One of the most popular sports in the world, Squash has come a long way from the prisons of London. But the indoor game is still not as popular in a cricket frenzy country like India. Though Squash is rated as the healthiest sport above the likes of Pentathlon and swimming by Forbes, it is still in the initial stages of growth in India. The lack of proper coaching and technique mentoring among the biggest hurdles in the way for those who want to get going further in the sport. We will try to give some help in that regard with this article. Here are 30 Squash tips for everyone from beginners to advanced players.
Warmup and Stretch
Warming up the body and stretching the muscles to get the blood flowing before the start of the play is really essential. Regardless of the sport, you are playing; this part remains the same. Make a habit of performing some basic drills and exercises before entering the court. Also, it is essential to stretch the legs and arm muscles which are used extensively in Squash. Lunging and reaching is very common in the game, and thus all these are essential to avoid non-contact injuries.
Warm the ball up
Besides warming up the body, the squash rubber ball also needs a warm-up. This is essential as a cold ball bounces less relative to a warm ball. You would not like to feel the sudden changes in bounce while playing the game. For warming up the ball, all you have to do it mock play with it lightly hitting the ball for a couple of rallies with the opponent. This also helps the blood flow in the wrist and forearms, allowing them to get ready for the game. Try to share the ball with the opponent while warming it up as much as possible. Going on alone does not send a good message.
Grip the racket correctly
It is crucial to learn the right grip from the beginning, which is otherwise though to correct after developing bad practises. Handle the grip so that there is a “v” between your thumb and pointer finger, while the rest of the fingers are close to the pointer finger. Hold the racket firm but not too hard that it puts a strain on your wrists.
Try to Control the ball first
In the squash, dominating the game comes with high control and pace. Don’t go for hard-hitting for speed in the initial plays. Try to control the ball first and increase your confidence after executing the shots correctly before hitting those faster. Often accuracy can beat the speed. Once you feel the shots are coming out fine, you can try and hit harder with each turn.
Keep your eye on the ball
Probably most fundamental yet essential tip is always to keep your eye on the ball. Watching the ball closely will really help you estimate where you should be moving on the court to return the shot. Beginners tend to view the front wall because it is challenging to watch the fast-moving ball. Try to instil this from the very beginning habits. To watch the ball continuously, turn around your head and neck rather than the whole body. Stay in the right position to give yourself a better chance at returning the shot.
Control the T
Another necessary but critical Squash tip is to always control the T. In fact, it is said in squash that the player who controls the T, controls the game. After playing every shot return back to the T as soon as possible. Do not be lazy in this regard. You can afford a couple of loose replies if you have maintained your presence in the T when the opponent is hitting a shot. You can really wait till the opponent makes a mistake without playing any amazing shot and by returning all the shots which are highly probable when you are in the T.
Focus over ‘physique’
We are not advocating bad body physique here. But in a fast-paced tactical game of squash, the focus is something that can get a player over the hump. A bad shot or referee decision or any other noise should not distract you from the current play or rally. Apart from muscle memory, one should be focussed enough to execute the right move at the right time.
Volley means hitting the ball before the bounce. The aim here is to take away some time from the opponent to drag them under pressure. A volley should go hand-in-hand with control over T for better results.
Play the corners
Edges of the court are farthermost away from the T. Playing the corners basically means trying to hit the ball such that it lands near the corners. This will drag the opponent away from the T and might even result in a bad shot which can be replied to the opposite corner. This is very difficult to respond because of the distance needed to be covered and can eventually award an easy point.
Try to mix things up
Mix a variety of different moves to play the opponent, not the ball. Continuing the same shots with high precision is something you do in practice to perfect the shot. While playing a game against an opponent, you need to mix things up to make him guess the next. Redundancy in play can be easily picked up by good players and that it is effortless for them to play even your best shots.
Play the ball tight
In squash, keeping it tight means playing the ball such that it needs to be hit near the side-walls. This will hamper the full racket swing of the opponent, effectively stopping them from playing tough shots or angling the ball. Limiting the opponent’s options the main aim of this move.
Alter the pace
Playing at a regular pace is also something that might help the opponent to pick up the shot before you play it. Game of squash is all about observing and reacting. Now, in the process, players subconsciously predict the pace and react accordingly. Changing the pace can really help you deceive the opponent to get a loose shot or an easy point.
Squash is among the fastest and most exhaustive sports. In this faced-paced game, decision making is of high importance. Staying calm for the right shot selection is really important for the same reasons. Losing you cool can hamper your focus as well motivate your opponent.
Stay on your toes
This the most obvious, still most ignored tip among all. Squash is a fast game, and relaxing flat-footed is unacceptable. You need to stay on your toes and keep the feet moving to get results in the game.
Use the height of the court
Using the height means playing the ball high enough to land in the back end of the court. This type of shot gives you enough time to return back to T. Also, it is difficult for the opponent to reply. The aim is to kill the ball on the back end or corners. While playing the ball higher, one should make sure it gets just enough flight to land at the back end. The little less could help opponent volley the ball, and a little more can lose you a point if the ball hits the ceiling.
Fake plays are one of the best ways to deceive the opponent. Try to show that you are going to play one king of shot and then switch it last second. For example, lift your racket to hit a powerful shot so that your opponent get prepared for it and then play a drop shot instead. Such plays will disturb the opponent’s plan and help you get easy points.
Practise with a plan
Like any other sport, squash also requires a lot of practice. The more you practise, the better you get. But plain hard work would not suffice. You have to plan things up to make improvements in your game. Try to play with a weaker opponent once in a week to work on your weak areas. Follow it with your level players and better players to learn and execute. Also, include rest in your schedule for recovery.
Proper distance from the ball
Keeping the right distance from the ball essential to play the right shot. Beginners often overrun towards the ball, closing out too much. This, in turn, limits their option after getting too close.
Hit Open Space
Though this goes without saying, beginners often tend to do the polar opposite. A shot should always be targeted towards open space, away from the opponent. The aim is to score, not to maintain long rallies. Hitting the ball towards the player can result in the shift of momentum in the rally, eventually loss of a point.
Practice serve and return serve properly
The worst way of losing a point in squash would be while the service. A faulty service or an unsuccessful return can lose you a point even before the rally starts. Practise serve and return serve separately to get the upper hand from the beginning.
Play in front of the opponent
Try to hit the ball to the back corners, using the height and gain back your position in the T. You will find the game much easier from this position as you are in front of the opponent. Going in front will give a little edge over the opposition in terms of timing.
Watch and learn
Always try to observe small details closely and learn from the ones better than you. Especially the pros. Notice their go-to moves and try to predict the next move during rallies. This will grow your in-game IQ and help you with self-motivation while inspiring to achieve big.
Prepare your racket early
To disguise the opponent and keep him thinking where you are targeting, always prepare your racket early before a shot.
Workout and weight training
Try to work on core and stamina specifically to improve your game. Workout with a trainer to train specific muscles which are used in playing squash. If you are not a professional, you can just work on your core and cardio endurance to get an edge in terms of fitness. Fitness is indeed among the most important aspect in squash. You can bring a difference with better fitness and game IQ.
If you are not already doing it, backhand serve can bring a massive change in your technique and results. It will allow you to get a better vision of the opponent and get faster to the T.
Self-obsession and boasting will kill your growth
Try not to boast a lot about any shot you played earlier or your achievements. This will only ruin your motivation and drive people away from you. Talking trash while playing can only help when other all factors are going just right for you. Try to keep it as silent and focussed as much possible.
To work on your specific portions of your game, you need to add some solo hours in your practise schedule.
Squash is one of the most exhaustive sports in terms of calorie usage, and thus, there is a lot of loss of fluids in the process. To keep the body, hydrated should be among your priorities always. Try not to overfeed to avoid nausea, but take regular breaks during practice to replenish your body.
Play safe, use towel
The fluid loss through sweat can wet the floor significantly. Wet areas on the floor are particularly dangerous, posing risks of slipping and injuries. Always carry your towel to the court to get rid of the sweat at regular intervals. Also, an extra towel to keep the floor clean would be a good idea, better safe than sorry.
Squash is an individual performance-based game which is fast enough to put a lot of pressure within no time. Getting frustrated and fed up is very common when the result does not show up. Keeping your mood high and staying positive in the game is equally important, along with the techniques. Think about the fun and learning to get yourself motivated for the game. If you get into the court feeling already lost, you definitely will.