16 January 2012


Holding the shot means that your backswing and swing are not tied up in one uninterrupted sequence; you get up your racket early and hold it before executing your shot. On pro level it's almost obligatory and even on club level you can find a good number of players who employ it efficiently. What do I mean when I say employing it efficiently; the point is that you want to create uncertainty in your opponent's mind about what shot you are going to play. Your hold should be simple and compact, so that you could eventually play both a touch shot (drop or lob) or a pace shot (drive or kill). As you can execute all four type of shots (plus the boast) with the same hold and compact backswing, your opponent will be always on his toes. For example Karim Darwish is a master of this on the forehand side at the middle and the front of the court, whereas James Willstrop employs it probably with the most effect all around the court. In fact, everybody uses it to a certain extent, except one guy: Laurens Jan Anjema. The 'Dutch Windmill' - as Paul Johnson from squashtv calls him gently - is a bull, and as such probably the second strongest guy on the tour from a physical point of view; he is also a keen player, he might not have the eye and variety of a Shabana or the steadiness of a Palmer or a Darwish, but he dictates a very high pace and plays the right shots and retrieves on a high level. The problem is however that he does not create uncertainty, exactly because he's got no hold in his shots; look how relaxed Barker looks in the rally, he can predict easily what shot will come out of those late and rushed backswing/swings. In opposition to Anjema, as soon as Peter Barker perceives what direction he has to take to get to the ball, he starts to raise the racket and holds it still for a split second before hitting the ball. This way he creates enough uncertainty to make sure that Anjema is less relaxed/harmonic on his feet whilst waiting/split stepping for the ball.