Hopefully you remember the blog from a few weeks ago explaining the shot choices from each third of the court, if not here’s a super-quick overview to remind you…
Zone 2: Middle – HERE YOU HAVE THE OPTION TO HIT TO THE FRONT OR BACK
Zone 3: Back – HIT TO THE BACK
Let’s specifically look at the FRONT THIRD.
We know we should generally hit to the back from this area, but what type of shot should we play?
Shots from here should either be high and loopy away from your opponents volley, or hard, low and aggressive, again away from the volley of your opponent – so there are two types of shot to the back from the front; 1 – A high Lob, 2 – A hard low drive.
The simple rule would be – if you are under pressure then lift the ball high into the air so your opponent cannot volley the ball, but most importantly in order to give yourself time to recover back to The T; if you have enough time and composure to hit down on the ball, then you should in order to attack. However I want to look at the shot selection in terms of movement and body position.
Quick info on moving to the front corners: Ideally we want to arch round so our shoulders are facing the side wall. If we have lots of time then we can take a traditional arched movement, but more often than not we have to turn our hips as we move through The T Zone in order to get this shoulder turn. Sometimes we simply have to sprint in a direct line in order to retrieve the shot.
WHEN TO LOB?
Any time you have moved into the front corners and been forced to take a direct line (see diagrams) then you must lob. Moving in a direct line to the ball has to happen sometimes due to your bad position beforehand or the quality of your opponents shot forces you to sprint in a straight line.
Whenever you have moved in a straight line and not had chance to rotate your hips to face the side wall, this is when you must lob. In this situation you will reach the ball facing the front wall with no or very little shoulder turn. This is not an ideal squash position to be in, so you must defend, and preferably with a cross-court lob. The cross-court lob is safer as there isn’t the risk of conceding a ‘stroke’. Also, a forward facing shoulder position is not conducive to straight line hitting, so the natural tendency is to hit cross-court – so do it. Hitting any straight shot when you are facing forwards usually results in a loose shot with the ball pulling away from the side wall, we need turned shoulders in order to hit quality straight shots. You need to keep things as simple as possible in order to defend effectively.
WHEN TO HIT HARD?
Hit hard when you have had enough time to turn your hips before you reach the ball. This hip turn is like the coiling of a spring which enables you to generate speed and power through your hips and shoulders. Only now can you hit hard enough to attack from the front corners – and it is a great opportunity to win the rally. Turning your hips and shoulders resulting in a side wall facing approach to the ball gives you options as you could hit straight or cross-court from this position. This makes it difficult for your opponent to read what shot you will play, forcing them to stop near the T, waiting to see where you choose to hit your shot. This pause in their momentum makes it difficult for them to change direction, so a hard low cross-court will usually work very well. The ball will be fizzing away from your opponent before they have time to get their racket up and move their feet in order to volley, so your shot (when played well enough) will run away from your opponent sending them into the back corner.