27 November 2010


Here we have a nice example of the faded kill into the side-wall: Jonathon Power's serve bounces off loosish both the side- and the backwall, the ball is also high enough to hit it in a straight line downwards just above the tin, but the distance is too far to hit the ball with full pace, as as a consequence it would risk to rebounce farer off the frontwall and also higher off the ground (and make it easier to return for the opponent), therefore Gregory Gaultier is opting for the reduced-paced sliced kill fading it towards the sidewall. Interesting to observe how many times Power and Gaultier look to fade the ball into the sidewall with different kinds of shots, not only the kill. These two know maybe better than any other player that hitting the ball tight on this level is not enough, it also has to fade with the right speed and at the right spot into the sidewall.

23 November 2010


I would have thought there's not much to say about the shot called 'kill'. A 'kill' is a 'kill', it's mainly hit off a loosish ball around the service box (or very near to the front-wall), it can be straight or cross-court. It's not a sophisticated shot, even club players are capable to employ it, in fact, at certain levels, some enthusiast beginners think it's the only shot to be used on a squash court ('bang bang'). Nevertheless, on higher levels, it's slightly more complex than this; there is a version that we might call the 'faded kill' which in general is not hit with maximum pace, rather with a more open, sliced racket head, and it is not necessarily intended as a winner but rather as a preparative shot to make the opponent scrap the ball off the side-wall. We are going to show a couple of examples for this preparative 'faded kill' in the near future, Jonathon Power used to initiate the majority of his attacks with this shot, but for now let's start with one that ended up being even an immediate winner. It was a quality rally finished by the 'faded kill' (and preceded by a great lob that forced the loose shot from David Palmer), but the first frames showing Power's mimics are at least as valuable. Being one of the all time greats of squash and next to it such an excellent actor (or naturally just such a nice crazy lad)  means the spectator buys one ticket and gets two type of hilarious shows!

21 November 2010


And the crazy man continues his running... not as hectic as the previous example, but still, more physical than anyone else. Anthony Ricketts was a strange beast of the squash courts, I guess his rage was his second best weapon (he has not been a 'nice guy', look at that little extra blocking with his posterior at 0:15), but let's don't undervalue the quality of his shots, even though it's not for his touch that he's been famous (look for example at that poor drop at 0:27 and replayed in slow motion at 0:45), but a bit like Olli Tuominen, having a not too fluid technique basically helped him to elaborate a strange kind of hard-to-read deception, which,coupled with that 'Mad Max' speed and that second-to-none fitness made of him a top3 player.

18 November 2010


Anthony Ricketts, still only 31, but retired already 3 years ago. Have a look at the kind of brutal running he is producing in this rally - I wouldn't suggest my son to take him as a role model for economy and smoothness of movement. Nevertheless, he pretty much was a phenomenon on the tour, very tough opponent to anybody, but I can't wonder that he had to stop his carrier early - nobody (no body) could have lasted longer with that much agression put onto the joints and muscles.

11 November 2010


This video is from 2006, Windy City Open, final. It's David Palmer against Jonathon Power. First time I watched this rally I thought to myself "my god, what a difference compared to current top pro squash, hardly any short balls, they are sending back deep even the loose balls..." Then at a second view I realised that this was a match point for Power (and not the first one). From this point of view Palmer's calm and coolness is absolutely incredible. Not even too surprising that he ended up winning the match and the title - and claimed as a consequence the #1 spot from JP in the following month's world rankings. A month later, JP claimed the #1 spot back and retired straight after with a golden aura around his head (the nastiest and funniest angel of squash ever to entertain the pro circuit). Another month went on, and started the 33 month rule of mighty Amr Shabana...

09 November 2010


Mostly drop shots are played with a reduced swing as it's a delicate shot that needs a delicate touch. But in this case, Karim Darwish was deceiving to prepare a hard-paced drive, raising the racket-head relatively high (nevertheless keeping the elbow near to the hip) and swinging quickly. And exactly these two factors explain why the shot didn't come perfect (quick / high swing = less control), but also why it was still a winner, as the deception of the drive made Gregory Gaultier stuck slightly on the 'T'. Why did Darwish play it this way  whereas in earlier samples (I.) that we have discussed here (II.) he played the drop with a compact, reduced swing? Because in opposition to the previous examples, the present one wasn't a 'reaction (volley)-drop', there was more time to execute the shot (and also for the opponent to observe the preparation of the shot), therefore it needed deception, to keep the opponent behind him stuck on the 'T', away from the front-wall. Whereas the quality of a reaction-drop with the reduced swing is rather depending on footwork (balance), the full-backswing deceiving drop is technically extremely difficult and even on pro level, only a few players are capable to use it successfully.

07 November 2010


What a nasty match this one must have been. So much drama, tension between these two greats, and at the end, what an incredible rally to finish it off 15:14 in the decider. It's not a fair compilation as it shows mostly the points scored by David Palmer and the arguing of Jonathon Power who was trying to go around the 'big block' Palmer to demonstrate his efforts and then still not getting eventual 'lets'... and then not getting the 'stroke' in his favour at 2:33 (12:13 down in the fifth game) is almost cruel from the part of the referee I would say. Anyway, welcome Jonathon Power to 'No Let! The Squash Video Blog', it was about time to introduce here the greatest 'lizard' squash has ever had in its circuits.

05 November 2010


If I am not wrong, it was Jonathon Power who introduced into the world of squash the COMPACT BACKSWING: a racket preparation that is always similar, if not the same, regardless the type of shot that will 'come out' of the racket. The main difference to the traditional backswing consists in the distance of the elbow to the hip: whereas with the conventional backswing the elbow is raised almost to the heights of the shoulders, with the 'JP' backswing the elbow remains very close to the hip (the difference is more evident on the forehand side and less on the backhand). The other main difference between 'old' and 'new' schools of hitting the ball is the way you use your body's momentum for the shot. The traditional backswing is generally accompanied by a wavy turn of the body - this, as a positive effect, gives pace to the shot, but will also make your shot selection more readable, as you will turn differently for a drive, a cross-court or a drop. This is why the 'new' backswing uses somewhat less the momentum of the body and more the flick of the wrist. There will be less pace in the ball, but a lot more hold and deception. Of course, on high standards, players are capable of mixing the two type of swings, but let's get back to this in a later post. In the below video, Karim Darwish - the player with the most compact racket preparation on the tour - shows how to prepare your shot when you receive a very loose ball in the front around the middle of the court. It's pretty straight forward: 1) you get a loose ball, so you have time to prepare your shot, but also your opponent to observe your preparation, therefore you need deception 2) reduce your backswing as much as you can. 3) hold your shot 4) show the straight drop, play the cross-court or show the cross-court (body turning in advance) and play the straight drop 5) play straight drives rarely in this situation, as your opponent will follow up for the straight drop and cover that side.

02 November 2010


In London the big squash events are really well organized. Canary Wharf is great every year and the 2009 Super Series Finals at the Queens club was second to none. What I would like to point out with the below video is the quality of the sound techniques! The sound of the ball touching the wall is electric and we can even clearly hear resonating the creak of the shoes whilst running and stopping. As far as I am informed, current psasquashtv coverage is produced (partly or entirely?) by Jean de Lierre's squashlive.com, but apparently a lots of concessions had to be made compared to former events that squashlive.com was covering directly for their own DVD series. Compared to these, last week's Super Series Kuwait Open was a total disaster sound wise: the only noise you could hear from the court was the front-wall, nothing else. Back-wall, side-walls, player's introductions, interviews, referees or players comments: hardly anything or rather nothing could be heard at all. Can you imagine a tennis coverage without hearing the referee saying "30:15"? Beyond the sound effects I will not tire to mention the role of the slightly moving main camera as it can be seen in the below video (in opposition to any current psasquashtv transmission). And to talk finally about squash as well: the 2009 Super Series Finals in London was maybe Ramy Ashour's worst event ever. If I am not wrong, he lost all three of his matches pretty badly and the one against Lincou was maybe the poorest of all. Must have been just a bad week for him, as he has won the next tournament he entered beating Lincou, Darwish and Matthew on the way. A year later he finally achieved the #1 spot of the rankings. And for the records: he has just won in Kuwait, beating Anjema, Lincou, Willstrop and Shabana on the way. Nick Matthew might be fresh enough to give him some very tough time in Qatar next week?