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Mishits

    

May
17,
2006: by Team Kneipp (kah-nipe)      

saudi intl
In Liverpool, Ollie Tuominen got
a lucky nick against John White
(photo © Fritz Borchert.)

Have
you noticed how often the luck of a match goes with the player that
is winning? The underdog is behind, but making a comeback and the game
is poised at a crucial junction. It’s ridiculous
how often at this stage if there is a lucky shot it goes in favour
of the player who was winning, usually the higher ranked player. It
can often be so mentally draining on the underdog that it cripples
their comeback.

From
a coaching perspective in theory there’s probably an explanation
for this. I like to use a lot of other sports in my coaching analogies,
with golf, hockey and baseball being very advantageous. If you’ve
played much golf you’ll know that as you get better you can continually
hit a golf shot where you haven’t hit the ball very well, it feels
like the ball could have easily snap-shanked into the rough, but it goes
pretty straight and ends up just off the green. This is usually because
your swing is getting more consistent and better, and even when you mishit
the ball you’re still doing a lot of things right and so the ball
goes in the general direction, often ending not far from the intended
target.

Same
thing goes for squash, with the swing and movement and position to
the ball being the crucial factors.

Perhaps
in theory these lucky shots seem to happen more often for the winning
player because they’re
usually fresher and therefore in a better position to hit the ball.
Or maybe they’re just more memorable
when hit by the player winning because it seems like such a cruel blow,
and statistically it’s not actually any more common.

Whatever
the case at this week’s Liverpool 08 Open
there were some great examples of this. Olli Tuominen was two games
ahead against John White with scores tied at the business end of the
third game. They had a crazy rally that ended with Olli mishitting
a backhand boast that left Whitey flat footed and frustrated on the
T. White was already very annoyed by his errors and some reffing decision,
and to be on the end of a shot like that seemed to just make things
worse.

Situations
like this are pretty common. Olli was going for a boast, but he mishit
it so that it was a clean winner, rather than a working shot that White
could have easily got to.

Joe
was playing Beachill in the quarter finals of the World Open in 2003.
Beachill has come back from 2-1 down with the score 10-10 in the fifth
(when the scoring still went to 15). After a ludicrously hard rally Beachill
hit a backhand drive from the back. Joe lunged across from the T, but
the ball was hugging the wall and he had over committed on the volley.
He played for a volley drop, but because the ball was hugging the wall
he had to hit the wall with the racquet (take a divot). The ball was
a perfect drop shot, but could easily have gone into the floor.

These
are good examples, but nothing will top the winner that Boswell hit
in the first round at the Liverpool 08 Open, and will go down as one
of the greatest shots I’ve seen on a squash court.

saudi intl
Boswell got a lucky lob in Liverpool against Lee
Drew (photo © Fritz
Borchert.)

4th game, Bozza leading 2-1, scores tied at 7-7 against Lee Drew. Drew
is a left handed player that is spectacular at hitting unexpected winners.
His forehand straight drive kills bounce twice before you even realise
where they are.

After a long rally that Drew controlled he had the ball at the front
on his forehand. He smashed a forehand cross court to length. Boswell
scrambled back for it from the T, but was forced to move too quickly
and stumbled and fell going for the ball. He hit the ground as he swung
hard at the ball. It shanked off his racquet, spinning furiously, looped
up in a lob arc towards the front wall, dropping down and lightly kissing
the front wall a couple of inches above the tin. The spin on the ball
kicked in as it hit the front wall and it veered off sideways, quickly
bouncing twice.

All
of this happened with Bozza sprawled on the ground and Drew on the
T. The poor bloke didn’t stand a chance. How do anticipate someone
taking a full swing at the ball and playing a delicate lob drop that
would be irretrievable even if you were standing at the front wall?

I think we enjoyed watching it more than Drew did.

Kneipp’s
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