How Learning the Language can Improve Your Game

How Learning the Language can Improve Your Game

If you learn the terminology associated with the game of squash you will see a real improvement in your game.

It’s quite a statement and it may sound bizarre – surely the only way to improve your game is to practice playing? Of course, without practice, or following drills, your game is going nowhere. You improve your game through playing, but that’s not to say that a little academic knowledge can’t enhance the process. Practicing is a sure fire way to improve your technique, but when complimented by a little understanding of the language of squash you’ll quite possibly become more experimental and try things you’ve not considered before. Let me explain…

For many months I’d turn up to the court and go through the motions. Sometimes I’d attack, sometimes I’d defend. Sometimes I’d smash the ball with everything I had, sometimes I’d give the lightest of taps and hope for the best. Either way I was having fun and getting an excellent workout at the same time. For me this was all I wanted from my squash sessions and I was happy. Then one day I decided to start writing down some of the things I’d learnt as I improved – the result of which was this website. In order to help communicate my ideas better I’d need to learn some new vocabulary, and so I found myself for the first time putting names to many of the shots I already played – lobs, drives, boasts, drops, kills, etc…

Through simply playing the game against an equal opponent you discover that mixing up a variety of shot types is good, and that the force or angle with which you strike the ball will produce variable effects. You develop a vague idea of what works in particular situations and through repetition your game begins to improve. However, when you learn the actual names of the different squash shots in your arsenal something interesting happens – those abstract feelings and movements, or those intuitive gestures that you’d developed can now be summed up in simple words. And it has a powerful effect.

You know how to play – you’ve been doing it for months. But now, for the first time, you have the language to describe your game. A rally can be summed up and communicated with your partner clearly and succinctly. You have the correct terminology to be able to describe your game using the verbal shortcuts of the professionals. Language is a powerful thing, and it will impact your game.

No longer will your game be based on intuition alone, or defensively trying to strike that front wall at all costs! You’ll now have an internal commentary talking you through each rally – drive, drive, boast, drive, lob, drive, kill!

As you know, squash can be an immensely fast-paced game. Also, the human brain loves to compartmentalize knowledge. By assigning each shot a name you’ll begin to better understand and describe both your own technique and that of your opponent. You’ll start to draw on your new-found knowledge and apply it to better effect. You may find yourself on the back foot thinking “I’m just going to keep playing straight drives to draw my opponent to this side of the court, then I’ll play a boast“, or “I’ve been pulled towards the front wall by my opponent so I’m going to play a lob and pass the ball right over his head”, or “she thinks that I’m going to play a straight drive but actually I’m going for a kill shot“.

You’ve been playing these shots intuitively for quite some time, but now you have this new-found arsenal of named shots you start to play more strategically. You can learn the basic shot names here. Good luck!



However, one last thing… Before you get out there and put this to the test let me give you one final piece of advice… From my experience your opponent really won’t appreciate the running commentary that you’ll find yourself inadvertently giving out loud!