Coaching Blog 2016 : Hit Harder

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If you look at top level squash now compared to just 10 years ago, people hit the ball harder and lower more often. This is not because of racket technology; rackets 10 years ago were just as powerful as they are now.

If you ever go and watch a World Series Event on a glass court, you can see and hear how hard the players are hitting the ball, much harder than it looks on TV. It’s obviously to anyone who has seen World No.1 ElShorbagy play, that he hits the ball hard and low pretty much most of the time, as can World No.3, Hammer Of Thor Omar Mosaad (hence his nickname!). If you watch carefully you’ll even see Ramy, who is known for his flair, actually hits the ball pretty hard on his drives. In fact, when you watch most of the top 10, even Castagnet who isn’t known for his hard hitting, they all crunch through their drives, much harder than players used to.

I’m not saying you should go around whacking every shot as hard as you can. One of the best sights in squash is when you see a player who controls the ball beautifully and can make their opponent look stupid by moving them from corner to corner, and not ‘blasting’ them off court. We’ve all seen a fat, unfit club player who controls the ball incredibly well, thrash a younger, fitter player at least once in our life. It’s fun to watch! But we’ve probably seen more club players who seem to be able to perform above their skill level because they regularly hit the ball hard and rush their opponent.

So, as I said, do not wallop every shot, you do not want to be reckless just for the sake of hitting hard…. but I definitely think it’s worth adding maybe one extra powerful shot per rally, and then maybe upping it to two with practice. Variety is still the key to being truly successful.

A good place to start is by hitting hard from the front corners, off a poor boast or drop shot by your opponent. A hard, low crosscourt from the front is usually very effective. Once you feel you can hit hard and still control the direction of the ball, then try hitting a forehand volley hard, then progress to trying a few harder straight or crosscourt drives from the back corners. A word of warning – hard drives are difficult from the back. It’s difficult to run the ball low and straight, and not clip the side wall (meaning the ball would come into the middle of the court), but practice makes perfect!