rules. i am bit too heavy so he can try to keep me moving and play with high intensity, mostly to my leftie backhand with many drops and lobs. i understand that 1st game played with basics should show the next tactics, but assuming that opponents see my style well, how shoul i prevent him to apply tactics on me? sorry for elementary questions...

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From rippa rit - 30 May 2012 - 18:12

Here is the Squashgame Library link to Game Planning.

Under Relevant Content tab on top left there will be other reading for you.


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as Rippa Rit suggested I focused on what to do to get in the match rather than beating myself up over errors.

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