Squash Coaching Blog: Hips don’t lie!

posted in: Coaching, Performance | 0

OK, so most of us know we need to be in a good ‘side on’ position when we hit our shots, ie. we want our chest to face the side wall when we make contact with the ball, irrelevant of what shot we want to play (straight, cross-court, boast, drop, drive, serve etc etc.).

If we face the side wall we can play any shot. If our chest is facing the front wall we are limited to some sort of cross-court shot. So obviously we want to have options every time we play our shot, therefore we need to get ‘side on’.

The easiest way to do this is to move toward the in the traditional arch and hit each shot off the traditionally ‘correct’ leg. This is usually not realistic. Regularly we have to take a more direct route to our shot to save time as the ‘arch’ takes slightly longer, but this leads us to be more ‘forward facing’ than is ideal. Also, most of us will play many shots off the ‘wrong leg’, especially on the forehand which again will naturally lead us to be in a ‘forward facing’ position.

How do we get ‘side on’ when we have approached the ball in a direct manner or we are playing our shot off the ‘wrong leg’?

Answer – Hips.

If we have approached the ball in a direct ‘forward facing’ manner, it would be very difficult to then manoeuvre our feet so we finish in a more traditional side facing stance to play our shot. We want our chest to face the side wall to give ourselves the best chance to hit a quality shot and to also give us a number of shot options, but we can’t do this with our foot placement – so we use our hips to turn our chest. As we come close to the ball we must start to turn our hips. We still lead with our preferred leg, which is often the ‘wrong leg’ when moving in a direct manner, but this hip turn will also turn our shoulders then our upper body is in a textbook ‘side on’ position. This hip turn can also give our shots extra ‘uumph’ as coiling and uncoiling the hips can generate added power in a very short space as we swing through our shot.

Below I’ll explain a few different photos:

Gaultier hip turn
Greg is playing off the wrong leg but he has used his hips to give him the option to hit straight or cross-court. I genuinely couldn’t say which shot he will hit next, whereas if he hadn’t turned his hips it would be obvious he would have to hit a cross-court drive.
Gaultier hips
Again Gaultier here. He is having to approach a slightly awkward ball off the wrong leg, which is not ideal on the backhand. He has turned his hips and we can see his chest is facing the side wall and not the front wall. With his chest in this position and his back-swing where it is he could hit straight, cross-court of even a trickle boast.
Gawad hips don't lie
Here we see Karim Gawad a second before the example above with Gaultier. We can see he is approaching an awkward ball but he is turning his hips as he begins to move to the ball, he’s not going to wait till the last split second before he hits the ball to turn his hips, he’s doing it as early as possible to add deception.