By Peter Nicol, former World No. 1
I’ve used video analysis since I was midway through my professional career, some time ago now! However, I was not always convinced of the merits and always preferred spending my time physically working both on and off court. This is despite getting great results when engaging with the technology and learning more about my faults and also my opponents. Strange to not embrace and get the advantage wherever possible? I see myself as bridging the old and new, unable at times to leave behind the blood, sweat and tears for the clinical, technical and precise.
I remember preparing for a semifinal match against David Palmer at the Tournament of Champions in New York and understanding for the first time that I had to counter drop him to gain an advantage at the front of the court. This information came from Stafford Murray, the England Institute of Sports analyzer for squash, in the form of a sequence of clips showing David’s minor weakness. I stuck to that game plan and although a long and arduous match, the couple of points per game I managed to win from this tactic saw me through. It was a revelation.
Since then I’ve been an advocate of utilizing video technology to both work on your own game and also, if footage is available, decipher your opponent and all their strengths and weaknesses. It’s strange to witness oneself playing, but faults and areas of potential improvements are apparent immediately. I had an email recently from a squash player who had taken footage for me to analyze, but proceeded to explain (having obviously watched the video several times) all the areas she needed to work on—although I could add a bit of help to her assessment, the crux of her swing issue was apparent to her.
With technology, such as the V1 Pro Sports App, available to us all now, I urge everyone to take simple footage on his or her smart phone (get someone to help from off the court) of basic hitting and then look back over the video. Chances are you’ll be able to spot several aspects of your swing that need adapting and improving. This doesn’t negate the need for coaches or coaching, but it is a valuable tool to help both pupil and coach identify problems and deal with them quickly and more effectively.
Although there certainly is no substitute for actual practice and play, using technology to help speed up the learning process is something that should become a part of everyone’s program…and the standard of play will improve accordingly. Embrace technology as we do in day to day life and gain the advantage on court!