Characteristics of squash as a competitive sport
In many sports an athlete needs a certain kind of body type or possess certain qualities in order to succeed. In basketball or volleyball it helps if you are tall, in weightlifting you need to be strong, in 100m run you need to be fast - and in long distance running you need endurance over other attributes. Otherwise you have no, or just a small chance to get to the top.
In squash you need to be strong, fast and fit at the same time, and your body type, whatever it is, doesn’t prevent you from doing well. Squash is a skill sport that requires fitness – fitness meaning strength, speed and endurance. That’s what makes it bloody interesting to train and get better at. Naturally you can’t be unfit and expect to do well, but with good skill level you can beat opponents that are way fitter than you – and vice versa, with superior fitness you can beat guys who are a lot better than you with the racket.
In squash, the term “own game” is often heard. It means that a player optimizes his/her style to his/her attributes, strengths and weaknesses. A player tries to maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses, in a style of play (s)he is trying to execute. Let’s take a few simple examples.
If you are skilled with the racket, but not that fit, you try to quickly create openings to kill the ball and you probably take more risks. If you are fit, but not that skilled, you try to extend rallies, not take too many risks and not give your opponent easy openings. If you have quick legs, you try to pick a lot of shots up but also try to use the speed when attacking, by taking the time away from you opponent. If you are strong, you try to hold your position in the middle of the court, volley as much as you can and make your opponent run. On top of this all, regardless of your attributes, if you play smart, right shots at the right time, mix the game by varying your shots and movement, you can beat players that are stronger, quicker, fitter and more skilled with the racket!
Finding your “own game”, your own style of play, is probably the most important thing when trying to get to the top. What kind of game you play to utilize your strengths in general – and even further, to opponents’ weaknesses? Assimilating that is the ultimate ability of a squash player; extremely difficult to execute, yet so bloody interesting to strive for.