A squash player named Stephen commented on my March 2nd post about how Practice Does Not Make Perfect. He also asked how he should learn to play tennis. So here is his post and an answer (below) by Bjorn Runquist, a local coach for squash and tennis. I would also add that if you can play squash, you don’t need more cardio training to play tennis. I played about 8-10 squash games yesterday and was exhausted in just 1 1/4 hours, whereas I can go 2 of singles and 4 of doubles and not be nearly as tired. Let us know Stephen how you do…

Hi ira,

I stumbled upon your bog whilst looking for tips on how to improve my squash game.

To put it mildly, you have inspired me. I mean that in no small terms either.
I’m a 23 year old University student from the UK and the Chairman of our Uni’s Squash team.

All too frequently I find myself frustrated that I cannot compete at the level of some of the teams we play (just last week I lost a game to a player who turned out to be a Hong Kong open champion).

Like you my return is not good enough, especially the backhand, so hearing of your troubles and the revelation about “perfect practice” really hit home with me. Now I cannot wait to get back on the court and get a good mindset going.

I’ve looked over your site a bit and read your story about how you wanted to embark on the journey of change, and all I have to say is well done.

I’ve always been larger (not obese by any means, just carrying extra padding :)) and have used it as an excuse to not play tennis, as the movement required for it really takes it out of me. After reading your blog however, I feel shamed within myself that I have not tried harder to do what I dream of doing, and getting that “beach body” and playing tennis.

So here is a little question for you.

I’m fairly good at squash, good all round strokes, but have never really played tennis other than a playful back and forth. What would you think the first step should be?

Should I get a coach? Work on my strokes or serve? gain cardio to hang with the guys in rallies?

Hope you are well today,


Here are Coach Bjorn’s suggestions:

Advice for your web site commenter on tennis: definitely get private lessons. The stroke is so different from tennis and is critical to being able to hit the ball hard and keep it in the court. The business of simply striking the ball is, I think, much more complex in tennis— there are more “correct” ways of doing it in tennis than in squash (slice, top-spin etc). Once you have the strokes down, the game is simpler than squash, but changing technique from squash and getting a proper stroke in tennis is critical to anything else— get private lessons, visualize and hit a thousand strokes without a ball (the tennis stroke starts at the feet, goes through the knees which drive the ball and shift weight in the right direction and finishes with the racket and the critical follow-through of the last 3rd of the swing).

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