Thoughts on Dots: Why We Use A Variety of Ball Types at INFINITUM Squash
If you come to any of our clinics, junior or adult, you can walk from court to court and see different ball types being used, including your standard double yellow dot, single yellow dot, red dot and blue dot balls. We use these different balls in our instruction depending on age, level, time of year (temperature), and the drills being practiced on a particular day.
It’s something people in the squash community aren’t used to and we often get questions and concern as to why we do it: “Why would I use a bouncier ball if I want to get better? isn’t that too easy? Shouldn’t I be playing with the same ball the pros use if I want to get to that level? Why would I want my daughter to play with a blue dot if she’s going to be playing with a double yellow dot this weekend in her tournament? Isn’t this ball too easy for me? etc…
We hear it all - and we understand why we get asked these questions. Here’s why we use a variety of ball types in our programming: It significantly improves our players’ squash - their technique, fitness, and tactics.
Here’s a breakdown:
A double yellow dot ball is designed for players physically strong enough to generate enough heat in the ball to cause it to bounce in the same manner a naturally bouncier ball (single dots, red dots, blue dots - in ascending order of bounce) does off the bat. Younger, less physically strong players lack this capacity. By playing with a naturally bouncier ball, these players are able to extend rallies (someone who would typically have a 1-5-shot rally with a double yellow dot ball may have a 5-10-shot rally with a single dot ball or a 10-15-shot rally with a red dot ball, for example). By having the opportunity to play longer rallies from an earlier point in one’s squash development, a player begins to build her fitness base earlier; Being physically and mentally used to longer rallies as early as possible is a huge advantage!
When a ball doesn’t have enough heat in it, it will bounce significantly lower, forcing a player to strike the ball at a lower point from the ground than that which is natural. This causes a scooping tendency in the path of the swing, which promotes bad habits with stroke production. By grooving one’s swing with an appropriately bouncing ball, a player can properly learn the technical principles that will allow him to generate more power and control as he continues to improve, which will, in turn, allow him to generate more heat and bounce in the ball.
As a pro in the top 20 in the world, Nick trained with a red dot ball as a tool to work on his ball control and give him a competitive advantage against his opponents. A livelier ball is a lot harder to control at pace than its deader counterpart. To control and place a red dot ball where you want to place it in the court takes a significantly greater degree of control than doing the same with a double yellow dot ball, i.e. significantly better technique. Practicing with a bouncier ball hones technical principles, which improves control and confidence in competitive situations.
Playing with a blue dot ball on Wednesday does not preclude you from being able to play with a double yellow dot ball on Friday - the same way riding your bike in the rain doesn’t mean you won’t be able to ride your bike in the sunshine. Practice with these different balls is a fantastic tool to promote the development of good technical habits and endurance in rallies that is underutilized in player development because we often carry false negative associations with the notion of using them.
You may see our upper level players at the club playing red dot matches. You may see our juniors practicing with red or blue dot balls and you’ll see our adult clinics with different ball types on each court. Ultimately, what we care about is people enjoying and getting the most out of their squash, which means improving.
My foremost passion in squash is elite development and the foundation of my longterm objectives in founding INFINITUM. Using a variety of balls is a very important tool in achieving this and creating a pathway for success.
- Chessin Gertler | Founder, INFINITUM Squash
*As a further resource, see this article Nick wrote a while back on the same subject