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Much more than hitting a small ball really hard

Much more than hitting a small ball really hard

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts/ Illustratie Janneke Swinkels

Squash: all levels

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: squash.

Running shoes or sneakers with black soles are not allowed on the squash court. I look down and see sneakers with black soles. Not a great start. Another important detail: playing squash is much more than hitting a small ball really hard. But as soon as there is a UM Sports racket in my hand, those wise words are soon forgotten. The small black ball, which warms up after a number of hits, flies all over the place. It is bashing just for the sake of bashing. Until squash trainer (and co-ordinator of student sports associations and Sports Trust MUSST) Liesbeth Kruisifikx shows how you can literally drive your opponent into a corner with a cunning and controlled stroke, and score a point. “Make sure that the ball bounces back via the front wall, so the wall before you, and drops down along the side wall.” Ah, that is fun. Less power, more sting. No wild wallops that land the ball outside the squash court. Even my opponent, who initially was afraid that she would hit her hand instead of the ball during the serve, is starting to have fun. “Focus on the ball,” Kruisifikx calls out, “don't pay any attention to the wall in front of you.” And there goes the ball again. Oh, too little control. Point for my opponent.

The expert: “Men are inclined to think that they can play squash because they can hit the ball hard. Some only know half of the rules, let alone worry about technique and tactics.” But squash is a very technical sport, says Liesbeth Kruisifikx. Speed, ability to react and fitness are crucial. “When you play squash for 45 minutes, you are shattered. It is much more explosive than say tennis, for example. You have to hit more tightly and use the three walls. In the beginning, players are often afraid that they will hit the wall with their racket. And yes, sometimes you break it that way.”

Kruisifikx feels that it is not a sport that causes a lot of injuries. “I have never had anything in the twelve years that I have been doing this. It is true that in the beginning you get in each other’s way and end up with a torn eyebrow. Or you can see the impressions of the ball when you take a shower: on your arms, legs, stomach. We pay great attention to safety, you are not allowed to hit the ball if someone is in front of you.” You recognise squash players by their lovely backsides, the trainer grins. “They are also flexible and always want to win.”

Target group: Those who really want to tire themselves out, who love hitting a ball, but who are also interested in the technique and tactics. Women are usually in the majority during the courses, but men are very welcome. At the moment UM doesn’t have their own student squash club. “We would love to have one”, says Kruisifikx.

The facts: there are courses on three different levels: beginners (period 5 starts 5 May: on Wednesday 18:30hrs and 19:15hrs and Thursday 19:15hrs), basic (Tuesday 20:00hrs and 20:45hrs and Thursday 18:30) and advanced (Tuesday 21:30). Everyone - level is not important - can rent a court (45 minutes costs between 4 and 8 euro).

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