Today I'm going to talk about a shot that won me a lot of tournaments when I was a junior, the trickle boast. I still win a lot of points on this shot. I remember as I was growing up hearing that this wasn't a smart shot to play as it leaves you exposed at the front of the court. But if you disguise this well and play it at the right times it can be very effective at any level. We still see this shot played successfully at the pro level. And although mostly by Egyptian players, it's a shot that we can all learn and add into our bag of tricks. I'll give you some tips about what makes a trickle boast effective and when to play it.
For me, the trickle boast needs to be disguised with your straight drive. So for this it helps filming the two. I like to set up a ball machine hitting a lose boast to the front of the court. You need to focus on keeping the same 1) approach 2) racquet preparation/shape up the same 3) spacing to the ball and 4) swing speed/tempo.
The approach: many people feel they are set up squared to the side wall and look like they are going to drive, but their approach to the ball doesn't look the same. The way you approach and begin shaping up for your shot tells a lot about what shot you are going to hit. If you don't approach the ball looking like you're going to hit the ball with pace your opponent may not be waiting for a drive and can recover even a well disguised trickle boast.
Racquet preparation: as with every shot you play this is essential for proper execution. When you are approaching the ball you begin to shape up for your shot. You should get your racquet to the same set position you would use for your straight drive. Show power with getting into a crouched position with your racquet set accordingly. If you have a shorter backswing and are too upright this may give away your true intentions.
Spacing: some people get so close when approaching a boast that they cannot hit a straight drive with any authority and are at risk of giving up a stroke. Make sure your spacing is correct so your opponent has to respect that you are going to hit a good attacking straight drive. When you're too close an easier shot to hit is a boast and although this will make it easier to execute the shot a skilled opponent will pick up on your spacing when you begin your swing. Being too close will also make it difficult to take a full uninhibited swing which tells your opponent, here comes a shot with power, meaning to the back of the court.
Swing speed and tempo: this is an important part of the deception. Many people slow down their swing when they play the trickle boast. If you can learn to hit with the same swing speed, while delaying your wrist extension (so you hit the ball slightly late and into the side wall) your deception will be much more effective. This means your opponent will at best have to wait until after you hit the trickle boast to react and move to your shot. They will likely be on their heels and have their weight leaning backwards, especially if you have set up the trickle boast by hitting a number of straight drives first.
So those are my 4 keys to hitting a good deceptive trickle boast. But these 4 alone are not enough to ensure you are successful. To properly set up your trickle boast you need to hit some straight drives to confirm your opponents expectations. The more you hit a straight drive from the front the more your opponent will likely expect this shot the next time. Of course you can look at this from the other perspective, keep hitting the trickle boast until they show you they can get it back and then play the straight drive. If you disguise these 2 shots well it will drive your opponent nuts. This may mean they will make more mistakes going short or stop going short altogether because they have trouble reading you up there.
Differences between the forehand and the backhand trickle boast. This is just for me personally, but I play the backhand trickle boast with more of an open racquet face. This means you can hit a straight drive with the ball slightly close to you and being able to inside out your swing. Although you won't hit it hard hard this way, it does allow a 3rd option of hitting a crosscourt drive. On the forehand side it is easier to delay your swing and accelerate your wrist more rapidly to hit a number of shots even later in swing or with a shorter swing. Players also hit it harder on the forehand so their opponent has to respect the pace that can be generated from the front forehand corner. This means your opponent may be a little further back on the T and more on their heals and more susceptible to a trickle boast.
You can also show drop and hit a trickle boast. You see this hit by some of the pros from time to time. They have a sense that their opponent is rushing in for a straight drop and at the last second they flick their wrist and hit side wall first. It's a difficult shot to play with much angle and therefore you are at risk of your opponent getting it back or receiving a stroke. But if you have a quick write this is another shot you can add to your repertoire.
There is also an aussie boast which is like a trickle boast but hit from the back of the court. It isn't the same as a 2 wall attacking boast A 2 twill attacking boast goes to the opposite from corner. An aussie boast is like a straight kill but just hits the side awl first and comes towards the middle of the court but doesn't make it back to the T before it bounces twice. This shot is played less frequently and because of this it can be very effective if you practice it. It's also easier to disguise because you the angle isn't as sharp as a trickle boast from the front.
I won't get into the reverse boast, but some people have success with this because they setup looks like a crosscourt drive. Again this shot is played rarely so most people struggle reading it. Which other shots are rarely used that can catch your opponent off guard? Perhaps volleying a boast or back wall boast? A straight slice low kill from the back of the forehand side. Try and experiment with some shots in practice that are not taught very often or played often. If you get good at them you can bring them out sparingly in your matches and you may find that your opponents have difficulty reading them because they are not played very often. Another one of my personal favourites is deception on the volley. This is something I've had a lot of success with and isn't done very often except at the pro level. There comes a point where you'll play an opponent will get a lost everything back if you telegraph it, no matter how well you execute your shots. Having a few tricks up your sleeve will open up the court for you and tire out your opponents legs more as they have to change direction and push harder off the T.
I was lucky that I grew up watching Jonathon Power play and his creative style always appealed to me. I don't recall JP having a great trickle boast, but I'm sure he could play it well as he had quick wrist and could accelerate and decelerate his swing speed and direction mid swing.
On a side note. I was watching Squash TV tonight and during the Gaultier vs. Clyne match they started discussing some of the points I brought up in this article http://www.serioussquash.com/2014/10/improving-pro-squash-from-viewers.html. Maybe it was just by chance or maybe they actually read my post. Anyways it was encouraging to hear the commentators agree with some of my points and mention that they will get there one day. I guess we need more people to get Squash TV memberships so they make more money and can improve the game. So if you haven't already done so, sign up here http://www.psasquashtv.com. it's only around $130 for the year and there is an archive section so you can watch old footage of your favourite players. And last note from the Clyne vs. Gaultier match. I only picked this up in the 2nd game but did anyone else notice that Clyne rarely split stepped? I don't know if he just got spent and this happened when he got fatigued or if he always does this.
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