Good squash requires you to get a lot of things right at the same time. Here are some of the things you must do right to achieve success. Some of these are must-dos, while some are should-dos.
These are all things that I have incorporated in my game from time to time, and that I feel have contributed to greater success.
|Always try to play the ball to a position that allows you to return to the tee before your opponent plays the ball. Pretend there is a large tree growing in the court centred on the T. Play every shot to miss the tree and you'll play shots that make opponent work for his returns.
|Stretch to the shot
|Make your last stride to the shot long enough to give you a nice swing. The last stride defines your playing stance, and feet too close together is not a stable base for a good shot.
|Vary your return
|Occasionally take a more forward stance receiving serve for an early interception of a serve. If it works, you get the initiative in the rally. If opponent second guesses you, you may have to get back to dig out a lob.
|If you are confident you can reach and return the ball, try to move to a stable playing position as late and as slowly as possible to conserve energy, consistent with getting a good stance for the shot.
|To play a lob high enough to be safe you must get your racket under the ball and flick upwards positively. So you should only lob balls that are high enough.
|When stepping into position to play a shot near the wall, choose a position which allows both straight and cross court shots. This allows for deception, and your opponent will have to wait for your shot before committing himself for the return.
|Vary with wrist
|Use timing and your wrist to alter your return to a mid-length or front court shot between a drop, a kill and a cross court drive.
|No corner cramping
|Decide early if your chase to the backhand back corner will require a boast, as you need more room for that than you do for the rail return.
|Drops are dangerous
|Only counter drop if your opponent will have to stretch enough that he cannot drive. A drive to the back corner from a drop often wins, and at least makes your opponent run.
|Don't serve well enough to win the point - serve well enough to prevent your opponent playing a winning return. Hitting the side wall, and possibly the back wall, makes your opponent step back and play a defensive shot.
|Maybe hit early
|If you don't seem to be connecting properly with the ball, or some of your standard forcing shots don't have the power you expect, try taking everything a little early. If you are just hitting a little late, this should tell you.
|No slice cramping
|Opponent hits a cross court drive from the left wall. On its way to the right wall, it is low enough for you to intercept it. To intercept the ball and take the drive or volley, you must step back enough to give yourself room for a good shot, especially if you want to hit late down the right wall. It is all too easy to cramp this shot.
|Keep ball warm
|If your opponent drops a lot, hit hard often enough to keep the ball warm, so the drops and lobs bounce well.
|If at full stretch you think you won't quite reach the ball, lunge even further and flash your racket at the ball - you may get a nice surprise, and your opponent will have to move to cover your shot, even if it doesn't make it.
|Read your opponent's swing and shot early to give yourself the maximum time to move to take the return. If you see your opponent will not manage a return from your shot, you can save yourself the effort of moving to it.
|Revise old shots
|You know which shots you are executing well now - try to remember which shots were working especially well last month. If shots you've been working on recently aren't working, go back to your basic good shots, rails down the wall perhaps, till everything clicks agaiin.
|Try to keep your movement as fluid as you can - read your opponent so you can set off early for the return. You often find after a good game that you won that you had been moving with fluidity, skipping early back to play long shots, stretching successfully to retrieve drops.
|Drop a ball from seven feet up - the speed it has when it hits the ground can be added to its speed off your racket when you volley a ball downwards, meaning that volleys don't need to be hit hard. There are also fewer visual clues to help you judge speed and distance when the ball is flying above your head, so playing a softer shot will increase your chances of a clean return.
|If you do want to hit hard volleys, your back swing needs to curl behind your head, and you need to hit early, with almost a tennis serve action. And I mean really early.
|For most squash shots, you should bring the racket out of the backswing, through the shot and into the follow through as if you are uncoiling your arm and shoulder from a primed position. Your stance, your back and shoulders, your arm and wrist all need to work in the correct sequence for that clean perfect shot.
|Some find a good serve that they can repeat. This becomes their serve. If you can't find a good repeatable serve, then you are better off playing with a variety of service styles. The element of surprise will make up for precision.
|If you watch high class players, you will see that more than half of rallies are won with a drop or a boast. And if you look at the rallies that are won with a shot to the back, then usually the losing player has been held at the front by a recent sequences of drops or boasts.
|The wrong shot
|I'm often asked "How do I dig the ball out of the corner ?", when the real question should have been "Knowing I can't get the ball once it's in the corner, where should I have intercepted it ?"
Similarly, don't jump for the smash when the ball is going to rebound nicely from the back wall.
Copyright (C) Richard Hart 2015 - 2018