Ok, I get it, it’s come to that time when you need a replacement grip for your squash racket… Your hands are sweating, you were deep into a rather long competitive rally with a close rival and then you took a swing, and the racket went flying and nearly took off your opponent’s head. If that really was the case, then it’s time for a squash racket grip replacement!
When To Change a Squash Racket Grip
The above example is a little extreme, I admit. However, it does happen, and it has happened to me before! More likely, however, is that you’ve simply started noticing your hand slipping a little on the grip as it’s got a little too shiny from weeks of playing with sweaty hands. Hands slipping from the grip can result in lots of miss-hits and not always the fluke-type ones that hit the nick, more likely ones that hit the tin or fly out of court!
How To Change a Squash Racket Grip
Personally, I think the best way to demonstrate how to replace a grip is to show you how to do it on a video. Here’s a guy from PDH sports showing you how to do just that with my favourite grip of choice the Karakal grip…
Squash Grip Lifespan
Basically, if you’re noticing that you can’t firmly hold your racket position then it’s time to change your grip. It’s not a time-based thing either, you must simply notice for yourself when it’s time to change. Factors such as how often you play and how much you sweat are big factors when it comes to how often you need to change your squash grip.
Squash Grip Thickness
If you have big, large, thick hands then you probably want a larger thickness of grip than someone with smaller hands. Thicker grips aren’t always easy to come by however you can get by this problem by simply putting two grips onto your squash racket.
Applying one grip to the top of another grip is often referred to as a squash overgrip. When you get your brand-new, shiny racket, I often find that the manufacturer-supplied racket grip is not that great. At this point, you have two options, one to remove it and put a new grip on in its place or two to place a new grip over the manufacturer-supplied grip – a squash overgrip. Again, it usually depends on the size of your hands and/or personal preferences.
What is the Best Squash Grip for Sweaty Hands?
I feel like I’m well qualified to answer this question as I’ve always had sweaty hands when I play. In fact, I just generally sweat a lot everywhere when I play!! For me I find the Karakal squash grip to be an excellent choice. I wrote a short article about the Karakl grip that you can read here. You also might want to consider a squash overgrip or double grip if you have sweaty hands as the claim in that it can help with absorption.
Squash Grip Powder
I’m no expert on squash grip powder as personally I’ve never tried the stuff, however, I have seen other players who use it religiously! You apply it directly to your hands or the grip or sometimes to both. Its aim is to dry your hands and grip and give you a kind of a tacky feel to the grip of the racket.
The following squash tips and tactics should give you some new things think about or to try in your next big match.
If you haven’t already then try introducing one or two new tips to your game each week and begin to see your game improve!
And I don’t mean alcoholic – save that for after the game! Try drinking a couple of pints of water (if you can manage it) two to three hours before you play. This is a sure way to ensure that you’re well-hydrated when your match begins. Being fully hydrated means your body won’t get tired quite as quickly and helps reduce the risk of muscle-related injuries.
Always stretch thoroughly before going on court. Squash involves a lot of lunging and reaching and therefore it is important that your muscles are fully warmed up. Focus predominantly on the muscle groups in your arms and legs.
3. Warm the ball up
This is essential as the game is practically unplayable without a warm ball but warming the ball up also warms yourself up in terms of getting the blood flowing and your muscles working. All of which goes towards enabling you to stay injury-free. Please don’t be greedy when warming the ball up. Control the ball and then play it back to yourself no more than twice before playing it back to your opponent.
(Photo Credit: funkypancake)
4. Control the ball
Timing is essential in squash so get your timing and control of the ball working early on in the game and then as your confidence increases work on increasing the pace. Often accuracy is much more important than pace, a ball tight to the wall or close to the nick is usually harder for your opponent to return than one that is simply hit hard and loose.
(Photo Credit David Boyle in DC)
5. Watch the ball
Watch the ball, not the front wall. As someone once said to me when I first started playing “Why are you staring at the front wall, it’s not going to fall down you know!” Watch the ball with intensity – try and look for the dots on the ball as it’s moving! Use your head and your neck to view the ball rather than turning your full body and potentially putting yourself out of position.
Also, watch how the ball leaves your opponents racket. If your opponent is a hard hitter then it’s sometimes almost impossible to keep your eye on the ball all of the time, but what you can do is note how the ball left your opponent’s racket. Did it come off straight or was it angled for a cross-court? Was it hit with pace or not? These clues can help you to determine where on the court you should be moving to.
(Photo Credit: julesgriff)
6. Control the ‘T’
Out of all of the squash tips, this one is very important. In squash, the person who has control of the ‘T’ usually has control of the game. If your opponent has played a shot that is effective at moving you off of the ‘T’ then don’t be lazy in terms of recovering – move quickly back to the ‘T’ whilst continuing to keep your eye on the ball.
For beginner players, it’s good to almost think of the “T” as your home and while ever you are in your home then it’s difficult for anyone else to get in. So reach out for the ball, play a weaker shot but maintain your position on the “T” by stretching and/or taking the ball early.
Take the ball early so as to take time away from your opponent and put them under pressure. The volley is predominantly an attacking shot and therefore you should always be looking for good opportunities to volley the ball. Volleying the ball often goes hand-in-hand with maintaining your “T” position – focus on control and accuracy overpower.
In squash, it is important to stay focused. Concentration is key. Don’t lose your concentration by worrying about a bad shot, or a bad referee decision or some comment that your opponent makes.
Fitness is key to good concentration. The fitter you are then the more likely you’ll be able to maintain your concentration.
9. Play to the corners
The corners are the furthest areas away from the ‘T’ so try and aim the ball to the corners to force your opponent to run and in turn, give you more time in between shots.
10. Mix it up
Try and vary your game by mixing it up a little. If you keep playing similar shots from similar positions then your opponent will soon catch on and take advantage.
11. Keep it tight
In squash the term ‘railing it’ is used and this basically means to keep the ball tight to the side walls. A ball tight to the wall reduces the possibility of your opponent playing an angle-shot and therefore they have fewer options.
12. Change the pace
Try alternating the pace you hit the ball. Try fast, hard shots and then try slowing the game down with some slower, higher deeper shots. Note how your opponent responds.
13. Remain calm
Staying calm is essential as losing your cool not only motivates your opponent but also can affect your thinking which can lead to poor shot selection.
(Photo Credit: Ian Gallagher)
14. Stay on your toes
Don’t get flat-footed, stay on your toes and keep your feet moving.
15. Use Height
Think about using the height of the front wall to get the ball to the back of the court. Using height means you don’t have to put as much effort into hitting the ball whilst still getting a decent length. It can be great to use when under pressure as a slower, higher ball can give you some extra time to recover to the ‘T’. If you’re not under pressure you can still use height to simply give yourself a little more time to consider your positioning and the match in general. For high cross-court shots try and judge the width – poor width could result in your opponent easily attacking the shot with a volley.
16. Use Deception
Try and show your opponent one shot but then hit another. For example raise your racket as if you are going to hit a strong powerful shot and then actually play a drop shot, or reach your racket out to the ball so that it looks like the only shot you can play is a drop shot and then at the last minute flick the ball high to lob it into the back of the court. Please see the page squash deception for further details on how you can deceive your opponent.
Of all the squash tips this one should almost go without saying. As with almost any sport or skill you want to acquire, practice makes perfect. Try and play an opponent weaker than yourself once each week. This enables your opponent to get better and it enables you to practice and work on some of your weaker areas. Then also try and play one person at a similar level to yourself and play one person who’s better than you.
Practice areas of your game that you really want to improve, playing lots of games is lots of fun but it is unlikely to aid you in improving on your week points.
18. Keep Your Distance
Keeping your distance from the ball is extremely important. In the amateur game, you often see players overrun the ball, particularly in the back corners. Getting too close to the ball limits your options. Make sure that you’re far enough away from the ball to be able to freely swing your racket.
19. Stay Positive
Even if you’re down a game or two. Stay positive. Go back on to court feeling like a winner. If you go back on court feeling like you’ve already lost then you surely will. So change your tactics, keep your head up and go back on court feeling like you’re going to win!
20. Watch the pros
Fire up youtube and watch some of the pros in action. Look at both past and present. Notice how they often play long rallies to build up to an eventual winning shot. You can work out some of your own additional squash tips from watching the experts at work!
21. Prepare Your Racket Early
Prepare your racket early. This enables you to show your opponent that you can hit the ball to anywhere in the court.
22. Workout At The Gym
Ask any seasoned squash player about fitness and they will tell you that you need to be fit to play squash, and how true that is. The fitter you are the better your game will be. Focus on core strength and stamina.
Do lightish weights but with many reps, your goal isn’t to bulk up it’s simply to get as fit as you possibly can.
Core strength should give you better stability with the shots that you play. It also helps you think better. Squash is sometimes referred to as 90-miles-an-hour chess, a fit body means a fit mind and you will be better able to make those snap decisions if your feeling fit and healthy.
Don’t have access to a gym? Then no problem do some body-strength exercises… Think press-ups, the plank, abdominal exercises, squats, squat thrusts, etc.
23. Learn How To Play A Backhand Serve
If you don’t already play a backhand serve, then this can be quite a big change to your game. It is worth practicing though as it enables you to see your opponent better and get to the T much quicker. You will find that the angle off of the front wall is completely different but you will soon master it and then start to reap the benefits!
24. Try not to boast too much
Most beginners rely far too heavily on the attacking boast shot. Occasionally boasts can work well but more often than not they can put you in a difficult position. So if you think you can play a straight drive instead then do so. Boasting the ball only tends to be really effective when your opponent isn’t expecting it.
25. Do Some Solo Practice
Taking some time on the court to practice on your own is an excellent way to improve your game. Professional players do solo practice sessions for a few hours every week. If you manage even just the odd twenty minutes a week you should see big improvements in your gameplay.
Place a target against tight to the sidewall and touching the back of the service box. Then play straight drive lengths to yourself. Try to hit the target on each shot that you make. Repeat on both the backhand and forehand walls.
For a different kind of solo practice try playing straight drives where every ball lands in the service box. Keep a count of how many you can do consecutively, then do the same routine on the opposite side of the court.
Other good ones are:
keeping count of how many straight volleys you can keep going. Try this routine from different distances from the front wall.
keeping count of how many cross-court volley-boasts you can playback to your self. Front-wall, side-wall, above the service line then same shot to the opposite side.
Same as above but lower and faster, allowing a bounce of the ball.
Playing a loose boast to yourself near the front of the court and then attempt to play a front wall – side-wall drop shot. With the ball landing as close to the nick as you can get it.
26. Don’t Over-Rotate
When you’ve swung through the ball try not to over-rotate.
Try and make sure that your shoulders remain square to the sidewall when you hit the ball and direct your follow-through in the direction of your target on the front wall.
27. Keep In Control
Try and control everything within your control! Control your footwork, control how you position yourself to the ball and control the pace that you hit the ball.
28. Possibly The Most Important Of All The Squash Tips … Make Sure Your Club Is Using A Great Court Booking System!
Practice makes perfect and so you need to get those games in and know exactly who you are playing and at what time and a great way to do that is to ensure that your club has an excellent court booking system. I can highly recommend our PlanIt-BookIt product– The members of the squash clubs where we have it installed love it.
Our system is currently in use by the famous Pontefract squash club which has produced a number of world-champions and is highly likely to produce more in the future.
Amongst others, we’ve also recently rolled it out to another large and well respected squash club too Nottingham Squash Club. Another club known that is home to a large number of professional players!
Squash deception is all about creating that wonderful moment where you send your opponent the opposite way to where you play the ball. It’s about creating that element of uncertainty in your opponent’s mind – that split second where he or she has to lose their rhythm, pause and determine which way they need to go. Sometimes it is known as wrong-footing your opponent.
“…you may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln
In its most basic form, squash deception is setting up for one shot and then playing another or put another way, making it look like you are playing one shot and then playing an entirely different shot. Deception usually goes hand in hand with squash disguise. Disguise is preparing for many shots in the same way so that your opponent has difficulty in determining exactly which shot you are about to play.
“Squash deception that wonderful moment where you send your opponent the opposite way to the ball.”
It’s all about applying additional pressure on your opponent by hopefully sending them in the opposite direction to where you are playing the ball or by wrong footing them by keeping your opponent guessing as to where you are going to play the ball right up until the last second.
To deceive your opponent in this way you have to set yourself up so that you look like you are playing one shot but then you actually play a different shot entirely.
Your opponent can only chase after the ball once they know which way the ball is heading.
But how exactly do you go about creating disguise and/or deception? How do you make your opponent have to guess which way to go?
Well for a starter check out this video which demonstrates how to look like you’re about to play a cross-court drive when in fact you actually play a straight drive.
Twelve Techniques You Can Use To Create Disguise And / Or Squash Deception
Disguise: Try and use the same preparation for every shot you play. Whether that shot is a boast, a drop, a cross-court or a straight drive. Using the same racket preparation for each different shot will make it much more difficult for your opponent to determine exactly where you are playing the ball. Start each forehand and backhand swing from exactly the same position, usually with your racket in the air and the tip of your elbow pointing forward.
Deception: You might be surprised to hear this one but here goes… Take your eye off of the ball. Obviously, most of the time you need to have your eyes glued to the ball, tracking it all of the time so that you are clear which part of the court your next shot will be coming from. However, for deception, there is a moment just as you strike the ball where it is better to keep your eyes firmly stuck to the exact point where you struck the ball. Don’t follow the ball with your eyes after you have made contact with it. Following the ball with your eyes gives your opponent a great big clue as to which direction the ball is heading. Instead, keep your head still and just have the confidence that the ball will go to the point where you intended it to go.
Disguise: Delay or hold your racket for as long as possible prior to taking your swing. Holding the racket is excellent for squash deception. It creates that sense of uncertainty for your opponent. Done well it can make your opponent commit to movement in a particular direction before you’ve even struck the ball.
Deception: From the back of the court stand in such a position that it only looks possible from your opponent’s perspective to play a boast. At the last second change so that you play a straight drive shot. For this to work you might have to use your wrist a little.
Disguise: Even though your intention is to disguise your shot you should always know in your own mind exactly where you intend the ball to go. Changing your mind as to where you’re going to play the ball can often end with you only fooling one individual and that’s yourself!
Deception: Use a really short backswing to make it look like you are playing a drop shot and then at the last moment flick your wrist to play either a cross-court shot or a straight drive.
Deception: As in technique 6. above, use a short backswing to make it look like you’re playing a drop shot and then use your wrist to flick the ball high up on the front wall and lob the ball to the back corner of the court. When this technique is done well your opponent lunges forward in an attempt to play what they think is a drop only to see the ball float way above their head to the back.
Deception: Turn your body away from the sidewall so that it faces the front wall. This position should make you look like you’re going to play a cross-court shot. Change the shot with a short, sharp punching movement into a straight drive. This technique is demonstrated in the video at the top of the page.
Deception: As in technique 4. stand at the back of the court in such a way that it looks like you could only play a boast or possibly a straight drive and then at the last moment use a lot of wrist to flick the ball fully cross court.
Deception: Attempt to use your body to block your opponent’s view at the point that you make contact with the ball.
Deception: Deliberately play the same shot repeatedly from a particular position on the court. Change only after you feel you’ve planted that expected pattern of play in your opponent’s mind.
Deception: Use your body language to mislead your opponent.
Practice Makes Perfect – Or At Least Makes You Better Than Before!
For disguise and deception to work well it needs to become effortless and natural. You need to be confident in your own abilities to disguise and deceive your opponent. A great way to do this is simply to practice.
Good deception can often result in a winning shot or at least put you in a really strong position in terms of the rally. However, poor deception just leaves you completely open to failing. As deception often makes a lot of use of the wrist it can be difficult to do and result in a weak open, mid-court shot.
Deception in matches should only be used when you are well practiced and comfortable at playing that particular shot.
Try the following routines for solo practice, use both the backhand and forehand sides of the court…
Feed yourself a short, loose ball at the front of the court and then practice hitting both straight drives and cross-court shots. Focus your eyes on the ball only up to the point of striking it. From then on have the confidence that the ball will go to where you want it to.
Feed yourself a short ball to the front corner. Practice looking like you are playing a drop shot and then using your wrist to flick out a cross-court or straight drive.
As in practice routine 2. feed yourself another short ball to the front corner and show a drop shot but at the last minute flick the ball high up the wall and play a lob.
Stand in a position so that your body is facing the back wall and the only shot that looks possible and then practice playing straight drives from that position. Use your wrist if you need to.
As in practice routine 4. stand with your body facing the back wall but this time try and use a lot of wrist to pull out a cross-court shot.
Practice With a Partner
One of you plays boast shots from the back of the court. The guy at the front practices deception by playing either a straight drive or a cross-court. The back player should shout out when they think the deception was good.
Play a game where you are only allowed to play boasts and straight drives. A straight drive has to be played after a boast but only play boasts occasionally. Try and practice showing a boast but playing a straight drive.
Do the same as the practice session above but throw an occasional cross-court into the mix too. Use your body position to disguise the cross-court.
Get your partner to boast from the back of the court and then move directly to the T. You then play either a drop or a straight drive. If you play a drop then your partner counter drops, if you play a straight drive then your opponent boasts again. Get your partner to rate how well each shot was disguised.
A variation of practice session 5. above is to allow the player at the back to straight drive as well as counter drop. A straight drive would effectively swap the back and front players.
Have some fun while you are practicing the above. Squash disguise and deception can be very difficult to master so don’t get too down if it doesn’t come quickly for you. Keep practicing and something will work for you. In matches only use the techniques that you feel very comfortable with.
To get a good feel for exactly how well you are at disguise and deception try and get someone to video you on their smartphone during your practice session. Look out for anything that you do that might give away the shot you play.
USE YOUR WRIST
Squash deception is an advanced skill as it often requires your body to be in a position not suited for the shot you are about to play. The use of the wrist often has to come into action so as to pull the shot off – this can result in a potentially weak or poor shot.
(Photo Credit: Jo Christian Oterhals)
DON’T OVERUSE IT
The trick with deception is not to overuse it. If you are known to play the same shot over and over again your opponents will become aware of it.
Below is a video of Jonathan Power. Jonathan was known as a master of deception…
CROSS COURT OR STRAIGHT DRIVE?
A great deception shot is to move your body so that it is facing the front wall making it look like you’re about to play a cross-court and then use your wrist to pull out a straight drive. Clever players also use their head to look in the direction of the cross-court. This makes the shot a tad more difficult but adds that extra layer of deception if you can pull it off.
BOAST OR STRAIGHT DRIVE?
From the back of the court, you can try and deceive your opponent by facing your body towards the back wall to make it look like you are going to play a boast off of the side wall and then again using your wrist pull out a straight drive.
Closely related to squash deception is squash disguise which is all about setting yourself up so that it looks to your opponent that you are going to play a particular shot when in fact you actually play another. For me, one of the first disguise shots that I learned was a short back swing to look like you are about to play a drop shot and then at the last minute flick the wrist upwards to lob the ball over your opponent to the back of the court. Try and hold off playing this shot long enough until you sense your opponent moving forward.
A slight variation on the above shot is to again show a drop shot and use a flick of your wrist to play a cross-court drive. Disguise is used often by top-level players – you will often see them preparing early and then holding the shot as long as they can before striking the ball at the last possible moment. Holding off from playing your shot as long as possible can result in your opponent committing to move in a particular direction too early. Holding the shot is all about good racket preparation – so when practicing make sure that you have your racket up and ready.
One great tip I was told to make all your disguise and deception shots stronger is to only look at the ball for the moment before and at the time you strike the ball. After you have struck the ball have the confidence to know the ball is going where you wanted it to go. Don’t give your opponent any more clues by watching the ball immediately after it leaves your racket.
What Others Have To Say About Squash Deception
“Deception comes in many forms but it is most effective when it is subtle. The less time your opponent has to process information from you prior to impact with the ball, the more success you will have.” – David Campion
“Sending your opponent completely the wrong way is one of the most satisfying feelings on a squash court. Making it happen however can be a challenge.” – Peter Nicol
For an excellent journal article on squash deception please see “Anticipation and Deception in Squash” by Roger Flynn who is the Head Squash Coach – Victorian Institute of Sport and was the Australian Junior Men’s Team Coach from 1998-2000
In this video, Karim Darwish demonstrates how to look like you’re playing a drop shot but actually play a straight or crosscourt drive…
Don’t Overuse Squash Deception
Disguise can and should be done all of the time if you are able. Squash deception however should be used sparingly. It’s not something you should be doing every second shot. Overusing it will enable your opponent to better work out exactly what you’re doing. They will begin to read your game and have you and your shot completely sussed out before you play it.
Squash Court Booking System
Is your squash club in need of a new court booking system? If so please take a look at our PlanIt-BookIt product and how it’s been designed to work well with squash clubs. Click here for more details.
The squash boast is basically any shot that hits the side or back wall before hitting the front wall. It is commonly played as a defensive shot. Often when the ball has been played tight to the back wall. However, it can also be played as an attacking shot.
Squash is a game of angles and experienced players can use the angles in order to put the ball in a position that makes it as hard as possible for your opponent to return it.
The squash boast is basically any shot that hits the side or back wall before hitting the front wall.
Side Wall Boast
This is the most common boast played in the game of squash. In the video below Bob Jaffe from Dulwich Squash club, London UK demonstrates how to play the side wall boast…
The common form of the sidewall boast is sometimes referred to as the three wall boast, this is because it is played against the sidewall from the back of the court, it then hits the front wall and the opposite side wall – three walls.
Attacking Squash Boast
The most common attacking boast is a two-wall boast. Basically, the aim of the two-wall attacking boast is for the ball to go from the sidewall to the middle of the front wall. This way the ball bounces and starts to die before hitting the opposite sidewall. It’s a good shot to play if you feel like your opponent is slightly out of position.
The two-wall attacking boast has a further advantage in that it’s a shot that can easily be disguised. Simply set up to play a straight drive and then at the last instant play an attacking boast.
The video below shows how to play a two-wall attacking boast…
The three-wall attaching boast is much harder to play and usually takes a lot of practice to master effectively. The three-wall attacking boast is played from the back corner and should ideally nick out of the opposite front corner.
Play attacking boasts to break up the rhythm of the game or if your opponent tends to be hanging around the back of the court a lot. It’s also a good shot to play if you’re not confident about your drop shot. Also, use an attacking boast if your opponent is stuck near the sidewall, it’s an effective way to get the ball to the other side of the court quickly.
Don’t play an attacking boast if your opponent is in front of you and closely watching the ball, don’t play it they’re generally quick at moving and picking balls up from the front of the court.
Below is a video demonstrating how to play a three-wall boast.
A defensive boast is usually any boast that’s played from the back of the court with your opponent in front of you.
Played very well it hits the sidewall, then the front wall and then hits the nick in the floor of the opposite corner to where you played it from. It is usually a three-wall boast but can be a two-wall and in cases of last resort defence, it can be a back wall boast. Please see further down this article for details of a back wall boast.
See the video below for details of the defensive boast including routines you can practice with a partner in order to perfect the shot.
A trickle boast is played in the front corners and is often played as an alternative to a drop shot.
It’s quite a good shot for people to play who aren’t too confident about their drop shot abilities.
The best way to play this shot is to hold it for as long as possible and then flick it towards the front sidewall. You have to be quite confident that your opponent is either out of position or is going to misread your trickle boast as if they’re on top of it you will find yourself scrambling across a full court diagonal chasing a ball that you have a high chance of missing.
The following video will show you how to play a trickle boast…
Back Wall Boast
This squash boast should really be used as a last resort. It’s a last line of defence when basically the ball is so tight to the back wall that you can’t play anything else.
To play the shot you open the racket face in order to play the ball of the back wall in such a way that it arcs up high and relatively slowly towards the front wall. You want it to be high and relatively slow to give you time to get yourself back on the T.
This shot often leaves your opponent in a very strong position and so you need to be well placed on the T to have a better chance of anticipating what your opponent’s next shot might be. The video below demonstrates how to play a back wall boast…
Reverse Angle Boast
The reverse angle boast is played against the opposite sidewall to where the ball is, it then hits the front wall and comes back to where you first played it from.
It’s a shot that should be played very sparingly. Most squash coaches would advise against ever playing this squash boast. Played with a bit of disguise though it can work in terms of it making your opponent think you’ve played a cross-court shot only to see the ball fly back to where it was first played from.
The skid boast is played from the back corners. To play it you need to play the ball hard and fast high up on the sidewall near the front of the court. The ball then lobs cross court to the opposite back corner. Here’s a video that demonstrates how to play a skid boast…
Philly Boast or Corkscrew
The Philly boast is usually played from the front of the court. It is played high up on the front wall and then it hits the sidewall and travels to the opposite back corner.
If played very well the ball ends up with a lot of spin on it and it can sometimes make the ball appear to almost hug tight against the back wall. Ramy Ashour hitting a perfect backhand Philly boast…
Nick Matthew playing a forehand version of the same shot…
Squash Court Booking System
Is your squash club in need of a new court booking system? If so please take a look at our PlanIt-BookIt product and how it’s been designed to work well with squash clubs. Click here for more details.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Flickr – Darla دارلا Hueske
Article Written By: Martin Gilliard
What’s your favourite boast? Can you play a skid boast or a Philly boast? Let me know in the comments below…
The squash drop shot – some of us are naturally gifted with an ability to play drop shots. Others, like me, simply can’t play a good drop shot for love nor money!
If you’re a bit like me and you can’t drop and so often won’t drop then this article might just help you. No promises though because after all the drop shot is classified as an advanced shot in the wonderful game of squash.
Prepare Like a Straight Drive
You should prepare for the drop shot in exactly the same way as you would for a straight drive. So same positioning of your feet and the same positioning of your racket.
In terms of your body’s position, your chest should be facing the side wall, with your front shoulder pointing in the direction of the shot.
If you can find a willing partner to practice with then a great way to practice this is to get your partner to feed balls to the front of the court. After each feed you simply play a straight drive to the back of the court. Your partner then occasionally and somewhat randomly shouts out for you to play a drop shot.
This should get you into the habit of preparing for a straight drive regardless of whether you ultimately play a drop or a straight drive.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like almost anything else in life, the more you practice the better you are likely to get. Repetition is very important with the drop shot. Playing drop shots over and over again will improve your feel and touch of the shot.
If you have access to a ball machine, then make use of it. Load it up with balls and set it up to feed you balls at the front of the court. Don’t cheat or get lazy – meaning try and recover back to the T after each drop shot you play.
No ball machine? Then ask a friend to feed you balls from the back of the court. No willing friend then feed yourself by playing a loose boast.
This photo shows a friend of mine and one of the top squash coaches in the world – David Heath playing a drop shot.
Measure Your Progress
A useful exercise to measure your progress and determine if you’re actually improving at the squash drop shot is to place a piece of paper or cardboard next to the nick where you would normally aim for when playing a drop. The paper or cardboard is going to act as your target.
Set yourself a time limit, say two minutes and then feed the ball to yourself. Play a drop from the feed and quickly keep repeating the process. Count how many times you can hit the target within the two minutes.
Once you’re happy that you are regularly hitting the target mix the exercise up a bit by feeding a volley to yourself and playing a volley drop into the target. Measure your abilities and improvements on both the forehand and backhand sides of the court.
The Forehand Squash Drop Shot
Generally, with the forehand drop shot you should have the racket, on preparation, slightly higher than what you would have for the backhand drop shot. Keep the racket face quite open and then with your follow through let the racket head almost direct the ball to the target.
Try playing the forehand drop with both a traditional closed stance (the opposite leg to your racket leading) and an open stance (your racket leg leading).
The Backhand Squash Drop Shot
The backhand drop shot is generally slightly easier than the forehand.
Go into the drop shot with the racket slightly high and have quite a loose grip on your racket if you can. You need your racket to have an open face. Come down on the ball and allow the follow through to guide the ball towards the target.
The Counter Drop
With the counter drop you still need your racket with a good open face and then you want to (almost gently) direct the ball towards the front wall at an angle aiming for the sidewall nick.
If you need that extra bit of lift to guide the ball above the tin, then lift the head of your racket to do just that.
The Long Backhand Squash Drop Shot
This is an incredibly difficult shot to play, so only play it if you have the confidence to pull it off.
Played correctly it can often result in a point winning moment or at a minimum it should put you in complete control of the rally.
You should still prepare as if you were playing a long ball then you need to keep your upper body as still as you possibly can. For the backhand long drop. Slice through the ball a little, keeping your knuckles facing upwards.
Practice this shot a lot before bringing it into your game. A shot into the tin from the back of the court will only make you look and feel a bit silly!
The Backhand Volley Squash Drop Shot
This is another incredibly difficult shot, so once again, make sure you have practiced it and that you are comfortable playing it. Also, make sure that the opportunity is right to play the volley drop. You want the ball to be at a height that you can comfortably reach and you obviously don’t want the ball too tight to the side wall.
Prepare your racket early and ensure that your front foot is firmly planted before you play the ball. Your shoulder should be parallel to the side wall as you play the shot. Keep the face of the racket open and with quite a short swing let your racket follow through guide towards your target.
The Forehand Volley Squash Drop Shot
As with all the other drop shots it’s very important to play this shot with an open faced racket. The open face is required to give you some cut on the ball.
As with the backhand volley drop make sure that the opportunity is right to play the shot. You should be in a comfortable position to play it and the ball shouldn’t be too high or too tight to the side wall.
Try to use a short swing as this should reduce your chances of missing your target. Also, try and take the ball as early as you can. Taking the ball early will add pressure to your opponent.
Squash Drop Shot Deception
If you have time, then the front of the court is a great place for deception. Approach the ball with your racket slightly raised and at a 45-degree angle, play the ball with a not quite full swing and cut under the ball to play a drop that looks like it could be a straight drive.
Alternatively approach the ball with a much shorter swing and reach out towards the ball with your elbow leading as much as you possibly can. Try to make it look as if your only option is a drop shot then use your forearm and your wrist if you are able to get enough power to play a straight or cross-court drive.
I play squash just for fitness and for fun and I have done for 25+ years now. Love the game. My other passion is software development, which I’ve been doing for 35+ years. My club had a booking system which kept failing, it was slow and didn’t additionally manage all of our clubs members. So, I set about writing my own court booking system.
Please take a look by checking out the PlanIt-BookIt home page. There’s even a fully working demo that you can try out. I’d love any feedback you could provide me. Does your club have a system? How does mine compare? What do you like / dislike about your existing system? What do you like / dislike about PlanIt-BookIt.
Now, I’m no professional, in fact, the highest standard I ever got to was a sub a couple of times for the county league at my local club. So I’m not sure if professional players would match my thoughts, but for me, the Karakal grip is by far the best grip out there.
And yes, I know, there are different Karakal grips, but I am referring to the basic Karakal grip which I think they call the PU grip. I’ve always been one of those players that sweats a lot during play. It often runs down my arms onto my hands making the grip incredibly slippy. However, not with the Karakal grip, as long as I change them regularly, and by regularly I mean about once a month after playing two to four times a week, then I’m fine.
Karakal themselves give the following key features of the grip:
Non-Slip Nano PU Surface
Extra Long Life
Karakal grips have actually been around for over 28 years now. The PU grip is the improved version of the original grip.
Use & Design
The grip isn’t solely used by squash players either. You also get badminton, tennis, racketball, hockey and ice hockey players using the grip. It can generally be used by all ages. Many say that the grip is number one on the market.
The grip incorporates nanoparticles at the molecular level that helps increase the durability and comfort of the grip.
The grips come with a self-adhesive backing and a thin plastic covering that protects the grip prior to wrapping.
To place the grip on your racket first remove your old grip or shop supplied grip. Please note that if you have big hands or prefer a thicker grip then you may be best leaving your original grip in place. However, do make sure that it is dry.
Step 1: Remove the film from the PU surface of the grip tape. Step 2: Remove a piece of the sticky side foil. Please note: Start at the narrower end. Place the thin end of the grip tape at the bottom of the grip so that it fits exactly. The grip tape should not extend over or expose any of the handle. Step 3: Start wrapping the grip tape. You will see that the grip tape is pre-shaped and makes a “bow” upwards. Now follow this bow evenly and wrap the grip tape up to the end of the grip. Depending on whether you prefer the grip band thinner or thicker, the width of the overlap may vary. Step 4: Now cut the grip tape in a horizontal, straight line so that it optimally closes with the grip cap. Step 5: Now attach the grip tape to the handle cap using the enclosed end adhesive strip.
You can purchase a Karakal grip from Amazon. They come in various colours to match either your racket or your favourite colour preference…
The Head i110 squash racket has been around for a good few years now, but it is still one of the lightest rackets on the market.
Personally, I’ve always preferred a light racket but then again I’ve never progressed further than low-level county standard. I’ve heard that a lot of professional players like a little more weight to help with the swing.
The racket is made of titanium carbon fibre and is 260 grams including strings. Possibly doesn’t need stating but 110 grams for the racket unstrung or 3.9 oz for our American friends.
It has a teardrop head shape and includes HEAD intellifibres apparently these aim to reduce 20% of vibrations on ball impact stiffening the racket for explosive power. It is kind of a black and grey in colour.
Light rackets can be a good choice for players that like to use a lot of deception. The lightweight enables a little flick of the wrist so that hopefully you can play a shot different to what your opponent was expecting!
I have actually used this racket myself, honest, and personally, I liked it, however, it was many years ago and I seem to remember it breaking pretty quickly from a light tap on the wall after playing a boast shot
It includes a ComforTac- grip for great traction, feel and moisture absorption although personally, I hate racket supplied grips and usually replace them with a Karakal grip. The racket comes with a 3/4 cover.
Asics squash shoes use such technologies as the Impact Guidance System (IGS), the core gel cushioning system and Biomorphic which aim at increasing both comfort and performance for the squash player.
IGS is designed to allow the squash player’s foot to feel natural upon impact.
The gel system is optimized for shock absorption with the use of a special kind of silicone. The gel units are placed in strategic impact points across the base of the shoe in order to enable the player to feel natural in the positions they adopt throughout the duration of a typical game.
Their high-end indoor shoe is named Gel Blast 3 and incorporates resistant synthetic leather built into the upper of the shoe to help prevent too much wear from the player dragging their feet; Asics refer to this technology as ‘Rhynoskin’.