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Old 11th February 2015, 01:00   #1
ais
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Default The Squash Thread

Having just joined Team BHP, I've received a suggestion to start a thread on the sport of squash. Before that though, I guess a detailed introduction would be in order to assure everyone that I'm always here to address any queries on any issues related to starting squash, where to play, how to play, finding coaches and players in your location, equipment, training for competition, developing youngsters towards competing, leverage in admissions to colleges and unversities in India and abroad, mainly USA and any other topics.

I'm India's highest qualified squash coach with a Level 3 Accreditation from Squash Australia and my main specialisation is in coaching youngsters and taking them to the top levels of international competition and have been at it since 18 years. I conduct courses for coaches and have written a manual on coaching squash. I run an academy at Khar Gymkhana Mumbai (strictly for members only), NSCI Worli (junior non members can enroll), Chandigarh Club, and Mansa Devi Complex at Chandigarh (non members- adults and juniors can play).

The information provided herein is mainly with India in mind. However, I should be able to provide some information on venues and players in UK, Australia and USA.

About squash.

Squash has been researched and rated as the fittest sport in the world by Forbes magazine. Being an indoor sport, it can be played in any weather at any time. It is generally believed to be a sport that best combines the elements of extreme fitness, racket skills, strategy and tactics, reflexes, determination etc. Unfortunately it is not a spectator sport and though TV coverage is getting better and better, it never will be because most of the time on TV all we see is the rear side of the players- no facial expression, grunts etc we see and hear in tennis. It is also very quick for those not conversant with it to follow.

It is usually played as singles (two players competing against each other) or doubles (pairs competing) and can be practiced alone. A lot of skill/technique (shot consistency) and movement training is done alone and one can use it as an outlet for emotions after a firing from the boss by pasting his picture on the front wall and aiming for it!

For those considering competing there are tournaments happening all the time. Mumbai is the hub of squash in india. For juniors, especially girls, there is ample scope within India to reach the top levels of squash. In most national level tournaments the Girls Under 19 age group competition is not even organized because there aren't enough participants (minimum eight are required). Once in the top-8 in India, doors of colleges in USA start opening up for ease of admissions and scholarships.

How the game is played.

Here are the basic rules and workings. Detailed rules, skills and tactics can be found on the internet (some good websites being squashsite.co.uk and squashskill.com). Here the objective is to provide working knowledge so if you have a squash court near you but have hesitated to try the game out due to lack of knowledge, you can now go right ahead.

A squash court is like a room measuring 32'21', with a 'front' wall having a boundary line 15' high. There is a 'back' wall usually made of toughened glass 7' high or a cement wall with a boundary line of that height. There are two side walls with a diagonal line joining the boundary lines on the front and the back wall. Two players play shots alternately as in any other sport and all shots must reach the front wall without a bounce on the floor. The service must hit the front wall directly, while subsequent shots can hit any other wall before reaching the front wall. The ball must not hit on or above the boundary line. The front wall has a board or tin of 19" height (except for professional players where it is 15" or 17") from the floor. This is like a net in tennis and the ball must never hit it or it will be out. The line 6' from the floor on the front wall is the service line and the service must hit above it. The lines on the floor are for the service only including a service box on each side. Inside these boxes on the floor is where the server must have at least one foot in contact with the floor until his racket touches the ball. The ball must hit the front wall and be headed to land in the opposite quarter on the floor unless the receiver volleys (plays full toss without letting the ball boince) the serve. If the server wins the point he must serve from the other service box. If he loses the point, the receiver, who now becomes the server can start serving from any side and then follow the above. The game is till 11 points scored for every rally (point a rally scoring). If both players reach 10-10, the player who creates a difference of two points wins. Matches are usually best of 5 games, sometimes 3.

The ball can be played without a bounce or after one bounce on the floor. A player loses a point if he is unable to play the ball within one bounce or plays the ball and it hits the tin, or on or above the boundary. A player, after playing his shot, must give freedom to the opponent of direct access to the ball to his opponent, room to take a "reasonable" swing, and freedom to play the ball to any part of the front wall. Failing which the referee decides the degree of obstruction and awards a 'let' (point played again) or 'stroke' (point awarded to opponent) accordingly.

Strategy and variety of shots.

As with any racket sport the objective is to play the ball away from the opponent and stay in the centre while the opponent vacates it to return ones shot. So play the ball into one of the four corners. Straight shots are better than cross court shots because they restrict the space available to the opponent to play his shot. Shots clinging to the side walls are termed 'tight'. A Boast is a shot that hits the side (or back) wall and then reaches the front wall. It takes the opponent forward, as does a drop shot- a shot played softly close to the tin. A 'good length' is any shot that bounces on the floor and then hits the back wall. It takes the opponent back and is the foundation of squash much like baseline play in tennis. Volleys are played from the mid court area to prevent the ball going back and help retain the centre. Using these common shots, we apply a basic strategy of placing the ball to the front if the opponent is behind us and vice versa.

Other fundamentals.

Squash is a game based on movement. A player with smooth, efficient movement that gets him to the ball with options to play a variety of shots, and gets him back to the centre (aka T due to the alphabet T formed by the lines on the floor) will have an edge over his opponents. Since I'm in an automotive forum now, I must quote one of my mentors Maj. Rajdeep Brar who said- "movement should be like a well oiled piston. See it in an open bike engine to understand what I mean." Another saying is "get fit to play squash, don't play squash to get fit"! This implies that we need to spend time and effort to get fit to play better squash. Spending a few minutes after a game sprinting up and down the court makes a huge difference. Fitness training for competitive squash includes training for speed, strength, stamina and flexibility separately. Mental skills need to be developed simultaneously. These include visualisation, energization, arousal control, thought control, goal setting etc. Solo training to improve shot consistency is indispensable too. Even those playing recreationally will benefit from just 10-15 minutes of solo training post games for example. Just hit the ball to a good length with a target like a shoe or water bottle kept behind the service box for a few minutes and see the difference in a week.

Equipment.

Squash shoes are mandatory in all squash courts. They have a yellow sole made of non marking rubber. Asics is the best brand (as it is in running shoes too in general opinion). Lower priced brands like Nivia and Canton costing about Rs.1500/- can also be considered for children who outgrow them quickly.

Juniors (under 19 age) must use Eye Protection. Adults too should use them. Search google for pictures of eye injuries. Technifibre and Dunlop make good ones that have vent holes to prevent fogging. Do not cut corners here. Spend 1600/- or so on their cost- I've been hit in the eye by the softest of shots played by a beginner girl and was flat on the floor and had to be ferried home in her vehicle. Luckily there was no damage, just flashes (like lightening) in the eye for 6 months!

Dunlop has a monoply on squash balls so to say since before we were born! A double yellow dot ball works well in India. Beginners or players playing in cold climate can try single yellow dot balls. Cost is about Rs.100/-

Finally, the racket. Its simple in squash- no sizes to chooses from. Juniors, no matter how young (I have 4 year olds playing a bit) should avoid 'junior rackets'. Use a full size, modern graphite racket. Avoid going by the weight mentioned on them. Its the balance that matters. Ideally, select a head light racket. Even with the same model, balance may vary. Feel several pieces to select one (or more if you need) that is head light. There are many brands like Prince, Dunlop, Head available. I am sponsored by Technifibre for rackets. Not saying due to this, but due to the reality as it is today, it does make the best racket available- Carboflex 125. Squash rackets are prone to breakage but haven't seen one of these broken yet. It costs about Rs.5800/-. Other good racket are Prince Air Stick 130 and Air Lite 125. Cost is about Rs.4500/-. Head Microgel 125 is another head light racket and is very good. There is an excellent pink colored one designed for ladies by Dunlop- anyone interested can ask and I'll provide the exact model name (probably Aerogel F130). Apex110 is a good all rounder.

Please feel free to ask for clarification in case of any doubts, or more details as required.
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Old 11th February 2015, 11:33   #2
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Default re: The Squash Thread

Great thread, I never understood why squash hasn't picked up as well as other racquet sports (say tennis, baddy) - even though the infrastructure required isn't any larger.

Perhaps you are right about grabbing the TV eyeballs - leads to popularity and thus people would want to play.
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Old 11th February 2015, 12:11   #3
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Default re: The Squash Thread

Great thread! I have a plan to transform my home's terrace into an indoor sports/play area. What will I need to include a squash court in there? Can the same area be used for other indoor sports like table tennis, badminton, basketball, mini football etc? I won't be able to build a glass court like I have seen in many places. I am looking for something economic and maximum utilization of space!
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Old 11th February 2015, 12:34   #4
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I am planning to put a squash court on the roof of my home. Been a regular player at the gym when in U.S. There is nothing more tiring than playing this and is a really good sport for keeping fit.
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Old 11th February 2015, 22:19   #5
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Default Re: The Squash Thread

I'm interested in getting back at playing the sport. I am not a member in any of the clubs here in Bengaluru, would be great if you could suggest a few places and also a place where my kid could get coached. What is a right age to start for kids.

Thanks for sharing.

Last edited by GTO : 12th February 2015 at 13:06. Reason: Typo
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Old 13th February 2015, 08:39   #6
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Default Re: The Squash Thread

For building a squash court, we need an area of about 1200 sq feet. This includes squash court area of 700 sq feet- internal dimensions being 21'32', and the rest for spectator area etc if required. While a court can have all walls made of cement, a branded glass back wall costs about two lakh rupees. Total cost of setting up a court with wooden floor and glass back wall will be about 8 lakh rupees. If getting the wooden floor made yourself, do ensure it is rubberized underneath. A good company with expertise in building squash courts is Zyrex. They build all kinds of wooden sports floors across India. http://www.zyrexindia.com/contact.htm

A squash court can be used for a variety of activities like aerobics, yoga, fitness workouts including speed and agility training. It can be used for table tennis and mini football, but not badminton as it requires a larger area. Basketball can be improvised I guess in a squash court but only for recreation. We do have some fun occasionally with playing squash with tennis balls and smiley balls. This is also a great way for beginner to enjoy and develop their racket and tactical skills. A smiley ball allows more time to play one's shots, so one can place the ball away from the opponent with more time available to see where the opponent is and which way he has moved after his previous shot- a key factor in decision making.

For squash in Bangalore please connect with Joseph Cairns. joseph@squashchampions.com and
https://m.facebook.com/SquashChampio...pionsBangalore

For starting children, we commence building their coordination and motor skills at 4-5 years age. A lot of the activities involve throwing/catching with a variety of foam and plastic balls, and fun physical activities like tossing baloons in the air and keeping them up, and bursting soap bubbles etc. Use of rackets starts at 5-6 years age, usually with inexpensive badminton rackets and table tennis balls. To reduce the bounce simply put some PVC or scotch tape on TT balls. In a few months depending on player's capability, the transition to actual squash occurs. This is a subconscious process- we don't make a decision that a child will start this Monday with actual squash- the lane change happens as a subtle transition!

Start as soon as possible!
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