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Using the Boast: Peter Nicol
My Experiences

We have been looking at forehand boasts this week and I wanted to share a few experiences I had using the boast to both good and bad effect. There is such a fine margin with the boast and playing on a 17 tin accentuates that the difference between a working boast and feed for a counter drop winner is the ball landing and staying a few of inches further away or nearer the T!

As we are discussing the forehand boast, let me start there. Im left handed so think I have an advantage throwing in a forehand boast due to the pace the shot can be hit and most players being used to a right handers shot selection from the back left area. Not always having the confidence to hit the ball short through drops and volleys drops (and not being able to do so effectively at the highest level) the boast was my most effective short somewhat attacking shot early on in my career. I would try and force my opponent deep into the back corners continuously and once they struggled to get back to the T, then play there two wall boast. I could play the shot without risk of mistake because I had put my opponent under so much pressure and could use the angle rather than pace and height to attack.

Playing against the likes of Brett Martin or Rodney Eyles, I was constantly under pressure and retrieving so when I got the chance to hit a two wall boast, it would allow me put some pressure back on them, or at least force them to move a diagonal at speed. I would undoubtedly find myself under more pressure if I did not hit the boast well enough but I was able to cover well due to my movement and fitness at that stage of my career.

I then came across two players who were ruthless in exposing my average (and sometimes good) boasts Jansher Khan and Jonathon Power.

Jansher would play very straight and be waiting for any angle or opportunity, in many ways like Nick Matthew today, so when I hit boasts to relieve pressure or attack, he would be onto the ball immediately and most likely hit a simple soft straight drop. I would struggle to retrieve that ball due to how early Jansher took it, the distance to cover, and also sometimes due to a less than direct access to the ball. Jonathon would look to get onto the ball just as early but he also had the ability to hold and delay his shot and that caused me untold problems.

It was at this stage that I really started to understand how and when to hit the boast and also forced me into a rethink over my whole style of play. Try to analyse your use of the boast and work out when it is regularly effective and when it causes you problems, then make changes to maximise its use.

with thanks to Peter Nicol and Squashskills.com

Derek Thorpe says "Top players make playing squash look easy. This is only because they practice, practice good style, tactics and habits, then do it again until they get it right".