Written by Martin Shippey. Martin has been playing squash for more years than he cares to remember. He is an ESR Level 1 coach and currently assisting in a programme to introduce inner city schoolchildren to squash.
I concluded the last piece on practice drills by saying that undertaking regular practice and drill sessions will improve your accuracy and timing if performed properly, and not to try to hold the drills in your head as you are playing or you are likely to stifle your game. Let the routine movements sink slowly into your subconscious through repetition and they will do their job, without you dissipating your focus by forcing yourself to remember them.
Another piece of advice to add to that would be what I heard recently from a senior England Squash coach – one who coaches professional players; don’t do the same routine for more than three or four minutes. The reason is a good one. Put simply, you’ll just get bored and jaded, switch onto autopilot and in the end gain very little from the drill. It’s important to note, and he stressed this, that is not to say only do four minutes of a drill and then go and have a shower. What is meant is that your drills should be varied every three or four minutes.
So obviously, the first variation would be backhand, if you started with forehand, and vice versa. And then possibly repeating forehand and backhand wouldn’t then go amiss either. But what next?
If you are carrying out your drills or routines with a partner, let’s say straight drives, with one person feeding a straight drop from behind the service box, the other stepping in from the ‘T’ and driving it straight ‘to length’ (so that the ball lands towards the back of the service box, not more than a few boards width from the wall), then after repeating say, 20 shots on the backhand wall, you would then swap positions, so that the feeder becomes the driver. This gives you four variations, of four minutes each; forehand and backhand for each player, so that’s almost half of your drills session gone. At this stage, you could having both now become warm, usefully play a competitive game for the rest of the session, with both players putting what they have just been practicing, into practice!
Here is another useful routing to practice. It is described here for two players, but I often do it solo (boast yourself a feed from the rear forehand to the front backhand corner, stepping back immediately as the shot is played and recovering to the ‘T’, then shaping yourself up for a backhand, do a straight drive to the back of the service box on the backhand side. Pick the ball up and repeat from the rear backhand corner).
Boast and Drive – a simple drill for two players.
A very good and simple drill for two people is the “boast and drive” routine – player A, from the rear of the court, boasts the ball alternately from the back left and right sides of the court, player B, at the front, replies with a straight drive alternately from the front left and right sides of the court.
A boasts back right to front left, B drives straight from front left to back left, A boasts back left to front right, B drives straight front right to back right and repeat.
Both players should recover to the T zone after each shot, rather than just moving left and right, otherwise, while there is some benefit in practicing the boast or the drive shots, effectiveness is somewhat reduced by the fact that there is no pressure to move off the shot back to the T and back again to the shot, and as there will certainly be pressure of that kind during a game, you may find that you are unused to playing your boast or drive shot under pressure – and that makes a big difference!
A and B swap positions after say 4 minutes.
While doing all the above pay regular attention to your grip on the racket, and get into the habit of continually checking and maintaining the correct grip.