Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Maximizing The Dimensions Of The Court

The dimensions of a squash court are standard across the globe, but they are not used equally across all levels. The dimensions of a court are 32 feet long and 21 feet wide. The court boundary line at the front wall is 15 feet high. The square footage of the court is 1,207 and yet most of us don't come close to maximizing the full dimensions. Let's take a look into what shots make the court play biggest and how we can best practice this.

A drop shot can only land so short. Clearly a drop isn't going to land an inch from the front wall so we can't say we have 32 feet of length to hit int; it's probably more like 28-29 feet. If we think about the width of the court it is very difficult to optimize the courts width by hitting perfectly along the sidewall on our straight shots and superbly wide on our crosses. As we go up in levels this is something players are better able to do. Not only are you making your opponent do more work by having to get those few inches further from the T, but this can also mean a deeper lunge and less time or space allowed to play their next shot. 

For our first few years of playing most of our shots don't end up landing in either of the 4 corners. Many of our drives or loose, landing short or with poor width; we are also unable to keep the ball tight on a consistent basis. When we try and go short it takes unbelievable touch, especially as the ball gets warmer and bouncier and coming at you with some zip on it. This all being said if you can get your drops to land shorter, like Tarek Momen is so amazing at it does make the court play to its fullest dimensions. Below is a few attempts of me doing just this in a recent solo session. 

Also if you can hit dying length (second bounce in the very corner) this will make your opponent play the ball as far back into the court as possible. Below you can see a short clip where I was working on this in a recent session. I put my business card in the very corner and I was trying to hit it on the second bounce. It was quite challenging to hit, but it was very effective way to hone in your focus on the weight and angle of your drive. 

An area that we rarely hit and use on the court is the top portion. Most people don't use the top 5 feet of the front wall. If you think if the court as a 3 dimensional area there is a lot of unused space up there. That is also dangerous territory because good players are lethal on the volley so you when you do use height it has to be incredibly accurate. You see a lot of the top pros using the crosscourt lob from the back of the court nowadays which is an effective way of using the full dimension of the court and keeping their opponent off balanced. 

Having your drops and boasts land short, drives stay tight and die in the back corner with your widths unvolleyable and your lobs a perfect height, you will be maximizing the full dimensions of the court. How can you practice making the court play big?

Solo Drills
1) Use a target in the back corner for the second bounce for your attacking drives
2) Use a target for drops which is a couple of floorboards off of the sidewall so you focus on angling in your drops so it gets tighter after the first bounce
3) For your drop targets put them further up towards the front wall (around 2 racquets lengths) which will help you work on your floater drop (Tarek Momen special)

Condition Games
1. Use targets the same as above 
2.With masking tape section out the 4 corners and all shots must land within these 4 areas or the rally is over (as pictured below).

3. With masking tape section out the middle area of the court (front of the service box and 5 feet forwards) and ball aren't allowed to land in this area (as pictured below). 

4. All shots in the rally must be hit over the service line to get you to focus on using height effectively. You can also try and focus on hitting the panel (on panel courts) when under pressure. 

Of course there are shots that don't lie in the marked off areas above which can be quite effective, this is not the point of today's post. Today's post is to try and use the absolute edges of the court boundaries. Hitting our lobs higher, our crosses wider, our drive tighter without bouncing off the back wall. 

The angling in of drop shot is one that I'm going to have to really work at. I have a good short game, but my natural swing which is fluid and without thought angles is aiming for the nick and not angling in for tightness. You would think that this is simply a small adjustment of the target, but when you've practiced a certain swing so much it's quite difficult to adjust your posture and target to a point where it is a new and ingrained swing that will show itself in a match instead of my older more natural swing. I also find it quite difficult to get the ball to land super short, especially with a bouncy ball. I can take the ball short by cutting the ball and I rarely make unforced errors on this shot, but relaxing the arm and shortening the swing to let the ball stay further up the court is extremely challenging and takes unbelievable skill. 

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