Blind Spots

We are repeatedly told to watch the ball to the point of contact and to watch our opponents as he or she hits the ball. This method of watching is told to further improve our anticipation. Better anticipation is said to gives us a jump on the next shot. All is true. But, there are times when you can't see the ball or your opponent. These are called the "blind spots".

Here's a typical squash scenario:
An opponent serves deep into a backhand corner. A blind spot will occur when the receiver twists to hit a standard rail length return. There are two things to keep in mind during this episode. The first is how the receiver will interpret the last peripheral sight of the server before executing the shot, and the second is what the opponent will do during the blind spot.

First, as the receiver focuses on the ball to hit the backhand rail, the server has the advantage because he or she can move undetected. As receiver focuses on the ball and watches it drop into the corner, his peripheral vision will see the server in the corner of his eye. If I were the server, I would move toward the receiver's backhand side as he began to twist into the backhand corner. Once I realise the receiver has stepped into the shot and the blind spot is initiated, I will silently move back to the forehand side. Why?

From the receiver's perspective the last image of me is moving over to the backhand to cover the rail length return. Realizing that I'll be on top of the next shot, the receiver will try to outsmart me by hitting a different shot. Let's say he hits a boast believing that if I'm hovering for a backhand return that the boast off the side wall will land furthest from me in the front forehand court.

However, during the blind spot I've moved to the forehand side of the court. The boast return will feed into my racket for a drop winner. I've exploited the blind spot to my advantage. This may not happen all the time, but the point is to attempt to do something unexpected during a blind spot situation. Timing is critical. If done correctly, this will put added pressure on your opponent.

Using the same squash scenario, let's say instead of having my opponent peripherally observe me moving over to the backhand, I deliberately stay in the service box area. My opponent, using his last images of me as a reference point, will undoubtedly try to hit a rail so that not to feed me. I, on the other hand, will wait until he starts his shot execution. Once out of sight, I will speed over to the backhand side of the court for quick cut off.

Here I have changed my opponent's game plan by exploiting his peripheral vision and blind spot to my advantage.

Another example is when a player hits a great boast to fully stretch his or her opponent. As the opponent moves up to get the boast, the other player can move up behind his or her opponent until the blind spot occurs. The opponent's last peripheral sight was that the other player was coming up from behind for a drop. The opponent is forced to lob or crosscourt since a drop is what is expected. If the other player has exploited the blind spot correctly, he or she will not be on their opponent's heels but will fade back at the last second to hit a quick volley as his or her opponent feeds the ball. The opponent is taken completely by surprise.

Using this scenario again. Let's make the player not appear to follow his or her opponent up. Let's deliberately stay back and have the last peripheral view showing the player on the T. As the opponent focuses in on the boast retrieval, the blind spot is initiated and the last image of the other player was back on the T. The opponent will drop the ball thinking the other player is too far back to make a good get. The other player, meanwhile, will stay on the T until his or her opponent is in the midst of the blind spot to start silently forward. When the opponent hits the drop, the other player will pounce on it driving it deep to the back of the court. Again, the opponent is taken completely by surprise.

Peripheral vision will undoubtedly eliminate most blind spots. Nevertheless, the fact remains that whenever your opponent is turned away from you in the corners, during crosscourts, and when they're in front that blind spots occur. As you become a better observer of what your opponent sees, you will discover the realistic use of blind spot attacks.

The top pros use blind spots as the best time to catch his or her opponent off guard. Usually, when you begin to exploit this type of strategy, you'll find your opponent less at ease when you're not in his or her peripheral sight. His or her concentration becomes unstable and you start to control the rally. Once you gain momentum, you become less concerned with hitting great shots, but rather start to hit more shots that get you out of your opponent's peripheral view.

As you move up in rank, you'll need to create blind spots. Once you realise that a blind spot episode is about to occur, you must plan your movements accordingly to fully exploit and fool your opponent during such events. On the other hand, when you become victim to a blind spot, use every sense of awareness to track your opponent's movements.

During blind spots I have been astonished to discover opponents silently crouched next to me. Or even three feet from the front wall volleying my shot into the nick. Pros wait for such blind spots to initiate an attack. It can prove to be mentally devastating.

When you become invisible for that split second during the blind spot, you become a formidable attacker at any level of squash. Start to use blind spots as a weapon in your game because I can guarantee they'll be used against you.