23 September 2010


If you're a club player and keen on improving your movement, then you can start with just watching and observing the below rally a couple of times frame by frame; there are very few players on the PSA tour having a more classy style than Stewart Boswell and James Willstrop. Watch the way their bodies stream; legs, hip and arms flow in harmony, everything they do is 'liquid', no abrupt interruptions at all. Add to this that these two are also known as the fairest players on the tour, therefore the clearing between the two bodies looks almost like a well-composed and trained choreography - just like capoeira, and not wresting, thank you. It was a long rally, and apparently Boswell was the one to tire sooner, hitting a loose counter-drop allowing Willstrop all the time to retard his shot with a great hold/deception. In general terms there might be a couple of better, more efficient movers than these two (in particular Gaultier having maybe the best combination of explosiveness, reach, balance and economy of energy) but hardly anybody makes squash look more gentle than Stewart Boswell.

20 September 2010


Here we have another example of the 'stress' of the weaker ranked player when it comes to conclude against the higher ranked player (you remember the first example between Shabana and El Hindi a couple of weeks ago?). In the below rally Graham Ryding (a former top20 player for almost a decade between 1998 and 2007, peaking at #10 in 1999 and regular training partner of great Jonathon Power) is mainly dictating, David Palmer is rather reacting (as accurately and simply as ever). Each single preparative backhand that Ryding is hitting in this rally to open up the court is hilariously tight - except the last one that wanted to be conclusive. Psychologically it must be tough when you hit a variety of perfect shots one after the other, and your opponent retrieves them all - you can easily end up cracking in the wrong time.

16 September 2010


Here we have a pretty amazing solution by Ramy Ashour that you won't find in the 'books'. An entertaining rally, with lots of drops and loose shots, some fantastic recovery, and then this totally unorthodox half-volley drop block played without any backswing, form behind his feet! Please also observe the quality of transmission - what a difference to current PSA and psasquashtv standards. 1) You can see the little white ball well, as the dominant tonality of the court is dark enough 2) The position of the main camera is very high which gives us a great overview and understanding of the depth of the court 3) Main camera is moving, following slightly the current position of the ball, which makes us feel involved as viewers 4) And finally, the sound quality, so live, so true, you feel almost like being present. This is absolutely world class quality, not being an insider I have no clue why the PSA is not setting similar standards for his own live streamings. A pity, as the above mentioned points need little investment, just attention to details!

14 September 2010


A rare winning shot on this level performed by - who else - Wael El Hindi (against Karim Darwish, always a good pairing). It was not a drop, neither a 'kill', it was a half-drop-half kill, played out of balance, on the back-foot. Martin Heath, the commentator, calls this one a 'cheap shot' (within a 'fantastic rally' though), nevertheless, I am rather appreciative towards this kind of improvisation. Apparently this is a Wael El Hindi speciality: you for sure remember a similar solution by him at 1:02 in another rally on the volley that I have already both discussed and referred to a couple of times here.

12 September 2010


It's rare to see that many loose shots from such great players as David Palmer and Ramy Ashour. But then, out of nowhere, comes the magic: an amazingly tight backhand drop-shot from the very back of the court by Ramy after a seemingly good tight and deep drive by Palmer that was hardly bouncing off the backwall. You are not supposed to hit a drop after such a slow, tight and deep ball as your opponent has all the time to observe your racket-preparation and body-language. The key for this shot is - as we already pointed it out by watching Nick Matthew and James Willstrop in a former post - to go down deep with the knees and bend extremely with your upper body, so that you have your eye sight as close as possible to the ball, a bit like ping-pong players. And to keep the deception factor, you will have to bend this way each time, even when you play a normal drive that could be hit with an almost straight bust - this way your opponent will have little clue to guess what type of shot to await. I know, it's hard work to bend this way each time, but you don't become world number one by simply being a 'genius'.

09 September 2010


Here we have some great steady squash in a highly entertaining rally between the two top French players, Thierry Lincou and Gregory Gaultier, both former world number ones. Training together a couple of times a week for a decade means that when it comes to a real match, there's no way to be cheaply deceptive; these two have learned to know each other inside-out, you definitely have to keep it steady, try to make 'sleep' the other's awareness, and only then you can come out with an effective deception that can turn the momentum of the rally into your favour. In the below rally Gaultier was trying a couple of times to involve some deception, but at the end it was a simply good, wide and deep cross-court shot (and the fatigue in Lincou's legs) that won him the point. In general, I think the professional relation between the two is really exemplary. They happen to come from neighbour cities, Thierry from Marseille, Greg from Aix-en-Provence. Thierry was already a confirmed top pro (the first French to do so) when Greg was a highly promising up and coming player. There could have been some conflict, as a lot was on steak and the differences of their characters could have easily generated dissent, to say the least. Nevertheless - except a very contained number of insignificant cases - mutual respect was always the key note. I happened to witness a really nice example of it at the 2010 ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic; it was quarter-finals day, Lincou lost to Nick Matthew 3:0, pretty clinically, there was not much he could have done. Gaultier's quarter-final was a total different story: he played David Palmer, won the first game in some demolishing fashion (11:3), then, as it happens to him so often, lost the wire and as a consequence the next two games. Gaultier still ended up winning in five. Half an hour later, I saw Gaultier stepping (running) towards Lincou - who was watching the following match in the first row of the side-wall  - and  exchanging an emotional hug. It looked warm, sincere and whole-souled, really.

08 September 2010


Another fine example for a dying long backhand volley. The volleying player is standing on the 'T', the ball was hit early, well in front of the shoulders with moderated pace, just over the service line, then first bounce not too near to the side-wall just in front of the service-box, second bounce on the side-wall, near enough to the back-wall, third bounce dying in the back-wall nick. Watch El Hindi's expression afterwards, how much a shot like this can hurt. It is interesting to observe that in general Ramy Ashour goes for this shot rather when the loose ball is coming towards him right in the middle of the court - whereas if the ball comes a bit more away from the 'T', he generally goes for his more established trademark shot: the volley into the nick.

06 September 2010


Karim Darwish is one of the most flexible players on the tour, lounging and stretching in almost surrealistic ways - one can only be amazed how the ankle is capable of holding all that. In the below rally however, beyond the stretches, Darwish is demonstrating also his diving skills, and he is doing it against the 'dive king', the great John White himself, who finishes off the rally with an elegantly cut reaction drop. Also interesting what the commentator (and former top 5 player) Martin Heath is pointing out: John White is not going down, not bending his knees when it comes to volley; he relies on his hand and this is why he used to have a relative high margin of error. Very much true, nevertheless he still managed to become world number one in his powerful and funny way. A couple of months ago we have started this blog with paying tribute to John White, and time to time we shall always get back to the big man.

04 September 2010


What a great hold and deception by Olli Tuominen to finish off this rally! Tuominen is a very special phenomenon on the PSA tour, a lonely guy from Finland who's been top 20 for about a decade, has beaten the majority of the top players (quiet a few of them more than once or twice). Tuominen's playing style is very physical - okay, I hear you guys saying that squash in general is very physical, but still there are players who move like a panther, and others like a terminator. Olli is rather from the latter type. Also his racket-preparation, his backswings are a fraction too hectic compared to the average of the pro players. All this sounds like a slight lack of squash culture (lack of education in junior times maybe). However, there are a couple of things that compensate for all this. First of all, Tuominen's fitness and athletic capabilities: you will not want to go for a little jogging with Olli in the snowy forests of Finland: it will take easily two to three hours and the speed will be more similar to a 1500 race - you'll end up left far behind, lost, starving and freezing in that forest. So you better stay on the squash court if you get to train with him. But there then you'll have to cope with his ultra fast pace and his surprisingly good deception. It's strange, as he looks less fluid compared to the average top player, but maybe this is exactly what gets him to disguise the deception; you would expect basic shots form a robot-like mover, and indeed he'll play straight twenty times in a row if he has to, but then still ends up hitting accurately chosen and unorthodoxly executed volley-drops and trickle-boasts at the right times. Welcome to 'No Let! The Squash Video Blog', Olli!

01 September 2010


After a couple of badly chosen cross-drops shown in this blog in the last couple of weeks, let's get back to a successful one, executed by Ramy Ashour. Nevertheless, I am above all referring to this rally for another special reason: Julian Illingworth managed to hit three nicks in a row with three different type of shots: the first at 0:12, a defensive slow-high boast from the right back corner - his only chance to stay alive was finding the nick; the second, at 0:14, an over-head volley smash into the front right-hand corner nick, and at last, at 0:17, a backhand drop into the nick - what a demonstration of exceptional skills, and still not enough to win the point against Ramy Ashour!