Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How Accurate Is Your Length?

Today I'm going to talk about shot accuracy, in particular your straight drives. But first I have to mention how Max Lee did it again against Gawad. I like how Max stuck to his tactics the whole match. He kept moving Gawad around put him in the front right as much as possible. I think he was doing this because of Gawad's lazy style of swing. Max could easily anticipate which shot was coming next and didn't get hurt even when he hit a poor boast into this area. In the 5th game this is where Gawad second guessed himself a few times and gave up a couple of strokes and made some mistakes. I think Max exposed an area that Gawad needs to improve. If you watch this match you'll notice how much more compact and deceptive Max's forehand swing is. I think this was a big reason Max came out on top. Anyways, back to today's post.

Just how consistently do you hit your target on your straight drives? To find this out I like to do some testing every once in a while to find out. Sometimes I'll give the kids 2 minutes to see how many times they can hit within a given target. This is also an effective method for monitoring improvement and for designing some goals. We improve little by little and if we don't do tests like these we don't actually notice that we are getting better. Especially in juniors when all the other kids are also improving, it's important to show kids that they are getting better.

Tonight at practice I'm going to have all the kids do some technical testing on straight drives and straight volley drives. I use the ball machine to feed and I'll keep track of the shots and point totals. I find most of the kids are more focused when they are being tested and compared to their peers so I expect a good practice. Also if someone doesn't do as well as they would like they will be more motivated to get out and do some solo hitting or take out the ball machine and work on this area.

You'll see in the sheet I posted below that I'm testing the accuracy of their forehand and backhand straight drives, both off the bounce and on the volley. They will get 20 shots for each shot and they can earn 1, 2, 3, or 5 points depending on where their shot bounces. Therefore the highest they could possibly score is 100 points, although I don't expect any scores near that as to get a 5 pointer they have to hit behind the service box and within 1 floorboard. I bet even some of the top pros wouldn't get 100 points.

So they start off doing 20 drives on the bounce and then 20 on the run/moving around. I find most of us are not as accurate when we start moving around so for this I'll have them touch the other side wall between shots. I'll set the timing on the ball machine to make them have to move quickly, but not a full out sprint. It will be interesting to see what their shots are like in the last few of this set.

So after doing 20 forehand drives and 20 forehand drives on the run, I do 20 forehand volley drives off a straight drive feed and that is followed by 20 forehand straight volley drives off a crosscourt drive feed (not hitting the sidewall, about shoulder height and medium pace). I find that hitting a forehand straight volley drive off of a crosscourt feed is very tricky to get consistently tight and running parallel to the sidewall. I expect the lowest scores on this shot.

After completing the 4 forehand shots we switch sides and do the backhand. I'll test 2 kids at a time and I guess it will probably take around 15-20 minutes per pair. There are 10 in each group so we should get through them all tonight. We will then talk about what areas they need to work on and retest in a couple of months after they've worked on and improved some or all of these shots.

You want to see how you stack up against some of the kids I coach? The situations may vary slightly as the feeder is very crucial to the success. Take this test with a friend and compete against one another. It's a good way to get some feedback on the most basic and fundamental shots in squash, the straight drive and straight volley drive. You can also design your own test for drops, volley drops, serves, return of serves, boasts and so on. Testing for crosscourts would be very beneficial as most people hit too many poor crosscourts, but designing a test for this shot would take a bit of extra preparation. I'll probably be discussing crosscourt in a post later this week.

If you're going to use the test I put below here is a tip on how to count up the 20 shots and the points at the same time. I write down the points awarded for each shot in a row of 5 shots so it's easy to add both. For example, 3,2,1,5,0 and then I would give some space and do the next 5. I find this the simplest way to do both.

Hope you enjoyed today's post. If you do the following test let me know your results. Enjoy the rest of the World Championships! Who do you think is going to be the 2014 world champion?

Name:                                                                            Date:

20 Shots Each

Drives On The Bounce

Drives On The Bounce On The Run

Volley Drives Off Straight Drives

Volley Drives Off Crosscourt Drives

Scoring: in service box = 1 point, behind service box and within service box width = 2 points, behind service box within 5 floorboards = 3 points, behind the service box within 1 floorboard = 5 points

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