Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Benefits Of Analyzing Your Swing In Slow Motion

Here's a short little video I pieced together with my new intro video on the benefits of using slow motion video to break down your swing. I discuss some key points on the backhand drive in particular and finish with a few slow motion drives to demonstrate. Want to improve your swing? Break it down and check out the key performance indicators. Is it accurate? Can you generate power? Can you hit it deep/high enough? Does it break down under pressure? Check out the video on my Youtube channel here:

Below is an example of the same shot hit both in regular speed followed by slow motion. You can see a lot more from slowing things down. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Serious Squash Coaching Videos Coming Soon!

I'm constantly trying to expand and explore new avenues with Serious Squash. I've decided that a next step is to produce some longer coaching videos to put all of my knowledge in specific areas into 1 place. My plan is to record a mini series of 12 episodes and release 1 each month. I've got a tripod on the way and am working on an intro video as we speak. Here's a peak at the 1st draft of it. Let me know what you think.

Version 1

Version 2

Version 3

I've already got my 12 topics decided and I think they will provide a lot of information to those who are looking for another way to improve their squash game.

I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to release the videos and what the cost will be, but I will try and make it simple, affordable and most importantly extremely effective for helping to improve your squash game. If you have any feedback or suggestions please feel free to contact me at Hopefully I will be able to release my 1st video this spring. And in case you're wondering, I will continue to post free blog write ups and videos on my Youtube channel (cchsquashpro), Instagram and Facebook page. Hopefully the best is yet to come from Serious Squash and thanks to all of you that have supported me thus far and especially to those of you that have bought some merch from the Serious Squash Shop!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bring Serious Squash To Your Home Club This Summer

Have you been following along with my posts and videos for a few years now and wish you lived in Victoria so I could coach you? Well now's your chance. This summer (June-August) I'll have some availability to travel and do some remote coaching. It would be great to make some new contacts and get on court with some 'Serious Squashers' from around the globe.

If you love your squash and want to improve your game bring me to your home club for a week. I would be happy to work run or assist with your local summer camp or even work privately with your child or a group of children. Please contact me at to discuss my availability and cost.

Monday, January 9, 2017

What Exactly Defines A Good Length?

I've asked a lot of people the simple question of 'what is the purpose of hitting length?' I've heard all sorts of responses to this seemingly simple and obvious question. We all know that length is important and there are many important things that good length does. When you begin playing squash just hitting the ball to the back is almost a guaranteed point. As you improve you begin to return those deep balls with more deep balls. I find most people are so focused on hitting it tight and hard that they don't actually know what the main goal of a length is.

Paul Coll has time and space to take an unimpeded swing so although he is behind his opponent he is actually in a strong position within the rally

Yes the most important past of a length is to regain T position; you get your opponent behind you and you get behind them. It's quite difficult to apply pressure and attack from the back of the court, but this is changing and players at elite levels can pretty consistently apply pressure from any part of the court if they have 2 essential qualities, space and time.

A shortened swing played off the back leg forced by a good length by Joe Lee

So although it may sound simple and true that getting your opponent behind you is the main goal of length, but what exactly does a great length entail? Many people here say 2nd bounce in the back corner. This is generally true, but without any pace the ball could easily be taken before the ball gets to the back corner. So does this do enough to define what good length is? And furthermore is this a type of length you should be aiming for on every length you hit? Many will say yes, but I disagree.

Let's first get at how I define good length. A good length is a short hit to the back corners which simply makes your opponent adapt their normal swing. The more you can make them adapt their swing the better for you. Of course a major bonus is time pressure. If you hit your length with pace and you force your opponent to get to the back faster and try and play the ball off their back foot they will not be as accurate and will be forced to lift the ball, playing defensively.

So which is a more important quality of good length? Time pressure or the lack of space? You can certainly make excellent claims for either one. But we all know the player that hits really hard without any accuracy, so I don't time pressure is possible without some form of accuracy. This is why I like to tell the kids I work with that the goal of their length is to limit their opponents space in the back corners. The less space the player has to work with the more defensive they will be. Of course at a really elite level players can return a ball deep off of almost any length, but they are less likely to be able to reapply pressure when they have a very short swing, are choking up on their racquet and are getting super low to get under the ball. When I see my opponent doing any or all of these things I begin to move my T position not only over, but also forwards an extra foot or so and expect a loose ball to volley.

Coll in trouble due to lack of time and space!

When you begin playing you are unable to adapt your swing at all and hit a decent shot. This is why we see people resort to back wall boasts and the 2 handed shovel when they get stuck in the back. They are out of space and have no other options. As these players improve they will learn how to make the above noted changes to their swings to lift and get the ball back deep, but even for top players they won't be accurate or be able to hit with as much pace and they definitely won't be able to disguise their shot when they have this little of space to deal with. So if you want to improve your length and volley more think about trying to make your opponent shorten their swing and lift the ball from the back corners. Even if they have time it doesn't mean they will hit a good shot. If you play someone fast or has good hands this should also be your goal.

So although yes you need to get the ball by your opponent to get the ball to the corner, that in itself is not a sufficient definition for a good length in my books. Learning how to get the ball to die in the back corners is the tough part. As the ball gets bouncier this is even more challenging. If the ball is really warm you actually will want to take some pace off the ball, perhaps using a shorter punch type swing and/or aim to hit the sidewall with your length in the back part of the court so it takes additional pace off your shot. If your shot hits front wall, sidewall, floor and then back wall there won't be much energy left on the ball unless you've greatly overhit it. Learning to use some slice can also help take pace off the ball, but this can also make the ball pop out off the sidewall (on some courts more than others). Using slice and the sidewall to get your length to die in the back are tricks the old boys used a few decades ago when the game was much more attritional and it was difficult to shorten your swing and flick a length out of the back.

If you really want to help someone visualize their goal of a good straight length simply tape out a target for the second bounce on the sidewall, floor and back glass. Can you picture how this would make 3 sides of a cube and an excellent target for a good length? This also means that it is really important to learn how to dig ball out of the back and adapt your swing to get out of pressure. But it's tough to win by only absorbing pressure, you also need to be able to apply it.

I have to mention 1 last thing about good length. When I'm teaching someone the basis of the swing this is why it's important to learn how to have a compact swing and to swing forwards (and not backwards first) so you can get more balls out of the back corners with your regular swing without hitting the back glass. So the bigger your opponents swing is the easier it will be to pin them in the back corners.

Check out all the Serious Squash gear at and use the code SSROCKS to get 15% off your order!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

St. Michaels University School's Best School Year Ever Contest

The school I work at in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia is having a contest to win free tuition and boarding! If you're a junior squash player and you'd like to have me as your coach and come to an amazing school in the most beautiful city in Canada click on the following link and check it out:

You can find out more about the school at and if you don't want he contest and are still interested in the school please contact me at and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the school or squash program. I can also put you in contact with admissions and organize a tour of the school.

About our squash program:
4 courts
3 coaches
4 competitive teams (3 senior school and 1 middle school_
35+ competitive squash players who practice each 3x per week in their groups
We participate in 10+ junior tournaments per season
This season we've had kids compete with good results (top 20) at the Canadian Junior Open, US Junior Open and British Open
Private lessons available on campus
Access to a great gym and certified trainers and physiotherapists on campus
We host a weekly junior squash league for all levels of kids
We have a 2 year old squash cannon

If you'd like more information please feel free to contact me.

Cocking Or Relaxing The Wrist?

When I was a kid pretty much every single good player cocked their wrist. Cocking your wrist allowed for improved consistency and power. The open racquet face at contact helps keep the ball above the tin and allows you to hit with an open racquet face and slice the ball. Your racquet face would always be presented properly to the ball allowing for a more consistent strike of the ball, unlike those that break their wrist. The increased power is from the last split second wrist movement. To explain this try and take a swing keeping your wrist cocked the entire time. Without that wrist moving you are not going to be able to transfer weight though the kinetic link properly. My point being is that there were lots of important reasons for learning to cock your wrist and I remember it being a difficult concept to grasp.

Gawad with a short backswing, but a cocked wrist gives him lots of options from this setup

Nowadays you still see the top players cocking their wrist, but you also see some (like Ramy) play with a relaxed and uncocked wrist. The style and equipment has changed which has allowed for more variation in technique and how the game is played. I thought it would for an interesting post to discuss the pros and cons of cocking your wrist versus having a relaxed one. Clearly a top player with enough repetition can make either work, but even for a top pro there are pros and cons to having a more relaxed wrist vs a cocked one.

Ashour with almost no backswing whatsoever and a relaxed wrist

I should begin by saying that players who have this relaxed wrist don't actually break their wrist. By breaking their wrist I mean the back of their hand and arm making an angle larger than 180 degrees. Someone like Ramy has such a short swing from the mid and front court that he is incredibly deceptive and quick from the start of his 'down'swing to contact. If you watch this short video I filmed on backhand drops you will also see how this relaxed wrist position allows for less tension in the hand and forearm which allows a player like Ramy to fire the ball in short with superb precision. This changes the angle of the swing, contact point on the ball and therefore the amount of spin you can generate. For example, on the backhand Ramy just swings his arm and side of his palm directly to where he is aiming at meaning he hits the bottom part of the ball (an example pictured below). While dropping with a cocked wrist anabas you to hit more the back corner/side of the bal. In theory I can see how a relaxed wrist can allow Ramy to be more consistent because there is a shorter backswing and less tension in his arm because he doesn't need to hold the racquet head upwards. From a shorter backswing one can also begin their swing later so their opponent has less time to read what shot is coming next; that is assuming they are strong enough to still hit it deep from this position.

When a player cocks their wrist (as I do in the video above) you'll see my racquet head is above the ball and I can hit down more severely onto the ball. I always tried to think of the tin as a form of net and the higher above the tin the ball is when I strike it the better angle I have to spike the ball downwards, which means more pressure I can put on my opponent. I also like the feel of the ball on the strings when I cock my wrist for my drop shots. I feel like I can get more action on the ball when I have my wrist cocked. I haven't taken enough swings like Ramy does to feel the same control or touch that he does with his flatter swing with his relaxed wrist, so I will probably never be able to switch. If I was going to try and drop with a relaxed wrist the difficult part would be that I'd be 100% committing to the drop. With such a short backswing and a relaxed wrist there would be almost no power behind my setup meaning my opponent knows what's coming. Ramy is so strong on his forearm that he can still snap the ball with some pace with just about zero tension in his arm or backswing. This is something that was simply impossible 20+ years ago when the racquets were 200 grams. Now with the lighter frames and improved strings there are a lot more possibilities.

Ashour on the backhand side with again zero backswing. The racquet starts at his leading leg and he can still hit the ball to any part of the court

So now I've got you thinking. Should I try and cock or keep a relaxed wrist? That is something that a good coach will need to help you with. I think only a really top player could make the relaxed wrist position really effective. I still coach players to cock their wrist, but if I came across a very skilled player that already had this style I would not try and change it. I can see the benefit from this relaxed wrist if you also have the snap to go deep from that position too. If you don't have the snap your opponent will be running up to get your shot every time they see that relaxed wrist and short backswing. So unless you spend multiple hours each week working on your short game, that probably isn't going to work at a high level.

What I've discussed so far is the benefits of cocking or not cocking your wrist on drops, from attacking positions from the mid or front of the court. From the front under pressure when counter dropping you will have to break your wrist to one up your racquet face to the target and to play the ball in front of you. This is the only time I break my wrist when I play and it's really difficult for me. I found a picture of Alison Waters doing this on the backhand side.

Waters adapts her wrist position under pressure to line her racquet face up to the target

From the back of the court I do feel cocking your wrist is a big advantage because it's the best way to get the ball back deep and above the tin. If you don't have a lot of time to prepare at least when you cock your wrist your racquet will be aiming up and you will have a better chance of getting the ball back deep. Also, when digging the ball out of the back corners when you're space is limited it's also important to cock your wrist to use height on the shortened swing.

But when you have time (as Ramy does below) and you're prepared early and you're not trying to play defensive you can play with a cocked or relaxed wrist. You can imagine that from the set up below most people could not get enough of a whip from this setup to get power into their shot or it would take too long that they couldn't get away with it. Ramy has hit so many balls I believe everything is about feel and he doesn't focus on his technique at all. He knows by the feel of each swing if it was hit perfectly or not so for him he knows that he is set up exactly how he wants to be. This is the one thing I think is a huge benefit from the relaxed arm; you have less tension in your arm and you can feel the ball better against your strings.

One area from the back which I should mention is if you're trying to hit a hard and low attacking drive. This can be played a few different ways. Some people (mostly the Egyptians) still hit this shot with a very open racquet face and simply have a flatter or more sever swing path to hit the ball low.

Nouran Gohar has a lot of shoulder rotation in this shot, but still has a slightly cocked wrist and open racquet face

I like actually closing my racquet face or even using some top spin. When I close my racquet face or hit with a bit of top spin my wrist is still cocked, it's just about how I rotate my arm over. So if you can picture this it may help. On the backhand side if I want to hit with a closed racquet face I simply have a forehand open wrist and arm position. Can you imagine this? I found a pic of Karim Abdel Gawad doing this. See how if he kept everything the same and just brought his racquet to his forehand side it would be a nice open racquet face. His wrist is still cocked, but is just facing down.

Gawad keeping his wrist cocked even when he closes his racquet face

Hopefully I've expanded your knowledge on this subject. To me it's a really fascinating topic. It was such a keep fundamental and then to have the best player of our generation not always do it was pretty mind blowing. It definitely shows that technique is not universal and if you can make it work consistently even under pressure maybe it doesn't need to be changed. Maybe coaches and players focus too much on technique and less about feel and shot selection? Basically these types of things make me think more open minded about squash and the technique in general. Peter Marshall should have taught us all that, but we haven't see that style at that level again since. So just because Ramy can do what he does, it doesn't mean you should try and copy it. It works for him, but it probably won't work for you unless you have fantastic hand-eye and spend about a quarter of your life on a squash court! If you're tinkering with this I still recommend not going past the 180 degree point at any part of your swing (besides the counter drop under pressure at the front) from the back of your hand to your forearm. Remember the title is called cocking or relaxing the wrist, not breaking it! Hope this topic was as interesting to you as it was to me. 

Be sure to like Serious Squash on Facebook and follow my Youtube channel (cchsquashpro) and also on Instagram at #SeriousSquash for daily updates. Serious Squash also has a new online squash merch store at Use the code SSROCKS to get 15% off your order and yes, I do ship worldwide.