Squash, keep it simple

So many inexperienced players become confused during a game, unsure of what to do. The ball is flying everywhere, they chase it like a dog after a rabbit, don’t get into the right position to hit a good shot and end up exasperated by the whole chaotic situation.

Probably the biggest frustration for any player, both beginner and experienced player is failing to achieve what, to me, is the first purpose in the game. They so often fail to hit the ball where they want it to go. Whenever I have a new pupil I always find they first want to hit the ball and have it go where they want. That’s a pretty simple purpose, wouldn’t you agree?

What about the confusion described in the first paragraph? Well, there is a simple way of dealing with everything that goes on in a squash game if you look at the pattern of actions players go through when they play a point, or game or match.

Let’s take the first point. The server hits the ball to the front wall and it travels to the front wall, then to the opponent’s side of the court. The opponent hits the ball to the front wall (possibly via the side walls) and the server then has to hit the ball back. This goes on until one or other of the players fails to return the ball and the point is complete.

What did they do? Let’s look at it from the viewpoint of the receiver. He must WATCH to see where the ball is going once it is served. He then must MOVE into position so that he can then STROKE the ball. What does he do then?

He must again WATCH to see where the ball has gone and where it is going so he can again MOVE into position to again STROKE the ball.

From the viewpoint of the server he first must STROKE the ball then WATCH to see where the ball went and where it is going to be when returned. He then MOVES into position to STROKE the ball.

So, you see, each player goes through the same sequence:


The success of each action is dependent on the effectiveness of the previous action. If you don’t watch you won’t know where to go and so you will be out of position. If you are out of position then you cannot stroke the ball effectively.

If you look at it this way it becomes blindingly obvious what you have to do depending where you are in the sequence.


Just a comment or two on each segment. How many times have you seen a player hit the ball and then stare at the front wall? These are the players who are invariably surprised when the ball comes whistling back and they either find they are well out of position or they take off like a scalded cat and find they overrun the ball and cannot stroke properly.

The problem is that, whilst we know the ball is going to come off the front wall and, logically we should look there, we miss seeing the opponent hit the ball and lose the time the ball travels to the front wall. This is the time when you calculate the direction and velocity of the ball. It is VITAL you see the ball from your opponent’s racquet. Then you have all the time you need to move into the correct position.

You will note I said MOVE rather than run. When you move you are balanced, when you run it implies rushing and this often causes bad positioning.

I also used the word STROKE rather than hit. Stroking implies co-ordination whilst hitting implies force rather then being synchronised. Strength alone does not produce optimum power. Timing and speed of racquet head produces controlled results.

So, simply stated you could say all the activities you engage in on a squash court can be described as WATCH – MOVE – STROKE.

Yours in squash excellence,


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