By Richard Millman
From our very earliest days, we learn how to navigate our way around the world. As we grow up we are almost unconscious of this extraordinary ability as we make our way around obstacles, through doorways, over hurdles and past our fellow humans who are also navigating their way. All of this navigation through our world is based on our sense of where the center of our body is.
As you line yourself up to attempt to walk through a door, you align your body equidistantly from each side of the door and then attempt to move through the center of the door. We do this automatically. Before we are teenagers we have become conditioned to accept that we navigate using our physical center as the basis of our aim when negotiating and orienting ourselves around the world.
Unfortunately, this automated conditioning is a disaster for squash players.
Things all go well when we walk onto the court. We, of course, successfully navigate our physical selves through the court door, but then things go wrong. Many people are still laboring under the misapprehension that to navigate their way around the squash court and to relate to the ball, they should still use the same physical center that they learned to use as a toddler.
But for a squash player, the center of the body is not what navigation is based on. The center that they must use to negotiate with the ball and orient themselves relative to walls, corners, floors and their opponent, is a very specific spot on their racquet: the point that they intend to use to strike the ball with. This produces enormous confusion for many players. Having spent their lives orienting their physical selves around the world, they now must adjust their navigation system so that the center of their world is a point on their racquet midway between the center of the strings and the top of the frame.
If you are a person who has issues getting too close to the ball, or mishitting the ball, or even just being inaccurate, it is likely because you spend very little time using the appropriate strike point on your racquet as the center of your navigation world.
Your body is simply a vehicular facilitator of the arrival of the specific hitting zone at the right place at the right time. You need to start seeing and feeling the world from the hitting zones on your racquet, instead of from your eyes and core body center. Try to imagine that your eyes are in the hitting zone of the racquet. Try to move around the court making the hitting zone the center of your world. Try to make an unbreakable connection in your mind between the exact spot on your racquet and the ball for the entire duration of however long you are on the court.
The connection between your racquet’s hitting zone must be maintained at all times: when your opponent strikes the ball, when you strike the ball or when no one is striking the ball. A continuous connection that is never, ever lost. Your mind, body and emotions are simply servants of the hitting zone on your racket. The hitting zone on the racket is the center of the universe and must be looked after with great reverence and continuous attention. Giving up your lifelong service to your own self center is hard, but once you walk on the squash court, you have to give yourself up to the higher calling of serving your racquet’s hitting point.