Squash Coaching Blog: Using a shot by not using it!

posted in: Coaching, Performance | 0

One thing top players do exceptionally well is to show one shot and play another.

It happens all the time, especially on the backhand volley. A classic example is to step across on the backhand volley, show the drop shot and then hit to the back.

This constantly pulls your opponent forwards and then pushes them back. This is a very hard movement to do many times over the course of a rally; a game; and through a whole match. It puts a lot of pressure on the front leg to stop, and push back.

Not only does this tire out your opponent but it also pulls them forwards out of position, opening up a big space behind them in the back corner.

So, how do we do this?

The key is to move to your shot as early as possible, and get into a position to hit the ball earlier than you need to. Once you are in position your opponent must rush forwards in case you choose to hit the ball immediately. To show the drop shot you need a nice and early, but short swing preparation. This gives you the option to touch in a nice drop shot, but the key here is that you actually want to hit deep. Obviously you have a short backswing so it will be very difficult to generate power on your drive, but the beauty is – you don’t need to generate power because you have pulled your opponent so far forwards you simply need to push the ball back past them. Your shot doesn’t need to travel at 200mph for this to be effective.

So… you have a short backswing, you dip your head, shoulders, hips and knees as if you are about to cushion in a volley drop, then as you bring your racket toward the ball to make contact, you need to force your follow through upwards, to generate enough pace and height to reach the back of the court. Paul Coll utilizes this quite nicely, as does Tesni Evans (who became the first Welsh player to become British Champion yesterday).

Squash coaching blog - Tesni Evans
This is a perfect example of Tesni from yesterday’s British Champs Final. Nice short backswing and an open racket face. It’s impossible to tell whether she is going to cushion in a drop shot, or push a straight drive.

 

The second key element to execute this shot effectively, is to sometimes play the volley drop. Your opponent must feel that there is a threat you will hit into the front corner. If you generally go 50/50 ‘volley drops’ to ‘volley hold and push deep’, or possibly 40/60, this offers nice variation that your opponent simply must move forwards all the way to ‘The T’ looking for the volley drop. If you hit too many shots deep from this position you will not make you opponent push as far forwards, so they will do slightly less work throughout the match, meaning they will tire less.

Obviously this tactic of showing a drop shot and pushing to the back is not exclusive to the backhand volley. It can be used anywhere. At the front, in the middle or in the back corner. The two key points are movement and technique. Move quickly and smoothly to give yourself time to pause before you hit your shot; and an early but short backswing is required.

Now, go away and give it a go. Don’t do it every time as you often need to run up to a shot and hit it immediately to rush your opponent. Good luck.