Raising The Bar

I’ve now played played two seasons of squash at the Gold Coast and it has been a really great experience. Since joining the Robina Squash Club and having different opponents with varying hitting styles, my game has improved drastically.

The most recent squash season is coming to an end and unfortunately, my team didn’t make the finals. It isn’t all bad though, as this season I know my game has improved further than the first season I played.

This season I’ve had a new opponent who has been a real challenge for me to compete against; so much so, I haven’t beaten him yet. I’ve played Steve about five times in the last couple of months, more than I should have due to substituting for other players and I have struggled against his game each time. I expect that Steve could be playing the grade above without a lot of problem, their loss and my gain.

After paying attention to what is happening to me on the court, I’ve been making mental notes about Steve’s game:

  • A consistent serve, not a whole lot of variety in it but its placed well enough that it doesn’t really matter
  • Comfortable hitting from the back of the court
  • Strong forehand, capable of changing the pace and direction well
  • Very good backhand, can change the pace of the ball very well
  • Good court sense, uses it to his advantage by boasting off the walls
  • Magnificent backhand drop shot, can play it from pretty much anywhere in the court.

I use the word magnificent, which is probably overstating it by higher standards – however it is the best that I have played against to date. Through good court sense, Steve changes the pace of the ball, with or without the drop shot to his advantage to move his opponent around a lot. He favours the short ball, as it’s an easy way to make his opponent run with a low chance of being able to hit an attacking shot off it.

After playing Steve and losing each of the matches, it really accentuates the faults in my game. As such, I’ve got a short list of items I’m going to be changing about my game to improve and really give Steve and cohorts a series shake on the court:

  • Vary the pace of the ball more. Hitting it consistently at whatever pace the game is being played at, just feeds into my opponents advantage; by giving them a ball they can judge easily
  • Change the length of my shots. When I first started playing, I wasn’t hitting the ball deep enough, regularly enough and one of the higher graded players pointed out that I needed to hit the ball deeper. Taking that advice on board, I strive to hit the ball at about 3/4 court plus a bit. As per the previous point, this consistency is a great thing to have on my side – however if I’m not changing the length of the ball up, it reduces the effectiveness of the deep ball as they are prepared for it in nearly all circumstances.
  • Boast the ball more. Currently, I only boast the ball when it is the obvious shot to play. That strategy needs to change, so that boasting is part of my normal game play to move my opponent around. This shouldn’t be limited to just off the side walls, the high ball should be included in this as well – to push the opponent into the back of the court.
  • Develop a slice backhand. To some extent, this is a follow on from point one. I currently hit the standard backhand drive off most balls. This needs to change to allow me to more consistently move my opponent around by dropping the ball short or boasting it off the wall after washing the speed off through a slice backhand.

The next Gold Coast squash season starts at the Bond University, via the Robina Squash Club in about another month I believe. I’m really looking forward to putting some of the above points into action onto the squash court to see where it takes me, fun times ahead.

If you’re interested in joining the club for some fun and fitness, you can contact:

Robina Squash Club
University Drive
Robina QLD, 4226
0427 627 229