When you are looking to employ tactics in squash, it is usually based around one or more of the following 3 factors: 1) Your strength (s). 2) Your opponent’s weakness (es). 3) Court conditions.
There are however, tactics that just work in squash, irrelevant of the 3 factors above. Certain patterns of play take advantage of the nature of the sport, ie. court size and movement patterns. For example, the general pattern of squash that everybody can recognise, is to hit to the back corners in order to move your opponent off the ‘T’, then when you have an opening, look to use the front of the court. It’s simple and it’s not exactly rocket science, but it works due to the nature of the sport. Simple is almost always best.
Here is the same tactic above but looking at it in slightly more detail, but still keeping it incredibly simple. Hit a good drive to the back of the court, and if / when your opponent hits a loose return, you should hit a straight volley drop. Here I will explain…..
Many people think that the best tactics involve using opposite corners of the court, ie. send your opponent to their back backhand then send them to their front forehand, or the opposite; back forehand to front backhand. Yes, this is the furthest straight line distance for your opponent to cover, but it is not the hardest!
When a player moves out of a back corner shot, they will automatically head straight for the ‘T’. Moving to the opposite front corner is the easiest movement to make as travelling in a direct diagonal line, you can actually gain speed as you continue to move, like Usain Bolt would get faster and faster throughout his 100m race. There is no change of direction. To slow your opponent down you need to make them change direction, or ‘check’ their movement. Moving from a back corner to the front corner on the same side is the most difficult movement for your opponent, as the change of direction dramatically slows them down.
Therefore, after you have hit a good drive to the back corner, always look for their weak straight return that you can volley drop into the same side front corner. This is most commonly done on the backhand – so the ‘2 shot combination’ you are looking for is; a straight backhand drive (as tight as possible to make your opponent scrape the ball off the side wall causing it to come loose / away from the side wall, and on to your volley) followed by a backhand straight volley drop. It’s simple and it works!
Four-Time World Champion, Amr Shabana is the master of this tactic. His squash is simple yet attacking, constantly combining straight drives with straight volley drops.
(you can see in this photo how Shabana’s opponent is having to change direction on the ‘T’, slowing his movement down)
LESSON – BACKHAND STRAIGHT DRIVE FOLLOWED BY A BACKHAND STRAIGHT VOLLEY DROP