Blog : Right or Left leg ? Right or Wrong leg ?
This is a big one. When do you play off the textbook “correct” leg, and when do you play off the “wrong” leg?
Firstly, the correct legs are the front legs ie. for a right-hander it is left leg on the forehand and right leg for the backhand (left-hander is the opposite; forehand right leg and backhand left leg). The reason for these being the “correct” legs are that the final step to the ball with your front leg causes your chest to face the side wall which is perfect for hitting a straight shot easily (without having to manoeuvre your wrist). Facing the side wall, will cause your shot to run parallel to the side wall, therefore helping you to hit a “tight” shot. If your final step to the ball is off your back leg, your chest will naturally turn to the front wall, which is a “bad” position to play a controlled squash shot.
Generally, people have the same dominant leg as their dominant hand ie. right-handers are right footed, and lefties are left footed. For the ease of the rest of the blog, let’s look at right-handers (left-handers will be the opposite).
Forehand: realistically it is quicker to step across to the ball off your right leg, which is officially the “wrong” leg. This is quicker because the right is your stronger, more powerful leg, and you can often take one or two lunges to get there whereas it usually takes three steps to manoeuvre your left leg round. The forehand is a nice open swing, in that your right arm and racket immediately go away from your body into space. No restrictions. Now the problem we have with playing off your back foot is that your chest will be facing forwards instead of sideways, so you need to correct this by turning your hips to create a side-on chest position. A quick hip turn and you’re back in a textbook position. If you do not correct with your hips, you will be limited to bashing a cross-court, or if you try to hit straight it will come away from the side wall and your shot will be “loose” and therefore in danger of giving your opponent an easy volley or even giving away a ‘stroke’.
I think if you have a lot of time it is a good idea to play off your left leg on the forehand as you naturally get into a side-on good position, but you definitely need a bit more time to do this.
Backhand: almost always play off your correct right leg! It’s your stronger leg, so you’ll be balanced and it also puts you into a great side-on position to play your shot. The backhand is naturally a more complex shot as your arm / swing comes across your body, and facing sideways helps to move your body out the way for minimal restriction. Playing off your back left leg or “wrong” leg, means your forward facing chest will restrict the movement of your swing across your body, hence making your backhand shot difficult.
The only time I condone playing off your left leg on the backhand is when there’s a hard crosscourt coming across your body and you need to either volley the ball or hit it after the bounce but before the back wall. In this situation you don’t really have time to get your right leg around to play your shot, so it is just quicker to use your left leg. But… like on the forehand, you must try to turn your hips.
One thing I hate, is when people move to the front backhand corner to play off their left leg. It’s lazy! It’s also slower and restricts their shot selection dramatically as their chest is in the wrong position. They’re limited to a counter drop or a cross-court lob. No power can be generated from the back leg in this area of the court, as there is no weight transfer into the shot. Playing off your right leg creates options and power, surely what everyone wants when they’re under pressure?!
So, general rule: the majority of your shots will be played off your right leg (left leg for left-handers)