[Updated on 1 June 2020] When you begin a new sport, you may feel out of your element and unsure. Thankfully the more we do something, the better we get. But sometimes the progress we make is slower than we would like, so we search for tips to help us get better quicker.
Squash is no different; it is a fast-paced game and sometimes even after months of play you can feel way behind. Here are five tips to improve your squash game.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
New squash players all tend to make one big mistake; they fixate on the front wall. The key to improving your game is to learn to watch the ball. Now, this might sound obvious, but it is a hard skill to master. The ball moves fast, and you will need to learn to track moving objects. Another good tip is to make sure you are moving just your head and neck to watch rather than your whole body as you don’t want to risk moving out of the best play zone.
Use the Whole Space
Remember that there are four corners where you can score. By playing out to the corners, you can make your opponent work harder which gives you space to mentally regroup and potentially tires them quicker. A good rule of thumb is to hit the ball consistently deep, with shots over the service line to get your opponent behind you. Also, hit shots tight to the wall, which are called “rail” shots. This gives your opponent less space to play an angled shot, giving them fewer options and you the upper hand.
Take the Volley
When you take a shot in the air, or “volley” the shot, you are more likely to get your opponent out of position. This is because they have just hit a shot, and will still be moving to get back to the T. When they are off the T, you can place shots into the corners or parts of the court they are away from. By playing shots off the volley, this means you have to be in good position yourself, at the T and watching the ball the whole time.
Squash is a game where you can lose a lot of games from your own mistakes. The biggest mistake is hitting the tin. Players who realize when they are “off” can prevent unforced errors. I say that if I hit the tin 3 times, it’s not my day.
Another tip is to only go for tin shots when you are at the T. When you are at the T, you have positioning and you can use proper footwork to hit the shots.
Be Prepared to Practice
A crucial part of improving at any game is to practice. While this might sound trite, you should never underestimate the importance of regular practice. The more you hold the racket, hit the ball, move across the court, the more natural it all becomes. This means you are not having to concentrate on the basics and can shift your attention to honing your skills.
See my blog post on how to play squash alone.
Having a decent level of fitness is essential to play squash. Any squash player in poor physical condition is likely to quickly break down on the court. So, a proper training program that targets the muscles used on the court is certain to benefit the all-round game play.
Aim to strengthen the lower back, quads, hips and glutes to help complete those deep lunges and the forearm muscles and shoulders to make it easier to tackle the repetitive striking of the ball. Plus, the core can benefit from strengthening in view of the constant turning and twisting.
A few yoga sessions per week may also help to achieve the stretching motions on the court. Combine this with a cardiovascular workout to complete the fitness program.
Get the basics
A fundamental technique of the game of squash is simply being able to grip and handle the racket in the correct manner. Once the basics have been understood and appreciated, it is that much easier to process to the tactical and technical aspects.
Dominate the ‘T’
Aim to dominate the ‘T’ area which is the central part of the squash court. This is a great place to be on the court and drastically improves your chances of being successful. Try to create movement that includes striking the ball and instantly moving back in the direction of the ‘T’. Also, once you arrive on the ‘T’ you want to make sure your racket is prepared and ready to take that next volley to stay in control.
Overall, squash is a wonderful sport that is appreciated by players at all levels and skillsets. This is a sport that can be enjoyed for life and a great way to socialize with like-minded colleagues and friends. By practicing and following the right tips it is certainly possible to grow in confidence and become a better player in the future.
Become a student
Try to find a decent quality pro in the local area that is willing to spend a little time giving personalized pointers on the best ways to improve your all-around game. A one-on-one session with an experienced player can be very effective in learning the different techniques and tactics. Also, squash gives the option to practice solo which is entirely different to most other types of racket sports. A regular solo session can go a long way to help improve your all-around game play.
Watch the Pro’s
If you have ever watched sport on the television, you will notice how easy a professional makes it look. The same is true of any sport, so start watching how other players stage their game. You will notice that some players are excellent and you can mimic elements of their play for your own game. You will also see some bad habits and skills, which give you a chance to learn what not to do.