Squash is such a fast paced game, I’m constantly trying to find ways in which to simplify squash strategy as much as possible, as there is very little time to think in a squash rally.
Creating auto-responses is the best way to stay composed and hit quality shots even in the fastest, most tense situations. As the name suggests we want certain shots to become automatic, this way we take thinking time out of the equation, which is a bonus when we play a sport when half-seconds make a big difference.
Over the last 6 months I have done a lot of work on this with Nafiizwan Adnan, the PSA March 2018 Player Of The Month and recent Commonwealth Bronze medalist. We highlighted certain situations where a standard response is required, whether it is 1-all in the first game or 9-all in the fifth. This has worked incredibly well for The Komodo, Adnan. We practice these same situations in practice, continuously rallying for over an hour at a time to make certain patterns of play automatic.
Different areas of the court will favour different players and different shots. You need to find one or two areas of the court where you are strongest, or weakest, and decide upon a single shot which will either increase pressure or relieve pressure.
An easy auto-response to relieve pressure – when you are under extreme pressure in the front corners, simply hit a high cross-court lob.
And an auto-response to apply pressure – when your opponent hits a wide cross-court, get into position early and hit a straight drive, avoiding the side wall at all costs.
In my opinion these should be two auto-responses we should all do. It does not matter if you think it will become obvious. They are the right shot to play, and when played well it doesn’t not matter if your opponent knows they are coming. A good lob can put anybody under pressure, even if they are stood there. A good straight drive after a loose cross-court will always apply pressure because your opponent will be stuck at the other side of you.
These auto-responses take the thinking out of the situation, so you cannot become distracted or confused. You will simply play the right shot every time.
Now go away and think of another response specific to you and your strengths. Maybe consider what shot is best for you to play off a boast, or different types of serve. Does your response change depending whether it’s forehand or backhand?
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