Monday, September 13, 2010

Squash Forms - Styles of Play - Reposted for 2010-2011

1. Basic Form: basic strokes, straight length, straight drops, hitting target zones and practice drills, and the basic principle of hitting the ball where your opponent is not. Basic form allows mental focus and a slightly improved chance of creating an opening and winning a point with a basic stroke. Nonetheless, because of its few advantages and disadvantages, basic form is an effective form to fall back on when no other form will do to suit the current match situation.

2. Refined Form: is described as being very elegant, powerful, and requiring extreme precision, allowing the player to attack and defend with minimal effort, while opponents tire themselves out. This form emphasizes smooth movement and fluidity. The form relies on high lobs, and tight, precise drop shots, as opposed to quick volleys and hard hitting of other forms. Players well trained in the refined form prevent attacking shots from there opponents using anticipation and commonly confuse or set-up their opponents for a trap to win easy points. Precise footwork and movements are required for maintaining proper distance to the ball to keep from getting out of position. The racket skills required for this form are very refined and require intense focus. Timing, accuracy, and skill, rather than strength and speed are relied on to win matches. A skilled practitioner of the refined form is extremely potent. The footwork of the refined form is simple and allows the player to keep in perfect balance while attacking and retrieving. The refined form is a style based on balance, on back-and-forth exchanges and variety from all areas of the court. Elegance, gallantry, enchantment, finesse, artfulness, and economy are the core of the refined form, although many practitioners of the form have also trained themselves to avoid being predictable to keep there opponents off balance. The elegant, precise, calm, confident to the point of arrogance of many players who use this form is a result of the relaxed mindset of these players. Refined form users are supremely confident in their chances for victory, and often looked so relaxed when they are playing, they appear to be dancing. Despite its effectiveness, refined form was not without its weaknesses. Among the first of these is the fact that it was somewhat harder to volley shots and training teaches practitioners to defend against well played shots, although skilled players could overcome this with minimal effort. Another drawback is that refined form is most potent when used against low to moderate pressure, therefore is reduced in effectiveness against exceptionally skilled opponents. But the greatest flaw with this system of squash is that it cannot withstand the overwhelming speed and pressure of modern styles, which emphasize power and brute force as opposed to the elegance and precision refined form demands. In the end sheer, raw power of other forms will wear down refined form defenses, physically exhausting them, draining them mentally and forcing them to hit looser shots and making more mistakes.
3. Resilience Form: requires maintaining a constant vigilance to defend every shot with slow or tight replies, leaving the player less exposed to a constant barrage of shots. Resilience form is the most defensive of the squash forms. The philosophy of resilience form is described as "being within the eye of the storm." The practitioner maintains a centered frame of concentration, undisrupted by the pressure, speed, power or shot selection of the opponent. Maintaining a calm center where the attacking storm of shots from the opponent is prolonged. Resilience form commands powerful defensive techniques that seemed to adapt to almost any circumstance, at the cost of never reaching past the figurative eye of the storm. The resilience technique uses little to none of the attack power needed by those who concentrate on the storm itself. Those who practice this style use the primarily defensive technique of wearing down aggressive opponents by defending long onslaughts with minimal counter-attacking. Players wait until their opponents spend most of their energy, and then often employ an alternate, more aggressive attack, or allow the opponent to slowly deteriorate and they wait for the eventual lapse in the opponent's defense. The key to truly mastering resilience form may come from a mastery of the concept and philosophy of resiliency. Although some players may prefer resilience form, applying elements of other forms will confuse many opponents. Resilience form allows you to slow down an opponent with minimal effort, forcing opponents to expend precious energy with each shot, slowly tiring them while players remain fresh and strong. Resilience form attacks with defense, redirecting an opponent’s energy and waiting for opponents to become weary or frustrated, allowing them to make a mistake and creating openings to score easy points. Observers generally described resilience form as a passive form of squash. Players with extreme patience and a reserved personality often employed the form although the form stresses quick reflexes and fast positional transition, in order to overcome the speed and pressure with which many opponents can play squash. This technique minimizes the court exposure, making it nearly impossible to hit a winner against a well-trained practitioner. Resilience form requires preparation for prolonged matches where players observe and learn as much as possible about their opponent’s technique and tendencies. Many practitioners have played many lengthy matches, owing to the endurance gained from the form and its specialization in fending off and neutralizing attacks. Resilience form’s greatest power is the endurance and control a practitioner eventually develops. The defense and control it allows a practitioner makes for favorable outcomes when faced with hurried opponents who leave themselves vulnerable to counterattack. However, its defense requires a very large amount of focus from the player and even a momentary fault in concentration could spell defeat. Players with less focused minds will usually abandon this style of squash to capitalize on the benefits of other styles that require less dedication to prolonged matches. Resilience form users will play attacking shots to increase the speed and frequency at which the opponent will have to play the ball but will keep defending until they see an opening in the opponent. Truly focused players are very formidable due to their strong defense technique; however, the style depends on mistakes from the opponent and guarantees survival more than victory. Resiliency form practitioners are more than capable but need a large amount of experience to learn how to trap an opponent in their own offense. Maintaining focus to prolong the fight, and causing the opponent to become fatigued or frustrated as they attempted to keep up their offense can easily backfire as players can become fatigued against an aggressive though cautious adversary.
4. Aggressive Form: relies on a combination of power, strength, and speed. Practitioners are always on the offensive, attacking with wide, fast, and powerful strokes. Aggressive form practitioners have strong, fast, hard movements and attacks. By training hard physically to condition their body, they can hit the ball with incredible pace and perform amazing deceptive shots on court, such as hitting behind their backs and double swinging, not only for attacking shots but also to make incredible gets and score points from anywhere on the court. Players utilizing aggressive form incorporate all their training to push themselves physically, including ranges of motion, speed, and agility in order to be successful. Running, lunging, and diving are all part of the elaborate kinetics of the aggressive form. Those who use aggressive form swing their rackets at high speeds and can rain down stroke after stroke to pulverize opponents into submission. Powerful and quick attacks from all angles, either off the ground or out of the air, they appear like a blur to their opponents, attacking from all directions—from the front, the sides, overhead, and behind. Extreme conditioning allows aggressive style players to perform athletic movements but because it is such an aggressive style, it is not generally optimal for prolonged matches, as the nature of aggressive form could greatly tax the body. Aggressive style is flashy, bold, and exciting as are the personalities of those who practice it. Without strict discipline, aggressive form can lead to flurries of mistakes and leave the players out of position and open up the court to easy winners. The player’s focus is often concentrated on generating power often at the cost of precision and strategy. Aggressive form actions flow from one to another in smooth transitions represented by the three possible axes of rotation in three-dimensional space allowing the player to generate pace from anywhere, in any position, in any direction on the court. The form is intended to allow a player to quickly strike the ball at the opponent without giving them a chance to react, and then again and again before they have a chance to retaliate. Another move that aggressive form users could use effectively includes taking the ball earlier or later and hitting it with incredible pace keeping the opponent sprinting to next shot or freezing them in place and throwing them off balance.
5. Perseverance form: is an evolution of the resilience form. It combines the defensive maneuvers of resilience form with the philosophy and tactics of aggressive form which requires a higher level of physical strength due to its focus on complete domination of opponents. The perseverance form is described as being well adapted to guarding against aggressive attacks without compromising one's ability to use powerful counterattacks. Perseverance form practitioners feel resilience form is too passive and this form addresses the fact that although a resilience user may be unbeatable, it is likewise they are unable to overcome a skilled opponent. Utilizing a combination of lobs, drops and volleys, a perseverance user maintains a proper foundation in terms of defense against both hard hitting attacks and well placed shots. While a resilience form user stays on the defensive and only counterattacks when necessary or when an opening appeared in his opponent's defense, a perseverance practitioner is not nearly so passive. Immediately after defending against an opponent's shot, a perseverance stylist would follow with an attack of their own, using the pace of the opponent's own shot against them and looking to end points quicker. Aggressive form places a heavy focus on brute strength and pure power, with wide, powerful strokes and swinging volleys, while perseverance form concentrates on using the opponent’s aggressive actions to generate an equal attack with minimized effort. Perseverance form is often a style adopted by larger players. Strong attacks force an opponent behind the larger player, throwing them off balance and leaving opponents vulnerable to further brute force strokes and easy drop shots. The perseverance form penetrates an opponent's defense and pushes them deeper in the court, making it difficult to counter attack. The form is always looking to counterattack, pressuring opponents to play higher risk shots by overwhelming their defense. Emotion can become an overriding factor of this style when practitioners begin to focus too much on sheer power instead of redirecting an opponents attack. Perseverance form can lead to the complete domination of the opponent but if emotions aren’t kept in check, it can also lead to the undoing of the player.

6. Moderation Form: attempts to balance all elements of squash forms, combining the techniques from the other 5 forms into a less intensely demanding playing style. In practice, moderation form was a combination of basic, refined, resilient, aggressive and perseverance forms, and all of them in moderation. In blending the forms, much of the individuality is lost, but the strengths are spread evenly, and there is little weakness in it. Due to its "jack-of-all-trades" nature, the success of this form is largely dependent on the practitioner's intuition, improvisation, and creativity on court rather than the rote responses derived from other forms. Moderation form is not a weak form, while many other forms bolstered the player's abilities in one area, leaving them vulnerable in others, moderation form is capable in all situations but had no dramatic strengths. It provides no edge in match situation, but achieves its worth by allowing a player to attack, defend, counter attack and force mistakes from an opponent. Its strength is its balance. The moderation form is also considered a basis for more 'unorthodox' squash forms, as player’s who use it are less frequently using automatic reflex and are constantly thinking and often have time to invent unusual strategies to win points. Moderation form’s greatest strength is the way it allows a player to change the focus of the match even during a point. The philosophy of moderation form is "the leaf swept in the winds.” Users of this squash form achieve a mindset of one who is not troubled by their surroundings, but simply rides the current and adapts, being well-balanced within. In practice this form is truly the mastery of all squash forms, and if a player dedicated themselves exclusively to moderation form, the player can expect to study all styles for decades before achieving mastery. Weakness in the moderation form comes when the user has not mastered all forms. Being unable to execute all forms prevents adaptability and eventually leads to confusion. All open level players may eventually master moderation form, but usually favour a form that is dictated by there body type and fitness level.

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