Kneipp Feedback: Joe and Dan Kneipp answer Your Questions
2004: by Team Kneipp
Your Questions — our Answers
Our articles over
the past two years have generated a number of questions. We promised an
ongoing forum. Sorry that due to our tournament and league schedules we
have let them pile up for some time! We do appreciate them and keep them
Here are an initial
set of questions and answers. We will keep the answers coming!
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 16:06:21 +0100
You said in
your PSA Masters preview that Wael El Hindi (whose on-court conduct was
dreadful on the only occasion I’ve seen him play) "is another player
that is capable of upsets and is willing to do anything on court for victory
especially blocking and milking." Obviously I know what blocking
is and I’m well aware of what is meant by things like "fishing"
(which, as a paying spectator, is my pet hate), but what on earth is "milking"?
By the way,
I’m a big fan of the pro game (but a lousy player) from the UK, and I
think that Team Kneipp on SquashTalk is the most interesting squash coverage
on the internet. Keep up the good work!
ANSWER: Good question. It’s easy to get wrapped up in jargon
and not consider if we’re using terminology that everyone if familiar
with. So here are some definitions:
purposely moving your body into your opponent’s path to cause contact
and prevent him from getting the ball. This is done most effectively at
the pro level when the offending player plays a drop shot from the front
of the court, and then sticks his arse out just enough to check his opponent’s
hip as he’s coming through. That tiny contact is enough to prevent
a player getting a good drop, and a depressing number of umpires are blind
to this. Most people are watching the drop shot, not the body contact
Trying to catch a stroke where there isn’t one. Using a position
that would be a simple let, often a soft one, and trying to get a free,
cheap point care of a bad umpire. We’ve all seen it hundreds of
times. I hate this the most when it happens in a practice match and will
avoid hitting with someone who does it – it defeats the point of
Trying to squeeze a let situation into a stroke. Milking the situation
for all its worth. This can be done in a number of ways (this definition
is to help you notice it when you’re umpiring, not to use it). If
the opponent is in front trying to back away from a bad drop or a loose
drive, the offender will use his body and racquet to trap him close to
the ball, or even push him towards the ball. Coming into a drop shot with
an extra big swing that catches the opponents back as he’s retreating
is another way of milking a stroke. Also holding a shot for an extra long
time, waiting for the other guy to move into the swing path. We’ve
all seen the situation lots of times. One player has hit a bad floating
shot to the middle of the court, and is stuck behind the player about
to hit. He’s on his toes waiting to sprint forward to retrieve the
inevitable dropshot. But it never comes, instead the player waits and
waits until the ball, or the over-eager player, moves into the swing path
creating an obvious stroke. Unlike the other two ways, this doesn’t
require any body contact and is completely legal. You are free to hit
the ball at any stage before it hits the floor twice. But every time I
see this I always say to myself ‘Hit the bloody ball’. It’s
not a very sporting tactic.
Subject: Comment about your article
Date: Wed, 14 May 2003 02:50:44 EDT
I am an amateur
Squash player from New York. Your article is very interesting and I enjoy
your game tremendously. Now for the question of prize money, the difference
between the two sports is very disturbing and should not be as such at
all. My advice to you is to turn your attention to the PSA and those who
run it. They are individuals from the squash community in most part. What
the PSA needs are business people who are able to attract corporate sponsorships
in the US. This is where the money is. I have been working on Wall Street
for many years and I know how much my firm and other major firms allocate
large funds to sponsor Golf and tennis tournaments. The money is definitely
there. It is just a question of having the right people to get it. Insiders
from squash are just not going to do the job.
This is the
whole problem in a nutshell. What is most disturbing (and I don’t know
if you know that) is that Squash, after Golf, is the second most played
sports for people who work in the financial markets. In fact, if you visit
any of the private squash clubs in New York, you will find that more than
half of the players work in the financial industry. Raising a few hundred
thousand dollars for a couple of tournament a year in the US should not
be a problem at all. Trust me, the money is definitely there.
You guys need
an urgent shakeup in the ranks of the PSA and how you select or elect
your leadership. I hope I have been helpful.
ANSWER: These are all issues that players and the PSA are aware.
The States is the most vibrant country for tournaments at the moment and
has so much potential, which I think will get utilised much better in
the near future. This is a difficult subject that would take a whole article
to answer and address properly.
Subject: Squash column suggestion
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 13:18:16 -0700 (PDT)
I enjoy reading your column and have a suggestion for a future column.
I think the biggest question many people have is what does it take to
become a squash pro? Obviously hard work is the answer, but how much hard
work? Would 1 hour a day for 10 years cut it? Or is the quality of the
training more important than the quantity? Maybe u can look back on your
early days and figure out how many hours it took to progress from D to
C to B to A etc. level. Also were there any different ways of doing things
you would recommend if u had to do it over again.
ANSWER: You are approaching this issue in the wrong manner. Aside
from answering ‘lots’, there isn’t a magic number or
formula for working out how to be a squash pro. It’s different for
everyone. I think Mark Chaloner is a good example for this question. I
don’t think he has the most natural talent or the best racquet skills
in the game. Yet he has spent nearly two years in the top 10 and has been
ranked as high as 7. One of the ways that he has achieved this is by recognising
that a lot of players have naturally better racquet skills, so he put
a ridiculous amount of time working on this, and more importantly ensuring
his fitness and movement was so exceptional, that any shortcomings in
his racquet skills would be overcome by his fitness and movement. Chaloner
figured out how much work he needed to do, and did it.
A much more
common sight is the extremely natural talented player who can do magic
with the racquet, but doesn’t acknowledge the fitness and movement
work they need.
is also very different to senior success. Junior squash in Australia is
very competitive. John White never won an Australian Junior Age Championship.
Michael Fiteni won three and has his name alongside Boswell, Palmer, Kneipp,
Jenson and Ricketts. Whitey is now #2 in the world, whereas Fiteni couldn’t
break the top 50 and now plays for the Netherlands because he was unable
to make the Australian team. Perhaps Whitey missing the title as a junior
gave him extra incentive to work harder.
Whitey is also
an interesting example because he is usually the player that people talk
about when dramatic winners and absurd nicks are involved. His shot selection
is unorthodox, extremely successful and entertaining to watch. But people
rarely talk about his fitness or his movement. As far as I know he’s
the only player in the top 20 that can do the splits, and he is able to
do it during a rally and get back up to continue. He realised that just
wonderful shot-making ability wouldn’t get the job done, so he has
ensured his fitness and movement is incredible.
What I’m hoping to portray is that each player, regardless of age,
needs to work out how far they want to go, how much work they need to
do to get there, and how much they’re prepared to do. Each question
will have a different answer for a different player.
* Perhaps it helps you to know that I’d say you’d have to
be a pretty exceptional talent to be able to play one hour a day for ten
years and become a top pro. Most pro players when they were aged between
9 and 19 would have done a lot more than this. Once you start getting
good an hour is only a training match. What about drills, technique work,
fitness work etc?
Subject: j.p. qatar quarterfinal preview
Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 14:07:08 -0400
to begin, i have to tell you how much i have enjoyed the opportunity to
get a players’ perspective at psa tour events. however you have been finding
the time and inclination to give people this unique look inside the sport
– i hope you continue.
that said, you
have clearly allowed frustration to shade your judgement where jonathan
power is concerned. i am unaware of joseph’s record vs. power, but i can
surmise it based upon the emotion in your article forecasting the bottom
half of the draw in qatar. haven’t you seen jonathan play matches without
all that carrying on? i have, and i have to say that for the average squash
fan it is a far less entertaining display than the alternative. he clearly
possesses the talent to deal with almost every player on the tour without
a great deal of concentration. i am quite sure he could leave emotion
aside if he pleased, however, i feel it would be to the detriment of the
sport at this time. there are so few characters that fit the role of squash
professional – and even fewer that can allow themselves the distraction
of sharing some personality in such a gruelling spectacle – that it is
difficult at times to be entertained, even for an avid fan of the game.
why not give the guy his due, he is the most impressive talent that squash
has seen for some time….and he’s fun to watch.
ANSWER: Thanks for the feedback. It is always welcome and appreciated.
agree with what you have written. Power is great for our game and along
with John White one of the true entertainers of our sport.
First a couple
– Joe didn’t write any of the 2nd half preview, it was all by Dan
– We both get along well with Power
– Power won their last encounter in 3, Joe the one before that in 3.
– We are spending all of July training with John Power (Senior) at Dartmouth
and will probably be doing an exhibition there with Jonathon.
this will help clarify whether the paragraph is emotionally based.
think you’ll find a single pro player or coach that would disagree
with an overview of Power’s game as being a mix of beautiful attacking
shots, amazing court coverage, verbal outbursts, and heavy body contact.
Which is all I have tried to say.
in question was intended to be a swipe at the referees that allow the
verbal outbursts and body contact to have an impact on the outcome of
the match. A lot of players do it and it is just an element of the game,
but the referee determines how much it affects the match.
get a better example than what happened in the final of the Canadian Classic
in Toronto last year. Power fell and injured himself in the crucial third
game, but helped convince the ref that it was a ‘contributed injury’
where the other player was partly responsible. This means Power gets unlimited
recovery time rather than the standard 3 minutes for a self inflicted
injury. So he remained off court for 41 minutes – a long time for
the ankle to feel better and an eternity of rest time considering the
main weapon Nicol has against Power is fitness. Video replays later showed
the injury was completely self inflicted.
I notice that
you haven’t disagreed with what I have said about Power, merely
pointed out the it is in the best interests of the sport and that he is
invaluable in what he brings to the court. I agree with this. Power is
a very charismatic and talented player. He is great for the game. I personally
don’t agree with some methods he will use to win points. He is talented
enough to win without using blocking and gamesmanship, but every player
is able to do that, whether the refs allow it to happen is more important.
has helped emphasise that the paragraph wasn’t intended to be interpreted
as an attack on Power.
Subject: Now and then
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 13:44:58 +0000
all sports has to evolve it seems to me that the modern game
has become more explosive & attacking where the ball is attacked at
every opportunity. The older style of game Barrington / Hunt era appeared
to be based more upon a ‘grinding’ type of approach where both players
would apply constant pressure at a relatively constant rates in order
to see who would crack first.
I would imagine
the first real Hi-‘pressure’ player would have been Jahangir who could
volley like a machine and seemingly take the ball a second earlier than
everyone else, Jansher came along and proved that he was the modern day
grinder in the style of hunt/barrington
I do believe
that the players of JK’s era seemed to be stronger and more powerful,
but did they have the sheer pace & firepower of todays players??,
I don’t know but I’d love to see Jansher & Jon Power matched up at
the peak of their powers, or Jahangir vs Peter.
Anyway I’m looking
forward to your take on the Old Vs new debate
ANSWER: Martin this is such a difficult subject, not just in
squash but in every sport. How would Pele go today? Did Bradman face bowlers
as good as the current batch? The best example of this is the Tiger Woods
– Jack Nicklaus debate. Like golf, squash equipment has changed
so much over the past fifty years that it is virtually another sport.
the last generation all acknowledge that the depth in today’s game
is the strongest ever. There’s virtually never an easy match, not
even in the first round of a tournament. But yesterday’s players
often say that the strength and depth in the top ten is weaker and often
cite Chris Dittmar as the example. He was an incredible player, but never
won a World Championships. But whenever this is said I ask how Dittmar
would go against Palmer, a player of similar build and strength. It always
creates a silence and a re-evaluation of the situation. The people I’ve
asked (Simon Parke has been most best reference as he’s played both
of them) say it would be a great match and are divided on the outcome.
But Jansher and Jahangir are a whole different kettle of fish.
see if we can tackle this subject in an upcoming article, but it will
take a lot of research and questions asked of players from different eras,
so it won’t be soon.
Subject: TeamKneipp column on squashtalk
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 13:04:54 -0000
As a club player
residing in England, I can never say I have a "game plan" before
I go on court even against people I know well and played possibly many
times. The reason being that although I have an idea about the way
they play, the result of the match will always be determined by how I
or they feel. At the club level I play most players are of similar ability,
and it seems really that the mental toughness and overall feeling of well
being really is the deciding factor. Nicol was talking about just going
out and enjoying his squash last week at the Nationals. (Obviously a feeling
he has carried forward to the TOC) I would be interested in your column
elsewhere to read your views on this comparatively simple but vital component
of the ability to play well. i.e Do you try to block out the importance
of your tournament matches in the effort to win? Does it depend on how
you got up in the morning?
Or is it just
pure self belief?
ANSWER: An important part of becoming a better player is learning
to win matches even when you aren’t feeling Olympic and things aren’t
working so well. The reason that Nicol has had such an incredible career
is he can have a bad day on court and still beat 90% of the players. Obviously
he’s very good at realising what preparation he needs to do to ensure
he is in the right frame of mind for a match. That may mean listening
to music, watching an opponent play, reading a motivational verse, whatever.
But whether he wins the tournament or ‘merely’ makes the final
or semis will probably be determined by how he feels.
the best example. Look at a player that normally doesn’t make it
through the qualifying round, and then suddenly has a couple of major
victories in a row. This often will be because of how they feel. Often
if they’ve had a great training stint prior to the tournament, or
changed a technique problem that has left them feeling more confident,
which leads to a better mood and a victory.
The most worrisome
part of your email is that you never have a game plan. CHANGE THIS! I’ve
coached intermediate players who aren’t sure why their game isn’t
progressing to the next level, and it almost always is partly because
of no game plan or opponent-analysis. If you’re winning against
an opponent you need to know if it’s because of something you’re
doing well, or he’s doing badly. That will teach you about his weak
spots, and your strengths. If he’s beating you, then you’ll
learn about his strengths and your weaknesses. Once you know where his
weaknesses are you can attack them next game. You’ll also know what
strengths of his to avoid, and what part of your own game needs dire attention
and what strengths should be utilised.
I was coaching
a player that I was convinced wasn’t paying enough attention to
his opponent. He was having a training match against an unknown opponent,
and I was going to watch to look at how he was dealing with his opponent’s
game. After the warm up I asked him what he could tell me about the other
guy. He couldn’t even tell me if he was left or right handed. Even
by the end of the warm up you should be able to tell quite a bit about
an opponent: Can you see any obvious flaws? Was he more comfortable on
the backhand or forehand (which side is his backhand?!) When you lobbed
was he comfortable taking the ball high, particularly on his backhand?
Did he go for nicks, even just warming up? Does he hit the ball really
hard? You’re obviously not going to learn everything from the warm
up, but it should be the start of having a game plan that includes analysing
your opponent. If you’re playing someone that you know nothing about,
then your game plan should involve your strengths “I don’t
know how this guy plays, but I play well when I play at a fast pace, volley
as much as possible and don’t go short too much, so I’ll do
that until I learn about his game”.
From: "ibrahim gul khan" <email@example.com>
Subject: ibrahim gul!!!!
Date: Sun, 20 Apr 2003 06:58:21 +0000
i am ibrahim gul from pakistan ,i read about your column ,and the league
and all ,as i am a pro player and have join the psa which i will soon
, i won many finals in the juniors ,as well as in paksitan also ,i went
to uk also for several tournaments ,actually i wanted to improve my game
i wanna be real good on court ,is there a chance that i can play a league
in amesterdam as there are many good players there and i know i wioll
certainly improve if i get a chance so please let me know i will very
thnakfull to you ,,thanks alot!!
ANSWER: The best way to get a Dutch league team is to email the
club managers directly with your squash standard including tournament
results, ranking, availability etc. Go to www.SquashWeb.nl and click on
‘Eredivisie’. The clubs and their email addresses are listed
on the left.
(German Squash) has a site where managers can see players who are available.
You can submit your details to the site and they’ll make them available.
It is at www.deutsche-squash-liga.de/spielermarkt/spielermarkt.html
Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2003 22:18:53 -0700
Hello Team Kneipp….
First of all,
I love reading your articles at www.squashtalk.com. Your analysis of squash
is awesome. I especially like the discussions about the little things
of squash tournaments (e.g. hanging around after a loss, etc). Its kind
of nice to read that I, an on-court hack, encounter similar difficulties
(in some cases) to a world class pro.
Second, I have
a question: What do you do in terms of training, when you are injured?
I have read that you have had many injuries, and I wanted to know if you
had a strategy for getting back on to the competitive court quickly, without
missing a beat, as you seem to do.
question: What do you think of the PSA style of ranking? If I understand
it correctly, it seems kind of bizarre to me, how one can knock off a
top player, and then loses in the 5th game of the 2nd round, and still
get as many points as a player who knocks off a qualifier and then loses
3-0 in the 2nd round. All the while tournament seedings are based on rankings
which are based on results, which seems to make it awfully hard for a
player to move up in the rankings, thereby getting better seedings, thereby
getting better results, etc, etc.
up the good work, and good luck in Qatar in May!
Vancouver, BC, Canada
ANSWER: We struggled for a while with niggling injuries. It wasn’t
injuries that caused me to stay off court for months, but were enough
to make me forfeit matches, or not be able to train prior to a tournament.
We did two things to combat it. My body wasn’t strong enough and
I was getting injuries because of how I was compensating. After seeing
a specialist physio I worked a lot harder to strengthen my core stability
– my stomach, back and side muscles. If these are stronger they
put less strain on your legs and glutes. This coupled with a strengthening
programme prevented the injuries from recurring – the most important
step in recuperation. Swimming was the second answer. My injuries are
almost always lower body, meaning that I can’t run, cycle of do
weights if there is a problem. But you still swim even if you have a leg
injury. Swimming isn’t squash-specific but it’s a great way
to train if there’s any injury problems and wonderful for cardio
I agree with
you regarding the ranking. There should be more incentive for beating
a player ranked above you. Tennis used to use this system, but changed
it, presumably because it made it too difficult for the higher ranked
player. It would be difficult to find the right balance for this. Any
suggestion on the intricacies of it?
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2003 17:36:28 EST
Enjoy your columns
& contributions. A few of us avid squash buddies were wondering about
prize funds(eg: what did Nicol earn for winning the TOC? and Lincou for
2nd) Also who covers hotels and flights to and from the TOC and in general
to any sanctioned WPS function anywhere in the world? I say top dogs like
Nicol& Power’s expenses like flights and hotel are taken care of being
the top seeds,yes or no? This is never listed on Squash Talk and many
of us would like to know.Are there appearance fees paid etc..Thx
ANSWER: The PSA has a system in place that encourages tournament
directors to promote the game of squash and to look after the players.
Say if a tournament
has a prize money fund of $30 000. If it is a quiet time of the year perhaps
this will draw one player from the top 10, but normally the top guns will
be a couple of guys in the teens or lower 20s. If a tournament supplies
hotel beds (which every tournament does) this is worth $5000 to the tournament’s
worth. The other incentives include if the players get food, if the tournament
is a national title, if a portable glass or plastic court is used, if
television coverage is involved, etc. Which means a tournament that is
only able to finance $30 000 in prize money, is able to attract virtually
all of the top players if they can organise it so that it’s a national
title played on a glass court with the matches televised and the players
provided with food and a nice bed. A $30 000 event suddenly becomes $50
never covered for PSA events. Some invitational tournaments provide flights
and appearance money.
for each position for prize money is:
Runner Up – 11.5%
Semi finalist – 7%
Quarter finalist – 4.25%
Round of 16 – 2.5%
Round of 32 – 1.25%
Round of 64, or last round qualifying – .75%
It used to be
that there was no money at all for qualifiers, but that has appropriately
been changed. Qualifier’s still have to usually look after their
own accommodation until they make the main draw.
Subject: tennis v squash
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2003 20:04:08 -0400
hello, i was
just wondering when you were going to post edberg’s view on the above
matter that joe has completed his first part on. i have been checking
squashtalk regularly and am very anxious to read the next part.
hope to hear
from you soon,
ANSWER: The Squash versus Tennis article caused the
greatest response of anything we’ve written. We’ve gotten
a lot of emails, and have worked on the follow-up story by interviewing
Stefan Edberg and Richard Krajicek’s coach. Unfortunately this means
we have a lot of information to plough through before we get the article,
and bothersome squash tournaments keep getting in the way of doing this.
It’ll happen before the Qatar Classic.
Thanks for all your questions! We hope you found our answers
interesting. Keep those questions and comments coming.
if you would like to discuss our columns or introduce questions
or comments, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will post the good comments and question here on our SquashTalk
column together with our responses. We hope to get a good dialogue