May 3, 2013 in News
Our May 2013 newsletter has been published at this URL:
May 3, 2013 in News
Our May 2013 newsletter has been published at this URL:
March 21, 2013 in Tennis Fitness
Yoga helps to improve the speed, endurance, agility and balance of any tennis player. Practicing the right poses can help improve your tennis game while decreasing your risk of injury.
Helps to increase the strength of your back, legs and core muscles, ultimately strengthening your spine and increasing your power while serving.
1) Stand with your legs together, feet facing forward
2) Place your hands on your lower back
3) Press your feet into the ground and engage your abdominals
4) Lift your chest as you start to bend your torso – Keeping shoulders and head back -
5) Hold for 20 seconds and return to starting position
6) Repeat three times
Practicing lunges on a mat can help improve your balance and agility on the court.
1) Start with your feet together and face forward
2) Step straight back with your left foot (approx. 2-3 feet)
3) Bend your front knee so that your thigh is parallel to the floor – Making sure to keep your knee right over your ankle -
4) Keep your back leg stable and strong
5) Raise your arms toward the ceiling so that your triceps are parallel to your ears
6) Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs
7) Repeat five times
“Get low, stay low”. Remaining low to the ground during play can help the power and accuracy of your shots.
1) Stand with your feet together, facing forward
2) Bend your knees and lower down into a squat
3) Raise your hands toward the ceiling so that your triceps are parallel to your ears
4) Hold for 30 seconds and return to starting position
5) Repeat five times
Your core generates a lot of your power on the court. This pose helps to improve your stability during points with more power.
1) Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you
2) Raise your legs to a 45- to 50- degree angle, balancing on your glutes
3) Extend your arms in front of you keeping them parallel to the floor
4) Try to keep your legs straight
5) Hold for 30 seconds
6) Repeat three times
March 19, 2013 in Squash Tips
Much to the dismay of squash coaches everywhere, a lot of beginner and intermediate players live and die by the attacking boast. Sometimes boasts can work, but more often than not, they simply don’t, which is something my game will attest to. Simply, the less I boast, the better I do. I hit less tins, leave less balls loose at the front court, and when I finally do boast, my opponent isn’t expecting it.
Boasting is really only effective if your opponent isn’t expecting it. Your goal should be to catch your opponent off guard with deception, and in order to do this, you have to train your opponent into thinking that you are going to hit a certain shot, such as a length, but instead hit a different one, such as a boast or drop.
Think of the analogy of playing fetch with a dog. If in your first throw, you try to fake the dog out, the dog will probably not fall for it because you haven’t trained it to react to what would happen in a proper throw. The dog has not seen you throw a proper throw, so it does not know how to react to a regular situation. Now, imagine throwing 10 throws in a row the exact same way, and on the eleventh throw, you make a fake. The dog will run to where the ball would have landed. You have trained the dog to react to your movements, and after the dog has become comfortable with the fact that you are going to throw the ball properly, the dog will anticipate the throw early and be caught completely off guard.
Unfortunately, your opponents in squash will be smarter than a dog, but in the heat of a high intensity squash match, similar rules do apply. In order to create effective deception, you have to train your opponent to take for granted that you are going to hit a certain shot.
There are plenty of squash videos on YouTube showcasing brilliant deception, and it is easy to get wrapped up in these amazing shots, such as the ones in this video, but it is important to recognize the context of the shot to see why it was effective. 0:16 seconds into this gruelling rally, James Willstrop (Blue) plays a boast that catches Ramy Ashour (White) completely off guard, causing Ramy to dive to stay in the rally. Ramy eventually recovers, but James plays another boast at 0:35 seconds that again catches Ramy off guard, leading to an eventual winner.
While this in an incredibly entertaining rally, it’s important to notice the score of the match. James is down game ball in the third, which means that the match has been going on for a long time, and Ramy has undoubtedly already seen James hit tonnes of straight length shots from that same position. James has trained Ramy to expect a straight length shot from that position, so when a boast is shot from the same spot with the same preparation, it becomes much more effective than it otherwise would be.
So essentially, the boast becomes more effective the less you hit it.
March 16, 2013 in How Tos
Ranking Points are at the heart of Racquet Network’s competitive league system. Players who wish to participate in our competitive leagues require Ranking Points in order to play. The more Ranking Points they have, the higher they rank in our standings.
Players in the top third of our standings are typically our most active players. Because they are near the top of the leader board, they get asked to play most often.
In order to participate in a competitive league, you will first have to get some Ranking Points. As a new player, the simplest way to get started is to purchase 500 ranking points from our online Pro Shop. Within 24 hours of your purchase, these points will be added to your account and you will be able to start challenging and meeting other players in your league.
Racquet Network also gives out ranking points on every in-store purchase. If you have made a purchase from our southwest Calgary store since 15 March 2013, you will see a line on your sales receipt indicating the number of Ranking Points you have earned on your purchases. This means that you are eligible to join one of our competitive leagues and start playing as soon as you have completed all four of the steps listed at the bottom of this page.
In addition to in store purchases, Racquet Network gives our players opportunities to earn BONUS ranking points. To get the most out these opportunities, Friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our newsletters and visit our store. Our competitive leagues were set up to help our customers meet each other and find new people to play with. As long as you are actively involved in what we are doing, you should never run out of Ranking Points.
Getting set up to use ranking points will require a little effort on your part. But once you are set up, you will be able to participate in all league activities. Here are the steps you need to take and the order that you need to take them in. EACH STEP MUST BE FULLY COMPLETED BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE NEXT STEP. If you follow these instructions carefully, you will be playing in no time.
Step 1 – Create an account on Racquet Network.
Step 2 – Complete your player profile.
Step 3 – Join a competitive league.
Step 4 – Request to have you ranking points added to your league account (firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-238-0687).
Once your ranking points have been added to your account you will be able to start playing immediately.
If you have ranking points and you are not sure what to do with them, come into our southwest Calgary store for quick tutorial on our competitive league system. Our staff can have your account up and running in no time. And since you already have Ranking Points to get started, it won’t cost you anything.
March 14, 2013 in Fitness
STRETCH 1 – CALF
Your calf muscles cross 2 joints. Tight calves can be problematic for your ankles and knees.
1) Begin stretching with your arms shoulder height in front of you
2) Step back with one leg, placing your foot flat on the floor
3) Bend your supporting knee and lean into the wall – keeping your rearmost heel pressed into the floot
4) Slide rear foot father back to create a deeper stretch
5) Hold for desired length of time and change legs
STRETCH 2 – HAMSTRING
Do you have a desk job? Sitting down places your hamstrings in a tightened position that can essentially increase the risk of injury.
1) Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair
2) Bend your legs so that your feet are completely flat on the floor
3) Fully extrend one leg in front of you
4) Point your toes towards the cieling, then down towards the floor. Then side to side
5) Repeat 5 times per leg, 2 times a day
STRETCH 3 – HIP FLEXOR
Your hip flexor muscles connect the top of your thigh bone with your lower hip bones. Tightening of these muscles can result in hip, back or leg pain.
1) Stand with your feet together and hands by your sides
2) Take a large step forward and bend your rear leg to lower your knee to the floor (as you would in a lunge)
3) Place your hands on your front thigh for support
4) Slide your back leg to the rear and straighten it out to increase stetch depth
STRETCH 4 – CHEST
Tight chest muscles are very common in those who work out on a regular basis.
1) Stand in an open doorway with your forearms flat against the vertical door fame
2) Have your arms positioned so that your elbows and shoulders are level with eachother
3) Lean forward and push your chest between your arms until you can feel a mild stretch
4) Hold for 5 seconds and rest
STRETCH 5 – FOREARM
Tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome
1) Place your hands together in front of you in a prayer position
2) Lift your elbows and push the heels of your hands inward
3) Slide your hands down your body, keeping your elbows up
4) Hold the lowest position you can comfortably, and release
March 1, 2013 in News
Our April 2013 newsletter has been published at this URL:
February 9, 2013 in Squash Tips
Being a mentally tough squash player is all about playing the big points better than your opponents. Many people who are new to squash find themselves struggling with either game point up or down, but in order to play these points effectively you have to why you are playing them ineffectively.
The most common reason people struggle with this is the lack of a finishing strategy. If you don’t have an idea of how you plan to win, you may panic, get nervous, or radically alter your game, none of which tend to help anybody close out tight matches.
I’ve definitely been there. A lot. I struggle particularly with game point up and this constantly plagues me both physically and mentally.
In a squash tournament last year, I played a guy that I had always been competitive with and I ended up winning 17-15 in the 5th. This sounds like a pretty good win, but there’s more to this story. Throughout the match, I had a total of 12 match points before I finally closed it out. I went up 2-0 in games, and had 6 match points in the 3rd game before I finally lost. I was so mentally drained that I dropped the 4th with little fight and found myself down 10-6 in the 5th. I don’t know how I managed to pull out the victory, but I really should have won it in 3, and not in extra points in the 5th which is basicly a coin toss
The truly ironic thing about my victory is how well I played game ball down. I felt like a squash pro, hitting all my shots well and playing tactically cool as a cucumber. But as soon as I went game ball up, I started hitting tins, floors, missing the ball completely, hitting extremely loose drops and boasts, and making very poor decisions with the ball.
While this made for an exciting match, by the end, I was so mentally fatigued and frustrated that I ended up just playing squash, and not worrying so much about the score.
Although I haven’t been able to conquer this problem fully yet, there are a couple ways I have seen people handle this situation over the years.
1) Catch your opponent off guard by using the shot you haven’t played yet in a deceptive way. I don’t know of a lot of squash players that are able to do this, but if you have a shot that you play well, this can be an effective way to close out matches. You only need to hit it once to win. The only problem with this approach is what might happen if your opponent is able to get back your special shot, or if you don’t get a chance to use it in the rally. With you bag of tricks empty, you may run out of options and find yourself deflated.
2) Make your opponent have to play an amazing shot to beat you. When matches get tight, I usually think to myself “play tough squash”. If my opponent wants to roll off a bunch of amazing nicks consecutively or hit some ridiculous winners then so be it, but I’m not going to let them win by giving them free points due to my errors. The only problem with this approach is that your opponent might also play tough squash, and if they have a fitness advantage on you, especially in the twilight of the game, you might get tired doing this before they do. And there’s also the chance they might actually hit the shots they aim for.
3) Play game point the same way that you played every other point. I remember watching a match where a guy crumbled after being 10-2 up, serving the ball out, hitting tins, and playing a totally different game after going game point up. Between games, his friend told him to not worry about the score and to play every point the same, and he won the following came 11-4. His logic made perfect sense. Since it was how you played the rest of the points that got you to game ball, why would you change that? Unless you are very confident in you ability to play tough squash or to hit a special shot, this way of thinking is probably the best.
January 25, 2013 in SQUASH
In Calgary, more so than any other city that I have played squash in, the court makes a difference. Knowing the in’s and out of the courts where you play gives you a distinct advantage over your opponent, especially if they are from another club.
This summer, I played in a tournament in Summerland, near Kelowna. The temperature outside was easily 30 °C, and the temperature on court was probably 38 °C, not to mention suffocatingly humid. It helped that the courts were right next to the lake, so you could jump in the lake right after playing, but that was little consolation dealing with the insufferably humid and hot courts, where rallies never ended and sweat ran like rivers. On top of this, the courts were converted hardball courts with slimmer court dimensions, which made volleys easier since there was less distance to travel to the ball. Those who fared well adjusted their game to the conditions, hitting more volleys and extending rallies, unlike myself, who could barely put up a fight against my more experienced opponents.
This is an extreme case of conditions playing into the results of the game, but all courts in the Calgary area do have subtle differences.
For example, I played in a tournament in Banff last weekend, where the ball is more lively than it would be in Calgary due to the elevation change. Players who were able to keep the ball going longer fared generally better than those with weaker fitness who aimed for short rallies.
But there was another advantage that local players were able to exploit. After seeing the ball die on me a few times in the side wall nicks in the back (the place where the side wall meets the floor), I noticed that since the courts were old, there was a slightly larger gap between the floor and side wall than normal. My opponent wasn’t just getting lucky catching nicks in the back court, he was aiming for them.
I became very frustrated at the “luck” of my opponent, and it took me the whole first game to settle in to the court. I ended up taking the match, but it was very close, and had it been at Mount Royal where I’m used to playing, it probably would have been a different story.
Other courts around Calgary are known for their features: Bankers Hall and The Calgary Winter Club are incredibly hot, which causes the ball to bounce like crazy and rallies to never end. The U of C and Acadia have very cold courts, similar to how the ball bounces at sea level. One of the courts at West Hillhurst has a piece of glass protruding in one of the back corners, essentially eliminating certain shots from play. The courts at Fit Plus South have “dead spots” — spots where the ball hardly bounces when it hits the floor.
If you know how a court plays, or at least recognize that a new court will play different than what you are used to, it will be less of a shock when you play there and the adjustment will be quicker. This is especially important for Interclub, where you only get a few minutes to adjust to a new court. But, your opponents also only get a few minutes to adjust to your courts, and they may struggle with this if you know the in’s and out’s of your home turf.
It takes time to get used to a new court, so learn what kind of court you play on, and figure out how you can use it to your advantage.
January 13, 2013 in Squash Equipment
First up, I was eager to test the Harrow Vapour. I have seen some top players use Harrow gear, but my impression of Harrow has always been one of mediocrity; neither particularly good nor bad. And my experience with this racquet confirmed this. It was okay, but I felt like it didn’t add anything to my game. The handle of the racquet had a nice square feeling in my hand, but other than that, I was unimpressed. I also question the durability of this racquet, since, in my experience, Harrow racquets seem to be somewhat on the fragile side. The addition of a quality Ashaway string make this racquet an alright choice for an inexperienced player purchasing their first “good” racquet, but I can’t help but think that a good Manta or Tecnifibre racquet might be a better choice for a beginner due to potential reliability issues. This racquet might be a good control subject, one to test how other racquets perform against it.The next racquet I tried was the Tecnifibre Dynergy Tour 125. I was absolutely blown away by the amount of power I could get from this racquet. I felt myself being able to slow down my swing and concentrate on the trajectory of the shot while using the incredible power of this racquet to get it there. This sharpened up my ball control a little compared to the others, but the compromise being made here is in touch. I found many drop shots finding the tin or being too high and loose. Maybe a different string type or tension would fix this, but string can only do so much to correct flaws. It’s nice and light, evenly balanced, and it even has killer tribal style graphics for an extra amount of on court swagger. I’m fairly new to the Tecnifibre product line, but the more I use them the more I am impressed.
Finally, there was the Dunlop Biomimetic Pro GT-X 140. I know Brent has recently reviewed this one, and our opinions definitely differ. This racquet is an update of the racquet that I used to play with (the Aerogel 4D Pro GT-X), and I have to say it feels like Dunlop is headed in the wrong direction on this one. I prefer a head light or balanced racquet, and this racquet was probably one of the most head heavy I’ve ever played with. It gave me a bit of the control and touch I’d expect from a racquet of this price point, but the added weight in the head made my shots feel sluggish and clunky. And a big question with Dunlop is always durability.In the past, it has frustrated me the lack of consistency in the durability of Dunlop racquets. Some have lasted months, and some have lasted only a few hours. But they are such good racquets, that I kept buying them anyways. But this racquet does seem sturdier than previous models, and evidently more material has been added in the head to increase durability. Dunlop’s are also notorious for having poor quality factory string, so be prepared to pay for a restringing right off the bat to get the full experience. Maybe with a new set of strings this racquet might come close to the performance of the others, but today I was just not feeling it.
In a racquet, I generally look for the one with the fewest compromises. Every racquet will sacrifice something for something else, weather it be power for control, weight for durability, or what have you. These compromises can be used to pad weaknesses in your game, or accentuate strengths. For a player like myself that lacks the power that my opponents often have, a racquet that can bump my power up a little is something to consider. Today, the Dynergy 125 Tour stood above the rest for me. I don’t know if it was the cool tribal graphics that made me feel extra stylish on court, but it was above all the most fun to play with. While it slightly faltered compared to the touch of the other racquets, the power I was able to get from a low swing speed boosted my control and accuracy, which are the the two most important things in my game.
Join the only network that pays you to play racquet sports.
Register – Play Games – Report Scores – Get Free Stuff
December 13, 2012 in Racquet Reviews
As most of you know, when I do these racquet reviews, I always grab three racquets to compare and I always choose a winner and a loser. The review is completely subjective and is based only on my experiences during that event. As a result, I might love a racquet in one review but hate it in another review a week later. It all depends on what it is being compared to and how well I play with it on that particular day.
In this case I grabbed three racquets at random from our demo rack: a Dunlop Biomimetic Pro GT-X 140, a Dunlop Biomimetic Evolution 130 and a Manta X Factor.
The Pro GT-X 140 is a 152 gram (finished weight), head light control frame with an oval-shaped head and a 470 sq cm string bed. The frame is made from HM6 Carbon fibre, which means that it has some flex and some feel. The stringing pattern is 14 x 18
As a contrast, the Evolution 130 is a teardrop shaped power frame with 490 cm sq sting bed and 142 grams of finished weight. Like the GTX-140, the Evolution 130 is made from flexible HM6 Carbon and has a 14 x 18 stringing pattern.The final racquet of the day, the Manta X Factor, is virtually identical on paper to the Evolution 130. It has the same shape (teardrop) and finished weight (142 grams). And like the Dunlop Evolution 130, the Manta X Factor is also made of flexible carbon fibres (in this case Carbon 6). The only signficant differences between the two racquets are the head size (the X Factor is 20 sq sm larger) and the stringing pattern. While both racquets are 14 x 18, the Manta has a fan pattern in the mains while the Dunlop has a traditional square pattern.
To be completely honest, I didn’t love any of these racquets. While one was clearly better than the other two, none of these racquets had enough power to compete with a power player like Mel Miller.
The Dunlop GT-X 140 was certainly better for me on this day than the other two. Since Mel hits the ball hard and deep, I needed the extra 10 grams of finished weight provided by the GT-X 140 to compete. I also found that this racquet offered more touch in the front court and on lobs. As control frames go, this one is certainly a winner. I blame the fact that I lost the first set 3-0 on my feet, not on the racquet.The second set wasn’t any better; another 3-0 loss, this time with the Dunlop Biomimetic Evolution 130. On this day, the teardrop shaped power frame was not powerful enough. It didn’t matter what I did, I couldn’t get any pop on my shots. Nor did I fare any better on the soft shots. The frame was too light and the string (Dunlop Precision) felt completely dead to me.
The Manta X Factor (discontinued in 2013, by the way) was marginally better in the final set; yet another 3-0 loss. It had a little more pop than the Evolution 130 — probably because of the larger string bed. It also had a little more touch — probably because of the string (Spin Touch 1.2 mm). But once again, I did not fall in love.
While it’s hard to fall in love with any racquet when you take a drubbing like I took today, I have to say the GT-X 140 clearly stood out as the best of the three racquets that I tested today. The margin between the other two racquets was significantly narrower with a small margin of victory going to the Manta X Factor. Even in the warm up, I struggled with the Dunlop Evolution 130. Everything seemed to go downhill from there.
Join the only network that pays you to play racquet sports.
Register – Play Games – Report Scores – Get Free Stuff