Improve your Stroke

The most important element of your squash game is your stroke. There are several areas we need to discuss regarding a proper squash stroke.

First, you need to find your particular sweet spot. This has nothing to do with the racket. It is the specific area of contact in the motion of the swing that produces your maximum punch. Depending on your height, weight and athleticism, this point can vary. No one has the same favourite point of contact. Discovering this point will be the best thing you'll ever do for your overall squash game. But, keep in mind that it may take years to fine-tune your swing so that this point actually reveals itself. The best method in discovering your particular sweet spot is practicing alone.

Second, once you discover your sweet spot, you must shorten your swing. The shortest swing that can get the same job done will undoubtedly use less time and energy for shot execution. Furthermore, this means you'll have a better attacking game when you need it. So compact your stroke by remembering to keep your elbow in and to use your wrist as much as possible. Raise your shoulders, making your head position lower between them. Keep your knees bent and stay in the crouch position. A good practice technique is to crouch and have your elbow and knee meet at the point of contact with the ball. Not all players can do this. But, with time and with good footwork, it can be done. Practicing volleys can also help shorten your swing. But, the wrist is the best mechanism in getting your swing and power to potential.

The third element of the squash stroke is your grip. Your hand can squeeze tightly and loosen on command. In squash, the control you have over your grip is crucial when making contact with the ball. A tight grip at the exact point of contact and then a looser grip in the follow-through are the desired goal. You must be aware of your sense of touch to attain this kind of grip coordination. Your racket control will be at its best if you can sense when to tighten and loosen your grip during a stroke. Some players like a relatively tight grip throughout the stroke. Most pros will recommend this in the front of the court when time is restricted and when optimum control is needed or in a full power shot. But overall, a constant tight grip will weaken your arm as the match progresses. Learning to tighten your grip at the point of impact takes practice and conscious effort.

The secret in practicing alone is to isolate a specific aspect of your swing. For example, practice grip control in one session, and in another try to focus on a more compact swing.

Finally, keep in mind that all squash players have two types of strokes that need an equal amount of attention. You must incorporate and develop all three elements of the squash swing to both your backhand and forehand!

The sweet spots, compactness and grip may vary considerably for both the backhand and forehand. Therefore, developing each side evenly over the course of your squash progression will undoubtedly be a challenge. Your test is to keep both sides balanced as you chart your course through the higher levels of play. Not an easy test! So keep in mind, a great forehand means more backhand practice to balance the sides and visa versa. Both sides must be equal in strength and shot control not only today but also a year from now. My advice is to keep everything evenly balanced at all times by practicing each of the six areas - one at a time.

If an uneven backhand or forehand develops, as it most likely will, your overall squash strategy will be affected. For example, a strong forehand and weak backhand will affect the way you concentrate. Meaning that the weaker backhand will subconsciously make you look more attentively for backhand protection. Once this happens, you're immediately in the defensive by defending your backhand more so than your forehand.

When both strokes are equal in strength, only then can you focus on building an effective squash strategy. The pros know this is the only way to play squash at its best!