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Always lose the first 2 games?

Published: 24 Jul 2004 - 18:36 by rippa rit

Updated: 22 Dec 2007 - 21:14

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Rippa Rita`s championship squash tip

I guess we can all take it once, but when it happens twice and then three times, after being up 2 Nil, something starts to tick in your head.  What is going on? This is quite a normal thing to happen to some people. It happens all the time. When?

    •  In winter because we do not warm up before going to squash, and then before going on the court.  So, wear a trac suit in the "hit up" if you have been slack on the match preparation.

    • The ball gets colder quicker and if the rallies are short that will slow things down. So, try hitting a few hard serves to keep the ball warmer.

    •  After having the evening meal keep away from the TV.  Sitting down just makes the body relaxed after a meal. Then it is too hard to wind up again.

    • A light carbohydrate meal is ok two hours before a match. A high protein meal may take 4 hours to digest.

    • When you feel sure you are going to win in 3 and you get scared and go too carefully, and take the pressure off the opponent.  And, maybe you feel a bit tired from the tension too.  It is important to keep doing what you were doing to win the first 2 games, as a shift in game could be all it takes to let the opponent into the match.

Read more about game preparation.
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From Adz - 20 Apr 2007 - 19:06

As I've just said in another post on a different thread, using the warm-up to your advantage is key to having a good start in the match. Against some opponents having a very strong warm-up causes them to lose confidence and they have beaten themselves before the first serve of the match. The trick is to never let them get on top at any point of their confidence will rise and then you'll have a fight on your hands. Other players see a strong warm-up as a challenge and then rise to it. If you can recognise a player like this then you should have a slow enough warm up to get you into the groove and mind set, but not one that will help to psyche up your opponent.


I tend to find that my game takes on different tactics depending on who I'm playing. Against a fast explosive player I ralley hard for the first few points (and sometimes end up about 5 or 6 love down, before switching to a slow and high game to test their shot skills. Mixing this up with the occasional fast few shots keeps people on their toes and never lets them settle down into a clean pattern of play. The second game follows suit if the tactics appeared to work at the end of the first. Usually I'll end up with 3-2 wins or loses against these types of player of a similar standard depending on my own fitness in the latter stages of the match.

Against a slower, shot player, I try to spend the first few rallies being long and drawn out forcing them to move around as much as possible. My movement is usually strong enough to keep picking up shots and I rarely lose the first game against a shot player unless they are far better in standard to me. The second tends to be a case of pacing myself so as not to burn everything in the tanks! But ultimately I have a patch in the middle to force them into some long rallies to work them as long as possible. If I can win the second taking me 2-0 up then I go off how I feel for the third. If I'm tired then I try to keep the opponent moving as much as possible without pushing myself too hard. If I'm fresh with plenty left in the tanks then I use the same tactics as game one. Fresh usually ends up with a 3-0 finish (unless they use everything they've got making it a 3-1 with an easy 4th game for me) or a 3-1 finish with a relaxing third game for me. The only time this tactic tends to go wrong is when I play someone who is fitter than me with simialr shot ability or someone who is much much fitter than me. Then (as expected) I tend to lose - sometimes quite badly!

But life just isn't as sweet without occasionally tasting the bitter!


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From rippa rit - 20 Apr 2007 - 06:24

fishnicker - the pregame warm up will help you get into the swing of things a lot quicker too.
Especially in winter when it is cool, keep your trac suit on and get your heart rate up, then do some airswings to get the joints going, and that in itself will give more motivation when starting the hit-up.

I like the idea of playing a few touch shots in the hit up too just to get used to the court and the ball.  Don't try to win the hit-up though, and if you are already warm and got your timing right you should need to rush about either.

Make sense?

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From fishnicker - 20 Apr 2007 - 05:40

For a while I had a problems with losing the first bunch of points in a match, especially playing PAR scoring.   After a lesson with my pro, I was told that I was too laid back in the knock up, and was advised to use the knock up like a real match.  ie: not letting the ball bounce twice, putting some mustard on my shots back to the opponent etc.  Another very evil trick is to hit some of your "winner" shots (like a nice xcourt drop) and letting your opponent retreive them.

I was always worried about showing too much of my game to my opponent, but since becoming more focused and aggressive in the knock up, I don't go down 7 nil anymore!

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From rippa rit - 19 Apr 2007 - 21:33

Mike - just a question.  Have you read through our Squash Tactics section in the Squash Library on the Home Page?
It would be worth a read.

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From mike - 19 Apr 2007 - 17:22

Yeah it makes sense.

My fitness is high for the level of squash I'm at, so trying to extend the rallies in the first game of tonights match is something I've been thinking about. I know I'm fitter and faster than my opponent.
It's kind of counter-intuitive to me as for a while I've been focusing on doing as much with every shot as possible...but I guess one has to see the bigger picture.

It's great that Squash, a very simple sport as far as the basic rules and concept goes, can have such depth, and so many layers.

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From rippa rit - 19 Apr 2007 - 14:56

Mike this is the see saw of squash.  There are all sorts of factors on various days at various times that can throw us off.  The top players learn to handle their ups and down, not only on a match by match basis but day by day, eg when they are a bit rushed, know to slow down; if they are distracted recognise that too; if the opponent is annoying them they know how to deal with that person; if they are trying to win too early recognise that before it is too late; etc.

Experience helps.  Generally, fit players do not try to win the first game, as they mostly think if they keep the first game long, even if they lose, things will be ok because they can go the distance, and are prepared to do it in five games.

Maybe pacing yourself too will help you.  Some players come out of the blocks going hell for leather, and only know one pace.  After two games the heart starts beating a bit faster too and errors can tend to creep in.  It may not be fitness in this case but trying to win with power rather than skill.  What I mean is, if you outposition your opponent, before going for the winner,  then it is easier to bring on the power.

Not having seen a match, unfortunately,  I really cannot make a constructive comment about your game. 

I hope some of the stuff I have said will make sense and maybe be useful.

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From mike - 19 Apr 2007 - 13:41

I have mental problems (let me finish ) if I have an excellent start and play better than usual for the first one or two games. I feel as though I'll exhaust my supply of good shots, and that playing so well is unsustainable, especially if my opponent is a strong player.

I try telling myself that squash isn't about luck or random chance in an effort not to get unnerved.
And for some opponents being down 2 games is just what they need to get motivated. Your last point about going too carefully definitely applies to my in these situations.  

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From rippa rit - 05 May 2005 - 22:37

Yes singie, I understand your frustration. Try some of the tips above and let me know how it works for you. It is always easier to put a game plan together when you know the player's strengths and weaknesses. Anyway, firstly, concentrate on preparing yourself well; then, during the hit up try to observe a new opponent, or maybe watch them play another opponent to get some game strategies in place.
Tell us about it.

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From singie - 05 May 2005 - 22:20

I always lose first match with a new partner. Nightmare.. :-)

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