Squash Coaching Blog: Returning a tight shot

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Something that pretty much everybody needs help with.

This is a difficult skill.  Pro’s can make it look easy while club players simply smash their racket!

To scrape the ball back when it is clinging to the wall needs the right mental approach.

What not to do: I see many a club player try and boast it back.  This is impossible as to play a boast the ball must be away from the side wall, so to hit into the side wall to create your boast angle.  Attempting a boast will only end up breaking your racket.

You need to hit through the line of the ball, not hit into the line of the ball (ie. a boast).  This generally means play straight through the ball.  You do not need to slice the ball, as you cannot come down or round the side of the ball as it’s glued to the wall.  You need to approach the shot, as with any shot, with a slightly open racket face.  Then simply swing though the ball.  You must commit to the shot and exaggerate your follow-though.

The other common mistake I see is people trying to flick at the ball, or jab at it.  This does not work well.  I’ll say it again, you must follow-through.  Whether you are playing a counter drop or scraping the ball back as a lob or a drive to the back, follow-through!

The other factor in effectively scraping a tight ball back is to keep your distance.  Approach the ball in the same way you normally would.  Do not panic and get too close to the ball.  This makes it difficult to follow-through and creates a flicking swing, which is exactly what you want to avoid

What is great about these two pictures of Greg Gaultier and Mohamed ElShorbagy playing the ball off the side wall, is the distance they are from the ball.  They have not panicked just because the ball is tight against the side wall.  They have approached the shot the same as they would with an easier shot.

You can see that they are not flicking at the shot, their wrist and arm are firm at the point of impact.  They will then allow their racket to follow-through the shot – even Greg will have a slow follow through, even though he is playing a counter-drop.  Mohamed’s follow-though will be much more exaggerated to carry the ball to the back of the court.