Squash Coaching Blog: Important – Simple shot selection rules from each third of the court

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Selecting the best shot to play can be a tricky business. As previously discussed it’s something which separates two players of similar abilities, resulting in one player winning 3-0 when he/she possesses no more skill or fitness than their opponent.

I’m going to give you some simple rules I’ve worked out after years and years of playing high level squash, and watching squash of all levels (as terrifying as that can be!).

First let’s break the court down into three zones; Front, Middle and Back.

Now we can make things really simple with some general rules:

 

Zone 1: Front – HIT TO THE BACK

Zone 2: Middle – HERE YOU HAVE THE OPTION TO HIT TO THE FRONT OR BACK

Zone 3: Back – HIT TO THE BACK

 

Explanation.

In Zone 1 (The Front)┬ámany people think this is a great position to hit to the front of the court. Beware, this can be dangerous for many reasons. If you hit a drop shot or trickle boast from here and it is a poor one, you will not have time to recover to anywhere near ‘The T’, basically meaning you cannot recover a shot hit to the back. Also, if you hit a drop shot, you are in the same zone as the ball which can cause you to be in the way of your opponent reaching the ball so you run the risk of giving away a ‘Stroke’.

If you are to hit to the front from the front zone, it is best done when your opponent has quickly boasted and you can pounce onto the ball and hit a simple straight drop, all before your opponent has had time to recover to ‘The T’. If your opponent plays a high or soft boast, you opponent will have slightly more time to sneak up behind you, so hit to the back.

If your opponent plays a good drop shot or boast into the front zone, simply lob to the back to get yourself out of trouble. If they play a bad drop shot or boast you are generally best to hit the ball hard and low to the back. This is a very effective shot and very low risk.

Zone 2 (The Middle) provides your best area of the court to hit to the front. If you hit to the front from here you have very little chance of giving away a ‘Stroke’, even if your attacking shot is rubbish, because there is distance between you and the ball.

The best situation to hit to the front is when your opponent has hit a poor drive from the back zone and you can volley drop or volley boast. Your opponent is behind you and there is safe distance between you and the ball.

It it good to mix up front and back shots from this Middle Zone so you are not predictable to play against. A hard hit or accurate drive or volley to the back from this zone is also an aggressive shot. The important thing to remember is that this zone gives you the most options. When you have options you are in control, so stay composed and use your options well.

When you’re in Zone 3 (The Back) you are generally on the back foot in the rally. Your opponent will be in front of you for that second so your main objective is to get your opponent away from the Middle Zone. Hit to the back to move your opponent away from ‘The T’ and then you can come forward to occupy the Middle Zone, and then you’re back in control, looking to volley the next shot.

Sometimes you have no option but to boast out of the back corner. When you do make sure you rush forward to The T as fast as possible so your opponent feels you pressurizing their shot.

The occasional long drop from the back corner is a nice shot if you have the skill level to do so, but even then we’re talking once a game just for variation.

Any time you are running back into this zone from the Front Zone you must lift the ball as high as you can.

 

Right, I hope that has simplified the court and your options from each area. There’s no excuse now for selecting the wrong shot ever again! Stick to these basic rules and you’ll never lose another squash match (unless your opponent also reads my blogs!).

Ali Farag is in the Middle Zone and we can see he has many options. He could play any hot from here. Volley drop, boast, or hold and hit to the back.
Steve Coppinger (at the front) has hit to the back. We can see Cameron Pilley was stood in front of ‘The T’ so if Coppinger had hit to the front (drop shot or trickle boast) it would have been a poor shot selection as Pilley was there to pounce on that, but by hitting to the back we can see Pilley looks panicked that he has to run into the back corner to retrieve the ball.