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Hit early or late

It can be delima knowing when to attack or when to delay the strokes during a rally. 

We often hear players and coaches wish that their players would move forward and take the ball early. Other times players will take the ball late, and that also seems wrong.  What is this jargon all about?

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Play the Volley

To take the ball early -

  • no hesitation, no delay
  • minimum time during execution
  • move forward
  • compact, decisive stroke
  • use opponent's pace

This is all good in theory provided you can judge the ball well, hit accurately, take command of the rally. The critical thing is, when you lose control, stop attacking until gaining control again, then continue the attack.

High bouncing ball -

When the ball bounces high, and is not close to the side wall, it is likely the opponent will be right behind you.  What shot should be played?

  • hard kill shot into the nick
  • sliced backspin
  • whipping hard low drive
  • deceptive length (if the opponent anticipates too soon)

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To wait, take the ball late (delay the hit)  -

  • out of position, need time
  • slow down, and take your time, out of breath
  • sacrifice power for accuracy, gain control
  • opponent guessing shots - deceive opponent
  • controlled placement, forces opponent
  • nervous and hesitant, don't know what to do
  • being careful, do not want to make an error

This is good in theory as well providing it is not a negative response to a situation, eg scared, frozen, uncertain.

This is why a match will have an ebb and flow as each player strives to control the match. 

It is not normal to just go on court and "steam roll" an opponent without a fight back.  Be ready for the challenge.

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A typical match

Squashgame has had many forum discussions, and tips about hitting hard, taking the ball early, and the speed of play, as well as discussions about slowing down the game, including why to use lobs and boasts. As well, articles have been written on topics, eg squash is like a see saw, the ups and downs, the ebb and flow of a match, and it all makes sense once you realise there is nothing wrong with changing patterns of play, and can have many benefits. .  .

When players strife to take the upper hand, working at high rates of physical and mental intensity, it is natural there will be an ebb and flow happening, depending on their skills, fitness, as well as tactical abilities.

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Playing Off the Back Foot

Some say never play off the back foot, as you will be leaning backwards.  There are pros and cons to all decision making.  If you are on the back foot, and:-

1. Take the ball early while on the back foot:

  • the opponent could be back-pedalling - and playing a boast would be a good choice.
  • the opponent may not have cleared the ball completely - a stroke could be possible.
  • the opponent may be a bit off balance and easier to wrong-foot - hit the ball from whence they came.
  • weight transfer would be more difficult to get maximum power - use the shoulder rotation instead to increase power.

2. Wait until you feel set and balanced:

  • opponent will be more settled - time to get into position.
  • time to get out of the way.
  • shot will be more powerful.
  • the opportunity for a stroke/interference has passed (too late to call).

Experience helps the quick thinking process.  Using tactics as a "tool" during play as well as improved decision making skills means you never let a chance go by, and become more unpredictable.

Practice tactics, as there  is a lot of advantage in being able to play off either foot/leg.

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