Coaching Squash Deception: A Practical Example with Karim Darwish

June 30, 2010

I have just got back from the PPS Squash camp at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania – I designed the camp based on a Tactics First approach – every session started with a conditioned game so that we could assess the campers in a “live” and meaningful game situation.  After observing the squash campers, we bring them together to ask questions and demonstrate the key skills involved.  We work for about 20 minutes to improve their skills – always at least two skills since tactics involves decision-making – therefore a choice amongst at least two alternatives.  Here is a brief example of this approach featuring deception in the front court with last year’s world #1 Karim Darwish.

Tactical Situation: Attacking a weak defensive boast in the front court with deception – showing a drop and then either dropping or flicking cross-court.

Technical Skills: Straight drop or cross-court flick from a “short backswing position”.

Progression (there are five steps):

  1. Campers play conditioned game – A serves with higher defensive boast – B returns with drop or cross-court flick from short backswing position.
  2. Campers brought together and questioned on “how the game went”:  “Did you win more points with drops or cross-courts?” “What were better – your forehand or backhand drops?  Flicks?”  The questioning approach is designed to get the campers to critically reflect on their game, instead of boring them with a lecture.
  3. Demonstration of skills involved by an expert – in this case Egyptian Karim Darwish – last year’s #1 and currently ranked 4th in the world.
  4. About 15-20 minutes of drilling – first the drops, then the flicks, then alternating them to make sure racquet preparation is similar, then some time where the camper mixes up the shots in a random pattern – again to test deception.
  5. Return to the conditioned game to assess the squash campers improvement – we often did this with a court rotation tournament to inject some competitive pressure and fun.

It takes a many year’s to learn effective deception – it is important to start early in a squash player’s development, as evidenced by the style of the top Egyptians.


Squash Science Resource Update – August ’09

August 12, 2009

Many of the sport science resources that squash coaches use continue to evolve.  Here are three updates from trusted sources:

I   Thera-Band Academy Adds Web 2.0 Tools for Coaches

August 11, 2009

Dear Thera-Band Academy Subscriber

I trust you’ve found the Thera-Band Academy to be a useful tool for you. This is the 10th Anniversary of the Academy… and much has changed since then. I wanted to let you know about some new tools and websites that will help us improve our communication with you. Using the latest social media and networking sites, we hope to enhance your experience within the Academy. Please take a brief moment to check out these new tools…

I hope these new tools are useful! Thanks for your continued loyalty and support!

Phil Page, PT, ATC, MS, CSCS
ppage@thera-band.com
Director of Education & Research
1245 Home Ave
Akron, OH 44310  Read the rest of this entry »

Karim Darwish’ Backhand: Squash Biomechanical Analysis

July 22, 2009

In an earlier post we wrote about the general method for doing a biomechanical analysis of  a squash stroke by breaking the stroke down into five phases and using seven biomechanical principles to analyze it.  I also posted an example of an analysis of a squash forehand drive, and a video of a tennis forehand drive biomechanical analysis (similar but not identical ideas for analyzing a squash forehand).

Premier Performance Coaching Team 2009

Premier Performance Coaching Team 2009

I recently had the chance to video the strokes of the current world #1 Karim Darwish at the Premier Performance Squash training held July 10-19 at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania.  Along with Engy Kheirallah and Miguel Rodriguez we coached 20 adults and juniors using the Games Approach framework to introduce the players to Egyptian style attacking squash.  In addition to on-court coaching we spent quite a bit of time reviewing video of both game play tactics and forehand and backhand basic strokes.

For the biomechanical video analysis, since we were using a Mac and not Dartfish on a PC, we made a Quicktime video clip of Karim’s and each campers strokes, and opened both clips at the same time side-by-side for easy comparison.  Although I used the seven biomechanical principles to anlalyze the players strokes, it was very useful to be able to refer to Karim’s technique in each of the five key positions:  ready position, backswing, force production, impact, and follow through.

Betsy & Karim's Forehand Preparation

Betsy & Karim's Forehand Preparation

In this video I walk slowly though an analysis of Karim’s basic backhand straight drive off an easy ball in the mid-court (note that you need to specify the exact shot being analyzed since technique differs depending on the situation) using the seven biomechanical principles.  The most notable aspect of his backhand stroke is the extreme “blocking” action of the left arm during the follow through, compared to most of his peers.  The purpose of the blocking action is to slow rotation of the body (as in a figure skater opening out of a spin), which will help keep his hitting zone longer and shoulders turned for a fraction of a second longer.  Most players will do this on precision shots such as the straight drop or straight volley drop, but Karim does it while hitting with power as obviously his racquet speed is sufficient – he does it much less on his cross-court drives.  Stay tuned for an analysis of his forehand stroke.