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I've been playing squash for several years, but still can't work out when to try a lob serve and when to try hitting it harder. Also, where should I be aiming to hit each type of serve?

I've been playing squash for several years, but still can't work out when to try a lob serve and when to try hitting it harder. Also, where should I be aiming to hit each type of serve?

Steve Meacham, Gloucester There are few knockout serves in squash. What the serve is intended to do is make the return as difficult as possible, allowing the server to dominate the "T". The lob serve is played with an open face, and should bounce high off the side wall and land in or around the back corner. The driven serve tries to "kiss" the side wall just behind the service box. The trick is not to allow the serve to be volleyed, which would give your opponent the advantage. Both serves try to get your opponent playing from the back two feet of the court. As for which type to attempt when, try each to your opponent's forehand and backhand in your opening service game; if he makes a hash of returning a serve, it's obviously worth persisting with that style until he shows signs of getting to grips with it.

When I jog, my mouth fills up with saliva after a while, which is annoying. Should I swallow or spit out the saliva?

Tom Lyster, by email Saliva is an important first line of defence against infection. Antibodies (called immunoglobulins) in saliva help to neutralise viruses before they can cause problems such as a cold. Athletes who train very hard have lower levels of these antibodies, and so are vulnerable to infection. The amount of saliva may be even more important than the antibody levels; if your mouth gets dry you are more vulnerable to infections. This is one good reason to keep drinking during exercise. So saliva is normal and good for you, and there is no reason or need to spit it out. If you do, though, because it bothers you, consider other people and be discreet.

I play on the wing for my rugby club. I'm pretty fast in a straight line and can often beat opponents for speed, but I'm not so clever when it comes to dummying or sidestepping them. We're a strictly amateur outfit, and I don't get any specialist coaching. Some players I've talked to say it's down to natural talent: either you've got it or you haven't. But I'm sure there must be drills I can do to improve.

Peter McCabe, Dublin The best way to learn to sidestep is to steal something from a shop and then run away down a crowded pavement. This is not recommended, but it does give an idea of what is required when you need to get past people quickly without bumping into them. The difference on a rugby pitch is that the person standing in your way wants to bump into you. If you have enough pace, just aim a yard or two to the side of him and run like hell. If that's not possible, you have to get him on the wrong foot, which requires practice. You can start to teach yourself by putting cones out two or three yards apart and swerving in between them. This will get you used to transferring your weight from foot to foot. Keep the ball in both hands; this will help sell him the dummy. But one-on-one coaching is advisable, to show you how to move on to one foot without putting too much weight on it and then come strongly off the other.

I'm 31, and for a couple of years have had a problem with my right shoulder. I can no longer complete more than 10 press-ups, and am usually unable to hold my arm above my head without pain. Physio has not worked. I'm fed up with it; any ideas?

Chris King, Wiltshire This pain is often caused by instability as the rotator-cuff muscles – the ring of small muscles around the joint – tire and fail to support the ball of the shoulder in its shallow socket. Three simple resistance exercises to strengthen these can help. First, push out sideways against a wall with your arm straight by your side – hold this for 10 seconds before relaxing. Second, hold your forearm at right angles as though holding a drink, then rotate the palm outwards and push against a door frame – again, hold for 10 seconds. Lastly, repeat the last exercise but rotate the palm inwards. Do these 10 times each day, and as you progress, try making the exercises more dynamic using strong rubber bands called Thera-Bands. If the problem persists, consult your GP.

In this week's panel, alongside Dr Richard Budgett, medical director of the British Olympic Association, were Peter Marshall, England international squash player, and Jonathan Davies, former Wales rugby union and Great Britain rugby league international

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While we take great care in answering your queries, Independent Newspapers and the contributors to Sports Clinic cannot be held liable for any advice tended and you should consult your own practitioner

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