Squash Coaching Blog: To Cock Or Not To Cock!

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To what extent should you cock your wrist in your backswing technique.

It’s always good to learn what the pro’s are doing, so let’s have a look….

In the olden days, the days of wooden rackets, people used to have a very cocked wrist. This firmness in the wrist was needed to generate power and to prevent vibration of the racket on impact with the ball.

Since graphite rackets came along, the extreme ‘cockedness’ was no longer as important – rackets were lighter, more powerful and vibration considerably less. A slightly less cocked wrist actually helped improvisation with a lighter racket.

Now the game has changed again. Racket technology hasn’t made any great leaps (and probably never will as the change from wood to graphite was so massive, all changes since are slight improvements), but the style of game has become more dynamic, lower, harder and faster.

A floppy wrist, or un-cocked wrist leads to a flicky technique, which is too inconsistent when the ball is coming at your feet quickly. Today’s technique needs to be short, sharp, firm and punchy. It’s more about a short and quick backswing, and often a punched follow-through. The follow-through should increase in size when you have more time to play your shot.

A short, low racket preparation and punched follow-through requires a firm wrist, which means it needs to be cocked. Not to the extent of the ‘olden days’ as fast improvisation is still key, but still, it must be cocked.

If you look at any top player (apart from Ramy! I’ll address Ramy later) they have a cocked wrist before they play their shot, on both the forehand and backhand.

Here are some photo’s below, where you can see the amount of ‘cockedness’ compared to where their racket would be if they did not have their wrist slightly cocked. I have taken Amr Shabana – the player mainly responsible for changing the way the game is played today, and Mohamed ElShorbagy – the current World’s best player. It’s obvious to see how they cock their wrist.

Now we can look at Ramy Ashour:

He is the one player who does not have any ‘cockedness’ in his racket preparation. We can see where his racket would be if he were to cock his wrist.

Ramy is an enigma. I am a fan of Ramy. I personally think the level he can play at, is the best ever. The matches he played with ElShorbagy in the 2014 World Open Final (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvjKyClk8L8) and again in the 2015 El Gouna Final (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXRh7s__ZSY) are the best quality matches ever played.

Ramy is so much more than someone who hits amazing nicks – his straight drives are excellent, his effort to come forward and volley is second to none, and his retrieval shots are superb. When he’s fit he really is capable of being the complete player, BUT….. he is not one to copy in terms of technique. Ramy’s technique works for him. His floppy wrist helps him cut underneath the ball, but as I said, he’s an enigma. As we can also see in this picture, he used to have a cocked wrist in his early years, and he used to beat everyone back then too! He can adapt and improvise like no one else in the history of squash. He’s unique, but as I said, not ideal to copy technically.