The beauty about squash is that, unlike many sporting codes, it provides ample opportunity for you to develop your game on your own.
How can beginners become competitive squash players within months? Squash is not actually a complicated sport and you will be surprised by the level of progress which can be made while training on your own.
So, in short, what are the best solo squash drills for beginners? Begin by hitting the ball above the service line back to yourself again and again. The next step is to try hitting the ball down the line on either side to yourself repeatedly. Keep drills simple and work on accuracy and getting the feel of the basic shots.
For all of the drills listed below, it is recommended that you use the blue dot ball.
It is the preferred choice for all junior and new players.
The ball speed is fast and there is some decent hang time, after it bounces. This will help develop critical elements of your game a lot quicker.
The real beauty about these drills though, is that they can actually be treated as challenges. Each challenge helps you progress to a different level in your training. The key is not to rush it.
The more mundane the drill, the more value it adds to your development.
So, you start with the very basics and by the time your levels have been completed, you will be able to incorporate everything you have practised, over a meaningful period, into one final drill.
Training Drill 1
The first drill is not a complicated one. Once you have finished warming the ball up, adopt a side on stance a few metres away from the front wall.
With a slightly open racket face, you then begin to hit the ball above the service line. For those who are not familiar, the service line is the middle line on the front wall.
Remember, you are not driving the ball just yet. There are no dramatic swipes needed. Just hit the ball hard enough to strike the front wall above the service line, more or less in the middle of the court.
It will not look or feel exciting but the objective of this drill is to hit the ball above that service line 25 consecutive times. No misses and just one bounce every time. You are essentially teaching yourself to strike the ball consistently.
You will also get used to the idea of being on a squash court and get used to the idea of making regular contact with the ball – as mundane as that might sound.
Also among the objectives with this drill, is learning to bend your knees at just the right time, and to get your racket under the ball.
Among the popular misconceptions in sports like squash and tennis, is that you have to hit the ball as low as possible.
Sure, that will sometimes come in handy at the higher level but at a beginner level, hitting the ball well clear of the tin is the only priority. Aim for the middle of the wall and you give yourself the maximum chance of keeping the ball in play.
In a minute way, you are developing your footwork with this drill too, without really thinking about it either.
A phrase often bandied about in sports involving hand-eye coordination – like squash – is muscle memory. With this drill, you will teach your body and mind to reproduce the same stroke consistently.
Training Drill 2
This drill still has a considerable amount to do with everything you practised in TRAINING DRILL ONE.
However, the primarily objective here will be to enhance your movement on the court.
The reality is – and you might have already guessed this – that you will seldom play any strokes in a semi-upright or even stagnant position in a match situation. Lunging for the ball is a major component of this sport.
So, with this challenge, you will also be a few metres away from the front wall. Like the first drill, you will also focus on hitting the ball above the service line. The focus is still on clearing that service line regularly and not allowing the ball to bounce twice when it returns.
However, we will now add one extra dimension to this.
If you are a right-handed player, you will now teach yourself to lunge forward with your left foot before making contact with the ball.
If you are a left-handed player – a really special gift to have by the way – you will then lunge forward with your right foot.
As is the case with the first drill, just focus on hitting that ball 25 times in a row and do not let it bounce twice.
Training Drill 3
Right, it is time to confuse you a little. In the previous drill, you practised lunging with your front leg.
In the old days, that would be the only dimension you needed to master.
However, squash – like everything else in life – has evolved considerably since then. There will be times in a game situation, when you will need to lunge with your “back leg” to make a shot. Again, the key word here is efficiency.
Squash courts are very confined spaces and not for the faint at heart. You will not always have the freedom you desire. This drill helps you learn how to better play the situation when trying to execute the FOREHAND DRIVE.
The goals with this drill are no different to the goals in the first two drills. Hit the ball over the service line 25 consecutive times and don’t let the ball bounce twice. Critically though, do not make the lunges too deep just yet. There will be plenty of time for that later.
Another key element here is learning how to maintain your balance. Stepping forward with what is essentially your “wrong foot” is an awkward thing to do in a normal environment and even more so, on a squash court.
Training Drill 4
Until now we have spent absolutely no time talking about the squash grip. That is because mastering this aspect of the game can be off putting for the beginner. The whole point of the first three drills was to get used to the idea of striking the ball regularly.
Getting used to the sensation and to some degree the thrill of hitting a squash ball. Now, the time has come to learn a touch more about how you can manipulate that ball, at a very rudimentary level of course.
Right, the first thing you need to do is hold your racket out in front of your chest at a vertical position. So, to be clear, the racket strings should be facing any one of the walls and the frame should be facing the floor.
During your first three drills you have already been holding your racket face open, virtually by default. So, adopt a similar principle here. Tilt the racket face backwards about 25 degrees.
With the racket tilted back ever so slightly, grab the grip with your dominant hand as if you were shaking somebody’s hand.
Once your hand is wrapped around your grip, your lower three fingers should essentially be glued together, while your index finger should be slightly higher than normal – almost wrapped around the shoulder of the racket. It should look something like this…
Once you have figured that out, then try cocking the wrist, basically as far back as it will allow. The key goal with cocking the wrist is achieving some level of stability. Once you have done this, start implementing the drills you worked on earlier.
The goals have not changed. You are still trying to clear the service line, strike the ball 25 consecutive times without allowing the ball to bounce twice. You are now just doing it with a slightly uncomfortable, yet more stable grip.
With time, that grip will become second nature. If you are feeling saucy, you can then start hitting the ball against the front wall without letting the ball bounce at all. It is all about control.
Training Drill 5
Once you are comfortable with the first four drills, you need to start upping the stakes somewhat and become a little more acquainted with the forehand side wall. Stand a few feet from the side wall on the forehand side, with your shoulders parallel to the side wall.
What you are essentially doing now, is teaching yourself to hit the ball a lot straighter and more consistently. Among the keys here is to incorporate everything that you practised in the first four drills.
Bending the knees a little, hit the ball above the service line and try to keep it close to the wall. The target here is still 25 shots. If the ball stays close to the sidewall we call this playing it ‘tight’. This is the big target of the majority of squash shots.
What you will also find is that you will probably move a touch forward and a touch backwards more frequently than you did in the previous drills. That assists you a little with movement on the court.
When you are ready you can also up the stakes somewhat and look at completing 50 shots with no mistakes.
Training Drill 6
In all hand-eye coordination sports, balance is everything. This definitely appliese to squash. This drill will teach you how to maintain balance. It will feel uncomfortable at first.
Standing halfway between the front wall and the T-line, plant your back foot in line with the inner side of the service box. Don’t move it.
Throughout this drill your back foot will remain planted while you will incorporate everything else that you have practised until now. A good marker to set for yourself here is perhaps 20 consecutive shots…and don’t fall over.
Training Drill 7
You will be doing the same thing as training drill six. The only difference this time is that you will plant your front foot throughout the drill and only lunge with your back foot. Again, 20 strokes should do it and do not fall over.
Training Drill 8
Here is a little target practice. You can use a cone or a shoe for this drill. Essentially anything that will be quite difficult to hit off the wall.
Place the target halfway between the front wall and the T-line for this drill. Also place it right up against the side wall.
Your goal is to hit the ball high up into the front wall and see if you can get it to land on the target, on the way back. In squash it is not just about hitting the front wall – as you probably already know – but it is about hitting the front wall and knowing where the ball will land next.
This drill puts you in more control of your game.
Importantly, you should not ignore any of the elements mastered in the previous drills. Getting the target practise right hinges significantly on how cleanly you have learned to strike the ball and how balanced you are when striking the ball.
If you land the ball on the target once, you are already winning but be a little more ambitious than that folks. The more you hit the target, the better the prospects for your game. A little accuracy never hurt anybody in squash.
Training Drill 9
You are no doubt tired of that service line by now, if you have been thorough with all of your previous drills. This drill gives you a rare opportunity to go below the belt, so to speak.
For the first time, as a beginner, we are allowing you to hit the ball below the service line.
Incorporating everything you have practised, the time has now come to hit one ball above the service line and then one ball below the service line.
At this point, you are becoming a slightly more developed player and the demands you place on yourself should be a little higher.
To be truly satisfied with the level of your development, we suggest that you hit in the region of 50 alternating shots with no mistakes.
Do not forget the lunges, do not forget the slightly open racket face. Efficient movement, as is always the case in squash, remains everything. Above all else, you want to establish a decent level of ball striking control.
Training Drill 10
For this drill, stand halfway between the T-line and front wall. Start off about an arm’s length from the sidewall.
The reality that you have to come to terms with in squash, as was demonstrated in the previous drills, is that squash demands you move around the court regularly.
Going back to the utter basics, the focus is back on hitting the ball just above the service line and allowing the ball to bounce just once.
Your goal is to move from the right hand side of the court, all the way to the left – hitting the ball against the front wall the whole time and above the service line. If you are doing this right, you will essentially be moving backwards the whole way through this drill.
Once you reach the other side wall on the court, you can start making your way back to the right hand side of the court. The longer you can do this back and forth without stopping, the better. This might be your most testing drill yet.
Training Drill 11
For the final drill in this segment, you should start by virtually hugging the front wall. Initially hit the ball against the wall without a bounce. Gradually move backwards while maintaining your stroke. Only allow the ball to bounce once and only hit the ball above the service line.
Once you have reached the T-line, without any blemishes, you can then start negotiating your way forward. As was the case in the previous drill, you are testing your powers of concentration here.
Once again, the more often you can move backwards and forward without tripping up, the better.
While performing this drill, there is a temptation to hit the ball harder – which is natural because you are moving further and further away from the front wall.
However, a more critical component to master here is hitting the ball well clear of the tin throughout the drill.
Try focusing on hitting the ball above the service line but there is no harm in hitting it slightly lower than that line either.
Next Step – The Backhand
When you have become confident in trying out these 11 drills on the forehand side, the next step is to give them a go on the backhand. They will work just as well on that side as the forehand.
Many players find the backhand side feels more unnatural when starting off, and the big key is just practice and repetition. Good luck, and give it a go!
As a beginner, squash is a sport that you can make rapid progress in. One of it’s beauties is that you can practise alone, and improve without the need of anyone else to be there.
Good luck with these drills, and if you try them out why not leave a coment below.