Coaching Blog : The Boast

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The boast can be an attacking or defensive shot.  Generally I feel the boast is over-used at club level.  People use it to take the ball in to the front of the court instead of a straight drop, as it is easier to play.  So often though, I see a player use a boast to attack and it has the opposite effect, they put themselves under pressure, not their opponent.  This is because they used the wrong type of boast.  “What! There’s different types of boast” I hear you ask………

The 2 types of boast (from either mid-court or the back of the court) are:

A ‘3 Wall Boast’ and a ‘2 Wall Boast’.

(Obviously not covering the ‘Trickle Boast’ which is an attacking, wrong footing boast from the front corners)

The 3 Wall Boast is the most common type at club level, where the ball it hit against the side wall, onto the front wall and aiming to land it into the nick on the far side, so hitting the 3rd wall.

The 3 Wall Boast is the defensive, slightly desperate boast.  This should be played from the back corners.  I personally feel this is where your opponent has played a good drive which you cannot get your racket behind to play straight or cross-court, so the boast is the only option.  Your opponent also knows you have to boast so will be expecting it.  You are in serious trouble in the rally so you need your boast to roll out of the nick, otherwise your opponent will likely hit a winner.

The problem with playing this type of boast as an attacking shot from a more central position in the court is that the risk outweighs the benefit.  For this boast to be effective the ball literally has to roll out the nick.  If it does not bounce in the nick, the ball comes off the 3rd wall bouncing into the middle of the court.  Your opponent barely has to move from the ‘T’ as the ball comes back toward them.  This gives your opponent options while they control the ‘T’ area and you are stuck behind them.  This is the situation I see so often.

Another variation when playing the ‘3 wall boast’ from the back corner is to loop the ball softer and higher.  This is going to set up your opponent but slightly further away from the front wall, making their attacking shot trickier to play, but more importantly, the ball is in the air for longer, giving you time to recover toward the ‘T’.  A fast ‘3 wall boast’ that does not hit the nick, not only sets up your opponent with an easy attacking shot but it also takes time away from yourself, giving you very little time to recover.

The 2 Wall Boast is hit into the side wall, then onto the centre of the front wall with the aim for the ball to bounce and fade away into the far side wall, so the second bounce is in the 3rd wall nick (not the first bounce as in the ‘3 Wall Boast’).

In my opinion the 2 Wall Boast is the sensible attacking option.  It fizzes into the front of the court quickly as the ball is in the air for less time before it hits the front wall and bounces.  Therefore this type of boast rushes your opponent much more.  The ball then bounces and continues to run away from your opponent, toward the far side wall.  Played well this stretches your opponent considerably (as the ball is continuously running away from your opponent, unlike the ‘3 wall boast’ where the ball travels toward your oppont).  This boast should be played from an attacking position, ie. a mid court position, or even deeper in the back corners if you have enough space away from the back wall to attack.  It can also be used effectively on the volley.  The volley ‘2 wall boast’ offers lovely occasional variation to the straight volley drop, or volley drive.  The 2 Wall Boast is the attacking boast of choice for the professionals.

If you are selecting to play a ‘3 wall boast’, we have clarified it basically needs to roll out the nick (unless you opt for the loopy one).

How to make the ball roll out of the nick?

Imagine the court next door.  Aim for the far corner of that court, and if you strike the ball into the side wall at that exact angle, it will carry across the front of the court and roll out the nick on the far side.  Once you have the angle you must figure out the required height and correct pace to strike the ball in order for it to land just above the tin and into the nick.  This tends to be around knee height on the side wall and struck at a slightly harder than medium pace.  It’s very difficult to hit this shot effectively at full pace.

The ‘2 wall boast’ needs to be stuck at a medium pace, around shin height and slightly further up the side wall toward the front wall.  This creates a shallower, less acute angle.  You are aiming for the ball to hit the side wall, then more-or-less in the middle of the front wall.  You want the ball to bounce once, and then the second bounce in the nick, or millimetres away.


World No.13, Marwan ElShorbagy gearing up to ‘fizz’ in a quick, attacking volley boast.