Everyone who competes knows that until the very last point is over, any of the players can win the match. Never lose your hope: even if your opponent is in the lead and you feel you´re not quite there, you can still turn the match for you. If you notice from the very beginning of the game that your opponent seems stronger and likely to beat you, it´s vital to remember that in every match there tend to be turning points and other moments where you can take over.
Such a crucial moment is the point where your opponent starts getting tired. The nice thing about squash is that you can sometimes beat a more skillful or experienced player with your physical condition. So, especially if fitness is one of your strengths, learn to recognize the signs of fatigue in your opponent. Sometimes the signs of tiredness are very clear, but usually they appear slowly. As soon as you notice the first signs, you know that it´s the time to start putting more pressure on you opponent.
Signs of fatigue to keep an eye on
Recognizing the first signs of fatigue in your opponent is an essential part of determining your strategy. This is the moment when you have to decide carefully when to attack. Winning a match is often a combination of using your strengths and taking an advantage of your opponent´s weaknesses. Endurance could be one of them. Some signs of fatigue are obvious, such as constant tying of shoelaces. Also, if it takes ages for your opponent to return to the service area between the rallies, he or she is probably getting tired. Often, however, the first signs of fatigue are much more subtle and less noticeable, especially when a player is in a rather good shape. Generally, when a player gets tired, they tend to:
• move more slowly to the front court;
• volley less;
• attempt to slow down the pace;
• attempt to win the rally faster than normal;
• play more to the front court;
• struggle to play good lengtht.
What should you do if your opponent is getting tired?
Now that you recognize the first signs of fatigue in your opponent, you can adjust your strategy accordingly. Of course, this is not always so easy, because it´s likely that your opponent is exhausted by the intensive rallies you have played and that means you are probably getting tired as well. It´s important to recognize the moment when you must start to attack and really put your opponent under pressure before you get too exhausted yourself. When your opponent is starting to get tired and notices that you´re attacking more, he or she will get worried and desperate. It´s best to do this when you´re still feeling quite strong. If you´re starting to feel tired yourself, try not to show it to your opponent. He or she might be on the verge of fatigue as well. Squash is a lot about psychology.
How to attack when your opponent is getting tired?
1. Keep your opponent moving but be careful not to go too soon for the winning shot.
The main thing is to keep the rallies long. Don´t try to play a winning shot unless there´s a really good chance for it. And the chances will come sooner and sooner as your opponent gets more and more exhausted. If you try to finish the rallies too quickly, there´s a risk that you make errors and thus bring your opponent back into the match. You have to give him or her the feeling that they no longer have any chance to win the match. Don´t give your opponent opportunity to recover but keep the rallies long.
2. Hit the ball as early as possible to keep your opponent under constant pressure and to give him or her less time to get back to the T.
Go for the volley and try to play the ball as early as possible. This way there´s no way your opponent can relax.
3. Make sure you play good length.
When your first bounce is behind the service box you make sure your opponent has to stay on the back court and has no chance to attack. If your drives are too short and bounce in the service box or further front, you allow your opponent to dominate the game from the middle of the court and you´ll be the one doing all the running.
Next time you play a competitive match, try to recognize the first signs of fatigue in your opponent and to adjust your game. Stay patient and try not to end a rally too quickly. By making your opponent exhausted little by little, good chances will automatically come to you and you can win points without taking risks.