Thursday, July 21, 2011

Once A Student Always A Student

Sam, one of my LA Fitness squash students, and potentially an excellent player was watching me and his training partner, Selena, drilling and when we came off the court I could tell he really enjoyed watching it, especially Selena who is slowly Pygmalion-like being transformed into some player. I was talking to them about how I was just figuring out after all these years how to change the pace of the game without changing the pace of the ball. I'm not an intuitive player who doesn't think about such things. But I am an analytical player who likes to figure out why and how we do certain things on the court. I really enjoy dissecting this game and just am awed by both it's complexity and simplicity, an oxymoron but like most great challenges in life it's about bring control to two opposing forces, to channel that kinetic energy into something resembling grace, movement and timing.
I was explaing how insanely effective the half volley is to pick up the pace of the game, by taking the ball early off the floor on the rise before it reaches its apex -- you need to really be strong in the core of your body and have the racket skills in preperation and execution to get very low to the ball and drive it for good width and length. If executed well, the half volley is as effective as a regular volley and when executed well puts a lot of pressure on your opponent. I like to play a style that is aggressive with my feet, cutting the ball off. What I am learning is that I am much more effective when I cut the ball off but then accentuate the point by not cutting it off and retrieving it in the back. The effects of this is much like a baseball pitcher throwing 3 fastballs at 90 something and then throwing the big hook or change up it puts the hitter off balance and messes with the hitters timing. So too in squash, if I'm cutting the ball off, trying to take it early by volleying or half volleying, and if executing well putting some real pressure, then I play the ball back, retrieve a bit and then go back to the pressure.
An attacking boast (two wall boast) off the half volley redirects the ball to the front of the court as does the half volley softly and deftly placed into the front corner...my point in this is I never stop learning new things about this game, sometimes it things that come easily to some...as for me, when Sam asked "you are still learning", I shot back, "you never stop learning this game." I am first and foremost above being a teacher or a player, a humble student of this game. What comes so intuitively to my son, I have to figure it out, analyze it (hopefully not to death) and then work on the mechanics and then the execution. When I grasp something new and difficult it is the best feeling in the world. Difficult is of course relative, but good mechanics and great execution are what we seem to strive for in becoming a better player and student...
Look next for a blog post on Selena Mahoney, what a player she's becoming, she's now taken up that position as most favorite and honored student, after me that is.

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