Today I am going to discuss my top 10 most common fundamental errors I see on the squash court.
#1) Hanging too far back on the T. This has to be the most common error as it seems to inflict almost every squash player I see play these days. Many people don't play against opponents who attack from the back, but if they did they would be in trouble. Hanging so far back makes it easy to move to the back corners, but you will struggle covering the front corners and are not in an ideal position to volley. If you improve your footwork from higher up on the T into the back corners your game and court coverage will improve. You will also need to practice going back and playing shots open stance, if you are unable to do this you will likely end up hanging out closer to the back door than the T.
#2) Not cocking wrist on backhand backswing. This is one of the more difficult habits to break. I see a lot of good juniors that don't cock their wrist at all, their hand and forearm are basically flat, which is better than actually breaking their wrist. But I feel they are losing power and control by not having their wrist actually cocked in their backswing.
#3) Late racquet preparation. This is just as common as the top 1. For some reason most people wait until the very last second to get their racquet set, regardless of who much time they have. This late preparation means they will not be as consistent with their shot and will have less options available to play. I like to think of good racquet preparation as having more time to line up your shot, like an target sport. You also have the added benefit of shaping up on way to the ball so they are ready to hit once arriving to the ball.
#4) Too many crosscourts. A good crosscourt can be a very effective shot, but always going crosscut against a good player just gives them an easy opening to attack straight. If you do crosscourt hit it deep and wide otherwise keep the ball straighter.
#5) Crowding the ball. This is probably a tie with #3. I think many people crosscourt so frequently because they get too close to the ball. Getting too close to the ball also means you are a little further from the T and will be half a step (or more) later than you should getting back to the T.
#6) Lack of a slit step and always leaving the T on their dominant leg. A lot of players just run from the T and if they are right handed they are likely right leg dominant and always take a first step with their right foot regardless where they are moving to. This means they get into poor hitting positions anytime they have to go to their backhand side under a bit of pressure. Learning how to split step and move from the T quicker and more efficiently will allow you to get more balls back and have more time allowed and will be more balanced when you are at the ball.
#7) Overhitting and hitting the ball too short on forehand drives. Most men anyways like to hit their forehand as hard as they can, which they may get away with against some players, but this sets up an easy attacking boast for a good player. Take a little bit of pace off of your forehand drive and hit it tighter and deeper and you will be more successful. Also worth noting here is how many players are rotating or begin moving back to the T before they contact the ball. If you take a little of off your drive and hit it more accurately you shouldn't need to head back to the T in such a rush.
#8) Not volleying enough, including their opponents serve. For some reason many people don't volley easy balls, and this includes the return of serve. They end up having to boast to start the rally, or get aced, or maybe they can still squeak out a straight drive. This gives your opponent an easy advantage at the start of the rally. Try moving further up returning serve and volleying the ball. If you do this you will be close to your target (the froth wall) as well as the T.
#9) Just putting their serve in play. Most recreational players overlook the importance of their serve and just put the ball in play. Although most serves get returned the reply can be much weaker if you take the time to hit the side wall or practice a lob or hard serve. Try some new serves and pay attention to this when you play next time.
#10) Failure to use height/lob. When under pressure you should practice instinctively raising the ball. Most people still hit the ball low and hard and go for an all or nothing shot. They are unbalanced and are still hitting an aggressive shot, but if their opponent gets the ball back they will have an easier winner because you are so far out of the court.
Bonus #11) One dimensional game. This could be much higher on my list. Most recreational players have one style of game they can play and if it doesn't work they cannot make adjustments. If how you are playing is not working have some backup game plans. Try lifting the ball, or picking the pace up, maybe try being more patient, or more aggressive, try changing your serve, or just some different shots (like counter drops). Most juniors are better at this because they have spent more time playing condition games. So if you want to learn to be able to change your game try playing more variety of opponents. You can also put conditions on yourself when you play (without telling your opponent) that makes you play shots that you wouldn't normally hit. This will help you get out of your current pattern of play.
I would like to give a special mention to another issue I see over and over. It is that most people hit a an extremely high percentage of shots on their dominant leg. Not only do they put too much of the workload on one leg, but it means they are not covering the court as efficiently as possible. Often times it is faster hitting open stance across the middle and as I mentioned earlier one should be able to move from the T to the back corners and play open stance here as well. For most recreational players, making this adjustment will not make you a significantly better player, but it will make you a more complete player and will keep your body in better shape and balance.
Although the ranking of my list is certainly debatable I feel that all 11 of these are common fundamental errors that I see over and over on a daily basis. How many of them apply to you? Don't try and fix them all at once as that will do more damage than good. If you want to bring your game to the next level tackle one of these issues at a time.