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Racket Preparation

Published: 29 Aug 2005 - 05:30 by syeali

Updated: 12 Sep 2005 - 13:44

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What are the rules for preparing your racket early? I have this bad habit of keeping my racket very low, almost dangling. When I do try to cock my wrist, after one or two strokes, I revert back to the bad form which limits my strokes both in the front as well as in the back court. Any suggestions?


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From raystrach - 12 Sep 2005 - 13:44

Hi all you might also be interested in a new thread i have created out of dmennie's reply (see below). i think it raises some interesting points. See Preparation Sequence.

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From rippa rit - 05 Sep 2005 - 08:14

Hello everyone - Each day as I open up the Forum the articles about Racket Preparation take my eye. So I just had to have my "spoke"!
It is not all that hard to have early racket preparation. How do I figure that out?
Firstly, we are in the Ready Position (which is really just a body movement after the follow through of the previous stroke).
Secondly, we watch and wait for the opponent to strike the ball (racket still in Ready Position), though we would have turned to watch the ball.
Thirdly, while the brain is ticking away taking in the cues, the opponent strikes the ball, and suddenly there is a response "it is a ball heading off the front wall and going to the right - ah a forehand is required".
Fourth, pivot on the right foot, left foot and left shoulder (body) comes around (we are now parallel to the side wall and racket is still in the Ready Position which has now become "early forehand preparation" and this has all happened without any arm or racket movement).
So, by moving the feet, the racket is virtually in the Preparation Phase.
There is no need to flutter the arm or racket about, which sometimes resembles me swimming/drowning, and the only further movement of the racket (unless it is to be a volley) will be to raise the racket head to increase the length of the backswing, and maybe a bit of hip flexion to increase the weight transfer to get power.
My encouragement is, while doing the ghosting warmups or practising court movement, have the racket in your hand, strive for this fluent racket work.
Now I know why Slavi referred to this part of training as "ghost dance". The only thing missing now is music. If music helps get in the groove give that a try as well, as it should help the rhythm.

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From dmennie - 01 Sep 2005 - 17:00

Hi Ali,
The basic sequence for preparation for all shots is
Eye....Racquet....Foot.
In other words your eye sees the ball; your racquet goes up and then you move (foot) to the ball. The reasoning behind this is simple. Should the ball hit something on the floor -sweat, dust, a crack in the boards etc you will still get to swing at it and make a return.
Secondly this sequence will give you added deception without specifically trying to do it . The variety of shots you can use will increase as you are now prepared to play any thing you wish; it has the added feature of making volleying much easier due to the earlr preparation. This will increase the pressure on your opponents by shortening the time they have to recover from their last shot.
A way to practice this is to make sure your raquet is up when your opponents ball is on the front wall.
Between shots look for your raquet head in your vision if you can be aware of it , not looking at it; then it is up.
All the best
David M.

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From raystrach - 01 Sep 2005 - 08:32

dear ali

reflecting on the good comments from slavi, there was one other thing that should have been emphasized more.

As you move to the forehand or backhand to retieve the ball, you will tend to move your shoulders around. This movement should be sufficient to get your racket to about where it needs to be. You may need to take the racket a little higher/further back just before the downswing if you have sufficient time, but is not necessary when a quick hit is needed.

With respect to slavi's comment about the pros, the return to the T is probably the least important time as far as racket preparation is concerned. (Note how the pros always have a very controlled racket head) The pros play extremely relaxed and only use the energy necessary. The apparent slackness in between hits masks the preparation that is going on between the ears. They often look as though they are cruising, but if you ever play them, you will soon realise how quickly everything is happening.

The rest of us play the game in slow motion in comparison. The beauty of Squash is that everyone THINKS they are playing at an incredible pace!

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From drop-shot - 29 Aug 2005 - 21:58

Dear Syeali,
"Racket up" and "Early racket preparation" used to be the most often repeated appeals from my coach. And finaly I understood that footwork and fitness may not be enough to become a decent competitive player... The good racket work starts from the racket being prepared to hit both sides - back hand and fore hand strokes, from every spot on the court, meaning drops, lobs, straights and crosscourts.

And Ray is definitely right saying "try to keep you movement with the racket defined but relaxed " - do not try to grip firmly the racket for the whole match, it won't work. And do not learn from PSA top 20 players, a lot of them are too experienced to return to the T with the racket up...
Apart from the above mentioned tips, keep the racket distance from the ball while you hit.
Good luck, man.

PS. Try to practice "ghosting" with the racket in your hand (it helped me a lot).

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From raystrach - 29 Aug 2005 - 08:18   -   Updated: 05 Mar 2006 - 12:34

dear ali whilst there are no "rules" for racket preparation there are steps that you should take to ensure early preparation.look at Basic Swing in the library (m sure you check the "more" links. a couple of the photos give you a good idea of where to hold the racket. additional points to note:

  • preparation needs to be a lot earlier than you think, although you don't want to get into a statue like position before the hit

  • you need to learn to move to the ball with the racket prepared or at least in the process of preparing

  • you need to be constantly aware of your racket position during your practice and training matches to ensure that it becomes a habit - it does not come easily!!

  • try to keep you movement with the racket defined but relaxed - coaches often get players to exaggerate these movements - i am not in favour of that.

  • the whole idea of early preparation is to keep the racket head under control during the swing and to be prepared for a return as early as possible - by holding the racket comfortably in front in waiting for the opponent's return, it is very easy to move the racket to the prepared postion by simply moving your body around the return the ball on the desired side(b/hand f/hand)

  • don't forget to keep the open racket face in the preparation


best of luck and let us know how you go. ps i will post some new drills (which might help) in the drills section over the next month or so - keep an eye out for them (am i very busy with some improvements to the site to do it any earlier)

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