28 April 2012


PSA Squash TV have very wisely launched a series of controversial rallies/decisions to encourage debate about refereeing. No Let! The Squash Video Blog welcomes the initiative and asks you to have your say. We have our own opinion - but first we would like to hear yours. 
By the way, there is also some fun artistry from James Willstrop's part, hitting a reverse forehand from behind of his body. It's not the first time we've been seeing him doing this, you probably remember a previous example when he already behaved like an invisible man on the court.
But to get back to our theme: 'Yes Let!' or 'No Let!'?

24 April 2012


This is a rare good resolution compilation from 2004 showcasing seven world number ones. If you have time, watch the whole video, every single rally is worth it. If you are in a hurry wind forward to 9:08, and you might see probably the shot of the century, but for sure a serious contender next to David Palmer's nonchalant magic shot from the 2011 TOC. 
Just like Palmer's drop, Jonathon Power's over-the-head-cross-court-backhand-volley-nick was played from behind the body, hence extremely difficult to control. I also thoroughly like Power's expression after receiving Peter Nicol's compliments (a 'conduct code' that I love in squash and another proof of  the mutual respect between these two greats). 
Not bad either the following rally, showcasing the famous Jonathon Power forehand top spin drop shot. The opponent, Nick Matthew was left almost in a shock there.
Another one to observe here should be Lee Beachill, a former world #1 we have not yet had the opportunity to present in the blog. What a shame though! Beachill has had a stellar rise  in his carrier; however, as quick as his ascension has been, as quick was his decline. Up and coming he finished 2003 as world #9, six months later in June 2004 he was already #2, another three months later #1. A year later he he dropped back to #5, and in 2006 to #10, and retired at the end of 2008. Compared to such squash mammoths as Palmer, Lincou and Nicol, it can be said that Beachill's carrier peak has had a modest span. 
Nevertheless it must be pointed out that he has reached the top in a period when a high number of established top world stars mingled with a bunch of up-and-coming future stars. As a matter of fact, in December 2004, when Beachill held for the last time the world #1 spot, all names in the top10 were either future or former world number ones, and none of them at a decline stage of their carriers. 
Technically Beachill has been one of the cleanest strikers ever in my eyes. Instead of simply hitting the ball he was kind of caressing it. As strange as it might sound, he didn't use his racket as a hammer, neither as a knife, but rather as a spoon. This is why all of his shots had a kind of double slice, making the ball always escape from his opponents and fade towards the side-wall. In addition he disposed of a stupendous deception (watch that fake head-turn at 2:32 against Amr Shabana) and he's never been shy to go for all kinds shot (attacking boasts, volley nicks).
Beachill was probably not the physical beast that some of his peer's have been, but you can tell that - beyond being naturally gifted - he must have been a diligent analyser, deconstructing and putting together the best of the different squash schools and styles. Exactly because he is not too physical,  basing his game more on skill and understanding - he is one to watch for us, club-players, who will never dispose of the power of a Palmer or a Lincou, or the speed of a Gaultier or a Nicol.

Unfortunately the video we were originally embedding has been withdrawn in the meantime by youtube due to a copyright claim. This is why we had to look for another version of Jonathon Powers's extraordinary shot, that can be seen from 0:55 onwards in the below video:

this is the original video that has been withdrawn unfortunately:

15 April 2012


We had one of the craziest rallies ever yesterday, and here we have another one from a later stage of the same match. It is a bit shorter, but still crazy enough to rather just enjoying it instead of any analysis. 
Let's point out just one thing that stands also for yesterday's rally: the very high degree of fair-play between the two players; there is absolutely no blocking and no fishing - or when there is some unintentional blocking, like at 0:29 by Nick Matthew, Ramy chooses to make the extra effort to go around his opponent albeit the collision. Not only there is no fishing, but they even continue playing when whit a bit of extra hold or extra backswing they could have easily fabricated a cheap but convertible stroke situation (first Nick at 0:38, then Ramy at 0:49).
I think, when fair-play is demonstrated on such high levels, it is always a sign of respect; the players respecting each other mutually, but also respecting the game itself and the spectators, knowing also that they - being the best players in the world - have an extra responsibility to showcase the best aspects of the game.

14 April 2012


Sometimes it's just wiser not to say a word. No way I could describe the complexity level of what is going on in the below rally. Long live Ramy and Nick.

13 April 2012


Ramy Ashour is probably the only player on a constant basis who after a not perfectly executed volley nick attempt is not shy to go for a second one straight afterwards, and often with success. This one is even more special as he hit it by jumping very high and slightly from behind his body. 
You might say: genius, and that you can not teach this. I however will keep saying that if you force your players to stay on court for solo "angle-sessions" - feeding themselves all around the court, different angles, different heights, with aiming to put the ball each time into the nick, drop or smash - they will end up feeling the kind of geometry that is needed to find the right lines at the right times. I do not deny Ramy's genius, but be assured, he has spent more time doing these kind of solo sessions than anyone else in the world.
The other thing to note is how extremely Ramy bounces to prepare for his split-steps. You probably remember our post about the split-step, but to be honest I wouldn't recommend to many people to try to implement this boxer-kind of movement as it is very very demanding. It's part of Ramy's genius that his stamina is capable to deal with  such a high rate cardiac investment, but for more ordinary people it is also possible to have an excellent split-step in a much more economical mode (best examples probably would be Gregory Gaultier, Peter Barker or Karim Darwish for this version).
But there is another reason to today's post; does anybody remember, or even better: posses on video a similar shot, just executed in even more extreme conditions by Jonathon Power? He did it against Peter Nicol, but from the very back of the court, jumping even higher, and if I remember well, he has even climbed on the side-wall to reach Nicol's lob. I don't know where and when I saw that rally, it's been now a few years that I desperately try to find it on Youtube, with no success. Anyone has got good news for me?

05 April 2012


As you know from some of our previous posts, I believe that one of the most intriguing players currently on the tour is Tarek Momen. I wouldn't suggest to take him as a technical role model for club players (because of his exaggerated backswing), but I think most of the pros could learn from him a few things (mostly about not fearing to go short and also how to use the rather understated cross-drop), but on the other hand he omits a few things that other pros would do as standard. 
Everybody agrees that his drop shots are very special. He can play them from anywhere and anyhow - in the current video just blocking it at his feet. Great quality in the execution, but the choice itself was probably even more special and unorthodox as we can deduct from the very late reactions of world #1 James Willstrop. (Very few pro players consider the "no-backswing-block-drop" as an option of how to hit the ball. Ramy Ashour is probably the only other player who uses it on a constant basis and you can also see it at times by Gregory Gaultier, but in his case mostly only against lower ranked opponents).
But we have also understood that Momen's main source of confidence to go short comes - beside his wonderful natural talent - from his very steady and reliable drives which almost always land behind the back of the service box - and which make his opponents stand further back on the 'T'. At the same time it is interesting to observe that Momen himself has a rather regressed T-position which is even more evident when receiving the serve - hardly anybody else in the pro field would wait for the ball a full step behind the back of the service box.
Another fact that distinguishes him from the rest of the field is the almost total lack of lobs in his games. Even when extremely stretched in a font corner - when 99% of the players would go for a lob - he still comes up with a counter-drop or a passing-shot temptation. I do believe that if he integrates the lob into his game, it could create (even) more uncertainty in the head of his opponents.

01 April 2012


Long quality rally between Hungarian champion Mark Krajcsak and Peter Barker at this year's Canary Wharf Classic, first round. Lots of variations, accelerations, decelerations, rhythm stuff, then breaking the rhythm and so on. Krajcsak (in red shirt) surprises Barker a few times - mostly at 1:32 with that lovely volley-boast - however it is interesting to note that whenever he is looking to gain advantage through sheer acceleration, he takes time away more from himself than from his higher ranked opponent - as for example at 1:00. Still, a very well constructed rally from both sides, even if Krajcsak was unlucky to find the tin after having forced the loose shot with that great volley-boast. To make a final point: I think this last shot was not only unlucky, it can also be analyzed from a psychological point of view: in general, when the underdog finds himself in a position where he has a chance to conclude, he rushes his execution, as he is fearing the recovering capacities of the favorite; whereas with a bit more cool, he might have hit that volley a touch later, with slightly less pace but more cut and precision, half killing-half fading it towards the back and the side-wall. Of course, easier said than done.