Coaching Blog: Time Not Points
The summer is a really good time to practice certain aspects of your game and also take advantage of the bouncier conditions.
How to measure improvement is a key component of any sport. As I’ve said, the summer is a good time of year to practice aspects of your squash game. It’s off-season so there are no league matches to play where winning is the main objective. You can focus on a new area of your game you are looking to improve and if you lose the occasional friendly it isn’t the end of the World. The ball is also bouncier in the warmer conditions.
Playing with a bouncy ball is a great opportunity not only have longer rallies, sweat more and improve your fitness, but also to change your mind-set.
So many people measure improvement, especially against a particular opponent who is better than them, in terms of points or games won. A constantly tell people that points is not the best gauge of progress from one match to the next against one specific player. Rally length and overall match time is the best test. I love it when I hear someone say “we couldn’t finish our match because we ran out of time and we got kicked off!”. This is a good sign of a quality squash match. Anyone can win a few points if they constantly try to hit winners or cheap shots in order to score a few extra points, but in terms of overall performance it won’t make any difference to you level of squash.
For example: if you lose a match 11-3, 11-3, 11-3 in 20 minutes, but the next time it’s 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 in 20 minutes, that’s not progress. It likely means you hit a few lucky winners or scored a few cheap shots off the return of serve.
But if you were to lose the next match 11-3, 11-3, 11-3 again but this time in 30 minutes, that shows big progress. The rally lengths must have been longer, meaning the rallies were much more competitive, it probably just suggests they have one or two extra shots or are just slightly more clinical when they get the chance. What it suggests is because of the longer rallies, your shots and possibly your movement have improved, meaning it was harder for your opponent to manoeuvre you out of position to win the points.
Once you have a solid back-court game and are capable of having longer, tidier rallies, then it is a good base for you to build upon, buy adding clinical winning drop shots, kill shots, volleys, boasts, etc. And believe me, the next progression will happen quite quickly, only if you have that solid base to grow from.
This is why it is best to measure improvement in terms of rally length, and the summer is a good time to begin this development.