Squash Tips: The Importance of Good Width
As an active member of Shropshire Squash Club in Shrewsbury looking to participate with players of mixed ability or those looking for social squash, you will probably be developing a strategy for how improve your game and raise your level so you can beat your friends.
Last month we explored the importance of length (link to blog). This was how we can build our game around quality to the back which puts our opponent under pressure and allows us to take up positions higher up the court. We explored how to make adjustments to our lengths changing the height of the ball and the racket speed to create better lengths. We also began to touch on how to make use of the warm up, although this will be explored in the coming months.
A good length is solid fundamental strategy to build on. This can be enhanced further by our use of width at certain times to keen your opponent guessing and unable to play solidly against your strategy. It is starting to sound like physical chess here!!!
When you are playing lengths from the back of the court, you need to be accurate as your opponent is often in front of you. The ball needs to be wide to make it difficult to volley. I tend to aim around 60% of the way across the wall (opposite side of the Tee) and importantly aim to hit the ball nearly a foot higher than I would hit a straight length to factor in that the ball has to travel a lot further. Note that as you get nearer to the front wall, the target area will be more towards the middle of the court and lower as the ball has less distance to travel. All players are different, but too far across and the ball will keep coming out off the side wall; not far enough across and the ball won’t be protected by the wall.
I like to play cross courts especially defending the serve for a number of reasons: it is often harder for the opponent to volley than a straight length. The ball is in flight for longer, so there is additional time to make it back to the Tee and prepare for the next shot. Also, there are a lot of players who hate constantly turning which can be hard on the joints for some older players. It is harsh to pick on them, but needs must after all they have experience on their side.
Another positive on cross courts you might not have thought about is that it can create more room for your straight drives in the future. If your opponent commits their weight to your side when they serve for example, they need to look to put the ball cross court: the space is wide open for you. If they are slow to come across the Tee play more straight lines until they make more movement across.
Playing cross courts from the front of the corner is slightly different and is more dependant on where your opponent is on the court. It is important to be mindful of where they are so we can exploit the space available to us. We want to cause maximum problems for our opponents whilst not giving them chance to cause problems to us hence not giving them opportunities to volley and cut our time down.
When they are in a good mutual position on the Tee, the priority has to be going extra wide so the ball is hitting the side wall in line with the Tee. This shot tends to win less rallies than a cross court drive aimed directly for the corner, but there is less risk attached to it and we can safely reset the rally in a better positon.
When our opponent is in a poor position towards the back of the court, we need to be sensing weakness. In an ideal sense if you know they are towards the back you should be getting the wall to the front quickly. You can also use width you can aim your drives more direct towards the back safe in the knowledge they won’t be in the position to take volleys that they could if they are on the Tee.
Lastly we can use cross courts in combination with a solid hold to commit the player’s momentum one way and then hit the ball the other. If you know a player moves in a direction based on the position of your feet you can shape to play a straight shot and then your racket over your hip on your backhand or across your stomach on your forehand to change direction at the last second. This can take a lot of practice, but can be a useful tool to help progress your game.
Check out this example from current professional Laura Massaro who executes width very well in this clip:
By Max Ball