England’s world squash No 1 Nick Matthew’s got a good game face, rising to the top of his profession without any of the spotlight that accompanies his sport’s more glamorous cousin. He’s certainly got a better face than FHM, who after 20 minutes on court with the Yorkshireman looked less like a journalist and more like that tasty root vegetable, the beetroot. Nick gave us his top tips for getting the better of your mate on court…

1/ Take it easy
“If you win the toss, there’s no pressure to hit a winner straight away, so just keep it simple on the first couple of points and play yourself into the game. If your opponent’s standing quite far forward, aim to hit the side wall and get the ball to drop in the back corner.”

2/ Stand in the right place
“Position yourself half a racket’s length diagonally from the corner of the service box, to deny your opponent easy access to the back of the court. Squash is all about getting the T-position at the middle of the court, which you give up straight away if you stand too far back on your serve. You’re looking to step forward and volley if you can, not just on return of serve but on as many points as possible.”


Command the T and stay on your toes

3/ Use the side walls
“The side walls can interfere with your judgement, especially if you’re more used to playing tennis. Running to strike the ball before it hits the side wall can get you jammed up, but leave it too late and the ball will drop out of reach in the corner. Hit it early if you can, but otherwise use that side wall to ‘boast’ it to the front.”


Playing the ball deep forces your opponent to run

4/ Mix it up
“Use a lob shot to get it high up the front wall, putting your opponent under pressure to watch the ball all the way down. Most people want to hit it hard, but changing the pace gives you time to get back on the T. Mixing your serves up and the ability to change the pace of the game will keep your opponent guessing.”

5/ Power isn’t everything
“A lot of amateurs I watch play too fast and too straight, perhaps thinking that a strong shot is going to be harder to return. But if your opponent’s any good at all, he’ll be able to feed off your pace. Work on your accuracy above anything else.”


If you can't reach the ball, just shout "LET!" as loud as you can

6/ Gamesmanship
“Everyone enjoys a bit of sledging, but it’s about knowing yourself and knowing your opponent. There’s no other sport where you’re in such a confined space, so things can get quite heated. It’s a fine line between letting your opponent know you’re there and allowing them access to the ball. If you’ve hit a good shot, you don’t want them claiming a let.”

7/ Prepare well
“If you’re serious about beating someone, tailor your time in the gym to be more like a squash match [about 45 minutes]. I do interval-based circuit training, so I go from the bike, then straight into core exercises, then a bit of treadmill - just keep moving all the time. Don’t go into a game on a full stomach, either. Eat about three hours before, then have a banana or a little energy bar just before you go on. You should have water for breaks, but also an energy drink with electrolytes to keep your muscles fresh.”


Nick Matthew uses the Dunlop Biomimetic Evolution 130, out soon, for more information please visit www.dunlopsport.com