Shots of Squash
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Basic Shots of Squash


The bread and butter shot of squash is the drive, also called "rail" shot. The drive is basically a shot that hits the front wall around the service line and with the first bounce just behind the service box. A good drive should have two aspects to it:

  • Have depth (also called good length)
  • Be tight (close to the sidewall)

    Good depth puts the ball in the back corners where your opponent's options are limited. Ideally the first bounce should be at the service box line (closest to the back-wall). The second bounce should be at the back-wall/ floor intersection or "nick".

    You achieve good length by hitting high, not hard. Hitting hard will only marginally increase the length, but by changing the height of your drive, you can dramatically change how far it bounces from the front wall. Ideally aim for a foot or two above the service line.

    Another advantage of hitting higher instead of harder is that you buy time to recover back to the T. If you hit hard your opponent can quickly cut it off at the T-line while you are still in the back corner.

    By hitting the ball tight, or close to the sidewall, you force your opponent to scrape their shot off the wall. This limits their options to one return shot, a weak defensive lob to the same back corner. If your shot is loose, or far from the sidewall, your opponent can either play:

  • Cross-court volley to back corner
  • Cross-court volley to front corner nick
  • Straight volley drop
  • Cross-court drive
  • Attacking boast
  • Drive it back tighter into the back corner for you to dig out

    You can clearly see that by playing tight and to good length, you remove all the above shots from your opponent's choices. This is why the pro games are full of these never-ending rallies up and down the side-wall.


    The drop shot is played just above the tin with very little pace. When playing your drop shot you want to aim so that the first bounce is below the nick (i.e floor first) so that your ball will bounce into the side-wall and cling next to it. Your choice of either drop shot depends on where the ball is when you are about to play your shot.

    If you are close to the sidewall then its best to play a drop that hits the floor first, bounces and kisses the side-wall then clings to it on its way down.

    If you are in the middle of the court then you can aim for the nick and higher for a quick roll-out.

    If you are in the back of the court then play a dying drop that wants to hit the nick on the second bounce.


    The boast is any shot that hits a sidewall or backwall before hitting the front wall. Most boasts are the sidewall boasts. There are basically two types of sidewall boasts, the attacking boast and the defensive boast. The attacking boast is played when you are in front of your opponent. An example of this is when your opponent plays a short rail from the back corner and you boast their return near the T line.

    With the attacking boast, your goal is to have it hit the front wall in the middle then bounce twice before hitting the side-wall. Ideally the second bounce will be just before the side-wall/floor nick. This type of shot forces your opponent to run the full diagonal while you patiently take one step back to the T.

    If your boast hits the side wall before its second bounce, then you have played the shot incorrectly. Usually when it hits the side wall, the spin from the floor will make it rise slightly. This will give your opponent more time and space to play a variety of attacking shots from the front corner.

    The defensive boast is played when you are behind your opponent. As a general rule of thumb, one should always avoid playing a boast from behind your opponent. The best shot is a straight shot. If this is not possible, then you can play a defensive boast. Basically you want to aim the ball to land in the opposite corner floor-side wall nick. This is called a 3-wall nick and is a very deadly shot. If it's off, then you can expect your opponent to play a drop off your boast, thereby forcing you to run the full diagonal.

    You can also attempt the 3-wall nick as an attacking shot when your opponent is lagging too far behind the T. This will usually catch them off-guard and you can win a few easy points this way.


    The lob is played to bounce high and soft on the front wall so that it arcs high and lands deep in the back court. Lob for time when you are late to the ball and your opponent is already in position on the T, and for variation so your opponent can't cheat forward in anticipation of you hitting the same shot all the time. If he is hitting a lot of these and is getting into relatively good position to cover your response hold your shot as long as you can and try to get a feel for his movement if he breaks.

    A good example of when to lob, is when you are in the back corner and your opponent plays an attacking boast. This will force you to run the full diagonal to retrieve the shot, while your opponent will be waiting at the T.

    Lobbing is, in my opinion one of the most under-estimated shots in squash. We are not talking tennis here, where the person lobbed simply trots backward and then smashes the ball, so that the "lobber" has virtually no chance of retrieving it. In fact with squash, the result of a good lob is the reverse. What I mean here is, your opponent seemingly has lots of time to get to the ball, but he 9 times out of 10, he will not be able to hit a return that will kill the rally and earn him/her a point - UNLESS, you hit the lob wrong. I personally think that the lob is the best shot for moving your opponent where you want. Why ? Because it cannot be intercepted by a volley unlike a drive. If you hit a good lob, then you have lots of time to return to the T, and, your opponent cannot volley the ball and put you under pressure. The result can be devastating. Take the following rally example. Your opponent plays a wonderful drive game, and buries you at the back most of the time, until he then wants to work you to the front of the court. To do this he plays a hard, low boast, and you are rushing like crazy to get to the ball. You don't have the time to get a good swing for a kill drive, or straight drive, if you drop, then it may be weak, inviting your opponent to kill, so you have only 1 safe shot to play - the lob. You lob your opponent cross court to the back, where the ball dies in the back corner, and he or she plays a weak shot out. Because you have played a lob, you have time to recover the T and wait like a killer for his weak return. Your opponent boasts the ball out, and you then have time to prepare a well-disguised drop, cross court kill, put the kettle on, go and drink a beer at the bar etc etc....

    The lob is priceless in defeating a mentally tough player too. It is the best weapon against a very aggressive player, and the perfect game to play when you get out of breath.

    I do however, have a couple of tips.

    a. Take a big lunge to the ball, instead of trying to run.
    b. Lob the ball high off the front wall, and break the law of wrist, i.e. flick the wrist.
    c. After you have hit the ball, push hard off the front leg, direction the T.
    d. Keep your eyes on the ball.


    The nick is the intersection of the floor and any sidewall. If the ball hits this 'crack' it will immeadietely roll parallel to the floor and the rally will be over. This is the only kill shot in Squash that lets you finish a rally in one shot. It is the most difficult shot to hit with consistency. Understand that if you miss the nick, then the ball will bounce up right back towards you resulting in a stroke. So do not attempt the nick shot if you are close to the T. Best to try it if you are close to one of the sidewalls and then you can aim for the opposite corner nick.

    To practice this shot, extend the line where the floor and sidewall intersect to behind the front wall. Aim for that line and as low to the tin as possible. If the ball is sitting up higher than your waist level with a lot of air around it, then you can attempt this shot. The closer you are to front wall the better.


    The last shot of squash is the variation. If all squash followed the above rules, then the game would be very predictable. When the game becomes predictable your opponent can easily anticipate your shots and get to them faster.

    Therefore the variation shot is simply any shot that is not expected and meant to break a pattern of expected play. This will often catch your opponent off-guard and you can win many quick points this way until your opponent catches on!

    20-30% of your shots should be variation, i.e 1 in 4 or 1 in 3 depending on the style of your opponent.

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