30 December 2010


It seems that there is a simple rule about the lob played from close to the front-wall: just look for the service line. If you stick to this you will only need to adjust the direction of the ball, looking to have the second bounce on the side-wall and ideally the third bounce into the back-wall nick. Another thing that eventually will help is - as always - the deception. If you manage to fake a drop then your opponent will follow up which disables him to volley/smash in case if your lob is not deep/high enough. In the below example Thierry Lincou hit two consecutive lobs, the first one at 0:35 with Wael El Hindi on the move forward guessing a drop as Lincou was bending and stretching, and the second at 0:40, El Hindi already more aware and waiting on the 'T' as Lincou's bust was almost totally upright. El Hindi escaped with both and on his turn, a couple of shots later, found an almost perfect backhand lob that got stuck on the back-wall. Few people play the lob on club level, which I find strange as it really enriches the game and, if efficient, might frustrate your opponent a lot.

23 December 2010


Here at 'No Let!' we tend to show one rally at one time. This is not a rule, we just stick to it as it allows us to concentrate properly on a specific shot or solution. But now it's Christmas time, so let's have a look at a compilation of the best conclusions picked from the most recent tournaments in Saudi and Delhi. Hisham Ashour can't be missing of course, next to the mizuki volley that we've already posted a couple of days ago another one can be seen at 0:41, this time against Chris Simpson. At 0:54 we get the demonstration of the perfect lob by Nick Matthew and at 1:17 there is an Amr Shabana special, a shot that hardly anybody else plays (I wonder why as it has got a pretty obvious winning geometry): the cross kill-drop into the nick. Thanks to the unknown uploader on Youtube and Happy Christmas to all.

22 December 2010


If there's a shot I've hardly if ever seen on club-level, it's this one, the cross-court to the body. Even on pro level, I don't really remember having seen it from players outside the top10. Nick Matthew and James Willstrop are the two who use it the most (and Lee Beachill pretends that it's his invention) so we might consider this as 'The English Tricky Shot' - not as fancy as for example Hisham Ashour's mizuki volley but maybe more efficient in terms of employability. So when do the top guys tend to employ it? Obviously after a good short ball, on the run, being late on the ball, which presumes that the only secure shot to escape is a wide cross-court; that makes the opponent anticipate to move towards the 'T' and to open his racket towards the open side of the court instead of keeping it in front of him; therefore he'll have no time to get it back to the other side to enable himself to ask for a 'stroke'. To dare to play this shot: quick thinking and intelligent risk-assessment needed!

19 December 2010


I've always thought Hisham would just be a funny caricature of Ramy: even though his shot-making ability is close to his illustrious younger brother's, movement-wise he used to be disaster. Due to his overweight he used to be constantly late on the ball, and as a consequence made silly choices and hit the tin more often than the front-wall. So it's pretty astonishing seeing him within just a couple of month loosing weight and moving so much better. With his current good results (he has beaten world #9 Laurens Jan Anjema twice in two weeks and got also the better off a slightly diminished Thierry Lincou) he will very probably break inside the top20 in the January rankings. Now it will be interesting to see if Hisham gets satisfied with this or if he considers it just as a first step to make it towards the top10. If it's the latter, there are fitness-wise still some brutal solitary training sessions ahead of him. Let's hope he'll make it, as it would be great for the global squash scene to see the percentage of the creative / exhibition-like players grow in the top10. Now that John White and Jonathon Power are not there anymore...

13 December 2010


 This rally is from 2007, David Palmer at the time was ranked still very high, at #3, whereas Daryl Selby only #36, just before starting to make his rise. Selby's touch is really nice, soft, like knife on butter and he didn't do anything wrong except of not finding perfectly the nick at his last drop which allowed Palmer, one of the greatest retrievers ever, to get passed him and win the point. And of course, what a dive! But let's turn back to Selby: if you watch him nowadays and compare it with this tape, the obvious difference between the "two Selbys" is in his posture: now he bends his bust more, even if still not as deep as Willstrop or Matthew, but enough to give his shots more power and also to allow him to hide the ball better giving him more deception, whereas in 2007 he stack to an almost upright bust position whilst hitting the ball which means less deception, less power and slightly more footwork as he had to substitute the extra stretch of a bended bust with slightly bigger steps.

10 December 2010


These 'kids' (Mohamed El Shorbagy is 19, Aamir Atlas Khan 20) play some good squash even though Khan tends to be slightly over-relaxed which prevents him from executing his shots with 100 % efficiency. Shorbagy on the other hand plays with much more dedication and attention to detail and you can see the difference in their results. I do have a couple of reserves towards Shorbagy's attitude on court but for such a young age he is very mature and in a couple of years he will very probably have his say in the top3. Just look at the execution of that ultimate forehand drop shot; to play it with such high racket-head speed and still control it so perfectly... not even Karim Darwish plays this shot this delicately.

08 December 2010


Okay, this, of course, is a beautiful crazy rally that does not require much comment. However, I would like to point out a maybe even insignificant detail, David Palmer's drop shot at 0:33 (even if it didn't make him win the rally this time); many players would have gone for the inch-perfect drop just above the tin, but Palmer chooses to play it about 50 cm higher looking rather to make it fade into the side-wall. He does that often, as the drop-shot played as such a high-percentage-shot and not as a clear winner will make the opponent run desperately to retrieve the ball which then generally ends in a stroke or an easy loose ball to put away. (Click here to see another nice example this time on the volley and dropping it at 0:11 even at the heights of the service line (!) against Willstrop in an earlier post). I do agree that it's a bit of a conservative thinking with the likes of Ramy and Shabana on the tour, but it's still intelligent and efficient not only in the short term (in order of winning the point) but also in mid-terms (making your opponent spend a lots of energy and showing him that you don't necessarily have to go for winners to beat him).

04 December 2010


I know lots of people can do the four corner butterfly, not only professionals, but I am an admirer of Thierry Lincou's view, his eyes, his focus - it's deep and sharp, tense and calm at the same time. The only other guy who can compete with the intensity of his concentration is Ramy Ashour, but he looks slightly more agitated, more bohemian (for example talking to himself like an old mad poet whilst preparing to receive serve), whereas Lincou maintains always his composure, like a tiger on hunt, or a Buddhist monk at meditation...

02 December 2010


We have discussed a couple of times 'racket-preparation' and we came to the point that the more compact the backswing the more control and the more deception there might be in your shot. Nevertheless, there are a couple of players who have higher and wider swings. One of them is surely Aamir Atlas Khan. In the below rally it makes a really nice contrast with Adrian Grant  who has a rather compact backswing. Stop the footage for example at 0:29 and at 0:32, the only other guy that comes to my mind now to exagerate the forehand back-swing so much is German Simon Rosner. But Khan raises his elbow exceptionally high even on the backhand side where generally it's a natural choice to keep the elbow tight to the body (see for example at 0:08 and more significantly at 0;15). Of course these observations have to be taken with some reserve as they mainly concern basic strokes (and rather the forehand side); on the stretch or at a high volley everybody will raise his arm (elbow); and of course even 'compact swingers' will adjust and raise their elbow when they don't need deception just pure pace, or vice versa, 'exaggerated swingers' will also tighten their swing when it comes to a stuck ball in the back corner or when they play a drop shot off a loosish ball. Anyway, in Khan's case, the swing just looks natural the way it is, therefore I don't think that a more compact backswing would necessarily improve his shots' quality (except maybe his deception).