Thursday, January 10, 2019

Using Targets

When you practice, either in condition games, drills or solo hitting, do you ever use targets? After 30 years of playing and coaching squash, I realize how frequently people hit a shot with no given target in mind.

We all know to start with that we want to hit the ball straight and tight, at least most of the time. But you're going to be a better squash player if you can hit the ball where you want it, plain and simple. Less focused on is the weight of shot or height of the shot.

Let's start with angle/direction. One of the most common flaws when people hit length is that they use the sidewall as a crutch. I  can hear you asking me, 'Chris, what does that mean?' Well it just implies that people hit their length into the front wall and then the sidewall to hit a straighish type of drive. But hitting this sidewall too early slows the ball down and doesn't get to the back of the court quick enough and gives your opponent more time to take the ball early.

How can you improve the angle of your drives and drops? Awareness is a big part of it. At the World Juniors this summer, the top few boys hit the ball so straight. They didn't always hit the ball right on the wall, but they rarely hit the sidewall early. Doing this well means you have great awareness of your racquet face and you have fantastic control of how angled the racquet face is at contact.

When almost everyone plays a drop, they aim for the nick and the ball seems to always hit the sidewall. If you change your focus to hitting the floor before the sidewall, or getting the ball to finish tight you will improve the angle of your drops and they will be much tougher to retrieve, no matter how quick your opponent is. You can also use targets in creative ways (see the video below).


Okay, so you understand how to work on improving the angle of your shots. What about the weight of shot? A simple method is just putting a target on the floor against the sidewalls. The stronger the players, the smaller the targets should be. You could use a racquet, a shoe, a target that you get to keep if you hit it (like a $5 bill or protein bar or squash ball box). Sometimes I'll play timed games where only targets count as points. This makes it competitive. You could also use a target for simply bonus points in a game. In solo hitting you can alternate between weights of shots. If you've seen The Secrets Of Solo Hitting, you'll know that one of my favourite weights of shot targets are the back corners, but for the second bounce. This is an attacking drive and is quite difficult to hit. Again you can use various targets in the back corner.

Working on attacking drives you can either aim for them on every drive or anytime you get an opening. And this is how a lot of top players play; when you have time and space, even from the back of the court you should be aiming for a drive, second bounce into this back corner. Think back to the angle though. If you hit the sidewall too early you have no chance of getting the second bounce into the back corners.

Want to improve your squash game? Start using targets and start visualizing a target in your rallies. I know for me if I just place the ball around the court, even if it's into the right areas of the court I'm not going to be nearly as effective if I'm not hitting targets into the right areas of the court. The right weight and angle of shot makes the court play a few feet or inches larger and take time away from your opponent. What is pressure in squash? Time and spacial pressure; reducing yours by increasing your opponents.

Want to learn my most difficult solo routine using targets? Check out The Advanced Secrets Of Solo Hitting (& Movement). SeriousSquashShop.com/Collections/Coaching-Videos

1 comment:

  1. I have used physical targets for years, self-designed – laminated DTP visuals that can be affixed (and easily removed) in positions around the court. My favourite – and the one that seems to resonate with most players – is the corner target, graded and with a series of indicators towards the nick!

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