In this free glimpse into Squash Player 2020,
Issue 2, we continue our 10-part series on tactics and look into using
Squash is a multi-sprint sport. There is
approximately one and a half seconds between shots. That is one and a
half seconds to get out of the starting blocks and return the ball each
time. (Work it out for yourself. Find any match on YouTube, hit the
pause button on the serve and impact, write down the time, hit play,
then hit the pause button 10 shots later. You will get 14 seconds. That
is 1.4 seconds per shot. Remarkable!)
In squash you are, in sprinting terms, trying to
beat the starter’s gun and also work out where you have to run. To do
that we need to use effective anticipation and decision-making. Brian
Hemmings and Tim Holder explain this in depth in their book Applied
Sports Psychology. They break he sequence down into three aspects;
reading the opponent, deciding what to do and doing it
(action/technique). “The need to anticipate what the opponent is
going to do was explored and related to the concept of reaction time,”
they explain of their analysis of different studies.
To win points we want to try to play a good
attacking shot an opponent will not get to, but also will not be able to
predict or read easily. If we play the same shot from the same position
all the time, there is a danger it will become predictable. Our opponent
will cut that 1.4 seconds down, perhaps saving hundreds of tenths of a
second and possibly giving them the time to counter-attack.
One of the little axioms of squash is to ‘keep your
There are a number of different methods we use for
this. Ramy Ashour, talking to Squash Player, put it very well:
sport is not to play drive and crosscourt. This is not squash. Squash is
all about fooling and deceiving the other player. This is squash!”
Try to develop these tactics in your game and use
them at the right time.
Play different shots from the same position and
situation on court so our opponent does not know what shot is coming up.
Variation is not just something we use on attacking shots but all shots,
sometimes with subtle variations of length, pace and placement.
We can restrict ourselves to basic combinations
until an opponent starts to move early and guess our intentions, then we
can introduce a variation or pattern-breaker. Variations can be saved
and introduced gradually.
Hold or delay
You are entitled to have ‘room to hit’ and can play
the ball from wherever you like. You can hold your shot so your opponent
has to clear or hold it so they must come up the court and cover all
You can use the same set-up for a variety of shots
so your opponent does not know what shot is coming.
You can show your opponent one shot, start to play
it, hold it, wait for the opponent to move or commit and then change it
to another shot (often with a wrist action.)
You can suddenly do something you haven’t done
before. Maybe you will save this for a crucial time.
1. Practise playing different shots from the same
2. Hold your shots when appropriate
3. Practice playing different shots from the same
4. Use pattern-breakers and surprise