Given that squash is normally a contest between two individuals, there is probably a strong argument to be made that this is also the best way to practise.
Why should squash players do drills with at least one more person? Such is the human condition, that preparing on your own provides fertile ground for complacency and you ultimately run the risk of developing at a lot slower than you should.
Squash, being the sport that it is, requires a certain level of dynamism and that is as relevant in a match situation as it is in training.
In life, you should never overdo anything but a touch of creativity never harmed anyone. It certainly goes a long way to enhancing your squash game.
Training Drill #1
This drill is conducted on one half of the court. You can conduct it on the backhand side or on the forehand side. The premise is actually pretty simple.
PLAYER ONE hits the first drive into the front wall. PLAYER TWO follows that up with a drive of his own into the same section of the court. Then PLAYER ONE hits a drop for the third shot in the cycle.
There is an awful amount of repetition with this drill. The key focus centres on intensity, hitting the ball as straight as possible and for as long as possible. Naturally, footwork and court positioning gets enhanced during this drill.
The mistake some people might make is that they will stop the rotation after the third shot – the drop. However, the point is really to keep this going for as long as possible. Roles in the cycle shift naturally, because it includes three shots.
Training Drill #2
Now, many of us would have seen this done by the professional in their preparation for the big matches. It seems like a simple drill but one is often mesmerized by how brilliantly they are able to execute it.
So, PLAYER ONE and PLAYER TWO stand facing the front wall, about halfway to the T-line. One player will be positioned on the left side of the court and the second player will be positioned on the right side of the court.
All you are doing is smashing volleys into the wall, just above or just below the service line. The key here is to keep the drill going for as long as possible, without letting that ball drop. It really boils down to improving your reaction time and learning to take the ball early.
The two are intertwined.
During the drill, you need to try and focus on weight distribution and footwork.
Training Drill #3
For this drill, PLAYER ONE will find himself positioned at the back of the court, while PLAYER TWO will position himself at the front of the court.
The player at the back of the court will have two tasks. He will play the drop shot first and then on his second swing, he will play the boast.
The player at the front of the court will play two drives to the back of the court. The real beneficiary here is probably the player at the back of the court though, as he gets to work on two specific elements of his game.
He gets to practise the long drop, which is not always the easiest of shots to play. He also gets to practise the boast, a shot that no serious squash player can really do without.
Once again, as is the case with any drill, the key is to keep the routine going. Do not break the cycle. Both players will get a healthy workout and develop their movement on the court.
Training Drill #4
At its heart, the principle of this drill remains the same. However, both players get to now add a competitive edge to it. This probably creates a little more meaning for the player at the front of the court too.
The player at the back now has an option between playing a drop shot and a boast. He doesn’t need to follow a specific pattern anymore. Likewise, the player operating from the front now has the option of either playing a straight drive or playing the cross court drive.
Mind games….I love it.
There is a lot more room for manoeuvre here and while the idea is still to keep a meaningful cycle going, this drill helps one develop a better read on the game. It helps better understand the mind of the opponent, granted he is only doing one of two things.
You are guaranteed to get a healthy workout once again and any plans to improve movement are significantly enhanced. You are basically replicating the game scenario and that is really the whole point here.
Training Drill #5
This drill is related to the two previous drills. It is essentially a third progression.
This time, the player at the back will open the rally by playing a straight drive to himself – and follow that up with either a boast or a drop shot. We are now giving the player at the back more options and the player at the front a tad more to think about.
The player at the front plays a drop shot and he himself has an opportunity at deception off the second shot, which means that the player at the back also has something extra to think about.
Because there is a little more deception involved in this progression, the player at the front will see his court positioning alter a touch. Ordinarily, with the two previous drills he found himself close to the front wall most of the time.
With this drill, he often finds himself closer to the T-line, to give himself some room to manoeuvre.
Training Drill #6
This should really have been training drill one and in the context of this blog, it is certainly a close relation. The first training drill of this segment was a rotation between two drives and a drop shot.
This drill is a straight drive rotation. Two players are on court. One halfway to the front wall and the other starts the drill at the back. The player at the back will hit a straight drive and then move forward.
The player in the front then drops a little back to play his drive and so the rotation continues. It really doesn’t get much simpler and is potentially mundane.
You obviously want to hit the ball deep and straight but the key here is to do it well. The goal is near perfection, because the degree of difficulty is not that high. T
Training Drill #7
Both players stand deep into the court and exchange shots. It is really a straightforward rotation in many respects. However, there is one catch here. The ball is not allowed to bounce before the T-line.
There is also a competitive element to this as any player who hits the ball short of the T-line is automatically faulted. The winner of the “point” gets to start the next rally.
This is all about improving your shots from the back of the court and mastering your movement at the back of the court.
In squash there is always the temptation to play an easier shot, because a given player does not have the patience to grind out a result.
Firstly, that is a predictable option and secondly, you do need to learn defence from the back of the court against better quality opponents.
There is no better way to work on that than through this drill.
Training Drill #8
This is another healthy ten-minute rotation, which involves the boast, the crosscourt shot and the straight drive.
The most important facet of this drill is to help players improve the footwork in three directions. So, PLAYER ONE starts the rally by hitting a front-corner cross court.
That is followed by PLAYER TWO hitting a straight drive and concluded with PLAYER ONE then hitting a back corner boast. There is no competitive element here. The key is to keep the drill going for as long as possible.
Maybe take a one minute break in between the ten-minute stretches. Remember, if you are not fit, you probably shouldn’t be on a squash court.
Training Drill #9
PLAYER ONE will find himself at the front of the court. He has one of two options here. There is a competitive element to this drill and there is the subtle art of deception to observe.
So, the player at the front of the court can either hit straight or crosscourt drives.
PLAYER TWO will naturally be at the back of the court. His options are to hit a straight drive or a boast. This drill brings players as close as possible to a game situation.
Tactical acumen, footwork and court movement are all facets that need to be taken firmly into account and they feature prominently in the drill. Perhaps it would be prudent to produce a first to 15 points scenario.
Training Drill #10
PLAYER ONE stays at the front of the court, as is often case during these two-player drills.
He has one job throughout and that is to hit the drive.
PLAYER two is at the back of the court and his job is to hit the boast. That is all that happens for five or ten minutes of the time, depending on the quality of the players involved.
Both players are then forced to move from left to right and vice versa. It is not a complicated drill and is all about repetition and footwork.
Training Drill #11
Four shots feature in this drill – the drive, boast, the drop and then the drive again. PLAYER ONE finds himself at the front of the court. PLAYER TWO operates from the back of the court throughout.
While it is not a very realistic situation, PLAYER ONE, hits a drop shot and straight after that hits a straight drive. It is essentially a double hit.
PLAYER TWO waits patiently at the back before he plays a drive (essentially to himself) before he sweeps in with a boast. Because it is quite predictable, PLAYER ONE is already waiting on the other side of the court.
Again, it is really about repetition, working up a bit of a sweat and getting those feet moving.
Training Drill #12
PLAYER ONE remains at the front of the court throughout and all he ever does is drive, like a chauffeur.
PLAYER TWO remains at the back of the court throughout and all he does is boast, like Samuel L. Jackson.
So, one player is forcing his training partner to play from as deep as possible, while the second is focusing all of his attention on finding a wide angle.
Again, the movement is rather predictable in this drill. However, it has more to do with addressing the finer margins of your game and less to do with being competitive during the drill.
Training Drill #13
The volley is a facet of the game that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. It is taken for granted that this is a shot any player should pull off without too much of a fuss.
It is not unlike the penalty in Association Football (Soccer). Most players expect to slot it and for that reason they often make an absolute meal of it when the opportunity to convert one does come.
What is the moral of the story here? Practice that volley and do it with a partner.
PLAYER ONE feeds PLAYER TWO here. PLAYER TWO then goes on to hit two consecutive volleys before hitting the ball back to PLAYER ONE, who repeats the cycle.
The two players move from one side of the court to the other and the rotation can go on for several minutes.
It is not an overly complicated drill. It is really just about improving speed and reaction time on court. Movement required from one side of the court to the other is something worth paying attention to.
At the end of it all though, it is about making that volley count, by hitting it with purpose and conviction. T
Training Drill #14
Another shot which is often taken for granted in squash is the serve. The sport’s cousin, tennis, often encounters a similar problem. Most new and even intermediate players do not appreciate how important it is to get the serve absolutely right every time.
The margin for error is minimal. There is a way to work on that though, and you can do that work with a partner.
It is really is the most straightforward of all the drills too. You hit the serve and you get your training partner to return it. This can go on for several minutes, maybe even an hour. It is all about the repetition.
This drill can and should really be done from both the forehand and backhand side of the court and both partners can share the burden. Don’t just practise the serve but also practise returning too.
Training Drill #15
This is an extension of the previous drill really. The whole point is to land every shot played in the opponent’s service box. Failure to do so loses you the point. It is a drill that provides a competitive edge.
It is in no way a realistic game situation but it is a form of meaningful target practice. Critically, both players have to take the ball after the bounce, which means they will never be playing from in front of the T-line.
Beyond the target practice, both players enhance their capacity to manage the game from the back of the court.
Naturally, the idea is also to get a feel for both sides of the court. Maybe, after a game or two, change sides.
Training Drill #16
This drill in our segment is a probably going to be a lot more fun or less intense than the previous fifteen. It is essentially a game of mini-squash. So, both players compete for points and even games.
The one rule to obey is that the ball must not cross the T-line. So, you are essentially playing against each other from the front of the court. You also can’t hit the ball higher than the service line, although given the parameters of the drill, that was never likely anyway.
There is an opportunity for progression in this drill too. T
Training Drill #17
So, two players are involved for the final drill in this segment. PLAYER ONE feeds PLAYER TWO.
PLAYER TWO approaches the feed from about the T-line and opens the face of his racket, putting in a touch of under spin and playing a tight drop shot.
This drill can be implemented on both the left hand and right hand side of the court.
The whole point of the drop shot is to force the ball to shape towards the side wall and make it exceedingly difficult for your opponent to rein it in. The spin is crucial but so too is the angle.
The two players, when they are somewhat over it, can then exchange roles. Beyond the feed, PLAYER ONE really doesn’t have a considerable amount to do in this particular regimen.
PLAYER TWO is really just teaching himself to lunge forward and get a good stretch in before playing the drop shot.
Good luck with these training drills! Follow these and you should see tremendous strides forward in your technique, agility, and mental game.
Please feel free to leaave us a comment if you try any of them out!