Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Evolution Of Squash

I guess I'm dating myself by mentioning that when I was finishing up playing competitively I was still playing you had to serve to win a point and the games went to 9 with a set 1 or 2 at 8 all. After my last year of varsity squash the point a rally (PAR) scoring change was adapted by the College Squash Association. Once or twice a year I'll have the kids play this scoring method for a match and most of them don't like it. I don't blame them, I don't like it either, but back then it was how the game was played. The new scoring system has definitely changed the game. And although match times have gotten shorter at the amateur level, at the professional level the matches can still be nearly as long as each rally carries more importance (although I know this also has to do with how frequently they are mopping up sweat and video reviewing let decisions). The scoring, equipment and court have all contributed to the current state of the game and I'm going to discuss a few of the ways that I've noticed the change, both positively and negatively.

Back when you had to serve to get a point people generally went for more attacking play wen they were serving and played more defensive when they were returning. The idea that was you could take a bit more risk when you were serving because your opponent wouldn't actually get a point if you happened to make a mistake. It also meant that if you're serving you have at least some momentum and this is a more opportune time to play a more attacking shot. So this part of the tactics of squash has definitely changed. You'll see at the pro level players being equally aggressive when returning or serving because they can score a point at any point.

The scoring has helped and hurt beginners. It is less likely that a player will get bagled playing PAR scoring, but they can also lose a game in the blink of an eye. This is why I still encourage new squash players to play to 15. Squash is only fun when you're having rallies and you get a good workout. If a game is done in under 5 minutes it's way too short to accomplish both feats.

The scoring has changed the tactics in a number of other ways too. Currently it is much more difficult to come back in a game. Back in the day people came back from down 0-8 or 1-8 quite frequently. Nowadays you very rarely see someone lose a game when leading 10-0 or 10-1. It's simply a matter of stats in this case. The person at game ball only has to win 1 point and not 2 in a row with the old scoring method. So this can be good and bad depending on which style of player you were. If you are a slow starter you would probably do better with the old school scoring method. If you're also not as fit you're probably better suited for the current style because you find it easier mentally to push even when you're fatigued for that last point or 2 knowing all it takes is 1 good shot or lucky bounce.

Going along with the theme of fatigue is another issue that is lost on current players because of the scoring system. When you had to serve to score a point players would be more prone to lose their concentration in a match. Nowadays big points near the end of a game come up quite quickly where focus is generally not as big of an issue. You are also more likely to have adrenalin pumping to help you fight through the fatigue when the end is near. When the games were to 9 and players traded a number of handouts without scoring more than a single point it was very difficult, especially as a kid to keep your concentration for the duration of a game. Generally juniors go through more ups and downs emotionally and with their focus so the old school scoring method did not favour them for these reasons.

Many of us associate the new scoring to the more attacking style of play, but is that really the reason? Is the equipment, lowered tin and slower double yellow dot ball or glass court not more critical factors? The racquets are lighter, the grips aren't made of leather or towel and the string allows for more power and spin on the ball. Also with the wide use of video analysis and elite coaching, players are learning to add all the extra layers into their games that were probably going unnoticed many years ago. Although the scoring has made a significant change to the style of game I believe these other factors have had a larger influence.

I don't know anyone that wants to see a 100 shot rally with only length hit, but a 50+ shot rally using all 4 corners is exciting and much more physically demanding. This style of play has changed the fitness requirements required to play squash. Back in the day aerobic endurance, one's ability to tolerate pain and their mental toughness were probably the most important traits of a successful squash player. Nowadays these are all still important, but speed, agility and power are much more critical. I've noticed that Gaultier and Matthew are looking a bit slower compared to some of the young guns currently rising up on the tour. No doubt that Matthew and Gaultier would still do exceedingly well at aerobic fitness tests against any other pro payer, but naturally your body slows down just a bit when you get in your mid 30's (yes I know from experience!). I feel if the tin was raised back, the scoring was changed back to 9 and the equipment was from the 80's or 90's they would still be winning almost every title. I think Nicol David would also be more successful under these more attritional conditions. Actually, Gaultier has more problems with his concentration so maybe this wouldn't help him as much as Matthew. Although these conditions may favour certain players, I'm glad that the equipment and scoring has changed as it's made squash more entertaining to play and watch.

It's easy to see that the players have evolved because of the equipment and scoring. Do we have the right balance between attacking and attrition? I wonder how the game will evolve in the next 20 or 50 years? Hopefully it stays attacking, but also remains physically demanding. It's the balance of the technical and tactical skill under extreme duress which makes the game so challenging and breathtaking to watch at the professional level. Watching a few of the hardest hitters play I do think the ball needs to slow down just a bit or the court temperature drop. I don't enjoy watching a player like Mohamed ElShorbagy win on sheer power (he would definitely still be one of the top back on the higher tin with the old scoring). ElShorbagy once had a really solid short game, but I haven't seen it on display much this season. Gaultier too relies mostly on attritional length to win. If the ball is so fast the players can't attack short when they get an opening the ball is a too quick in my opinion and we are on the verge of bringing back attritional squash. If I was ElShorbagy I would ask for a new ball at the start of every 3rd game in his matches because I can't imagine someone maintaining the pace he can create with a fresh ball.

Maybe the men should lower the tin another inch or just use a 2 dot ball on the glass court instead of a 1 dot. Just pace and athleticism takes away from creativity and the chess tactically gameplay that I love about squash. The pace has made ElShorbagy a 2 dimensional player (court coverage/endurance and pace). I see so many kids now that only focus on hitting the snot out of the ball and don't develop other areas of their game. And what's troubling is they don't know any better because they get away with it against most other juniors. I want to see the layers develop in a players game and to all be on display at the highest level of the game. It's up to the PSA and the WSF to ensure that tactics and creativity are continually rewarded at the top of the game. I understand that speed and pace are critical factors (as they should be) they just shouldn't be the only ones in my opinion. As a coach if I want a player to attack more I simply add targets or bonus points for winning or hitting the target at the front of the court. I just hope squash doesn't fall into the grip it and rip it and the best athlete always wins as opposed to best squash player. The game scoring, equipment and tin height have all attributed to rewarding attacking players and making the game more enjoyable to watch, but have they done enough? If the PSA wants to see more Superman dives they should give players more opportunities to be out op position on the court by either lowering the tin, slowing down the ball so the ball stays shorter on drops and boasts, making the court longer or wider or adjust the scoring once again!

I can't finish off today's topic without a quick mention about the rules. This is a simple way the game must evolve to improve squash from a players and spectators perspective. There is so much inconsistency between refs and left open for interpretation. The 1 obvious rule which is always taken advantage of is giving your opponent direct access to the ball. Most players appear to think that just because their opponent has hit a loose ball around the middle and they are standing around the T that their opponent must go around them. To my knowledge this is not stated anywhere in the rule book. I also can't stand when players counter drop and don't clear out afterwards. The ref often states the shot was too good, and although that may indeed be the case, who really knows if the player doesn't have any chance of retrieving it. I don't know why they haven't made it a stroke decision every single time a player hasn't made every possible effort to get out of their opponent's direct path to the ball regardless of the quality of their shot. Good players know exactly where their opponent is coming from and they can get out of the way if they were forced too or otherwise they may choose to play a different shot when they would otherwise be unable to clear their drop. So please WSF and PSA change this rule and get rid of the blocking and reduce the number of 'lets' called in our game and clean up the flow of the game. Who's with me?

Have you checked out the new items at yet? Yes, I've designed some Serious Squash merch! Pick up a cap, hoodie, bandana, tee, tank top or a sport psych wristband! Use the code 'SSROCKS' to receive 15% off your order.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

New Serious Squash Skill Challenge Trailer

AS most of you already know, I recently signed a contract with Eye Rackets and I've been working on some skill challenges. I have put together a 1 minute trailer of some of the skill challenged I will be releasing shortly. Here's the video if you'd like to take a peak.

Until this Monday night at midnight there is a Thanksgiving sale on at Use the code 'burntturkey' and receive 20% off your order! No better time to preorder the 2nd edition Serious Squash Tee or get a new hoodie!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Serious Squash Updates

Since I designed my first shirt about 4 months ago a lot has changed with the Serious Squash Shop. I really only started all of this because of my knee surgery and the time I was forced to take away from the game; well I guess I wasn't totally away from the game, just off court and not coaching.

My first clothing began with just 4 colours of the original 'Dominate The T' shirt and eventually I decided to add a black tee and some tank tops. I now have 5 different versions/colours of hats (yes, I love hats!). I ordered 100 bandanas custom made in California with an original logo I had designed by a friend at Merch Asylum (seen below) in the UK which has positive thought statements built into the design. I got 4 colours of the bandanas printed. A goal of mine was to produce gear that helped you perform better; whether it was the statement on the back of the original tee that reads' if you can read this I'm winning,' or the sport psych wristbands or this Merch designed logo.

I have so many styles and sizes of sport psych wristbands I can't even count them all. I used some of the most powerful statements for me which I hope will inspire other people when they wear them to stay positive, work harder, or be more aggressive, to play smarter or to focus.

I just recently got in the 1st batch of hoodies on 4 different colours. This was a test batch to see what they were like and how'd they sell. The verdict is positive so far and I've just recently placed a 2nd order for these. This time I've done the logo all in 1 colour which I think will show up well on a variety of different coloured hoodies.

Recently I have also designed a 2nd tee. This one has 'Serious Squash' on the back and the phrase 'Seriously Sick Skills' written around the base of the standard Serious Squash logo on the front. I've again used various colours to create some sharp looking gear.

I had an idea not too long ago to design some 'golden tickets.' So although they do not get you a tour of the Serious Squash factory! They do get you 50% off your next order! What I'm going to do is place them randomly in approximately 1 out of every 10 orders. So anytime you place an order you have a 10% chance of getting 1 of these golden tickets. This is just 1 of the ways I will be trying to have some fun with the social media marketing and hopefully spreading the word of Serious Squash and gaining repeat customers (I've already had quite a few so I'm happy about that).

On top of all the gear I've been adding to the shop I also designed some backpacks. The backpacks were not for sale, they were given to the top Serious Squash sponsored athletes. Yes, that's correct if you haven't heard I now have a team of 8 players that I sponsor with free or discounted gear depending on their level and ranking.

Serious Squash is also a sponsor of the Victoria Junior Squash League and the Women's Squash League here in Victoria. I feel it's really important to invest in squash and help ensure the success of these events.

While working on the shop I've been also getting things going with Eye Rackets. I just signed my contract with them a couple of weeks ago. They were really keen to join forces with me and Serious Squash. They loved what I was doing with my blog and videos and wanted to be a part of it. It feels great to have a company that wants to take part in something fresh and new and believe in what I'm doing. I feel they are extremely supportive of my creativity and of course I wouldn't have signed with them if I didn't love their racquets. I'm hopeful one day to have a Serious Squash model :) How cool would that be? I don't really want to get too big or popular though. I prefer having a small group of loyal followers and keep this is a hobby and keep it all light and fun. It's easy to get wrapped up into the seriousness of squash training and competing and I'm hoping to maintain a bit of balance between skill improvement and fun. That's why we all started in the first place.

I thought it was worth a quick update on what's been happening with Serious Squash. And I guess this is why I haven't written as many blog posts recently. I still am coaching as well and running a pretty large junior program so needles to say I've been keeping busy. I'll get back to more posts when creativity strikes and I have the time to explain it in writing. Until then be sure to check out all the new gear in the shop at Since you actually read right to the end use the code 'SSROCKS' and receive 15% off any order! Thanks so much for reading, following and supporting Serious Squash.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Introducing The 2016/2017 Serious Squash Team

Recently I've started offering Serious Squash sponsorships. You can look back a few posts if you're curious what each of the 3 tiers entitle. Here I am to release the current list of Serious Squash sponsored athletes with a short bio of each member. Each payer will be posting at least 1 skill challenge this season so be sure to follow Serious Squash on Instagram (#serioussquash), Facebook ( or my Youtube channel (cchsquashpro) to see how the kids stack up to me ;) If you'd like to apply to join our Team there is still time. Send an email to to apply. Now let's meet the current 2016/2017 Serious Squash Team.

Gold Team Members 
Curtis Malik - Sussex, England, 17 years old
Racquet: Mantis Power 110 2 (blue)    Home Club: K2 Crawley
Favourite Solo Drill: Figure 8's and hitting nicks.
Favourite Skill Challenge: 4 Corner Figure 8's/Butterfly
Career Highlights: English Junior Winner in the U13's, U15's and runner up in the U17's. British Junior Championships - U13 Winner. U17 3rd place. Has been ranked #1 in the U13, U15 and U17. Just joined the PSA world tour.

Tom Schreurs - Netherlands, 15 years old
Racquet: Dunlop Force 125    Home Club: Meersquash And Activity
Career Highlights: Junior National Champion in U13, U15, and U17. European U15 ranking last season - 4th. Other U15 results: 2nd at Belgian Junior Open, 3rd at Swiss Junior Open and 4th at Nordic Junior Open.

Gabriel Yun - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 13 years old.
Racquet: Harrow Spark     Home Club: Sport Central
Favourite Solo Drill:  Figure 8's  Favourite Skill Challenge: Hitting Nicks!
Career Highlights: 2nd place at U13 Nationals Last Season. Represented Team Canada at the Battle Of The Borders in August.

Silver Team Members
Sam Scivier - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 16 years old
Racquet: Harrow Vapor       Home Club: Jericho Tennis Club
Favourite Solo Drill:   Figure 8's with nicks!  Favourite Skill Challenge: Off the back wall, through the legs figure 8 to behind the back figure 8.
3rd in U17 at Alberta Jesters in 2015 and 2nd in the BC Junior Closed last season. Currently ranked 6th in the U17 in Canada. Ranked 2nd in British Columbia in the U17.

Alex Brown - Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. 12 years old
Racquet: Black Knight Quicksilver    Home Club: St. Michaels University School
Favourite Solo Drill: Figure 8's  Favourite Skill Challenge:
Career Highlights: The one lefty on the Serious Squash Team! Alex finished tied for 7th in the U13 Nationals last season and 2nd at the Provincials. She is currently ranked in the top 5 in Canada. She was on Team Canada at the Battle Of The Borders in August. She is one of the hardest workers on the team that I coach. This year she will be going overseas and competing in the British and Scottish Junior Open.

Bronze Team Members
Matias Totz - Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. 14 years old
Racquet: Dunlop Tour Elite    Home Club: St. Michaels University School
Favourite Solo Drill: Continuous Volleys  Favourite Skill Challenge: "All of Mr. Serious Squash Instagram Posts"
Career Highlights: One of the top boys in British Columbia in the U15 division. Matias is a boy I currently coach and is in grade 9. He's a hard worker, dedicated to improving his squash game, thinks he's really funny and has the potential to become a Canadian champ one day. Lucky for Matias he has a good coach ;)

Thomas Porter - Ontario, Canada. 16 years old.
Racquet: Oliver   Home Club: Ottawa Athletic Club
Favourite Solo Drill: Mid court volley drives Favourite Skill Challenge: Off the back wall, through the legs figure 8 to behind the back figure 8.
Career Highlights: Tom has been playing for 6 years and is one of the young bright stars on the Ontario Junior circuit. He is a big fan of Serious Squash and has progressed from beginner to one of the top competitive juniors in the Ottawa and district area.

Mario Ramirez - Canary Island, Spain. 21 years old.
Racquet: University of Las Palmas Home Club: Salming Fusion Aero Vetan
Favourite Solo Drill: Crosscourt Nicks.
Career Highlights: #1 of Gran Canaria and Canary Champion.