Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Volleying Drills & Condition Games

This week I'm assisting Stuart with a squash camp and today we worked on volleys. So I figure since volleying is on my mind I might as well write about it. I've written a post about the  'Shot That Sets Up The Volley,' and now it's time to give you some drills/condition games to work on your volleying skills.

There are a number of reasons why a volley is so important in squash...I'll give you a few here: it takes time away from your opponent as they will not be able to recover to the T meaning you have more area of the court to attack into. This also speeds up the game and the intensity which can fatigue your opponent. You also need to start most rallies by volleying the serve (unless your opponent is being very nice). I haven't even mentioned that volleying lets you stay close to the T so you end up having to run less. So now you know some of the reasons why volleying is so crucial in squash, here is a list of some of my favourite volleying drills/conditions games:

  1. Xcourt game. Every shot has to land short or deep on your opponent's side of the court.
  2. Player A has to hit everything straight (short or deep), player B can hit anything.
  3. Rotating (of volleying) straight drives. If you force a weak shot or a boast you win the point.
    1. Option of volley xcourt.
    2. Option of volley boast.
    3. Option of volley drop.
  4. Player A hits xcourt length, player B has to hit straight length
    1. Option where player B can hit anything straight
    2. Option where player A hits anything xcourt and player B hits anything straight
  5. Drive, drive, xcourt. All shots are hit deep. Fighting for the 'T'.
    1. Shots are in the same pattern, but can be hit short or deep.
  6. Player A & B can hit straight or xcourt length, on the volley they have the option to bring the ball in short. After the ball is brought in short it must be hit deep again. This is where a player can try and not only volley short, but volley the shot hit from the front to the back.
    1. Option where the players can counter short. This ensures the players are more selective when deciding to volley the ball short.
  7. Regular game. One player is not allowed to volley anything, allowing the other to step up and control the 'T'. The challenge is to do this when under pressure!
  8. Player A boasts, player B hits straight or xcourt length. If player A can volley the shot they can hit a straight drive. Then player B is in the back and has to boast until they can volley.
  9. Player A can hit straight or xcourt length, Player B can hit straight or xcourt length with an option to volley short.
  10. Player A hits volley straight drive, player B is in the back and hits xcourt lengths.
  11. Player A hits volley straight drops, player B is in the front and hits xcourt lengths.
  12. Player A boasts, player B hits xcourt length, player A volleys straight. The volley can either be a straight drop or a straight drive. Player B has to hit a straight drive off of the drop and has to boast off the drive. Player A should volley drop weaker xcourts and volley drive the better ones.
  13. Player A has to hit through 1 of the service boxes, player B volleys short.
  14. Player A boasts or drops, player B hits straight or xcourt length, player A hits straight drive, player B hits straight (volley) drive.
  15. Normal games, if you don't volley the return of serve you lose the point.
  16. Targets in the back of the court which if hit give bonus points, forcing players to volley more so their opponent does not hit the targets.

When working on attacking volleys I also like to let the players no get penalized for making an unforced error. We may play a normal game, but anytime they are in front of my and in a good position to attack on the volley they should not feel as much pressure to avoid making a mistake. If they do hit the tin we just play a let. I find this is an effective method to improve people's confidence in going short and attacking on the volley. 

On a final note, a lot of how I improved my volley was by solo hitting straight volley, volley drops, volley kills, and figure 8 volleys. One of my all time favourite 2 person fun game I call hockey and the two players have to stand on the short line. One player would have from the centre T line to the wall and as high as they can reach with their racquet. This is they net, while their opponent has the other half. The goal here is to get the ball over the crease (the short line) to score a goal against your opponent. You can also modify this game for different skill levels. You can allow the players to set themselves up first and then hit it over or make it so 1 or both players have to hit it directly back over crosscourt. This is a good fun game for hand eye co-ordination as well as thinning about where and how to get a crosscourt by someone. They learn areas which may be unconventional (right at an opponent, at their feet, or extra wide) but are effective if played sparingly. 

I hope you enjoy these drills & condition games. If you want to make them more effective and fun keep score when you play them. Good luck! 

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