If you only ever play matches when you have a hit, you are using the #1 worst method to improve your squash skills.
It’s kind of like wasting time with long-distance jogging to improve your squash fitness.
Training cooperatively versus competitively can mean the difference between winning and losing. It can mean the difference between having no chance against an opponent and the same opponent not having a chance against you.
The Complete Opposite Of The Worst Method
At age 7, the first hits of squash I had were with my Dad. It was only 10/15 minutes at a time. All he ever did was keep hitting the ball back to me, just like in a warm-up.
What we would do is count how many we could hit to each other.
By hitting it straight back to me where I didn’t have to run frantically to the ball, it allowed me to focus on developing my racquet skills!
Squash Skills For How To Aim The Ball Like A Laser
Pretty soon I became absorbed in the challenge of seeing how many shots we could hit without making a mistake.
I still remember hitting double figures – 10 shots in a row!
Then after a while we got through the teens.
If we switched sides so I was always hitting backhands, the number of hits we could make was not as many. But we kept going.
For some reason, 27 hits in a row is stuck in my memory.
The next number that comes to mind is 63 hits in a row.
The higher we got, the more confident I became striking the ball.
The real squash skills that I didn’t realize Dad was training in me was the ability to aim the ball to hit a specific target – that is, straight back to him.
We did this every once in a while. It was casual – something fun and, obviously, a cooperative exercise.
Learning When Not To Be Cooperative!
By the time Dad built a new & bigger squash center, when I was 10, I began training in the same cooperative way but almost every day instead of just once in a while.
Soon after the new squash center was opened, a social inter-club weekend competition was organized with the next town over as a celebration.
From that club was a boy my age so, of course, we had a hit.
And, of course, we played rallies – a match.
I had never done that.
He thrashed me because it didn’t matter where he was on the court I would hit it straight back to him, every time!
The reason I did this was because this is how I had trained my squash skills – to be cooperative and make it easy for the other person to hit it so we could see how many we could get in a row!
On the other hand, he would hit the ball away from me because he was actually trying to win the rally.
The experience definitely gave me a specific goal to work toward.
Natural Progression Of A 6-Month Squash Skills Challenge
For the next 6 months I refocused and continued my solo-practice, making sure I was as comfortable hitting on my backhand side as my forehand, and I learned and trained how to retrieve the ball off the back wall better.
I also played the occasional social match with anyone who was willing, incorporating the idea of hitting the ball away from the opponent into my play!
Because I had spent so long practicing these basic squash skills for how to aim the ball straight back to my playing partner at a definite target, like with Dad in my first dozen or so hits, aiming the ball away from my opponent to make it difficult for them was a quick and natural progression.
Picking Fruit Of Cooperative Squash Skills Training
The next inter-club weekend competition came 6 months later and I got a chance to play the same boy.
This time I thrashed him.
It was no contest – almost ridiculously so.
The benefit of training squash skills cooperatively became strikingly apparent to me, even that early on.
Dad knew it. And now I knew it.
In my first bunch of hits, if Dad had played rallies, like in a game, I undoubtedly would have been running around the ball to always avoid hitting backhands because they were not comfortable.
I would have been rushed which wouldn’t have allowed me to develop a natural racquet swing.
My attention would have been sprayed.
With so many places on the court where Dad was not standing, having so many options wouldn’t have forced me to get the ball to bounce in an exact spot.
Good Enough For Jahangir? Good Enough For Us!
I guarantee: The benefit of training co-operatively over competitively continues as you develop your basic squash skills more and more.
The legend Jahangir Khan who once went undefeated for 555 professional matches (astonishing!) used to play matches only on Saturdays – one day a week.
Do yourself a favor – help yourself and your playing partner by cooperating with each other.
Have fun & play your own game,