Spot on! Or spot one. One spot. Ahh just read this anyway!
Introduction of One Spot Balls to SSC – Why less is more!
Hopefully you have seen the 2021 AGM minutes sent out recently via email? One topic discussed was the introduction of single yellow-spot balls. I just want to elaborate on this and to squash any myths (ha, squash!) and set the record straight on 1-spot balls....
“Uhhh I use a 2-spot ball. Always have done and I’m not changing now”
Now this is highly a debateable and highly controversial subject, we know, but chances are that the first time you picked up a racket and walked onto a squash court, someone made you play with a 2-spot ball. Unless you were coached from the get-go or joined in a specific beginner squash evening, the chances are that you own 2-spot balls, always play with 2-spot balls and in some cases (like trying to take away gun rights in America), you love your 2-spot ball and don’t want anyone to take it away from you.
“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”
The truth is that unless you are reading this in-between a professional PSAsquash match, or you’re currently playing at a very high level (like higher than county level), you shouldn’t really be using 2-spot balls. They are professional squash balls. You are not a professional (sorry!). Don’t glare at me or tut, you’re just not. I’m not. Chances are most people you know aren’t professional either. So why do we use a ball aimed at a professional level?
The answer tends to be either around ego (I must use a 2-spot otherwise people will think I’m awful at squash for using anything less). The majority of squash clubs all over the U.K. operate this way. You can walk in, play a member of any club and the chances are you will be playing with a 2-spot ball. It’s become standard issue, the norm, common practice - and its time for a change.
“Give me an example of how this works in any other sport?”
Imagine this scenario: You decide to take up golf. You go to a golf course, walk into the golf shop and are given the option to buy lake balls at 10 for a £1. These are lost balls that have been recovered from the lake on hole 9. You could instead buy a dozen professional level tour golf balls for £50. They'd be amazing - but only if you can actuaaly hit them like a pro. Remember, you're a non-professional player. Do you buy the tour balls, even though they'll have no benefit to your game but will make you feel pro, or do you use balls that are suited to your level? No brainer really! This is how squash should be.
“It’s what the pro's use, and I've been playing for years so it makes sense I use it”
2-spot squash balls are designed to bounce less, die quicker, and make it easier to kill the ball in a game of squash. They are designed to be played by professional squash players because they can hit the ball at a continuous power rate that keeps the ball hot, bouncy and in play for longer than a non-professional squash player. But don’t be disheartened, because there is a squash ball for you! At SSC we highly recommend that players start using 1-spot balls. If you're a beginner, we highly recommend using red spot balls. These balls are designed to be used at your level to help both your enjoyment of the game and to allow you to progress up to new levels!. I guarantee you, if you are used to playing with a 2-spot ball and switch to 1-spot, your game will develop, matches will be longer, rallies will be longer, you will improve your game and get more out of squash. Hence the title of this piece why less is more (less being less spots on the ball - in case that bit got lost)
If you go on You Tube now and watch any PSA match you will see professional players having epic rallies that last ages. This is how squash should be played. The difficulty for the likes of us nonprofessional players is that we don’t have their skillset or fitness to be able to play rallies at the intensity and quality that they do. This is why they are professional players, and we are not. If you ever go and watch a professional game or a pro exhibition match, one of the things that will stand out is the noise the ball makes. You can physically hear the ball constantly cracking off the racket and wall with more power, pace, and velocity in a 30-shot rally than we could muster up if we took one big swing at the ball and tried to hit it that hard in one go. It’s technique and years of practice that allows them to do this effortlessly every time. These are attributes most of us do not possess (although you may think you do!).
So this begs the question, why oh why do we use a ball designed to be played by people who can hit the ball consistently harder and technically better than us? We are putting ourselves at a disadvantage straight away by using a 2-spot when we can’t play at that level. We do it because, like I said before, it’s common practice in squash clubs to do so, it’s what we are used to, and some argue it’s best to play with a 2-spot ball as that is what you are aspiring to play with eventually. My answer to this argument is why are red spot, single spot and other balls designed and manufactured then if we were always meant to play with a 2-spot? Why do coaches encourage you to play with red spot balls when you begin? If it was the right thing to do, then these other balls would not exist. But they do, and we need to change the ethos around single spot ball play.
“Do you use a 1-spot then Scott?”
Yes. I recently moved over to this way of thinking. For years I have played with 2-spot balls. My squash bag is full of them and that is what I have always bought and used. Both clubs I have been a member of use 2-spot balls. Internal leagues at SSC use 2-spot balls, winter, and summer league competitions I play in use 2-spot balls, so it makes sense I only play with 2-spot balls yeah? Wrong. We are working to change the approach at county level too as even if you are a division 1 player playing at the number 1 spot (ha, another ironic term) then I would still argue that you are not a professional and should be using 1-spot balls.
“No thanks I’m more or less professional”
To me being a professional means, you are paid to do it. I can guarantee you, no matter how hard I train in squash I will never be a professional and guess what? That’s ok! I prefer Triathlon racing anyway and guess what I’m better at that and I won’t ever be a professional in that either. Again, I’m ok with this. Just to give you another example when I started competing in triathlon racing, I was strongly advised to not get a professional all out TT bike. I was told there is no point until I am at a level that I can ride and produce the necessary power output on a pro TT bike that makes a difference compared to a cheap 2nd hand bike found on Shrewsbury Sellers. So, I did this. I trained for 7 years on a cheap bike until I was ready to get something better. Guess what? Now I am better I still don’t have that top £20,000 pro bike because I don’t need it. I’m only going to save a few seconds on it compared to my amateur bike which is the equivalent of a 1-spot squash ball if you like. So, I started out with a “Red Spot” bike and trained until I was good enough to justify buying a “1-spot” bike. I’m not a professional even though I am sponsored and race internationally, I’m not paid to do it fulltime so I’m not a pro. I don’t need that “2-spot” bike yet and probably never will.
Squash seems to be one of the only sports out there where using the wrong “tools for the job” is encouraged at club level. We need to change this view and ethos. I’ve seen first-hand the difference in my game since moving away from 2-spot balls. My games are better, rallies are longer and I’m moving about the court more like the pros do. Squash is a game of milliseconds. If something can be done to give me a bit more time to react to the ball and the shot that’s been played, I’ll take it thank you and I won’t let my ego get tainted by the fact the ball spins with 1 yellow spot as opposed to 2. Playing with a 1-spot ball gives you that extra bit of time to react and that’s what I need. Why do I need it? Because I’M NOT A PROFESSIONAL!!” and sorry, but neither are you. But that’s Ok, so don’t let it get you down. It’s a ball at the end of the day.
Honestly, I could go on and on giving you numerous examples of why this change needs to take place but thankfully the motion to introduce this was passed at our recent AGM. Subsequently all internal leagues and at SSC are to be played with a 1-Spot or red spot ball from now on. Yay!
“I am not OK with this, I want to stop playing squash forever based on this one decision SSC have made”
Now I must stress this is something we are trialling. So, I don’t want people hurling abuse at me or any anti 1-spot ball banners being shoved in my face when I turn up at the club. If you hate it this much be thankful that’s all you have to worry about in life ;)
If it doesn’t work, people don’t like it then it doesn’t matter. We tried. But this is something that is needed on a grand scale and SSC are proud to be taking a stand and pioneering something that should have been implemented years ago and was always supposed to be in place. If you don’t have a single spot ball, buy one, they cost the same as 2-spot and you were fine about buying that. We even sell them behind the bar.
“Can we agree like they did in "Squid Game" to stop playing?”
If you are adamant this is not for you and you haven’t heard something so appalling since you were told someone might have chomped on a bat somewhere and it’s going to be a big deal for a few years, then don’t use a 1-spot. Play with a 2-spot if agreed between players before a match and continue as you did before. But we really hope you'll give it a go for a couple of months. We promise it won;t make you a lesser person and there won't be jeering from the masses because your ball is adorned with just one blob of yellow. You might actually love it!!
It’s important to remember too that change can be a good thing, and a good player should be perfectly able to adapt their game to play with a ball aimed at any ability. Even Tim Arthur, who is arguably one of the best players at SSC and possibly in the county too stated at the AGM that we should all be using 1-Spot balls, himself included.
“I am not happy, I need to talk to someone about this.”
We will shortly be organising a Single Spot Support Group meeting on court one on Wednesday nights where you can talk through the new change with similarly affected persons. Coffee, tea and name badges will be provided*
*we won't really....