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Squash strategy
Strategic thinking during play

Squash has often been likened to chess on a tennis court. It is quite true that you need to be exercising the grey matter hard to outwit a cunning and worthy opponent. But a well known strategy in chess is to look for a vacant square that you would not like your opponent to occupy. Then you should attempt to occupy that very square yourself. Remind you of anything ?

Be aware of your opponent's state When opponent starts to tire, that's when you should play at your steadiest and most precise, alternating front court shots with rails and lobs. He'll tire more, and sharp kills will get safer to play.
During the warm up Don't just bash the ball back and forth - get up to the front and get your reactions working too. Two or three shots to yourself - low hard drives and steady volley, and then a cross court drive or lob to your opponent.
Steady regular shots win long games Quick fire exchanges are all very well, but they cost a lot of energy for just one point. Learn how to break the pattern with a drive down the wall from a drop, or an accurate lob.
Use good shot placement Aim for all your shots to keep the ball away from the middle of the court. Choose your front wall angle carefully, and for a cross court drive choose where your ball will hit the side wall correctly too. Misjudge the angle of your rail or cross court shot and the ball will stray towards the T, resulting in an easy shot for your opponent and trouble for yourself.
Incorporate delay and feint Hesitate and feint on the occasional shot - the uncertainty you plant in your opponents mind will linger. If you can do a Willstrop double feint, so much the better. If the ball will pass in front of you before you hit it, use the time it is hidden from opponent to play the feint - he may not see you not hit the ball.
Repeat shots With opponent behind you, repeat the same rail drive several times, making your opponent guess when you'll swap to a boast or a drop. Or repeat a sequence of two shots - rail, cross court, rail, cross court, rail, drop !
Dominate the T When your opponent is behind you, you are in charge and he is struggling. Keep it that way. Intercept his rail shots early, and vary between rails and cross court drives. Wait for the moment to play the killer drop.
Beware of dropping Don't play a drop shot to vary the game unless the ball is hot and your opponent is tiring. Keep your drop for a winner when your opponent is behind you.
Get opponent off the T When opponent is in front of you, get him to free up the T by playing a drive or a lob shot past him. As soon as you pass him with a rail, he has to leave the T, and you've evened up the rally.
Don't squander a lead If you were cruising, keep dominating. Don't play sloppy shots and let opponent creep back in. Beware of your opponent identifying what he is doing wrong and correcting it. That's when you have to change your approach and play some different shots yourself.
Keep going Never give up - I've won many matches from behind. As soon as you see your opponent build a lead, identify what part of your play is letting you down. Knuckle down and play steadier and safer squash. Opponent is tired too.
Weigh up your fitness At the start of a game, if you think opponent is fitter than you, play shots that makes him run. There's continual shot stamina, and there's occasional need stamina. Try to minimise your movement, but surprise your opponent by reaching some difficult returns.
More on drop shots Before a drop shot, think about where your opponent is. Practice flicking the drop to the side furthest from opponent, and practice disguising your drop angle. If you are near a front corner, you can line up for a straight drop, but wrist flick your racket through early for a cross court drop. Or from nearer the middle of the court, you can line up for a cross body drop, but bring your arm through early, trailing the racket for a wristy flick away from you. If opponent takes his cue from your backswing, he should be moving in the wrong direction behind you before you change the direction of your shot.
Deal with power Your opponent hits hard. Don't try to counter this with power - you'll lose your accuracy. Use his power against him by returning accurate shots down the wall with little more than a gentle stroke. If he lingers behind the T for his next power shot, play a drop or a dropping boast when you get the chance.

Page updated on 30th September 2018

Copyright (C) Richard Hart 2015 - 2018