Progress is quick as a beginner, but once the fundamental principles of the game are understood then a plateau will eventually occur – unless the correct technique is learned.
At the intermediate level the focus should move on to achieving technical proficiency in the six shots of the game. To achieve this, a lot of carefully controlled hitting is required. After years of teaching Coach Allen believes that when developing muscle memory and "feel", the intelligent use of the Squash Cannon enables a rate of improvement that you cannot get close to matching without the use of one. For more information on this click here.
With the hitting of a steady stream of balls fired from the Squash Cannon, you can begin to develop "feel" for what you are searching for while training your own muscle memory. Coach Allen will let you know via positive reinforcement when you are getting it right. This is because when you start out training your muscle memory, everything you are working on is likely to "feel" awful, awkward, or unnatural. Often this is the sign of change and a good sign, but without my external reinforcement in the early stages then you have no real idea of what the correct stroke should feel like.
As you gradually internalize the feel of the correct stroke then it's time to let you take over. As you hit your shots then with every successful delivery that results in the intended objective the conscious mind experiences positive reinforcement. This positive feedback is also experienced by the subconscious mind, which solidifies the muscle memory patterns. When the subconscious takes over, the brain is free from technical clutter and can begin to focus on tactical considerations. At this point it's time to wheel the ball machine off the court and use patterned drills and conditioned games to integrate correct technique with good tactics. Remember techniques become skill when they can be selected or adapted to meet the specific demands of the situation. Without this important integration you will never progress to the advanced level.
Reproducing the correct action in practice establishes and reinforces your muscle memory – and it needs to be done thousands of times. If you have to consciously think about all of the body movements involved in hitting a backhand drive then you would not be able to perform this complex task with any degree of success when the game starts.
Mark Allen E-mail: Mark_allen@boarsheadresort.com Tel:434-972-7424