Now that the summer is here and you can't find a partner to play with, I figure it would be a good time to talk about one of my favourite training routines. People ask me how I got good at squash and this is probably the main reason. I always enjoyed just hitting the ball by myself and improving my forearm strength, grooving my technique, and of course trying to improve my accuracy and power. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve and most people never do it! So here is a list of a few solo practice drills that helped my game over the years. You can find video examples of some of my solo exercises on my Youtube channel at cchsquashpro. Here is a link to an example of my solo hitting routine including some of the drills I mention below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_x4uzhkiNbE&feature=youtu.be
I've also recently produced an instructional 64 minute video titled 'The Secrets Of Solo Hitting.' It contains over 30 of my favourite solo drills and it includes lots of tips on how to improve your solo practice. It's available for purchase at SeriousSquashShop.com/collections/coaching-videos and I'll refund your purchase if you don't love it.
1. Straight drives - yes an obvious one, but trying adding a twist to it. You can put down a target or two, vary the height and speed of your drives (as most people tend to hit at one tempo on their drives!), try and watch for the yellow dots on the ball to improve your concentration and ensure you are keeping your head still when you practice, and I like trying to hit drives hard aiming for the back line of the service box and hitting it again before the ball hits the back wall. Many people like waiting and taking the ball after the peak of the bounce and if you're one of those people you will find this drill very difficult.
2. Short hitting - stand in front of the short line and hit the ball under the service line. As you improve speed up and lower your short drives. This will burn your forearm if you keep it going and will help groove your swing. Alternate hitting off of your left and right foot so you improve your ability to transfer your weight into your shot. Highly recommend this drill!
3. Short volleys - same positioning as short hitting, but this time you don't let the ball bounce. As you improve try and increase your speed. You can also move toward and away the front wall to make this drill more challenging.
4. Side wall drives - this is a great drill for beginners, intermediates and some advanced players working on their technique. Hit the ball from your forehand into one sidewall so the ball hits the other sidewall, now hit a backhand into the sidewall so it goes back to where you started. This is a good one for working on racquet preparation, stepping into the ball, spacing, and many more. If you get good at this, try and hit all your sidewall drives within the service box width and if you get really good at this try and hit the service line on each shot!
5. One corner hard low drives - this is a more advanced drill and allows you to hit the ball with more pace and because of the angle you hit the ball it hits the front wall just before the sidewall. This slows the ball down just slightly so you have enough time to hit it hard and get your racquet up again. You should stand in front of the short line and if you are right handed you would aim into the front right corner. If you can keep this drill going for a minute or two with some pace you will really feel it in the forearm. One of my favourites!
6. Figure 8's - one of the most popular solo hitting drills. Players should start on the bounce and work up to the volley. When doing them on the volley gets easy then try hitting the ball harder and under the service line. Try and see how many you can get in a row. I don't know what my record is but probably somewhere around 400. If that gets easy try some of these http://youtu.be/dfDayHKI5po
7. Drops on the bounce - don't forget to practice your short game! When you get an opening in a match you have to be able to instinctively bring the ball in short with consistent precision. I always liked doing this with a warm ball (so after figure 8's). I hit a high 2 or 3 wall boast and cut the ball into the nick and then hit another high boast to the other side of the court and try and do the same. When doing this practice dropping into both corners from your forehand and backhand. Also attempt these drops with different angle of a receiving ball, where a 3wall boast is coming back towards you the 2wall boast is going away from you.
8. Volley drops - I liked doing these while I'm doing figure 8's. But I also practiced them by doing straight short volleys from around the short line. I would hit 2 or 3 volley drives and then I would hit a volley drop and repeat this.
Of course there are many other things you can do to get creative. Sometimes I would practice would a blue dot to get used to a very bouncy ball and this made it more challenging to hit precise drop shots. I also recommend doing solo hitting after a tough workout once in a while as you'll see how challenging it is to get on your feet and hit the ball well when you're body is fatigued. And if you're really keen you could mix in some ghosting or court movement into your solo routine. Because after all when you play a match your heart rate is elevated making every shot more challenging, especially fines shots. Lastly, if you want to be really good, video yourself and take a look at your technique and how you're hitting the ball. I'm sure you will learn something from this and will improve much faster.
If I see you around the club and you want a demonstration of a drill let me know! Good luck and enjoy your solo practices!