This month sees Gregory Gaultier equal his compatriot Thierry Lincou, amassing 14 months as The World Number 1. It got me thinking about side to side movement across the ‘T Line’, something which the french are famed for.
Lincou was known for his crab like movement across the middle line, Mathieu Castagnet is very similar, and Greg has tremendous all court movement but also has the same sideways movement to volley everything he can. So the french obviously prioritize this central side to side movement over the more traditional four corner movement.
If you can dominate the middle of the court, volley what you can, half-volley what you can’t volley, then you will limit the number of times you will have to move into the four corners. So, if you control this middle zone, move swiftly and efficiently side to side, you will dictate the rallies meaning your opponent does much more running around than you, hence, we must recognize this side to side lateral movement must be mastered – it will make squash so much easier for you. Surely we now agree that it is a good idea to practice this.
Most people do not do ghosting, and I completely understand this. It is tiring and usually boring. You must be disciplined and committed to improve. Ghosting is the single best use of practice time you can spend on a squash court, better than any routine. It improves your quality of movement so you can be balanced on every shot therefore increasing your shot quality, even without hitting a practice shot! It speeds up your movement so you can retrieve more shots. And it improves your fitness.
We can then conclude that the best use of ghosting time would be spent around this central zone. Stepping either side of the T continuously, imagining you are playing aggressive drive and volleys. This will improve your side to side movement and also instill a mindset of never wanting to be pushed behind this central zone. A mindset of aggression. A volleying mindset to always try to dictate the rally.
On Monday I will run through some ghosting patterns so you too can master this central zone like world number ones Lincou and Gaultier (not to mention the volleying prowess of Nick Matthew, David Palmer and Amr Shabana).