About a week ago, I wrote about What Squash Players Can Learn From Boxers (Part 1 & Part 2) and I want to continue that theme for one specific idea. As I said before, I’m not boxing expert, but you often see boxers training with the shouted “ONE, TWO!“, as they hit a bag or sparing partner. The concept is simple: have a combination of punches that you use regularly. Not exclusively of course, as that would be predictable.
Also, you would train to have more than one combination, allowing you to adjust to various situations. One advantage of this concept is that you play in a pro-active way. You create and plan opportunities rather than hoping they appear. I have previously written about The Traffic Light System Of Shot Selection and in conjunction with this concept, you would use “probing” (amber.yellow) shots as the “one” part of the combo and then an attacking shot as the “two”.
Let’s Look At Some Real World Examples
Number 1: From a stable position, i.e. not when you are under pressure, play a two-wall boast, moving forward to anticipate a crosscourt, from which you will attempt to play a straight volley drive. This combination is incredibly common in club squash matches around the world. While hitting straight from the boast is often the best choice, technically it can be difficult for many club players because they either over-run the shot, meaning a straight drive might hit them, or the doubt and hesitation caused by the second bounce being near the nick, means that even a drop seems difficult. Therefore a crosscourt is often played.
You need to cover the straight drive, drop or lob, but be “extra” prepared for that crosscourt. Ideally, you should play some conditioned games where this situation happens a lot or perform some pair drills that includes this combination.
What's his best option from this position?'
Number 2: While driving up and down the wall, be “extra” prepared to intercept any straight drive that is not close to the wall. The “one” of this combination is your straight drive and the “two” depends on your ability to volley. I feel a simple short straight kill shot gives the best percentage of success, but for many years I loved playing a volley boast, which rarely worked, but I loved it anyway.
This combination may seem less obvious than number 1 because rallying up and down the walls happens so much it doesn’t feel like it’s planned for, but that’s the point of rallying up and down the walls; to create weaker drives from which you take advantage.
Don’t attempt every single shot as a “one” in numerous combinations. Find a couple of combinations that fit your strengths and practice them. And by “practice”, I mean when drilling or playing conditioned games. Don’t think you can create your combinations and then “practice” them in competitive matches – that would be silly. Also, don’t think that every time you play a boast, for example, you have to hit a straight volley drive.
The concept of combinations is there to offer you a more proactive strategy, not limit your shot selection.