Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Conversion of a Racketballer to a Squash Player

What is it about racquetball players who take up squash and basically don't seem to understand they are often dangerous to play. I recently watched a high level racquetball game and it was only then that I understood why. While most squash players as they get better begin to hit more and more of their shots out of the back and start understanding the concepts of clearing for their opponents, racquetball players don't have to contend with that since many shots I saw were round shots, for example, where the player has to turn around and hit the ball coming out of the back on the backhand side with his forehand. There's not the same continuous movement in racquetball so the players can pretty much stay in the center of the court and hit their shots, the ball bounces so much that inevitably the player doesn't have to move all that much. In squash the movement to and from the ball is continuous both in the front of the court and the back. respecting your opponent's path to the ball is critical in avoiding lots of contact and providing fair play. Simply put, you cannot block or hinder your opponents path to the ball -- the rule is quite clear about this. I've noticed racquetball players don't grasp this and have a tendency not to clear for their opponent. Or, they clear too slowly, which is against the rule because , again, you have to provide a path to the ball and your opponent doesn't have to wait for you to clear. I don't like getting on the court with ex-racquetball players because the also hang back towards the back, a typica stance in racquetball as opposed to move up. This creates or has a tendency to create too much contact and clearing is very difficult. These racketballers are the true dashers and bashers in squash. Some pick up the game pretty quickly and become students of what is a profoundly more challenging game than racquetball. Others play some version of racquetball/squash which is an ugly game to a decent squash player.

First and foremost, few can play A level squash without extensive coaching. Most squash players should always strive for A level squash because that is when the game is played at its finest. If you are 15 and a decent squash player, sure, you can aspire further than the A level, maybe pro, maybe top 100 who knows. But those players who don't really want to learn and understand this game, ie. get to the A level, they will linger in the lower levels of squash and never experience the 20 and 30 shot rallies A level players consistently experience. The will never know the sheer joy of playing all four corners of the court in one rally, cutting the ball off on the forehand rail and going cross court only to cover your opponents volley drop and extending yourself to throw up a lob and have an exchange of forhand rails tight to the wall, before your opponent hits a dying rail and you throw up a boast and your opponent fakes cross court and places a beautiful drop that bounces once and then hugs the side wall.

Instead, the players who never strive to achieve this, and I've noticed this especially with racquetball players are mired in hitting hard and loose balls with no concern for length or hitting a tight rail. They rarely work the point and look for the kill every opportunity. There's always the danger of their big back swings clocking you in the head or facel. So the racquetball players come to squash, even the really good ones. and try to muscle the ball past there opponent, they hit the ball hard and it invariably comes out to the center or off the back wall. This presents a problem for the striker, because his clearing collides with his shot, so he doesn't clear and stands while the ball flies past -- we talked about the difficulty this presents.

So what's really my point? I am confident that I can step on a racquetball court and play pretty easily without any coaching or much instruction. I am not confident a racquetball player can do that in squash. If you want to play squash at a high level to really appreciate it as more than running about and working a good sweat, take lessons, study and learn the game. Imagine a check player applying the same principles to chess? My advice learn the moves, the rules, right way to play -- squash players welcome heartily players from badminton, tennis and yes, even racquetball players who want to learn and play this key. Come to it with some sense of wanting to learn to well well, play right and play fair -- then play to win!

The racquetball stroke is big, there's lots of room on the racquetball court, unlike the squash court where the stroke must be compact and efficient. Getting on the court with these players makes me really nervous. I often feel the wind from there racquets so close to my face, especially on their follow throughs.

I for the most part won't get on the court with them to play, it's just too dangerous. And if they want lessons, they usually don't want to know a bout technique, just how to dig that dying ball out of the corners. They don't recognize the 10 things you have to learn and build upon before you know how to cut off the dying rail out of the back or how to retrieve the tight shot and rail it consitantly back. They want immediate results, the game to come to them which we all know squash never comes to anyone you have to go to it on your hands and knees stooped with hard work and long hours of practice.

I guess it's like a checker player wanting to master chess in a few just won't happen, think of what a chess master has gone through to take his opponent in three or four moves, it's not much different than what that A level squash player has done to volley drop off his opponents cross court to nick the ball. I admire the racquet ball players challenge and desire to play squash, but it's a much more complicated game, squash is, it takes years of patience and dedication and instruction to do what seems easy to those A level players -- yes, digging the ball out of the back at the A level is routine, that's the bread and butter of the game, once you routinely cover the back of the court then the fun really begins, covering the more complext and difficult task of playing the ball out of the front court.


Squash Professionalism said...

Really enjoyed your writing and articles, hoping you are going to continue your blog?

Squash from Delphi said...

blog is constantly being updated...thank you for reading the postings!