Squash Mad

Nick Taylor: Choose the right ball to help players learn and enjoy the game

Nick Taylor beats Peter Marshall to win the National Over-45 final in Manchester

Double yellows kill the game so try different colours!
By NICK TAYLOR 

 

In my opinion 90% of squash players are using the wrong ball. It drives me mad watching amateur and junior players using double yellow dots, having pointless two-shot rallies, not having to use skill, technique or tactical awareness, and coming off the court colder than they went on!

This is something I am very passionate about. At 17 I turned professional and was based at the Village Club at Hyde in Cheshire, coached and mentored by the great John LeLievre.

During our very first individual session he threw me a red dot ball and told me I had to use this in my solo practices every morning. At first I couldn’t even control 10 over-hit drives, but within a few months my ball control went through the roof!

My technique improved and I started using it in my pairs practise and matches. This led to longer rallies, longer matches, I had to slow the swing down for touch and feel, and learn to use the strings!

I only use red and blue dot squash balls on my development programme in Jersey now. I still use double yellows at the right time and for the right session.

Please don’t get mistaken by the Dunlop Red and Blue (intro and progress) not good! They are the wrong size and too heavy, in my opinion.

I have just started using a new brand of ball from Eye (pictured) and they even do a pink dot… which I am going to try soon…brilliant thinking!

I have got seven-year-olds having 30-shot rallies with these balls, having time to think about where they are placing the ball, giving them a chance to get the ball back, having to slow the swing down and use the racket face and strings more.

Most importantly, they are loving the game and telling their friends!

 

Richard Millman’s article on single dot balls has attracted more comments than any other article published on Squash Mad. Nick’s article moves the issue forward, so please share your views below.

 

 

Posted on March 5, 2017

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About The Author

NICK TAYLOR

NICK TAYLOR is Director/Owner at the Nick Taylor Squash Academy. He is also Director of Squash and Racketball at Jersey Squash Association and Head Coach at Jersey Squash and Racketball Club. He is the former North West Area Head Coach and Assistant National Coach at England Squash, former Head Squash Coach at Manchester City Council, and theformer Head Squash Coach at University of Manchester.

13 Comments

  1. Ian Stephenson March 5, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Great article, Nick. I never used a double yellow dot ball for beginners and improvers, but didn’t think about ‘personalising’ colours to the extent you describe; yet, something else I have learned and along with other things I am developing as coaching aids, I will add to my inventory. Thanks, again.

  2. Aubrey Waddy March 5, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    You’re so right Nick. I see this from the older Masters player’s point of view. This was much referred to in Richard Millman’s 2013 SquashMad post and the ensuing thread. In the o-60s, o-65s, o-70s and so on, if the courts are the least bit chilly, matches depend mostly on shoot outs of serve, return of serve and maybe next shot. There’s little room for guile, no clever changes of pace and little opportunity for constructing a rally. Older players simply lack the physical strength to get double yellow dot balls warm in anything other than summer conditions. The situation is then maintained with the short rallies: balls stay cold for entire matches. At tournaments you notice a huge difference between oldies and the younger women and men, who ping double yellow balls around even on cold courts.

    Using a single yellow dot ball would allow thought back into the game for older players, and stamina too, and you would have fewer of the travesties you see in Masters tournaments of matches lasting less than fifteen minutes. Peter Chalk once told me that using different speed balls for different conditions was the intention of the committee that established the current ball grading.

    Some standard criteria could be set for using one speed of ball or another, ambient court temperature obviously and maybe front wall temperature. And while this was considered, thought should be given to raising the tin for older players – why not? The reasoning would be exactly the same as for lowering the tin for the pros, which has been a great success.

  3. John MacWilford March 6, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    The author is absolutely right when it comes to beginners and juniors. I would, however, like to issue a stern warning against using the “Eye” double-dot ball for competitive play. It is too fast, skids and totally destroys the game, favouring hard and low hacking over play varied in pace, power, spin and touch.
    The Eye-ball breaks very easily, too.

  4. James Roberts March 6, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Totally agree with Nick’s assessment of the situation regarding ball choices.

    I sometimes suggest using a single yellow dot ball with opponents, especially when the courts are cooler (say below 18 degrees) as otherwise the double yellow sucks the life and enjoyment out of the game, but this is sometimes met with derision or if accepted, you can see the reluctance written all over their faces. It is pure player vanity overriding sanity in my view.

    More needs to be done at club and venue level to educate players in terms of the right ball choice. In my view, there needs to be some form of agreed ‘matrix’ to aid that choice, based on ability level of the players and court temperature. Even for the best players, a cold court could mean a single yellow dot ball is the wise choice.

    Perhaps England Squash (and the other NGBs) could lead an educational campaign and produce some suitable resources clubs could use, such as posters to place by the courts?

    In addition, I often use a ‘Dunlop Progress’ ball in solo practice, especially if I am going to do any short court work as otherwise the ball cools down far too quickly to make this effective. However, I agree that the oversize nature of the ball and its extra weight means it behaves a bit too differently at times, so I will investigate the Eye red dot option.

    I also coach beginner youngsters at a local leisure centre, which provides Dunlop mini squash rackets and balls, and must admit, am not a great fan of the large minisquash ball. Is the Eye pink dot a suitable alternative for this I wonder?

  5. Richard Vitty March 6, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    We have a thriving junior section at our club and we use nothing but Dunlop double yellows for all our squads, apart from using the Dunlop improver ball for a few very young kids and absolute beginners.
    I find that when warm the double yellow gives a good and even bounce and encourages the kids to move onto the ball correctly.
    I will say that this is probably only possible because our club is always kept at a good temperature and whilst we are coaching myself and the other coaches warm up a spare replacement ball in our hand whilst supervising the session
    Works for us!

  6. Sue strachan March 7, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Great article! I have tried to encourage people in my club to olay with a bouncier ball but they then go on with others and people put them off it. I myself would make leagues 6 onwards play with a single yellow dot as they would have a much better experience but can I get people to accept that? No! It is pure “machismo” if you ask me. Interesting to see the eye ball. How bouncy is pink dot?

  7. Jeff Mulligan March 8, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Thanks Nick! Lets keep this conversation alive and finally get the NGB’s to help with directing players to the proper ball for their level! Long live the one dot revolution!!!

  8. don armitage March 8, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    I see some of the problem as perception of identifying double dot to pro level. People want to emulate thus consider themselves as pro’s. Using the same equipment, looking like a pro…let’s face it advertising is based on this. Education by all as to the true coding of the balls being temperature related rather than level should be the aim. No-one enjoys a cold court with two hit points and likelihood of injury. Ball heaters used to be common! Manufacturers used to supply blue/red/yellow and double yellow for temperature. Let’s get back to it Dunlop!

    • Jeff Mulligan March 8, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      think tee boxes in golf…….

  9. David Campbell March 17, 2017 at 8:53 am

    I agree with Nick that Squash needs to develop the use of different ball colours to encourage enjoyment and thinking in the game. Indeed it is no wonder that the game of racket ball is growing rapidly amongst older players who can use their squash skills whilst getting the buzz of longer rallies and a more competitive game. More options make better games and happier players which in turn makes our clubs thrive.

  10. Richard Millman March 25, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    This is a great follow up to the one dot revolution thread of a couple of years ago and i am entirely in agreement.

    I also would like to experiment with RAISING tin heights for less able and particularly for less mobile players.

    As we are considering dividing even Masters groups into A skill levels, B skills levels etc – I would love to see how a 24 inch tin or a 36 inch tin would affect the game and perhaps decrease pressure on joints ( much as Squash 57 does).

    best

    Richard

  11. Steve S March 28, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Am thrilled that this topic is at last getting some ‘coverage’. Too many people seem to have some sort of phobia about using a different ball to that which is prescribed for tournament play. The more we talk and discuss, the easier we get rid of this phobia! Longer rallies at the beginner stage will encourage more players to take up the sport!

  12. Zoe Shardlow March 31, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Great stuff Nick! I’m a big fan of the Eye red and pink dot balls. The pink dot is almost racketball-bouncy for those wondering. I use it sometimes for juniors, who all love hitting with it, but I also used it last summer in my adult training squads as it is fast and bouncy when hit hard so really helps with quick preparation, efficient strokes, controlling the length and extending the rallies.
    For juniors I also use red, orange and green minisquash balls, but the new single-colour ones, rather than the split-colour ones, as they have a bit more squidgy and don’t go hard and shiny. Red is racketball size but much slower bounce; green is squashball size and similar to the Eye pink dot and orange is in between in size and bounce, similar to the excellent Karakal bigball, which is black and easier to see.
    So my range goes: balloon; mini red; Karakal bigball/mini orange (some kids prefer the colour); Eye pink dot/mini green (again for the colour); Eye red dot; single yellow dot (not settled on a brand yet); Dunlop double yellow; Eye pink dot.
    In the late eighties they brought out some brightly coloured balls, pink, blue, orange I remember and there was a yellow one which I used for solo work as you could hardly see it so it really made you watch hard. I sometimes use a white ball for the same.

    So, what about rackets? I encourage my youngsters to use shorter rackets for as long as I can. Kids seem to want to use full size rackets and double yellows as soon as they get on court but all I see in most cases is power being generated in the wrong way, leading to poor technique and lack of control.

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